This strategy is guided by principledrealism. It is realist because it acknowledges
the central role of power in international politics, affirms that sovereign states are the best
hope for a peaceful world, and clearly defines our national interests… We are also
realistic and understand that the American way of life cannot be imposed upon others, nor is it
the inevitable culmination of progress .
The White House, ‘National Security Strategy of the United States of America’
( The White House, 2017
once authored, not
because of his own idiosyncratic way of doing politics but because of the strategic realignment
that his presidency represents.
According to Trump, his administration’s security strategy is guided by
‘principledrealism’. The apparent incoherence of his foreign policy is as
indicative of what this entails as his specific interactions with other governments. With every
diplomatic encounter imagined as a stand-alone opportunity to strike a winning
‘deal’, the norms-based, multilateral system of global governance becomes
Obama’s thinking and policies, for example a “pragmatic realism”, hegemonic ordering/liberal internationalism, or hawkish humanitarianism? And, in its first two years, between early 2017 and early 2019, what has President Donald Trump’s “principledrealism” meant in practice? How far has the Trump administration progressed in challenging or disrupting Obama’s Pivot to Asia? What differences can we discern in the declared or effective US strategy towards Asia and to what extent has it radically shifted or displaced Obama-era legacies? Finally, what might be the longer