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US Foreign Policy After the Midterm Election

Foreign policy was scarcely mentioned in the US midterm elections. But that is likely to change, as a cornered President Donald Trump attempts to exploit external problems – concerning Syria, Iran, and Russia, in particular – to undermine the Democrats' popularity following their takeover of the House of Representatives.

WASHINGTON, DC – One thing missing from the recent US midterm election campaigns was a focus on foreign policy. While much was made of the migrant caravan making its way from Central America through Mexico, issues such as trade with China, Iran, North Korea, and even Russia and cyber subterfuge didn’t get much traction. With the Democratic Party having regained control of the US House of Representatives, that will change.

A cornered President Donald Trump is likely to turn to a favorite tactic of autocrats everywhere: manufacturing foreign-policy crises to distract the public’s attention from problems at home. Trump’s determination to control media headlines makes him all the more likely, when it suits him, to call attention to the troubles in the Middle East, rediscover the North Korean nuclear threat, and force the Democrats to make a tough choice between being hard on Russia or getting into an arms race.

Trump may also decide to use Congress as a foreign-policy foil, tossing international challenges back into the lap of lawmakers, who will be hard-pressed to come up with good answers.