When it comes to foreign policy, we often think of a country's strength in terms of military might — especially in the United States. After all, the U.S. military budget is by far the largest on Earth. Last year, it was more than twice as big as that of China, the second-biggest military spender.
Of course, the United States also wields enormous economic influence, an asset that may be more powerful even than tanks and soldiers. The American economy is the largest in the world, and that preeminence allows the United States to exert control over many levers of power. The Trump administration, like others before it, knows this well.
This is why President Trump's decision to suddenly rescue a Chinese telecom company facing ruinous U.S. trade restrictions is so bewildering — and perhaps worrying. It may have implications not only for America's growing economic faceoff with China (a huge subject in its own right) but also for U.S. foreign policy writ large.