Writing for Politico Magazine, the Brookings Institution's Thomas Wright offers an interesting (though far too wordy) take on the chaotic divisions within the Trump administration's foreign policy schools of thought — one, more thoughtful than the other:
The real divide in the Trump administration is not between hawks and doves. By any reasonable standard, all of Trump’s officials are hawks….
The new divide is between litigators and planners. The litigators, led by Trump and deputized to Bolton, see national security policy as a way of settling scores with enemies, foreign and domestic, and closing the file. They will torpedo multilateral deals, pull out of international commitments and demonstrate American power before moving on to the next target.
The planners [led by Mike Pompeo and James Mattis] insist that the administration must have a plan for the day after the score settling. They know American foreign policy is a marathon, not a sprint. They are thinking about the U.S. position in Asia after a preventive strike, the future of the Iranian nuclear program after abandoning the JCPOA, and the health of alliances after trade wars. They worry that the litigators will get the United States into a whole lot of trouble with no way out—so they urge caution.
Regrettably, we already know which school will prevail, since its headmaster happens to be Trump.
A good way to think of this brutish litigator bunch — "they will … demonstrate American power before moving on to the next target" — is as a kind of earthly Borg, chomping their way in mindless lockstep through the modern world. Eventually, the planning Pompeos and Mattises will either be assimilated or jettisoned, for theirs is an incompatibility that cannot stand. Differences of opinion confuse and annoy Trump, who can handle only one simplicity at a time.
My guess is that Pompeo, being a superb and wily politician, will find ways to accommodate the Oval Office's toddler. But Mattis? He'll ultimately go screaming into the night.