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Trump’s Weakness

Robert Merry sums up [1] Trump’s weakness:

He is merely a battery of impulses, devoid of any philosophical coherence or intellectual consistency.

The president could hardly be anything else, since the only things that seem to concern him are how others treat him and the status of his brand. He makes no firm commitments, and he reverses himself according to whatever is most expedient to him at the time. It is almost inevitable that he is winging it because he has no relevant experience or knowledge that would keep him from doing so. Trump believes in himself and nothing else, and Chesterton observed long ago that asylums were full of such people.

If Bannon et al. thought they could use him as a vehicle to advance their agenda, they failed to see that he was using them only as long as they could be valuable for helping him. The trouble for many Trump supporters is that Trump has never believed in any of the things they thought he represented, and so they were backing a leader who had no intention of risking anything on their behalf. This was especially true on matters of foreign policy, where Trump’s instincts for plundering and bullying could easily be directed toward conventional hawkish goals if they weren’t already heading that way. Merry sums up the results of Trump’s foreign policy thus far:

On foreign policy he has belied his own campaign rhetoric with his bombing of Syrian military targets, his support for Saudi Arabia’s nasty war in Yemen, his growing military presence in Syria, his embrace of NATO membership for Montenegro, his consideration of troop augmentations in Afghanistan, and his threat to consider military involvement in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

Trump has certainly governed as more of a conventional hawk than his campaign suggested he would, but his actions have been quite consistent with the blundering aggressiveness that he has displayed for years. His support for the war on Yemen, for example, is entirely in keeping with the rather deranged view that Obama was not pro-Saudi enough. Even though Obama backed the war on Yemen to the hilt for years, Trump was always going to be more supportive and less critical because he faulted Obama for not backing so-called “allies” as much as he should have. On NATO expansion, Trump doesn’t care if the alliance takes on new and unnecessary members. All that interests him is whether they pay what they supposedly “owe,” and even if they don’t he doesn’t seriously propose dissolving the alliance or withdrawing from it. As for Syria, his decision to order an attack on their government lines up with his contempt for international law and his desire to seem “tough.” He has no problem initiating illegal hostilities against other states, but he doesn’t like it when the U.S. is expected to clean up the mess afterwards.

Trump’s foreign policy has become almost entirely one favored by Republican hawks because the president doesn’t hold firm convictions on these issues and yields to what his hawkish advisers want. He has accepted a foreign policy of endless war because he is too weak and self-serving to pursue any other course.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Trump’s Weakness"

#1 Comment By Jones On August 21, 2017 @ 1:08 am

There was always more than one way to read the “America First” rhetoric. On one hand it could have meant a sensible restraint, a kind of conservative pragmatism that punctured the pretentious, utopian delusions of grandeur that had informed foreign policy for years.

On the other hand, it could have meant a willingness to wield the US military as a weapon for unprecedented theft and murder on a global scale. Now that Bannon and the Flynn types are gone I doubt we will see this, but it’s intimated by some of the more absurd ideas that have come out of their administration.

#2 Comment By Whine Merchant On August 21, 2017 @ 2:00 am

How many times do we have to repeat this conversation?

Trump’s pattern works in the world of real estate, where the latest offer or deal is the only one that matters – all prior ambit claims or positions are deleted by the most recent one. This is also the format of where he gets most of his input: hyper-paced, simplistic, dumbed-down cable shows.
The ‘real world’, with all its complexities, [“who knew health insurance was so complicated”] is beyond Trump’s very circumscribed orbit. He and many close to him just do not understand that both domestic policy and international diplomacy exist in a context and are products of both recent and the remote history as much as any events or personalities of the day.

In politics, one cannot simply hit the reset button by declaring bankruptcy.

#3 Comment By S. Fields On August 21, 2017 @ 8:27 am

“Trump believes in himself and nothing else, and Chesterton observed long ago that asylums were full of such people.”

That’s going to be the subtitle of the book on Trump’s presidency.

#4 Comment By George_Patton On August 21, 2017 @ 9:56 am

With the globalists left in the White House, I am sure they will still continue their Pro-Israel bias.

#5 Comment By Jon S On August 21, 2017 @ 10:25 am

This article is very true. What I find disturbing is that his base will come to agree with whatever he does or says. They seem to have a pathological need to be on a team. To act as aggrieved victims to the modern world.

Trump could come out tomorrow and demand that all confederate war statues be torn down and they would all suddenly be in favor of it.

#6 Comment By rayray On August 21, 2017 @ 11:54 am

Article was well said by Larison. The man has been long known as this type of man. And now he’s revealing the GOP as that kind of man as well.

#7 Comment By Lenny On August 21, 2017 @ 2:08 pm

America was warned

#8 Comment By Kevin On August 21, 2017 @ 9:55 pm

“With the globalists left in the White House, I am sure they will still continue their Pro-Israel bias”

Bannon was even more pro Israel than the “globalists.” In fact , his propaganda machine keeps trying to frame McMaster as antisemite .

#9 Comment By sarz On August 22, 2017 @ 6:39 am

Most convincing description of the man. I wonder if we would have been better off knowing this a year ago, but then who else was there? Rand Paul? Trump is like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland: There is no there there.

#10 Comment By Hyperion On August 22, 2017 @ 4:06 pm

sarz says: I wonder if we would have been better off knowing this a year ago…

Some people, many people did know this a year ago. Anyone who was paying attention could have known this more than a year ago.

#11 Comment By Petey On August 22, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

His government might wind up as simply a kind of “default” presidency, wherein every natural, destructive impulse of both parties is implemented without guile.

It’s remarkable how a presidency billed as the most “outsider” ever has sort of over-delivered on that process — it turns out he’s such an outsider, and so helplessly ignorant, that he’s had to lean much more heavily on the power of the bureaucracy/military/party hacks than an ordinary, more conventionally qualified (and thus politically savvy and cynical) president ever would.