I wanted briefly to follow up on the previous post regarding Trump’s tough-talking on the chemical weapons attack in Syria.
I think it’s on foreign policy where Trump will likely be most vulnerable to universal criticism over the next four years (shorter, I hope). There are many reasons to believe this:
1.) Republican administrations tend to be nightmares internationally.
2.) Donald Trump knows virtually nothing. This is especially true when it comes to matters unrelated to pop culture, real estate and/or golf.
3.) Trump is happy to play lapdog to President Putin. That Vlade opposes almost all of the United States’ global goals vis-a-vis supporting free speech, democratic institutions, etc. is well-known and bodes much of the world ill.
But perhaps most of all:
4.) Trump is a narcissist.
This means that Donny will be extremely wary about engaging in the usual 24-hour right-wing fearmongering in order to start a war somewhere. Why? Because shooting and killing people will make Americans hate him. And being despised is something he just can’t stand.
Donald Trump’s brand of narcissism lends him to think “Everybody Loves Me.” He believes he can be all things to all people, which is why (he thinks) he’s become so tremendously popular.
It’s not too surprising an attitude to come from someone whose ‘political teeth’ were cut in a populist medium like reality TV. In contrast, there are no conservative politicians we know of capable of being tolerated, ratings-wise, in such a forum. They’re creepy, mechanical and off-putting – not to mention ready and willing to kill thousands of people in far-flung places like Iraq for fun and profit.
The simpler way of saying this is, when it comes to foreign policy, Donald Trump is not really a Republican. He is a populist, which is to say an idiot. Because when the usage of chemical weapons in Syria rears its hopeless and ugly head, any sober populist would run for the exits.
Unfortunately for him, the facts are that Trump is a Republican president, and that he’s surrounded by the GOP’s usual murderers and psychopaths. So there will be expectations of tough talk and making good on ‘promises’ with something like missile strikes and high fives.
But Trump just isn’t that guy. Others have noticed. The Atlantic:
Trump’s newfound horror at slaughter in Syria, and his apparent realization that Russia is enabling Assad, are puzzling, since both go back years. What his awakening might mean for U.S. policy is unclear. Speaking alongside Abdullah, Trump said he wouldn’t say what he was going to do lest he tip his hand. But this has been a frequent excuse for the president when he actually has no plan on hand.
This is a polite way of saying “Yeah, right pal.” Trump’s persona demands the bluster and brash talk, but then what’s next? WaPo:
The big question was how long Trump’s sense of outrage would last and whether it would lead to substantive action.
“The president just made a statement on Assad that looks 180 degrees different from his actual policy,” said Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford University and former official in the George W. Bush administration. “This may be a scattershot administration with a president that responds to near-term stimulus rather than long-term planning or strategy.”
Yep, that’s it. Trump is at first a loudmouth know-nothing who on second thought would prefer to do…nothing.
There’s only one thing I’ve read that goes beyond that initial question, “So what is he gonna DO?” And that was a Twitter rant by an Army veteran.
Jason Kander, a former Army intelligence officer and the former Missouri Secretary of State, reacted angrily to Trump’s decision to outsource more military decision-making powers from the White House to the Pentagon.
The reason this is bad, Kander wrote in a Thursday morning tweet storm, is that it allows Trump to evade responsibility for military actions that go wrong.
Kander isn’t just guessing about the net results of Trump’s ‘streamlining’ military decisions (which is more like ‘outsourcing’. Or, perhaps, ‘Hell I don’t know, General – you tell ME.’). Dodging responsibility is exactly what Trump did after the clusterfuck strike in Yemen that killed a Navy Seal and a number of civilians: “This was something that was, you know, they wanted to do. They came to see me, they explained what they wanted to do…” He told everybody it was the Navy’s idea, and it was their execution. And it was their mistakes: “[T]hey lost Ryan, and I was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in, and it was a very sad… There’s nothing worse. But again this was something that they were looking at for a long time…” He practically made a show of shrugging his shoulders for the world to see.
This is unprecedented cowardice, frankly.
“If POTUS chooses to streamline the mission approval process, it is morally wrong to be so dismissive of civilian casualties,” Kander said. “Civilian casualties will cost us working relationships with friends. That makes it nearly impossible to fight bad guys.”
Kander then tore into Trump’s general unwillingness to accept responsibility for bad things that happen on his watch, despite the fact that he’s all too willing to take credit for any positive news.
“He is ducking responsibility,” Kander wrote. “It is a disgusting level of selfishness. He’s putting lives at risk, but he’s not willing to risk looking bad.”
This, for narcissists, is like, exactly. Duh. Make the Pentagon tell the President what military ‘solution’ THEY like best, then go with that. Thank everybody for their input, then sit back and see what happens. If it kills a hundred civilians, tell America that the Army screwed up. Make it clear they promised POTUS such a thing wouldn’t happen. The President is very disappointed, he expected they’d do better! It’s the same game that middle managers play everyday.
On the other hand if the operation actually works, congratulate everyone for providing top-notch planning and execution. Then let Sean Spicer go before the press and sing the President’s praises as a steadfast leader and foreign policy genius, of course.
I think this is likely the Trump strategy we’ll see going forward. If he’s already been sufficiently cowed by the hawks, we may even see it in Syria as soon as next week. Let’s hope it hasn’t gotten to that (yet).
Breaking: The President’s latest comments.
As Politico’s Shane Goldmacher reports, Trump issued a new assessment of the Syrian situation on Thursday…
“I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity, and he’s there, I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen,” Trump said.
There’s a man who clearly enjoys being president.