Is There an Intellectual Trump Doctrine?

June 8, 2017 Topic: Politics Tags: Donald TrumpTrumpPolitics

Is There an Intellectual Trump Doctrine?

One Harvard graduate is seeking to answer the question.


Julius Krein, the editor of American Affairs, is a graduate of Harvard University who confesses that he began as a liberal, morphed into a neoconservative and is now sympathetic to the Trump administration. Krein is already cutting a wide swath among liberal and conservative elites; Politico, always attentive to the latest political currents, described him in January thus: “Meet the Harvard whiz kid who wants to explain Trumpism.” There have been no shortage of explanations. Krein himself is less focused on elucidating the specific policies of the administration than comprehending it. He sees his journal as offering a chance for left and right populists to discuss high politics and perhaps even influence public policy, much in the spirit of the magazine’s apostolic forebear, the Public Interest, which was edited by Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism. Today Krein says he remains a good friend of Kristol’s son Bill and that he studied under Harvey Mansfield at Harvard.

So much for Krein’s bona fides. How does his magazine look? Quite impressive. His first issue featured essays on a “Renewed Republican Party” by Georgetown professor Joshua Mitchell and on “The New Face of Globalization” by Clyde Prestowitz. The maiden issue was celebrated at a meeting in New York covered by the New York Times. The new issue of American Affairs features both the eminent French philosopher Pierre Manent as well as an essay by Michael Lind called “The New Class War.” Lind’s focus on James Burnham, J.A. Hobson (the British critic of imperialism who helped to inspire Lenin), among other things and the sway of managerial elites has already attracted the approbation of New York Times columnist David Brooks. According to Lind, “A transatlantic class war has broken out simultaneously in many countries between elites based in the corporate, financial, and professional sectors and working-class populists.” The results of the British snap election is the latest event to suggest that Lind is onto something.


What follows is an interview with Krein that covers a wide range of issues, from Donald Trump’s current predicament on Russia to global free trade.

Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of the National Interest.

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore.