Breaking Up the Order

I’ve been toying with a post on Trump’s foreign policy so far but it keeps running aground on the problem that Trumps doesn’t seem to have a foreign policy apart from pissing off all our allies and sucking up to Russia. In the past few weeks:

  • Trump rejected free trade ideals at the G-20, causing a major rift between us and our major economic partners. I understand being opposed to TPP or even NAFTA. But the principle of free trade is something we should commit to whole-heartedly.
  • Trump hurled baseless accusations that the British GCHQ wire-tapped Trump tower at Obama’s behest, an accusation so stupid the Administration eventually had to apologize for it. I have no doubt the British spy on us, just as we spy on them. But you can’t just run around randomly accusing our allies of spying on you because you misunderstood a Breitbart post. In hearings yesterday, multiple members of the intelligence community indicated there was absolutely no basis to Trump’s accusations.
  • The Secretary of State will reportedly skip out on a critical NATO in order to meet with Russia.
  • FBI Directory Comey indicated that they are investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia (not ties between Trump himself and Russia; a critical distinction). Trump responded with his usual blarney.
  • Trump had a bad meeting with Angel Merkel, head of one of our key military and economic partners.
  • He had an awkward meeting with the Irish PM.
  • Has still not filled many key positions at the State Department, including critical ambassadorships.

None of this is particularly lethal to the country, of course. But it betrays an Administration that remains inept, amateurish and unable to learn.

We’re two months into the Trump years. I understand he’s an outsider but so far we are seeing little indication that he’s learning how this works or has any inclination of learning how it works. I raised this same criticism during the campaign: my problem with Trump was less that he was ignorant about government but that he showed no inclination to learn. And we’re still seeing that he has no inclination to learn.

And it also exposes, yet again, the hypocrisy of at least half the criticism of Obama over the last eight years. If half of this stuff had happened under Obama, the Right Wing would be foaming at the mouth about how he was turning his back on our allies and undoing seven decades of building a functional peaceful prosperous international order.

(The hypocrisy goes way beyond that, of course. We heard for years about Obama’s expensive trips but now hear nothing about Trump spending twice as much to go to Mar-A-Lago every weekend. Ivanka is getting a security clearance and an office despite not having a position; you can imagine the fury if Chelsea had done the same. Pundits raged about Obama’s golfing and have nothing to say on Trump’s golfing. These things didn’t matter so much to me — any time a President spends on a golf course is time he’s not spending interfering with our lives. But some consistency … any consistency .. would be nice.)

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  1. Iconoclast

    Thanks, Hal, for clarifying what CM was referring to in an unrelated thread.  FWIW, I agree that it’s going to be a long 4 years with Trump doing phenomenally stupid things and the MSM going apoplectic over it every time.  I had already forgotten about the idiotic wiretapping accusation, but yeah, it was a stupid move.  I do wish Trump would learn to STFU, truly.

    But, again FWIW, I personally believe that living under Hillary would have been just as bad, only in different ways.  At least we got Gorsuch — that’s gotta account for something……

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    I think the main difference is that Clinton would have fucked up in more familiar ways.  Gorsuch is looking like a big win though.

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  3. louctiel

    Let’s take your criticisms one by one:

    Trump did not reject “free trade ideals” at the G20 meeting.  The article says that the members struggled to define what free trade was and what statement was to be made.  In that we don’t know what the exact wording of the statement was, it is wrong to say that Trump rejected the ideals of free trade.

    2.  The accusations against the British were wrong.  We can all agree on that.

    3.  Skipping out on a NATO meeting.  Reports are saying that China and Russia are getting even more cozy in all areas.  That’s a problem.  The NATO meeting can be handled by others.  Meeting with Russia and China to say “we are going to be watchful of you” is a better place for the Sec of State.  You want to send the big stick to the big meetings.

    4.  Comey has shown that he is a hack.  No one knows what he is talking about, much less him.  At this point in time, his statements need to be taken with a grain of salt.

    5.  Trump’s meeting with Merkel was said to be a failure on his bringing up the money owed to NATO.  Germany is not paying the agreed upon amount.  The amount being shorted by Germany is $29 billion a year.  How dare the US demand that Germany live up to its agreements.  Also remember that Merkel is opposed to the travel ban and people are using her policies to show what the US should not do.  Don’t expect people to be all lovey-dovey when you disagree with them philosophically and they owe you money.

    6.  The meeting with the Irish Prime Minister was “awkward” because the man reminded us that St Patrick was an immigrant?  That’s awkward?  The fact of the matter is that Ireland is struggling with immigration and the strain it has put on social services in their economy.  In other words, “physician, heal thyself.”   (And there is a difference between the legal immigration of St Patrick and the illegal immigration which Trump is trying to address.)

    7.  Ambassadors.  I am missing the point on this one.  I would rather have good people in place than to haphazardly appoint people, but that is me.

    You are correct that some consistency would be nice, but that is not going to happen with the media being against Trump.  I know that you are talking about hypocrisy from the right, but this is another case of “physician heal thyself.”   You bring up Ivanka who has been attacked by the media since day one.  Chelsea got a pass on everything she did.

    As for the security costs, you’re right.  They are high right now.  It is “right now” that is the key word.  While people have focused on the costs of securing Trump’s club, the costs of the Obama’s trips always were higher because going to previously unsecure places is always higher than going to secure places.  If Trump, like Bush, settles into one place where he feels at home, I am good with that.  The Secret Service will be good with that as well.  After all, I don’t remember Trump or Bush renting whole floors of hotels in cities, do you?

    I am no defender of Trump, but this is ridiculous.  When you start to look for mistakes, you can always find them.  When you have the media giving passes to past presidents and now blasting out complaints about this president, you have to wonder what side of the looking glass you are on.

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  4. West Virginia Rebel

    I don’t think Trump has an inability to learn, more like an unwillingness to not do things his way. I think he is serious about wanting to get some things done, and seriously disengaged about others. For example, Lil’ Kim is having another bout of short man syndrome again. Trump seems serious about wanting to do something about him, but what?

    If trump does develop a policy it will be a reaction to events instead of in anticipation of or wanting to shape them. He clearly wants America to lead from the front again, but what’s the game plan?

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  5. ilovecress

    it will be a reaction to events instead of in anticipation of or wanting to shape them. He clearly wants America to lead from the front

    Aren’t these opposites though?

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  6. AlexInCT
    • Has still not filled many key positions at the State Department, including critical ambassadorships.

    Critical according to whom?

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