Trump Doctrine not working
Foreign policy has always largely been the responsibility of the executive branch of government.
Relationships with other nations tend to be long term, longer than presidential limits, longer than generations. Consequently, the U.S. State Department manages how the United States is perceived by other nations and communicates the U.S. policies and concerns through diplomatic channels.
As adjunct to the State Department, the CIA serves to connect with other democracies in cyber defense and other, more covert and abstract ways and means to serve our treaty interests and joint national security concerns.
Then, our Department of Defense works with our allies on mutual defense exercises and coordination.
Layered over all of the above, U.S. banking and the U.S. Treasury work with other nations’ banking and the World Bank to maintain fiscal sanity and security through trade and exchange rates.
Finally, the U.S. president is the spokesperson for overall, broad U.S. interests and, in that role, our presidents have long been advocates for freedom, democracy, capitalism, and moral conduct by nation-states.
That is the way the United States did work with the nations of the world, but it is no longer how we interact with our allies and adversaries. Now we have the Trump Doctrine.
The Trump Doctrine has no use for the State Department. Today, the State Department is significantly understaffed with hundreds of unfilled positions, sharp budget cuts planned and no clear role since President Donald Trump is now the walking, talking, State Department, by tweet and whim.
And, in the Trump Doctrine, the CIA is also without purpose as Trump is having the FBI investigate why the CIA reported contacts in 2016 with Russian agents and Trump campaign officials. Further, Trump has publicly expressed that he trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin more than his own CIA, so what is left for the CIA to do? It is rumored CIA officers are now consigned to trout fishing in Loch Ness, waiting to see the monster.
The Trump Doctrine has little need for the Department of Defense as well, since the president has expressed that he “knows more than the Generals.” Further, President Trump has told us he takes advice from himself because he is “very smart.” So, when the president ordered a U.S. fleet to North Korea and the fleet headed in the opposite direction, that was obviously a presidential strategy to fool the North Koreans.
As for treasury and trade, who needs any of those when the “Art of the Deal” author is solving all of our trade problems by blowing up all of our treaties and replacing them with angry trade partners and trade wars. In Trump’s time as president, he has created exactly zero new, signed trade agreements, but boundless tariffs that American consumers now pay for daily.
The role past presidents played advocating the strong values of the U.S. has been supplanted in the Trump Doctrine by presidential threats and bullying to our allies and treaty partners, and compliments and praise for our enemies and adversaries. Where democracy once was a presidential speech topic abroad, President Trump now admires the Chinese president, hardly a democracy advocate, appointing himself president for life.
Where freedom was once a consistent topic for every U.S. president, this president praises the most inhuman dictator on the planet and tells the world that Kim Jong Un is his good friend. Where moral conduct was once an American virtue advanced by our presidents, President Trump now praises Putin, who murders and imprisons his opponents.
So how has the Trump Doctrine worked? Well, our allies trust us far less than in the past, our adversaries’ behavior is no less corrupt or against U.S. interests than before, and the trade wars are hurting our farmers, our corporations, and our families. But isn’t that sort of the purpose of the Trump Doctrine, to shout loudly about personal success, then do nothing but lose money.
After all, it is Trump
Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.