What could Project 2025 mean for the rest of the world?

The 922-page right-wing wish list for a Trump comeback includes pointers on foreign policy and defence.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, June 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. Trump is seeking to distance himself from a plan for a massive overhaul of the federal government drafted by some of his administration officials.
Current Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Philadelphia [File: Chris Szagola/AP Photo]

As elections in the United States draw closer, polls indicate that former President Donald Trump could be back in the Oval Office by early 2025.

One possible indication of what a second Trump administration might look like is Project 2025, a transition plan spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank in Washington, DC.

The 922-page doorstopper is essentially a how-to guide for a right-wing model of governance, proposing a dramatic overhaul of the federal government with plans to expand presidential power and purge the civil service of “liberals”.

While largely focused on dismantling the “Deep State”, the document also offers pointers on foreign policy, striking a hawkish tone on China – “the most significant danger to Americans’ security, freedoms, and prosperity” – prioritising nuclear weapons production and curtailing international aid programmes.

What is Project 2025’s vision for the US and its relations with the world? And what’s driving this policy agenda?

How does Project 2025 see America’s place in the world?

On defence and foreign policy, Project 2025 aims for a definitive break with the administration of President Joe Biden.

Christopher Miller, who served as defence secretary under Trump, slams Biden’s track record in the project’s hefty Mandate for Leadership section, speaking of “disturbing decay” and a “dangerous decline” in the “nation’s capabilities and will”.

The signs are all there, Miller says, pointing to the “disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our impossibly muddled China strategy, the growing involvement of senior military officers in the political arena, and deep confusion about the purpose of our military”.

What are some of Project 2025’s key foreign policies?

Here are some of the highlights:

Taking on China

China is the project’s main defence concern. Miller fears the country is “undertaking a historic military buildup”, which “could result in a nuclear force that matches or exceeds America’s own nuclear arsenal”.

He wants to prevent China from subordinating Taiwan or allies like the Philippines, South Korea and Japan, thus upsetting the “balancing coalition … designed to prevent Beijing’s hegemony over Asia”.

While the US tackles what Project 2025 presents as Beijing’s belligerence, Miller wants US allies to “step up”, some helping it to take on China, others taking more of a lead in “dealing with threats from Russia in Europe, Iran, the Middle East, and North Korea”.

Ramping up nuclear weapons

Project 2025 wants the US to “modernise, adapt, and expand its nuclear arsenal”.

“All US nuclear capabilities and the infrastructure on which they rely date from the Cold War and are in dire need of replacement,” Miller says in the Mandate for Leadership.

Under Project 2025, nuclear production would be bulked up. Among other things, this would involve accelerating the “development and production of the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile”.

It would also involve testing nuclear weapons at the Nevada National Security Site – in defiance of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, of which the US is a signatory.

Targeting international aid

Max Primorac, senior research fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation, dislikes the “woke ideas” being pushed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The Biden Administration has deformed the agency by treating it as a global platform to pursue overseas a divisive political and cultural agenda that promotes abortion, climate extremism, gender radicalism, and interventions against perceived systemic racism,” he says in the project’s Mandate for Leadership.

The project’s main bugbears appear to be “gender radicalism” and abortion rights.

Primorac argues that promoting “gender radicalism” goes against “traditional norms of many societies where USAID works”, causing “resentment” because recipients have to reject their own “firmly held fundamental values regarding sexuality” to receive “lifesaving assistance”.

It has also, he says, created “outright bias against men”.

He claims that abortion on demand is “aggressively” promoted under the guise of “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights”, “gender equality” and “women’s empowerment”.

To counter “woke ideas”, Project 2025 wants to “dismantle” all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which it views as “discriminatory”.

Among other things, this would involve scrubbing from all USAID communications references to the terms “gender”, “gender equality”, “gender equity”, “gender diverse individuals”, “gender aware”, “gender sensitive”, “abortion”, “reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive rights”.

What does Project 2025 propose on the domestic front?

Much of the manifesto bears a strong resemblance to Trump’s known policy proclivities with proposals to deport en masse more than 11 million undocumented immigrants and give states more control over education, limiting progressive initiatives on issues such as LGBTQ rights.

But on some issues, it goes further than Trump’s campaign, calling on federal authorities to ban pornography and reverse approval of a pill used in abortions, mifepristone. It also calls for anyone providing or distributing abortion pills by mail to be prosecuted.

Project 2025 pledges to restore “the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children”.

It recommends the authorities “proudly state that men and women are biological realities” and that “married men and women are the ideal, natural family structure because all children have a right to be raised by the men and women who conceived them”.

Biden’s campaign posted a shot from the dystopian TV drama The Handmaid’s Tale on X, showing women stripped of their identities standing before a cross, captioned with the words “Fourth of July under Trump’s Project 2025”.

Democrats, currently beleaguered by concerns over Biden’s mental fitness for office after his faltering debate performance late last month, have doubled down on efforts to link Project 2025 to the Trump campaign.

Has Trump endorsed Project 2025?

Trump says the transition plan has nothing to do with him.

“I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal,” he posted this month on his social media platform, Truth Social.

While Trump has distanced himself from Project 2025, he has connections with some of those involved.

According to journalist Judd Legum, 31 of the 38 people who helped write or edit the project served in some manner in Trump’s administration or transition.

These include project director Paul Dans, who was chief of staff at the US Office of Personnel Management under Trump.

John McEntee, former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office in the Trump administration, acted as a senior adviser on the project.

And project partners include several leading conservative groups with ties to Trump’s campaign, such as Turning Point USA; the Center for Renewing America, run by Russ Vought, Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget; and America Legal First, founded by Stephen Miller, the former president’s immigration adviser.

Some of the project’s contributors have also spoken about their connections with the former president.

In February, Dans told a Nashville gathering of religious broadcasters that he intended to serve in a second Trump administration.

And McEntee told The Daily Wire that Project 2025 would integrate a lot of its work with the Trump campaign when the presidential contender announces his transition team.

Source: Al Jazeera