Thursday, February 23, 2017

Michael J. Totten and Claire Berlinski discuss Trump and Foreign Policy

Trump Making a Point

In "The Closing of the Conservative Mind," posted among Michael J. Totten's Dispatches for World Affairs (February 20, 2017), he and Claire Berlinski talk about Trump. Some of the talk is overreaction, but their basic concern about Trump's ignorance of foreign policy is precisely the concern that has also occupied my mind:
Michael J. Totten: I want to start with a quote from retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus:
"Americans should not take the current international order for granted. It did not will itself into existence. We created it. Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. We have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and, eventually, collapse."
That is an excellent rebuttal to the Obama administration's limp foreign policy of managed American decline overseas, and we heard a version of Petraeus' critique from conservatives for eight years during the previous president's term. But Petraeus said that two weeks ago while chastising the Trump administration. Donald Trump doing worse than doubling-down on Obamaism rather than reversing it as John McCain or Mitt Romney would have done. He seems to be willing to set the entire American-made international order on fire, as if everything from 1945 onward is suddenly on the table, not just NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership but even Japan's demilitarization and NATO. He is consistently friendlier to Vladimir Putin's Russia than he is to Europe. The Republican Party would have a stress-induced heart attack if a Democratic president were doing these things, wouldn't it?

Claire Berlinski: Yeah, on Twitter David Frum wrote:
"It's as if a hostile foreign power has seized the US government and is by remote control steering it toward the maximum possible catastrophe."
Which it really is. I mean, what more would you do?

Did you see that CNN piece about what happened at a Mar-a-Lago dinner party after they got news of the North Korean missile launch? "Trump and [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe's evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners, who described it in detail to CNN."

You're there, I'm not — I can't tell if people are slowly beginning to realize just what an insane catastrophe we've got ourselves into, as in, we could all die from this kind of incompetence and from his species of mental illness — or are the people who voted for him still mostly stuck in cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, minimizing reports like that as, yeah, overwrought, pearl-clutchers' Lügenpresse?
Doesn't sound good . . . but mental illness? Is this a case of Berlinski suffering from 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'? I suppose she's referring to his narcissism, but I don't think he's insane. Anyway, if you can get past the exaggeration about Trump's mental and emotional state, you'll find that Berlinski and Totten make some important points about Trump's limitations. What matters now is whether Trump gets good advice on foreign policy and is willing to listen to it. Read more here.

Labels: ,


At 8:20 AM, Blogger TheBigHenry said...

"What matters now is whether Trump gets good advice on foreign policy and is willing to listen to it."

Well, of course, that's what matters. That is presumably why he chose two highly regarded general officers to head the Defense and Homeland-Security Cabinet positions.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, he's made some good appointments, I agree.

Bill Vallicella has linked to a good analysis of Trump, and the last six paragraphs articulate Trump's limitations better than the Totten-Berlinski exchange. I wish I'd seen it earlier.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home