Listen: Political Scientist Dominic Tierney on Donald Trump and Foreign Policy

RadioTimes (WHYY): “Trump’s foreign policy inheritance

Any time the Presidency changes hands, the incoming Commander-in-Chief has a variety of situations around the world that await them. For President-elect Trump, there is the ongoing war in Syria, tense alliances with Turkey and other Mid-East allies, combating terrorist organizations like ISIS, the refugee crises at home and in Europe, Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and the conflict in the South China Sea, among other things. Earlier this week, Associate Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney discussed these issues on WHYY's RadioTimes.

Among other things, Tierney expresses concern that Trump's vision of war is extremely narrow due to his stance on nation building. “There are some tensions within Trump’s thinking about ISIS. On the one hand, he has said basically he would destroy ISIS immediately and take it seriously in a way that President Obama never did. But at the same time, he has also said there would be no nation building," explains Tierney. "If we are just going to think about war in terms of bombing and destroying and not in terms of building and creating, then what happens when ISIS is pushed out?" 

Tierney also discusses the myriad challenges that Trump will face once he takes office: "This is a man who has no experience of government facing a country that is widely divided where the Democrats largely despise him, as do many of the Republicans. His bench of loyalists [...] is extremely thin and he is dealing with incredibly difficult domestic and foreign challenges."

He notes the phenomena of "Trumpism" predates Trump, defining the movement as a nationalistic attitude with skepticism of immigrants at its heart. This nationalistic populism has swept Europe. However, Tierney points out, "Although populism seems very difficult to beat at the ballot box, once nationalists get into power, they just don't know what to do."

Tierney, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of three additional books, including How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War. Tierney completed his Ph.D. in international politics at Oxford University in 2003 and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Mershon Center at Ohio State University and the Olin Institute at Harvard University before joining Swarthmore's faculty in 2005. In 2008-2009, he was a research fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.