U.S. Foreign Policy in Transition

March 29, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 12
Is the United States relinquishing its global supremacy?
By Bill Wanlund


After more than 70 years as the standard-bearer of multilateral engagement and constructive diplomacy, the United States is undergoing a dramatic foreign policy shift that has led some to question whether the nation is giving up its global authority. Departing from the approach of previous presidents, who tended to cooperate with allies through multilateral agreements to promote democracy, free trade and environmental protection, President Trump is championing an “America First” policy aimed at protecting U.S. jobs and interests. Preferring to rely on his instincts and personal rapport rather than professional diplomats, he has ended U.S. participation in several major international treaties, praised authoritarian leaders and waged a trade war against key economic partners. Trump's supporters say he is using America's economic and political might to its advantage and trying to prod uncooperative allies — particularly in Europe — to do more to protect their own security interests. But critics say Trump's conduct has isolated the United States internationally and undermined the nation's claim to moral leadership.

President Trump holds up a chart showing military (Getty Images/Pool/Kevin Dietsch)
President Trump holds up a chart showing military hardware sales during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018. Trump said Saudi Arabia's purchases of military equipment protect U.S. interests and jobs, a key goal of his “America First” foreign policy. (Getty Images/Pool/Kevin Dietsch)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Foreign Aid
Feb. 18, 2022  Fragile States
Apr. 23, 2021  U.S. Foreign Aid
Mar. 29, 2019  U.S. Foreign Policy in Transition
Apr. 14, 2017  Rethinking Foreign Aid
May 16, 2014  U.S. Global Engagement
Oct. 02, 2012  Rebuilding Haiti
Mar. 23, 2012  U.S.-Europe Relations
Jun. 17, 2011  Foreign Aid and National Security
Apr. 26, 2002  Foreign Aid After Sept. 11
Sep. 27, 1996  Reassessing Foreign Aid
Sep. 23, 1988  Foreign Aid: a Declining Commitment
Dec. 01, 1965  Development Aid for Poor Nations
Dec. 19, 1962  Foreign Aid Overhaul
Jun. 19, 1957  Population Growth and Foreign Aid
Dec. 12, 1956  Extension of Foreign Aid
Jan. 26, 1955  Aid to Asia
Feb. 04, 1953  Trade Policy and Foreign Aid
May 03, 1951  Future of Foreign Aid
Feb. 09, 1949  American Aid to Greece
Oct. 17, 1947  Conditions for American Aid
Jun. 11, 1947  Financial Aid to Foreign Countries
Aug. 06, 1940  American Relief of Famine in Europe
Feb. 16, 1940  Loans and Credits to Foreign Countries
Alliances and Security Agreements
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Defense Technology and Force Planning
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
General International Relations
Global Issues
International Economic Development
International Law and Agreements
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union
U.S. at War: Afghanistan
U.S. at War: Cold War
United Nations
War and Conflict