CHANNEL NEWS ASIA: Overby and Reischer on Trump’s SOTU and implications for Asia

COMMENTARY: Warning – the US is now focused on the 2020 election

By Tami Overby & Rosalind Reischer

February 8, 2019

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump used his second State of the Union address to deliver a message of unity to the American people, effectively doubling down on his America First policy for a domestic audience.

Coming on the back of the reopening of the American government, this period of lull gave him the opportunity to urge national cohesion on a range of issues.

He included small conciliatory policy tokens to appeal to a broad audience of Americans including reducing the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, a call for an end to the opioid crisis, veteran affairs reform, and criminal justice reform.

But his advocacy for more combative policies, including a vehement recommitment to building the wall and immigration, tighter abortion laws, and the US reciprocal trade act, were geared toward mobilising the republican base that could secure his re-election.

Interpretation of his articulation of American foreign policy towards Asia must take into account this fractured state of domestic politics. Trump will use foreign policy to project American strength to bolster his position at home.

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