But Asli Bâli and Aziz Rana take a stab at it in America's Imperial Unraveling Boston Review 10/16/2017. They call attention to a key paradox of US unilateral tendencies in international relations:
... the reliance on a politics of unilateral force has produced an interesting disconnect. While during the Cold War the United States faced serious adversaries, it was nonetheless largely able to avoid any real experience of existential threat. Today, faced with far more limited foes, the country has adopted a politics that presents the real possibility of existential violence and nuclear confrontation.They identify two important tendencies in Trump's foreign policy:
If there is something like a “Trump Doctrine,” it lies in two developments: the boldness with which a declared reliance on coercion and conquest now sits uncomfortably beside America’s professed moral authority; and the implications of Trump’s ethno-nationalism for how global allies and enemies are conceived. For starters, whereas earlier administrations emphasized the need for diplomacy even as they consistently preferred unilateral uses of military force, Trump eschews such niceties. Instead his administration is at pains to dismantle the infrastructure of the State Department, with the president declaring that the United States intends to “take Iraq’s oil” and plunder “Afghanistan’s minerals.” Trump’s bald reliance on strongman tactics is difficult for elites to reconcile with their persistent belief in American exceptionalism. Yet, this is simply the culmination of the last quarter-century’s cleaving of U.S. power from its classic justifications.But they aren't making the suggestion that because Trump's foreign policy continues some major trends in US policy that we shouldn't consider it as especially radical.
The other development is that by giving a seat at the foreign policy table to proponents of a virulent ethno-nationalism, Trump’s presidency marks a shift in U.S. self-presentation. Such ethno-nationalists contest the universalist and inclusive premises of Cold War rhetoric. They defend a harsh anti-immigrant position and proclaim the link between Americanism and European racial and cultural identity. These racialized premises are central to the fixation with Iran - rather than say Russia for example - and to the insistence that a country with which the United States was, until recently, able to conduct complex diplomacy now presents a paramount national threat. [my emphasis]
They also suggest, without putting in exactly these terms, that Trump policy in the Greater Middle East may be the kind of laboratory for brutal mischief in something like the way Central America was for the Reagan Administration. "Trump’s posture on Syria is to treat the country as a sandbox where he can try out various regional alliances, without any actual plan for - or regard to - how lasting peace might be generated there."
They provide a useful description of the contradictory nature of the position the US established for itself in the world in the postwar period under the assumption that America had a legitimate mission to shape the world in our own image:
In practice, this justified restructuring foreign societies on U.S. terms by spreading abroad both market-based capitalism and the institutions of liberal democracy. It also called for the creation of an international framework marked by these same principles, especially through multilateral and consensus-based legal structures, to address the problems of global governance. The United States was at the forefront of establishing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, the Bretton Woods institutions, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and a plethora of other interlocking institutions aimed at shaping everything from international monetary policy and global trade to health, education, and scientific cooperation. The overall aim was a U.S.-led world driven by collective security and capitalist economic principles, with U.S. military power and wealth as the ultimate backstop. [my emphasis]They remind us of some of the mistakes and bad acts of US foreign policy in that process. But as long as the Soviet Union existed as a competing superpower, US policy also had a major stabilizing effect on international politics, as well. But, "While the end of the Cold War meant the end of the perceived Soviet threat, it also decreased the pressures that had led U.S. leaders to value international institutions as conducive to national self-interest."
The Clinton Administration embraced that process tending toward more unilateralism. The Cheney-Bush Administration embraced unilateralism with enthusiasm. "The George W. Bush administration repudiated the Geneva Conventions when justifying its use of force against al Qaeda, withdrew from arms control agreements, and promulgated a national security strategy premised on preemption." Yes, he did.
And then there was the Libya War, in which President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton willingly intervened:
If anything, the 2011 intervention in Libya, which recalled the chaos and violence of the Iraq invasion a decade earlier, raised doubts about whether the United States was legitimate - or even competent—in its uses of force. Whatever the stated aim—whether fighting terrorism, countering arms proliferation, or serving humanitarianism - U.S. military force seemed ill-suited for the task.Yet, "For all the ways that the Obama years continued the basic orientation of U.S. foreign policy - highlighted specifically by the intervention in Libya and the arming of factions in Syria - the one break was his focus on using diplomacy with Iran to deescalate any nuclear confrontation."
This is a very useful piece in trying to understand the current direction - such as there is - of US foreign policy under Trump.