(Originally published by the Centre For Land Warfare, New Delhi, India. Republished here, with added links.)
I’ve covered elections since 2008, both as a blogger and journalist. As a blogger, writing about two US elections of 2008 and 2012, and the Indian general election and the UK election. As a journalist and correspondent, New Zealand elections and Fiji elections. Never in my life, have I encountered an anomaly like Donald Trump.
Now, as a foreign policy researcher (and as my publications show, I consider myself to be a neorealist) and I have written enough about why neither Trump, nor Obama are realists of any sort. Other realists have written similarly as well. (Walt on Obama, Walt on Trump, Joffe on Obama, Blatt on Trump)
But that debate suddenly just got vicious.
As readers remember, Daniel Drezner first wrote about how Trump is/will be accepted as a foreign policy realist, because of how he sounds realist, has specific policy proposals similar to the stark realist world even some realists shudder to think about. I flinched at the thought then. But it is no shame to write now, perhaps I was wrong, and I underestimated Trump’s legitimisation within the realist foreign policy community.
The recent episode was the firing of a fellow of National Interest, who like a lot of realists, opposed this legitimisation of Trump by hosting him and correctly pointed out in an essay for the War on the Rocks, (where I write occasionally as well, which I must mention here for the sake of balance), that Trump is a charlatan and is too incoherent to be a realist president. Of course National Interest justified the hosting of Trump but it was not convincing, to say the least.
So where does that leave realists now?
I believe, this is what we see,