The Trump-Corker Feud Resumes
Bob Corker resumed his criticism of Trump’s interference with U.S. diplomatic efforts today:
“Really, when you look at the fact that we’ve got this issue in North Korea and the president continues to knee-cap his diplomatic representative, the secretary of state, and really move him away from successful diplomatic negotiations with China, which is key to this, you’re taking us on a path to combat,” Corker said on ABC.
“The president undermines our secretary of state, raises tensions in the area by virtue of the tweets that he sends out, and I would just like him to leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that’s constructive for our country, the region and the world,” he said.
Corker’s comments triggered more outbursts from the president on Twitter. The senator fired back again:
Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 24, 2017
The criticism of Trump’s undermining of Tillerson is sound, but it is not enough. One reason that the administration’s foreign policy has been so unsuccessful is that they don’t really have many professionals working on it, and those that they do have aren’t doing a very good job. Corker is right to object when the president sabotages Tillerson, but he should also acknowledge that Tillerson is capable of bungling things all by himself. Both Tillerson and Haley are at best amateurs when it comes to foreign policy, and no one on the president’s national security team seems capable of thinking strategically. They produce “strategy” outlines that don’t include anything resembling a strategy for achieving their goals. When the National Security Advisor is regularly declaring that denuclearization is the only acceptable outcome in dealing with North Korea and dismisses the possibility of deterrence, the “professionals” aren’t inspiring a lot of confidence, either. The U.S. can’t do anything “constructive” for anyone when it is taking positions that make conflict more likely.
As long as the administration is trying to pursue unrealistic and maximalist goals on Iran and North Korea, they are going to fail no matter how much leeway Trump gives his officials. Corker notably isn’t challenging the administration on the substance of its policies, and that is what needs far greater scrutiny and criticism from members of Congress.