Friday, 20 July 2018

Trump's Foreign Policy, Part I

Method in the "Madness"

When it comes to foreign policy, we suspect that Trump will be assessed by history as one of the better US Presidents.  It is possible, depending on how things develop, that he will even be rated one of the best.  

His predecessor, Barack Obama is rapidly fading into the mists of time.  "What did he stand for, again?"  many are wondering.  We don't think the West will be confused about Trump and what he stood for when it came to US foreign policy. 

A couple of recent pieces in NZ media underscore this thesis.  Mike Hosking is in no doubt about what Trump stands for when it comes to US foreign policy.

Trump Yet Again Proves He's Up To The Job
Mike Hosking
NZ Herald

If he was an act, and of course many people argue he is, then it would have been called the "tell it like it is" tour.  I happened to be watching live as US President Donald Trump arrived to lambaste NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.  Being live, no-one knew what was coming, and it was fantastic to watch.

By the time the editors and journalists had got to it the next day it was watered down.  But at one point, when Stoltenberg was desperately trying to explain NATO were in fact looking at having members pay more, Trump asked, "and why is that?"  And Stoltenberg said "because of your leadership", to which Trump said, "they won't report that."  And, by and large, they didn't.

The other part that was cut out was just before the live feed ended, or more likely got pulled, showed an official next to Stoltenberg madly scribbling notes on paper. He handed it to Stoltenberg who read it, buried it below the table, and shortly after the pictures were gone.  We have all seen what followed: the fallout, the headlines, the upset. Those who hate Trump are incensed.

But really, what is there to be incensed about? On NATO, its membership and what its members pay, Trump is arguing maths, and he's right. He is 100 percent right. What the haters can't cope with is the truth.  His attack on Brexit is more open to criticism. I'm sure Ms May would argue she is doing what's best for both sides.  But she's lost David Davis and Boris Johnson, and is in real danger now of being rolled herself. So maybe Trump's approach - which is what you'd call a hard Brexit - is the right option.

Brexit is a divorce, Europe is the bitter ex.  To try to paper over those cracks is almost always futile. You pull the pin and walk and let time do the repair work.

But for Trump, this tour is a triumph. There cannot be an American who voted for him that would feel let down by his representation.  He appeals to those of us who like straight talk and open honesty, as opposed to the obsequious flannel and hot air that passes for diplomacy most days.  He's his own man and fears no one, and increasingly as he doesn't waiver, those around him who pedal the hate look increasingly desperate and dishonest

That Green Day song that was going to number 1, that at last check was 24. The millions who were to take to the streets, that turned out to be perhaps a hundred thousand. The baby blimp was launched in front of a handful of people. It all looks increasingly pathetic.

No, you don't have to like him, but the level of hysteria and abject dishonesty looks embarrassing and desperate.  He's marching on, no matter what, and if history tells us anything it's that, by and large, people like strong leadership.  His presidency is getting more robust by the day, and Europe will have enhanced it further.

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