President Donald Trump is advancing a combative and iconoclastic foreign policy that appears to sideline traditional diplomacy and concentrate decision-making among a small group of aides who are quickly projecting their new "America First" approach to the world.
Just before the Senate confirmed Trump's new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, yesterday, national security adviser Michael Flynn delivered a tight-lipped warning to Iran over its most recent ballistic missile test. "We are officially putting Iran on notice."
Tillerson takes office after a chaotic first dozen days for the Trump Administration that saw big swings away from security and foreign policy stances in place under the Obama Administration. The rise of Flynn and senior strategist Stephen Bannon calls into question whether someone like Tillerson, a more mainstream Republican, will wield much influence.
Trump campaigned on blowing up business as usual in Washington. Still, the Administration's tone has surprised allies and government employees who expected Trump to first spend time offering diplomatic niceties.
A European diplomat who met Trump aides recounted an exchange with Jason Greenblatt, then Trump's lawyer and now his chief of international negotiations. "We are business people," he was quoted as saying. "We are not going to govern this country with diplomatic niceties. We are going to govern it as a business."