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U.S. President Donald Trump is a firm believer in the great man theory of politics. Throughout the 2016 campaign, he insisted that “I alone can fix” the problems that had robbed the United States of its former glory and that he would “Make America Great Again.” Solving many of those problems demands a partner with whom the president can strike a deal; Trump is convinced that he has a unique ability to forge relationships with world leaders that will advance U.S. interests.

While strong personal ties among leaders can facilitate problem solving, Trump makes those relationships an end in themselves rather than a means to achieve national objectives. He is conflating, if not confusing, his personal relationship with world leaders with advancing the national interest.

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