Date: 2016-11-15 02:43 pm (UTC)
That's actually a better way of putting it, I think, than mine. Trump has long touted his supposed ability to obtain quick and successful resolutions on complex stuff based on little more than the abstract idea that Trump's a good, strong negotiator. It reflects a comparatively amateur conception of diplomacy. The voting public didn't have a problem with that -- in general, US voters care surprisingly little about foreign policy -- but now Trump has to actually deliver and I'm worried it'll be a fiasco.

Here and there his odd approach might even produce results, but not in the way he's advertised. One of the good Trump ideas I mentioned is the notion of re-balancing NATO financial commitments. That's a long-standing American concern. Robert Gates called for it. Obama called for it. And in fairness, Europe shouldering its fair share of defence spending would allow the USA to reallocate some of the money that goes into European defence, allow the Europeans more ability to project power on their own terms, and sort out a long-term irritant. I don't believe the trade-off in terms of US leverage over Europe would be in any way decisive, either. So from the point of view of US national interest, that's something arguably worth pressing for.

But of course Candidate Trump picked the exact moment when EU defence arrangements are in disarray (both over Brexit and differences in Russia policy) to suggest that NATO is "obsolete" and that US NATO commitments are in his view contingent. That's astonishing. Combine that with his public hankering for a grand Russian bargain, and it's no wonder NATO has gone into public damage control mode (http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_137635.htm) while allies try to suss out (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/13/eu-leaders-to-meet-with-aim-of-forging-common-response-to-trump-boris-johnson) what Trump's actually all about and how to deal with it.

If Trump's intent is to terrify (http://www.dw.com/en/eu-ministers-keep-calm-and-improve-defense-capabilities/a-36393563) allies into taking on more defence spending, he may in fact yet succeed. But he'll have piddled away valuable political capital to do it. Trump might have wanted to reserve a lot of those chips for that Russian bargain of his, because I suspect that plan only works advantageously if its negative impact on NATO cohesion is minimised by deft diplomacy and credible American reassurances to European friends.

And there are worrying signs that Trump's White House being deft or credible about any foreign policy issue could be too tall an order.
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