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It is difficult to predict the effect of the Trump victory on US foreign policy. As candidate for the Republican ticket and for the Presidency, Donald Trump has said conflicting things, and his position has varied depending on what audience he addressed, getting more moderate as he clinched the nomination and then secured his victory.

Nevertheless it seems reasonable to expect radical change in US foreign relations: Trump has said for some time that he admires Putin’s leadership qualities and has advocated a reassessment of US/Russian relations.

The nuclear deal with Iran will face a hostile Presidency and Congress and could be derailed, although the fact that it is backed by a UN Security Council Resolution makes it more complicated for the US simply to repeal it.

Trump called an end to policies of regime change and state-building. Autocratic regimes in Sunni majority countries will welcome a more critical approach to Iran, but have not welcomed Trump’s anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric and may be even more doubtful of the US security umbrella than they were under the Obama Administration.

Trump has made some contradictory remarks about defence: he has said that he will spend what it takes to restore clear dominance for US armed forces yet at other times has blamed other countries’ reliance on the US for defence as “bankrupting” the country.

He has described NATO as “obsolete” and has called into question whether the US would automatically respond to the invasion of NATO members – the basis of the alliance. Reducing US commitment to NATO and, implicitly, ending the US role of world policeman would be one of the biggest changes to US foreign policy since the Second World War.

While Trump has promised to modernise the US nuclear arsenal he has spoken against nuclear proliferation. But sometimes seemed to suggest that Japan should get a nuclear arsenal to defend against the North Korea threat. 


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