Every American president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has been known for a doctrinal U.S. foreign policy. That was the case until Donald Trump became president. Unlike his predecessors, Trump’s foreign policy doctrine is one of not maintaining any doctrine beyond a bullet point list of lofty and generic goals.
The Truman Doctrine primarily entailed militarily and economically backing any nation felt threatened by Communism or the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine fostered the creation of NATO and began to bind, by treaty, the United States to the security of other nations. The Eisenhower Doctrine expanded the Truman Doctrine. Under the Eisenhower Doctrine, any nation believed threatened by «international Communism», not merely the Soviet Union, was entitled to U.S. military and economic assistance. The Eisenhower Doctrine led to the U.S. intervention in the Indochina War. The Kennedy Doctrine continued on the theme of the containment of Communism, particularly in Latin America. The Johnson Doctrine expanded on the previous three doctrines by committing the United States to the defeat of Communist insurgencies before leftist governments could take power. Continued U.S. intervention of the United States in Indochina, as well as the Dominican Republic, were hallmarks of the Johnson Doctrine.
It was not until the Nixon Doctrine when the United States began to distance itself from being the «world’s policeman.» The key element of the Nixon Doctrine was that the United States would assist its allies in their defense but not be responsible for the defense of every nation in the world. Under the Nixon Doctrine, Vietnam War policy stressed «Vietnamization», whereby South Vietnam was forced to take on responsibility for its own defense, with U.S. support. President Gerald Ford maintained the Nixon Doctrine. The Carter Doctrine stipulated that the United States would use military force to defend its interests in the Persian Gulf but also stressed the importance of human rights around the world. The Reagan Doctrine nixed Carter’s human rights commitment and extended U.S. military assistance to anti-Communist guerrilla forces. The Reagan Doctrine helped pave the way for the creation of radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan. These groups would later give birth to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic State. George H. W. Bush continued the Reagan Doctrine until the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Clinton Doctrine paved the way for U.S. intervention in any country where civilians were deemed to be at risk. This doctrine pushed «nation building» and was the basis for U.S. intervention in the Balkans, Haiti, and Somalia. The George W. Bush Doctrine declared that the U.S. would, with «willing coalition» partners, intervene in any country that was believed to harbor international terrorists. This doctrine was the underpinning for U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Obama Doctrine recognized that there were limits to U.S. intervention in the affairs of other nations. Instead, intervention to bring about political change was outsourced to non-state actors, including non-governmental organizations financed by individuals like George Soros.
Trump’s doctrine is to have no set doctrine whatsoever. Trump has lauded various strongmen around the world, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has promoted human rights and multinational assistance programs for refugees. This has irritated the «America First» elements within the White House, including presidential strategist Steve Bannon, and placed Haley’s continued presence in the U.S. seat at the United Nations in jeopardy.
Trump’s foreign policy «non-doctrine» was on full display on his first overseas trip. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer actually stated something true at his contentious press briefing on May 30, 2017. He said Donald Trump's trip was «unprecedented». The trouble for Trump and Spicer is that the trip was «unprecedented», but not in a fashion that could be considered the launching of any particular «doctrine».
Trump set out to create an «Arab NATO» among U.S. allies in the Middle East. Instead, in the wake of his visit, Saudi Arabia, joined by the United Arab Emirates, waged a diplomatic battle with Qatar over reports that Qatar views Iran, the Saudis' bitter enemy, as a regional «giant.» The Saudis and Emiratis withdrew their ambassadors from Doha and blocked Internet access to Qatari news sites, including Al Jazeera. Egypt, a prospective member of Trump's «Arab NATO», joined the Saudis and UAE in blocking access to Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, Kuwait has irritated the Saudis and Emiratis by trying to be a neutral intermediary between Qatar and Saudi Arabia/UAE. Bahrain, whose repressive Wahhabist regime Trump praised during the U.S.-Muslim summit in Riyadh, affirmed its alliance with the Saudis by blocking access to Al Jazeera and recalling its ambassador to Qatar. Bahrain also launched yet another bloody attack on its Shi’a majority.
Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani angered Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt by reportedly telling Qatar national service recruits that Qatar supported both Hamas and Hezbollah. The Saudis and its allies, including Egypt, have long argued that Qatar's government is dominated by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers. The Trump administration, which has cast its lot with the Saudis, is reportedly considering sanctions against Qatar for its support for Hamas and Hezbollah. But the U.S. tilt in favor of the Saudis has put in jeopardy the continued use of Qatar's massive Al Udeid airbase as the headquarters for the U.S. Central Command's forward operations in the region. Qatar accused the Saudis of using its clout with the Trump administration to wage an anti-Qatar propaganda campaign in Washington.
A reported secret meeting held in Baghdad between Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani and Qasim Sulaiman, a senior military official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Quds force, further inflamed relations between the Qataris and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Oman has, like Kuwait, refused take sides in the feud between Riyadh and Doha. Oman has close economic ties with Iran.
The Al-Shaikh family of Saudi Arabia, which claims to be direct descendants of the founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, demanded that Qatar change the name of the largest mosque in Qatar, the Shaikh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque, named for the founder of Wahhabism. The Wahhabist split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar represented an unprecedented schism within the radical Islamic sect.
Quiet support for Qatar also came from Pakistan. The Saudis angered Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who traveled to the Riyadh summit only to discover that Saudi King Salman had not included a Trump-Sharif bilateral meeting on the agenda. King Salman later apologized to Sharif, but it was too late. The Pakistani media was given the green light to call the Riyadh summit with Trump a «theater of the absurd.» Pakistan also ordered General Rahul Sharif to return home from Saudi Arabia. General Sharif was Pakistan's representative to the Islamic Military Alliance in Riyadh, the embryonic Middle Eastern «NATO» foreseen by Trump.
Although the Saudis and Emiratis appear to be on the same page vis-à-vis Qatar, they are not when it comes to the civil war in Yemen. Abu Dhabi has broken with Riyadh and is supporting factions in the war that favor independence for South Yemen, something the Saudis vigorously oppose.
Simply stated, Trump's idea of an «Arab NATO» now lies in tatters and its prospective members are now at each other's throats. NATO’s predicament is no different in the wake of Trump's attendance at the organization's summit in Brussels.
Montenegro's opposition, which was against the nation becoming the newest member of NATO, is fuming over Trump's shoving of Montenegro's pro-NATO Prime Minister Dusko Markovic. During a May 25th photo op in Brussels, Trump infamously shoved Markovic out of the way so that he could stand in front of the other NATO leaders for the cameras. Markovic dismissed Trump's shove as «harmless», but the Montenegrin opposition jumped on it as an insult to Montenegro. The opposition Democratic Front lambasted Markovic for «justifying» Trump's aggressive behavior. The Russian news agency TASS reported from Montenegro that a number of Montenegrins were demanding that sanctions be imposed against the United States for «humiliating» Markovic. Montenegro is scheduled to formally become a NATO member on June 5, 2017.
The emerging «Trump Non-Doctrine», which is essentially a vacuous collection of disjointed and airy policy statements, is fracturing age-old alliances with new blocs and alliances emerging. In the wake of the bitter feud between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a new alliance appears to be forming between Germany and France, one that may see Paris jointly operating an independent nuclear strike force with Berlin. Other NATO members are also looking to establish new alliances, none based on traditional transatlantic tenets.
Meanwhile, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator John McCain is traveling the world and speaking with foreign governments, offering his own globalist U.S. foreign policy. That has led some Trump administration officials to consider charging McCain with criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 953, the Logan Act, which prohibits unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating independently with foreign governments. Infighting within the U.S. government and between American allies has resulted in one stark fact: the neo-conservative/neo-liberal planned «Project for the New American Century» is now a dead and rotting corpse.