Thursday 22 March 2018

Why Trump's tantrums will slowly but surely diminish US standing on the global stage

US President Donald Trump speaks at the recent National Prayer Breakfast
US President Donald Trump speaks at the recent National Prayer Breakfast

Daniel W Drezner

If Trump White House officials have been running the foreign policy ship for the first two weeks, well, man, they stink at it. A botched process leading to a botched raid in Yemen. A foreign head of state cancelling a US visit. A stupid executive order on immigration that will weaken national security. Pulling out of a trade deal in a move that will only benefit China. Counterproductive phone calls with close allies in Australia and Mexico. Sean Spicer saying things that are consistent with his tenure as press secretary, by which I mean they are inflammatory and untrue. A veritable geyser of leaks about all of these screw-ups. And then there are the loud tweets putting countries "ON NOTICE".

It's not surprising that the GOP foreign policy establishment is tearing its hair out at the array of stumbles, bumbles and tantrums that the White House has committed in its first fortnight.

But maybe foreign leaders have adjusted to the fact that Donald Trump's words don't mean all that much on the global stage. The 'Washington Post's' A Odysseus Patrick noted this from an opposition leader in Australia: "Even figures in the opposition Labour Party conceded that [Australian PM Malcolm] Turnbull was in a difficult position trying to persuade the new president to uphold a promise made by the Obama administration. 'I don't believe Mr Turnbull did the wrong thing,' Graham Richardson, a senior cabinet minister in a previous Labour government, told Sky News. 'I think we are just facing a normal Trump tantrum.'"

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