Donald Trump is nothing if not flexible when it comes to his policy positions. He knows how to seize the limelight, as he did with a surprise strike on Syria, and has been moving along what has charitably been referred to as the “learning curve” on a host of other issues. No issue shows Trump’s willingness to transform more than NATO: “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete,” he said recently. The challenge in analyzing this president is in predicting where he’ll land in his game of global spin-the-bottle. It’s impossible to know how likely his shifts are, but a number of foreign-policy issues could be described as soft spots—areas where he is amenable to sudden changes in position. Here are five issues that Trump could easily swing on.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership. The proposed Asia-Pacific trade deal took a thumping in the Trump campaign, and the new president made withdrawing from the deal one of his first acts. Yet the forces opposed to trade on the campaign are on the downswing. Nationalist adviser Steve Bannon is reportedly on the rocks, while Gary Cohn, an advocate of trade deals, is ascendant. Japan and other TPP countries are keeping hope alive for a deal even without the United States, and Tokyo has just declared it’s not interested in the bilateral deal Trump wants to pursue instead. As geopolitical tensions rise in Asia, Trump is likely to hear from his allies and his more traditionalist advisers that a regional strategy to bind America to the region is desirable. There’s nothing stopping Trump from renegotiating a few aspects of the TPP text and declaring a new deal—he wouldn’t even need to change the acronym. Just call it the Trump Pacific Partnership.