Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: Prepare for a strategic shift in American foreign policy

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with President-elect Donald Trump in New York City. Photo / AP
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with President-elect Donald Trump in New York City. Photo / AP

If there's one thing the Americans aren't good at, it's foreign policy.

Time and time again they've botched it up, from Vietnam, to Afghanistan and to the continuing mess they've created in Iraq following their invasion in 2003 looking for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

The body count there is well in excess of half a million and while the official war is over, the country remains one of the most dangerous places on earth, along with Syria of course.

The world now waits with bated breath to see what foreign policy line is now going to be followed by President-elect Donald Trump, who even before he won the Republican nomination, was telling the country he was going to have a complete and total shutdown of all Muslims entering the country.

And in what will probably be his final press conference of his Presidency, Barack Obama fired a veiled shot at his successor, one of his greatest concerns, he said, was American policy, statements and positions further radicalising and alienating Muslims around the world and those living in the United States.

But Trump's Islamaphobic appointments so far can only have deepened that concern, like Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser who said in August that Islam is a political ideology, not a religion and likened it to a cancer.

One can only hope that Obama's right though when he reasoned that once Trump gets his feet under the desk in the Oval Office, the reality of the responsibility will force him to adjust how he approaches issues.

His final press conference was loaded with Trump questions, not surprising given that American presidents hold so few of them.

So far this year Obama's held just seven and they're heavily orchestrated affairs with just a handful of reporters being anointed beforehand to ask heavily scripted questions.

At least they get to put questions to the President, but if Trump's campaign rhetoric is anything to by, the media's is in for a bumpy ride with his administration.

He claimed the media was sick and it was making the country sick and he's going to stop it.

How he was going to manage that wasn't spelt out but press conferences are likely to be even rarer under his presidency, just like they were with one of his Republican predecessors Ronald Reagan, who once went for two years without fronting the White House press corps.

- Newstalk ZB

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