Traditionally, we have wanted experienced Presidents who were facile at handling challenges on the world stage. It hasn’t always worked, but Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and, to a lesser degree, Barack Obama, sent the message that the United States was not to be messed with.
Not so president Trump. North Korea, Iran and Venezuela have all apparently realized that behind Trump’s bluster there is…nothing!
A trio of analysts took this subject on in today’s New York Times. In part, they concluded:
“Each one is betting that Mr. Trump is neither as savvy a negotiator nor as ready to use military force as he claims. Each also poses a drastically different challenge to a president who has little experience in handling international crises, has struggled to find the right balance of diplomacy and coercion and has not always been consistent in defining his foreign policy.”
In his defense, it takes all presidents a while to settle on their style and how they are going to manage the immense power at their fingertips. They don’t always do it well. The last President Bush got us so wrapped up in the troubling politics of Iraq, Iran and a couple of other places we still can’t extract ourselves.
I think that’s why President Obama was unwilling to use military force on anything but solid targets. Osama Bin Laden was one of them. When he found out where the man was living, dependably found out, it was over for the man who was said to be mastermind of the 911 debacle.
There wasn’t much warning on that one. A decision was made, the powers that be went to the bunker to watch, and Seal Team Six did the rest.
President Trump doesn’t have the chops to handle that kind of tension, that kind of challenge, in North Korea, where he proclaimed he was in love with the despot who runs the place, in Venezuela, where he has invented stop and start American policy with abandon and in Iran, which he may just want so he can have a war to improve his election chances. (Don’t reject this as unlikely. He will probably do whatever John Bolton suggests.)
He focuses these days on how to turn July Fourth into a celebration of him, not just a simple loud celebration of the nation. I doubt he spends much time at all with briefing books and most of the smart people who were around him to keep him in line are gone. If that’s not making you feel uncertain, it certainly should.
Given this, it’s crazy for Republicans to be gassing on about Trump’s likely reelection. He is surfing on a strong economy and its low unemployment numbers. But that kind of thing can change quickly, as history proves. It’s also riding on his fragile and undependable personality, which bubbles up with regularity.
Pray he keeps shy about warfare, given his uncertainty.