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Thu Dec 28, 2017, 04:50 PM

Trump's approach to diplomacy isn't new - it's undisciplined, uneducated, unpredictable, random.

From the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/us/politics/trump-world-diplomacy.html?_r=0

Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Trump remains an erratic, idiosyncratic leader on the global stage, an insurgent who attacks allies the United States has nurtured since World War II and who can seem more at home with America’s adversaries. His Twitter posts, delivered without warning or consultation, often make a mockery of his administration’s policies and subvert the messages his emissaries are trying to deliver abroad.

Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.

At first, things again went badly. Mr. Trump did not shake Ms. Merkel’s hand in the Oval Office, despite the requests of the assembled photographers. (The president said he did not hear them.)

Later, he told Ms. Merkel that he wanted to negotiate a new bilateral trade agreement with Germany. The problem with this idea was that Germany, as a member of the European Union, could not negotiate its own agreement with the United States.

Rather than exposing Mr. Trump’s ignorance, Ms. Merkel said the United States could, of course, negotiate a bilateral agreement, but that it would have to be with Germany and the other 27 members of the union because Brussels conducted such negotiations on behalf of its members.

“So it could be bilateral?” Mr. Trump asked Ms. Merkel, according to several people in the room. The chancellor nodded.

“That’s great,” Mr. Trump replied before turning to his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, and telling him, “Wilbur, we’ll negotiate a bilateral trade deal with Europe.”

Afterward, German officials expressed relief among themselves that Ms. Merkel had managed to get through the exchange without embarrassing the president or appearing to lecture him. Some White House officials, however, said they found the episode humiliating.

“Statecraft has been singularly absent from the treatment of some of his allies, particularly the U.K.,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Trump’s feuds with Ms. May and other British officials have left him in a strange position: feted in Beijing and Riyadh but barely welcome in London, which Mr. Trump is expected to visit early next year, despite warnings that he will face angry protesters.

With China, Mr. Trump’s cultivation of Mr. Xi probably persuaded him to put more economic pressure on its neighbor North Korea over its provocative behavior. But even the president has acknowledged, as recently as Thursday, that it is not enough. And in return for Mr. Xi’s efforts, Mr. Trump has largely shelved his trade agenda vis-à-vis Beijing.

“It was a big mistake to draw that linkage,” said Robert B. Zoellick, who served as United States trade representative under Mr. Bush. “The Chinese are playing him, and it’s not just the Chinese. The world sees his narcissism and strokes his ego, diverting him from applying disciplined pressure.”

“There’s a chasm that can’t be bridged between the globalists and the nationalists,” said Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist and the leader of the nationalist wing, who has kept Mr. Trump’s ear since leaving the White House last summer.

On the globalist side of the debate stand General McMaster; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; and Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn. On the nationalist side, in addition to Mr. Bannon, stand Stephen Miller, the president’s top domestic adviser, and Robert Lighthizer, the chief trade negotiator. On many days, the nationalist group includes the commander in chief himself.

The globalists have curbed some of Mr. Trump’s most radical impulses. He has yet to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, though he has refused to recertify it. He has reaffirmed the United States’ support for NATO, despite his objections about those members he believes are freeloading. And he has ordered thousands of additional American troops into Afghanistan, even after promising during the campaign to stay away from nation-building.

This has prompted a few Europeans to hope that “his bark is worse than his bite,” in the words of Mr. Westmacott.

A pretty fascinating read about an unprepared and unqualified person who has stumbled into a larger world for which he knows neither the rules, nor the consequences of not knowing the rules. He's being played because he's dealing with experienced elder statespeople, and he's walking away thinking he's winning winning winning because they shower him with enough flattery and praise that it strokes his fragile ego.

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Reply Trump's approach to diplomacy isn't new - it's undisciplined, uneducated, unpredictable, random. (Original post)
Saviolo Dec 2017 OP
gratuitous Dec 2017 #1
Saviolo Dec 2017 #2

Response to Saviolo (Original post)

Thu Dec 28, 2017, 05:51 PM

1. Our allies can't take us at our word, our adversaries are emboldened

President Trump is ignorant as all get out, and has no grasp of the interconnectedness of foreign policy. He doesn't consult with career professionals in the diplomatic corps, and he makes reckless pronouncements that raise the possibility of a nuclear exchange.

It's nice of the Times to offer up this compendium during one of the deadest news times of the year, but how about some contemporaneous reporting in real time about Trump's parade of blunders? Why do they keep shielding him and propping him up? Our allies are reduced to hoping that Trump doesn't really mean what he keeps saying; that's no way to run a country or its foreign policy. This is the United States we're talking about here, not some two-bit side player with a tin-plated dictator.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 28, 2017, 06:06 PM

2. It's hard to keep up with the rate of falsehoods

This is the United States we're talking about here, not some two-bit side player with a tin-plated dictator.

Well... except for the tin-plated (would be) dictator, I agree with you.

Also, Daniel Dale at the Toronto Star has been keeping a running list of Trump's false statements:

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