Fuel to the Fire

How Trump Made America’s Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover)

Fuel to the Fire Book

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump broke not only from the Republican Party but also from the bipartisan consensus on U.S. foreign policy. Calling the Iraq War a terrible mistake and lamenting America’s nation-building expedi­tions, Trump evinced little interest in maintaining the traditional form of American leadership of the liberal international order. Instead, Trump’s “America First” vision called for a reassertion of American nationalism on the economic front as well as in foreign affairs.


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Since Trump took office, it has become clear that “America First” was more of a campaign slogan than a coherent vision of American grand strategy. As president, Trump has steered a course that has maintained some of the worst aspects of previous foreign policy—namely, the pursuit of primacy and frequent military inter­vention—while managing to make a new set of mistakes all his own.

While President Trump continues to muddle along, now is the time to consider what should come after. In Fuel to the Fire, the authors characterize and explain Trump’s foreign policy doctrine and the effect that he likely will have on U.S. foreign policy during his tenure. Further­more, they provide policy recommendations that are centered on restraint—a radical departure from America’s expansive global military role in the world but a return to the historical American focus on trade and diplomacy.




“Reading this book won’t cheer you up, but it will make you smarter. Fuel to the Fire is a comprehensive and dispassionate account of Donald Trump’s failing foreign policy, and it points the way toward a more effective grand strategy.”

— Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government


“At a time when American foreign policy is badly in need of a reboot, this provocative, powerfully argued call to move past a failing insistence on militarized primacy is a welcome addition to the debate.”

— Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to President Barack Obama, 2009–2017