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Today’s discussion is with Dr Reuben Steff.

Reuben is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.

He teaches courses on New Zealand foreign policy, international relations and global security. Reuben has worked for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the International Security and Disarmament Division, and the Strategic Policy Division.

We talk about his soon to be released book: US Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump: Drivers, Strategy and Tactics (Routledge, 2020). It’s a good read where Reuben attempts to objectively look at Trump’s foreign policy approach, to find patterns of behaviour and to look beyond the bluster. It’s not intended as a justification of the administration’s approach and choices. Rather his purpose in writing the book is to enable better debate of it.

It’s an interesting discussion, with references to Nixon and Kissenger’s Madman theory in foreign affairs – characterised by irrationality, volatility and unpredictability.  We talk a lot about whether there is strength or advantage to be gained from unpredictability.  President Trump has previously said that the U.S. had become too predictable.

Of course, we also consider what this uncertain context means for small states like New Zealand.

Host biography:
Jordan Small:
[email protected]

Guest biography:
Dr Reuben Steff:

For comments and feedback:
Email: [email protected]

Credits – opening and closing music:
Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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