The paper asks why and how it was possible to redesign established positions and priorities of US foreign policy during the first 2 years of Donald Trump’s presidency. The paper applies a neo-classical realist foreign policy framework focusing on four variables: the perceptions of the foreign policy executive, the strategic culture of the USA, state–society relations in the Trump era and finally the role of domestic government institutions. The paper concludes that the Trump administration after 2 and a half years in power had removed a number of obstacles to pursue a unilateral foreign policy placing America first. Trump and his administration were able to present, announce and launch a remarkable number of policy initiatives breaking with established foreign policy priorities of the USA. Not all announced policies were implemented by the mid-2019. But, the road ahead was open.