New Books Network

Christopher A. Preble, John Glaser, and A. Trevor Thrall

Fuel to the Fire

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

Cato Institute 2019

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network December 30, 2019 Charles Coutinho

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump broke not only from the Republican Party consensus but also from the bipartisan consensus on the direction of...

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump broke not only from the Republican Party consensus but also from the bipartisan consensus on the direction of recent U.S. foreign policy. Calling the Iraq war a terrible mistake and lamenting America’s nation building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Trump has shown little interest in maintaining the traditional form of American leadership of the liberal international order. He has threatened to pull the United States out of NATO, complained that the United States was being taken advantage of by its trading partners, and argued that uncontrolled third-world immigration was a terrible mistake and indeed a threat to the American heartland. Instead, Trump’s “America First” vision called for a reassertion of American nationalism on the economic front as well as in foreign affairs. In short, President Trump’s foreign policy is more akin to that of the pre-Franklin Delano Roosevelt America. Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America’s Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover) (Cato Institute, 2019), co-authored by Christopher A. PrebleJohn Glaser, and A. Trevor Thrall, this book provides an assessment of Trump’s America First Doctrine, its performance to date and its implications for the future.

Since Trump took office, it has become clear that “America First” was more campaign slogan than coherent vision of American grand strategy and foreign policy. As president Trump has steered a course that has maintained some of the worst aspects of foreign policy of the Bush and Obama era – namely the pursuit of primacy if not hegemony and frequent military intervention abroad – while managing to make a new set of mistakes all his own.


Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.