The new team of Trump folks seem to be even more arrogant and definitely more ignorant as they seek to act in ways that ignore the very basics of international relations. What basics are these?
- Countries respond to threats by balancing--either via building up their arms or by developing new alliances (Realism).
- The recent news that Russia is cutting back might suggest this is wrong ... unless Russia views the US as less threatening.
- The recent news that some Germans are now pondering what it means for the US to be an adversary is one hint of this dynamic
- That Tillerson, Secretary of Dumb Diplomacy, is now semi-encouraging Japan to develop nuclear weapons suggests a path for Japan. Which would, of course, lead to counter-responses by South Korea, China, etc.
- Reciprocity is key to international relations (Liberalism). Trump seems to think he can impose policies upon trading partners, including building barriers to trade. It is most likely that if he imposes tariffs, others will respond.
- The domestic politics of other countries matter (much of the rest of IR). Bullying friends and foes alike will make it harder for them to compromise since their domestic audiences will be upset if they see their leader submitting to Trump. Merkel, for instance, has an election coming up, so her performance last week was all about making clear that she would stick by German values (which are also translatlantic values, thanks to generations of US-European institution building and cooperation and reciprocity).