Around the world, the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States has led to uncertainty and questions about future US foreign policy. These doubts focus on the role of the US as a mainstay of the liberal international order and as the guarantor of the security of America’s allies, in both Europe and Asia. They are mainly prompted by statements made by the president-elect during the election campaign. Under the slogans ‘America first’ and ‘Making America great again’, that campaign suggested a commitment to hard American self-interest in Trump’s foreign policy vision. The outside world was mainly depicted as an assortment of profiteers who acting under the banner of free trade and allied solidarity left the US to pick up the bill. Coupled with Trump’s harsh tone towards China and conciliatory noises towards Vladimir Putin’s Russia, this has generated considerable concern in Western liberal and European circles in particular. Is Trump’s arrival the prelude to a further chilling of international relations, with the post-war liberal international order as the first victim?
The central question in this epilogue is what effects the new president may have on the international order. At first sight, statements made by Trump during and after the election campaign give ample reason to expect a dramatic change in US foreign policy after 20 January 2017. At the same time, this ‘Trump doctrine’ should be explicitly placed within a broader context: alongside all the uncertainty about the policy agenda, continuity can be expected in US policy as well as restrictions on US actions in a complex international order. Finally, in light of these restrictions, this contribution discusses some future expectations.