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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Stephen Walt Discusses Trump’s Foreign Policy

On May 1, Professor Stephen M. Walt visited the University of Massachusetts Boston campus to give a talk about President Trump’s approach to global politics and relations. During his lecture, which was titled “Trump’s Foreign Policy: A New Direction?” Walt specifically addressed what the common strategy of the foreign policy establishment has been so far, and in what ways Trump’s comments or actions have differed from the status-quo.

The event was hosted by UMass Boston’s Department of Political Science, the newly established undergraduate program in International Relations, and the Office of Global Programs. In the introductory remarks, Provost Winston Langley, who is an International Relations scholar himself, emphasized the significance of implementing the shift from an International Relations minor to major.

“This major is going to play an important role in this university,” Langley said.

During the event, it was also announced that the newly established “Winston E. Undergraduate Award for Excellence in the Study of International Relations” will from now on be bestowed to outstanding UMass Boston students of this field.

Later, Professor Paul Kowert, who is a faculty member of the Department of Political Science and Director of the International Relations Undergraduate and Graduate Programs, introduced the keynote speaker Walt as an influential figure in the field of International Relations and Foreign Policy.

Walt, who holds the Robert and Renee Belfer Professorship of International Affairs, currently teaches at the John. F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He hold a Ph.D. in Political Science starting from the University of California and moving on to finish his work at Berkeley. He has focused most of his research on US foreign policy and the country’s stance on the world stage.

Before teaching at Harvard, Walt was a professor at Princeton University and the University of Chicago.

Kowert said, “He has really had a major impact on we think of the way we, as citizens of countries, are constrained by… the international system.”

Furthermore, he especially influenced “the way we react and the way we think about threat and how we identify threats,” Kowert recalled.

In his presentation, Walt pointed out, “American Policy is deeply flawed,” but also added that there are alternatives to the current strategy. However, “Trump will not be the one to deliver these,” Walt continued.

Recalling the much-debated run for the presidency last year, Walt said that not only did Trump defy all the “normal” rules of campaigning, but also alienated all foreign policy experts in both parties, who heavily opposed him. However, Walt acknowledged that the other candidates in the race suggested non-traditional approaches to foreign policy, such as Bernie Sanders. Therefore, he concluded, it was only Hillary Clinton who truly defended the “foreign policy status quo.”

For the past few decades, the foreign policy establishment has advocated for a “liberal hegemonic grand strategy of the United States.” This approach usually implies that the United States is responsible for managing politics everywhere, spread democracy by all means, and integrate national economies into the global market.

While this approach has found less supporters in recent years, one being the current President, “we are gradually returning back to the core principles of liberal hegemony where we continue to try and run the world,” Walt explained.
“But instead of that being managed by a well-informed and sensible President, it’s managed by someone who picks fights for no good reasons and alienates friend with no good purpose,” stated Walt.