Donald Trump’s fans and conservative pundits describe his mess of a “foreign policy” as transactional. Trump’s supporters claim this is part of his “genius” during their more intense “dear leader” moments.
There is nothing new or innovative about Trump’s approach. Donald Trump is probably unaware of the fact that his “new” approach is virtually identical to the realist theory on foreign relations. The realist theory entails looking at everything through the prism of power, with next to no consideration of ethics. Temporary alliances are built to address a specific matter. In fact, that’s how the world operated for the better part of history. It was a chaotic world, in which might is right. Ironically, while the emphasis was on self-interest and security, the “realist” approach created and preserved a chaotic world.
This theory explains why, for example, Trump praises the world’s most brutal dictators, and fantasizes about turning NATO into pay for hire enterprise, instead of the stabilizing military alliance it is in the post-World War II world.
It’s conceivable that this approach works in a business world, where everyone is out for themselves, and the only rule is to “win.” However, when applied in international or domestic relations, the results are a world and a country in constant chaos.
We’re seeing it in Trump’s approach to groups of people and in his inter-personal relations. Trump needed the “alt-right” and the Christian right to win the nomination and the election. He won them over, by inciting hatred and violence at opponents and groups of people Trump and his core base believe must be marginalized and stigmatized. Muslims, immigrants, women, people with disabilities, the LGBT community and anyone else who didn’t fit the admittance criteria to the far right’s miniscule tent were fair game.
Since then, his supporters tend to dismiss everything from Russia’s interference in our election to Trump’s antagonistic relationship with the law and ethics premised on the belief that because Trump won, he can do whatever he wants. The courts gave Trump a hard lesson in reality every time they blocked his Muslim ban. The ever expanding investigations into the full nature and severity of Russia’s interference in our elections, and the possibility that Trump obstructed justice to thwart that investigation gave him another dose of reality.
However, if Trump is capable of learning, that’s not evident in the way he responds to problems. Trump continues with his “tried and true” approach of loyalty oaths, associations of convenience and bullying anyone who challenges him into submission.
It’s this approach that drives Trump’s effort to go off at Robert Mueller.
Trump’s approach could very well work if not for video, audio, archives, the internet and the fact that people’s memories aren’t erased every 24 hours. Nonetheless, we can expect more mudslinging as Mueller continues to assemble his team of lawyers and with expertise in criminal law, previous experience investigating a corrupt president and experience on cases related to intellectual property and national security.
History tells us that Trump will fail for the same reason that his approach to foreign relations is already proven as deeply flawed. It’s his hope that anything said yesterday is forgotten or he can simply make vanish by presenting a contradictory explanation. Even with a plethora of examples to choose from, let’s stick with Trump’s contradictory reasons for firing James Comey. First Trump said it was because of the way Comey handled the Clinton investigation. He confessed that Russia was on his mind when firing Comey during his interview with Lester Holt and, of course, on Twitter.
Trump’s history, and that of his family, present a credibility problem as Trump proceeds to smear Mueller’s name. Aside from the fact that Mueller earned a bi-partisan respect and reputation for his integrity and independence, he is a Republican, rendering Trump’s claim that Mueller is a liberal activist LOL absurd. Oh and the fact that his firm represented Ivanka and Jared on some legal matters renders the claim of partisan bias nonsensical. The conflict of interest argument also doesn’t work under the standards applied by the DOJ when Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein hired him.
The fact that Mueller was hired with this information available to the Department of Justice shuts down claims of bias, or conflict of interest under DOJ standards. Still, the closer Mueller and his team get to the truth, the more old-world “transactional” Donald Trump will get.
Image: CNN en Espanol