03 November 2017
It is well known that the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States triggered a wave of privately expressed unease in many Asian capitals. In particular, Trump’s inauguration speech spelt out the cornerstone of his foreign policy in simple terms: “We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American. We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” In the course of three recent visits by the leaders of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore to Washington, President Trump has demonstrated consistency in applying these ‘rules’.
What one sees emerging out of the Trump White House is nothing less than transactional leadership translated into foreign policy. In the transactional theory of leadership, leaders produce compliance from followers by promising tangible carrots and sticks. In managerial settings, this is remarkably effective since followers expect the leader to specify clear key performance targets against which the former can measure their productivity if they are achieving or falling short of it. But in the world of international politics, transactional foreign policy may be complicated to the point of possible failure.
… Alan Chong is Associate Professor in the Centre for Multilateralism Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
CMS / GPO / Online
Last updated on 07/11/2017