Stories by Joel Rubin

Expert Voices

The growing foreign policy divides between Trump and Congress

Illustration of President Trump walking away from the Capitol Dome
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After facing minimal foreign policy friction with Congress in the first half of his term, at least among Republicans, President Trump has for several months been caught in a maelstrom of bipartisan criticism from lawmakers.

The big picture: Historically, American presidents have enjoyed wide latitude on foreign policy. But Trump has finally bumped up against the limits of that freedom and can no longer count on Congress falling in line — with pushback from both an assertive Democratic House and a foreign policy establishment well channeled by the Republican Senate.

Expert Voices

A multilateral approach could smooth transition in Venezuela

Juan Gaido speaking at a podium to a crowd
Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaidó at a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolás Maduro on Jan. 23. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump has taken a firm position on Venezuela by officially recognizing opposition leader and National Assembly head Juan Guaidó as the country's president. This declaration could mark a moment either to draw a red line and walk away or to further amplify the U.S.' voice through a multilateral approach in opposing Nicolás Maduro.

The big picture: Maduro is already claiming the anti-gringo mantle, despite the rise of a domestic opposition leader legally empowered to demand his removal. To ensure long-term stability, the U.S.' most promising approach is to work with regional allies who together will bolster Guaidó's efforts to legally succeed Maduro.

Expert Voices

With withdrawal walk back, Bolton scrambles Trump's Syria policy

US National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton listens as President Trump speaks to members of the U.S. military during a trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, on Dec. 26, 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

National security adviser John Bolton is in the Middle East this week attempting to sell President Trump's Syria withdrawal policy, which Bolton opposed only several weeks ago. And it appears that he still opposes it, based on reports that he told Israeli and Turkish officials that the U.S. won't be leaving Syria until the Islamic State is defeated.

Why it matters: It would be tough enough for Bolton to convince Israel to support Trump's proposal to leave Iran to “do what they want” in Syria; the Kurds that they are safe, despite public concern that the Turks will slaughter them; and Jordan and Iraq that ISIS is defeated, as the president claims, despite their battling ISIS nearly every day. The discrepancies are amounting to incoherent policy.

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