Nikolas Gvosdev makes an important observation about Sisi’s visit with Trump:
There are other aspects of Trump and el-Sissi’s meeting that bear examining. The first is that Trump prefers to personalize relations with leaders with whom he feels some sort of affinity or respect. El-Sissi made a deliberate choice to seek candidate Trump out last September and meet with him in New York at a time when the overwhelming consensus was that Hillary Clinton would be occupying the Oval Office in 2017. Trump may believe that he can, in turn, trust that el-Sissi will carry out whatever he has agreed to—and that there is a basis for trust between the two presidents, no matter how strong or strained the institutional ties are. In contrast, Trump’s meeting two weeks ago with German Chancellor Angela Merkel demonstrated that, despite the long-standing alliance between Washington and Berlin, poor personal relations between leaders will inevitably begin to corrode the relationship.
Gvosdev is right that Trump likes to personalize his relations with other leaders. This bodes ill for relations with many states if their leaders can’t or won’t engage in the sort of flattery and approval that Trump seems to crave. Many elected leaders from other countries can afford to be seen doing business with Trump because he is the president and they have to deal with him, but back home they may not be able to get away with being perceived to approve of and like the man. This tendency to personalize relations with other governments may be another reason why he seems to be drawn to working with authoritarian leaders. He probably assumes that they will still be in power years from now. If Trump doesn’t like a particular elected leader, he may not care to cultivate a good relationship because he expects that he or she will be gone in a year or two. That will put many foreign democratic leaders in the awkward position of either buttering up Trump and having better ties with Washington or keeping their distance and preserving their reputations at home.
That could mean that otherwise good relationships will deteriorate for no other reason except sour personal relations between Trump and other leaders. Likewise, other relationships that are less important or undesirable will become stronger simply because he happens to get along with his counterpart. That introduces another level of potential uncertainty and instability in U.S. ties with other states that won’t do us or anyone else any good.