Trump can’t be modeled ‘as a rational actor,’ Palantir Global Defense chief says
Former President Trump’s unpredictable foreign policy decisions during his time in office is making it difficult for America’s adversaries to plan what a second term could look like, a defense expert told Fox News.
“No one in the world can model him as a rational actor, without being insulting. It’s just that you can’t,” said Doug Philippone, who co-founded the defense sector venture capital firm Snowpoint Ventures. He called Trump’s unpredictability one of his “strengths.”
“He played off of that because you didn’t know what he was going to do,” Philippone continued.
Trump faced a deluge of criticism over his international affairs during his first term, though his supporters praised his America First strategy. The 45th president “unmade U.S. foreign policy,” Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass wrote, while a Foreign Affairs analysis called Trump’s strategies “incoherent.” But his moves also forced America’s allies to become less reliant on the U.S.
“When Trump came along, it woke us up to the fact that the U.S. might not always act in European interest, especially if it goes against American interest,” a senior Eurpoean Union diplomat told CNN. “It sounds naive saying it out loud, but that was the assumption a lot people made.”
Philippone, who has headed the global defense program for the data analytics firm Palantir Technologies since 2008 and commanded multiple Joint Special Operations Command outstations during his 18 years in the Army, said Trump’s untraditional foreign policy approach helped stave off international conflict.
“You have to be strong, but then you have to make sure that everybody knows that you’re willing to do something,” Philippone added.
Still, several world leaders, particularly U.S. allies, told The Wall Street Journal they’re concerned about what a second Trump term could bring if he were to win the 2024 presidential election. Foreign policy experts echoed similar sentiments to a New York Times columnist.
“I think we’re going to be up for a really wild year, to say the least,” Philippone told. “I like to believe that we’re the best country in the world, and we’re going to do the right thing, and it’s going to be okay.”
With tensions rising internationally, it’s likely foreign policy will play a key role in the 2024 presidential race. In addition to wars in Ukraine and Gaza, China has recently increased pressure on Taiwan.
Iranian-backed militants like the Houthis, meanwhile, have been targeting cargo ships in the Red Sea, as well as the U.S. military. A recent attack on a U.S. base in Jordan killed three American service members and injured dozens more.
How President Biden responds, Philippone said, will serve as a sort of measuring stick for how well he can handle foreign aggressors.
“How we deal with the Iranian problem in the near term is really important,” Philippone said.
In the days following Philippone’s interview, the U.S. launched retaliatory airstrikes on more than 85 targets of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated militias in Syria and Iraq, as well as against the Houthis in Yemen.