January 31, 2019 | Press Release

New FDD Report Assesses First Two Years of Trump Administration’s Foreign and National Security Policies

FDD Scholars Provide Nonpartisan Analysis of 21 Key Areas of Global and Regional Instability

(Washington, D.C., January 31, 2019) – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) today released its assessment of the first two years of the Trump Administration’s efforts to advance and protect U.S. national security interests. The collection of essays authored by FDD scholars examines 21 key areas of national security interest, and includes a foreword by former U.S. National Security Advisor Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster.

“This assessment deserves wide attention because the stakes are high,” writes McMaster, chairman of the Board of Advisors of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power. “And it deserves attention because the authors have transcended the vitriolic and shallow partisan discourse that dominates much of what passes for commentary on foreign policy and national security.”

Midterm Assessment: The Trump Administration’s Foreign and National Security Policies,” provides critical analysis of the administration’s policies on several areas of global and regional instability, including Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, as well as on U.S. relations with major adversaries including Iran, Russia, China and North Korea.

Co-edited by FDD Senior Counselor John Hannah and Director of Research David Adesnik, the assessment comes as the president prepares for his second summit with Kim Jong Un, lawmakers prepare to receive his defense budget request, and U.S. negotiators attempt to hammer out a peace deal with the Taliban.

“We believe there is a real need to collect in one place the considered judgments of our experts on Trump’s policies at midterm,” said FDD Founder and President Clifford D. May, who authored the assessment’s Conclusion. “On the plus side, he has seemed not just willing, but eager, to confront America’s many enemies, adversaries and competitors, and to prevent them from making further advances. On the minus side, he has been mercurial, impulsive, and too quick to cast instances of modest progress as significant victories.”

Writes McMaster: “At a time when those who know the least about issues seem to be those who hold the most strident opinions, FDD’s work as represented in this assessment is essential to generating the bipartisan understanding necessary to compete effectively and preserve America’s strategic advantages.”

Scholars from FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI), FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP), and FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP) contributed to the nonpartisan assessment. FDD assessment authors include:

  • CEO and sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz on Iran
  • Juan Zarate, former deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor, on economic security
  • Senior Counselor John Hannah on Iraq and Saudi Arabia
  • Senior Vice President and Middle East scholar Jonathan Schanzer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Senior Fellow, North Korea scholar and former Army Special Forces Col. David Maxwell on North Korea
  • Senior Fellow and former Turkish Parliamentarian Aykan Erdemir on Turkey
  • Senior Fellow and counterterrorism scholar Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on Sunni jihadism
  • CMPP Senior Director and former Senate national security advisor Bradley Bowman on defense
  • CEFP Senior Director and former Treasury Department Senior Advisor Eric B. Lorber on China.

“This volume seeks to move beyond the polarized caricatures to capture the complexities of the past two years – the good, the bad and the ugly,” writes Hannah, Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security advisor and former senior advisor to Secretary of State Warren Christopher. “Nuance and balance may be increasingly out of vogue, but those remain the standards that these essays strive to meet.”

Each essay includes a summary of current Trump administration policy, a critical assessment of the policy, and a series of specific and actionable recommendations the White House and Congress should consider for the next two years.

“FDD’s scholars painstakingly examined the foreign and national security policies of the last two years and provide the detailed and nonpartisan analysis that is desperately needed,” Dubowitz said. “There is no political agenda. This is a policy focused report to help move our nation forward.”

“This publication brings together more than two dozen authors with a tremendous range of expertise. What they have in common is that they marshal facts and logic to challenge the conventional wisdom of all sides,” said David Adesnik, FDD director of research.

About FDD

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Visit our website at fdd.org and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.


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