Winging it is not a Smart Foreign Policy Tactic

And yet, Trump seems to think his gut is all he needs. This will not end well with North Korea, nor the G-7 (or any number of other things).

As I have already noted, the US has not done much to prepare for the pending summit with North Korea.  This fact is illustrated by the following stunning statement by the sitting President of the United States:

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump said. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”

This is a ridiculous statement, which was compounded by the following additions:

“I think within the first minute I’ll know. Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do,” Trump told reporters at a news conference at the G7 summit in Quebec. “And if I think it won’t happen – I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time.”

[…]

“I have a clear objective, but I have to say – it’s going to be something that will always be spur of the moment,” Trump said. “You don’t know. This has not been done before at this level. This is a leader who really is an unknown personality.”

[…]

“I feel really confident. It’s never been done, it’s never been tested,” said Trump. “So we are going in with a really positive spirit.”

Does anyone think, for example, that Bill Belichick shows up to a playoff game and, via attitude, touch, and feel, manages to out-coach the opposition? Or, is it more likely that a heckuva a lot of preparation, and consultation with others, goes into the process? Heck, why have OTAs, training camp, and weekly practices?

Who would hire a lawyer, or a financial planner, to handle their business who acted like this?  And so, I return to ask: why anyone is actively supporting this behavior?

He is, as I have noted before, the Dunning-Kruger President.

 

 

 

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, North Korea, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Trump: “I think I’ll know within the first minute. Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do.”

    Trump a minute later: “You don’t know. This has not been done before at this level.”

    Nothing that comes out of this man’s mouth bears any relation to what preceded or succeeded it.

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  2. michael reynolds says:

    Trump uses all the tricks familiar to illiterates and ADHD patients. He is not able to read or digest documents so he insists on everything being reduced to a bullet point or slogan. He’s learning disabled. So there’s no point demanding he read or study or even sit still for lectures, he is simply unable. Like many illiterates he’s ashamed and uses various work-arounds and tricks – there’s a reason he always orders the same thing for dinner, he cannot read menus – and at some point he began to think of these as advantages. They are not.

    None of this is a surprise, it’s all been obvious for more than two years now. But people who are literate, and people who do not suffer from learning disabilities, often can’t get their heads around it and accept that he’s not just lazy, he’s not capable. He will never be capable. He’ll only get more defensive and enraged.

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  3. @michael reynolds: I concur. This is partly why I have taken to asking why his supporters accept this nonsense.

    Trump does not surprise me, per se. That he gets support from supposedly serious people does (to a point–I know a lot of it is partisanship and tribalism).

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  4. Charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What do you think of Dubya Bush, who also liked very short briefing papers. Dyslexic maybe?

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  5. Gustopher says:

    I’m reminded of the movie “Dave” where an Everyman replaces the President and does a much better job. I think there have been a dozen movies like this over the years, none of which appealed to me enough to bother watching them.

    But this is what the Trump supporters are expecting. At least, the Trump supporters who aren’t nihilists who want to burn it all down, or racists just happy he’s talking their language…

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  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Charon:
    Yes, but with this difference: Bush was smart enough to know his limitations and hired grown-ups and then trusted them to do their jobs. Trusted far too much, obviously, but Bush did not suffer from Dunning-Kruger IMO. I think unlike Trump, Bush knew.

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  7. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds: @Steven L. Taylor:

    Part of the reason his fans applaud and claim to comprehend the witless gabble the emerges from his mouth is that they were primed to do so by Sarah Palin, who was their first love. Speaking badly–even nonsensically–is a sign that you’re an authentic American. A lot of the people who supported Palin claimed that it was because “she talks like me!” And before Palin, there was Pat Buchanan extolling the virtues of “peasants with pitchforks.” There’s always been a tendency in American life to regard yokels as the repository of virtue, and people who’ve enjoyed the benefits of education as somehow suspect.

    There’s one difference between Palin and Trump. Palin, when she forgot she was supposed to sound and act like a hayseed, could speak acceptably well. Admittedly, this was a rare event. Trump, however, is Trump. He’s not pretending to be an oaf and a boor and a boob to con the marks. He is an oaf and a boor and a boob, which is why his dreams of conquering even the lower ranks of the Manhattan upper crust were always doomed.

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  8. MattBernius says:

    Steven, et al:

    Can anyone name a failed bi-lateral summit in US History? I.e. one that didn’t lead to an immediate key “next step” agreement? My understanding is that the norm is that the outcome of bi-lateral summits we’ve engaged in is settled before the summit happens.

    What’s so crazy about this is — if we take him at his word — the President has no idea of what the outcome of this meeting will be. Which means that either (1) he’s lying/misleading the populous and a framework has already been reached or (2) he’s being candid and has no idea what the outcome of this is going to be.

    I’m having a really hard time deciding which of those two options is worse.

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  9. Kathy says:

    Cheeto Benito probably sits in front of a mirror and affirms to himself looking into his eyes: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” And then he’s ready to be played by Kim.

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  10. Charon says:

    @MattBernius:

    The optimum outcome is no agreement on anything. Kim will not agree to anything he can’t take back home as a win, and he recognizes that the U.S. really wants regime change in NK – a mortal result from Kim’s POV. (Gaddafi and Saddam as examples). Kim’s only sure defense against regime change is his nukes, considering how egregiously worthless U.S. promises are.

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  11. george says:

    @CSK:

    Part of the reason his fans applaud and claim to comprehend the witless gabble the emerges from his mouth is that they were primed to do so by Sarah Palin, who was their first love.

    Yup. The other main part is that it infuriates Democrats, and many of them would happily send the country down the river so long as they got that. Cutting off nose to spite face, etc.

    Hell of a way to run a country.

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  12. mattbernius says:

    @Charon:

    The optimum outcome is no agreement on anything.

    Without getting into what is optimum and what is not, “no agreement on anything” is (from a norms perspective) a failed bi-laterial summit. Or at least my understanding is it from a historic US perspective.

    Which I guess gets to a second point. Do Trump backers actually resonate with his recent comments that “I think within the first minute I’ll know. Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do.” According to norms, he should know before Airforce 1 touches down in Singapore.

    What really throws me about this, is, if his supporters believe that everything hinges on his ability to cut a deal, how is this not an example of Green Lantern politics? And, more importantly, if we accept that one of the most fundamental issues they had with Obama was that he made it all about himself, how can they support a man who essentially says “he’s the only person who can get this deal with NK?”

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  13. teve tory says:

    “And if I think it won’t happen – I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time.”

    He’s pre-spinning failure as a success.

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  14. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Indeed. Or, at the very least, rationalizing it.

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  15. gVOR08 says:

    Over at MSN there’s a picture of Merkel supposedly staring down Trump at the G-7. The worrisome part of the photo is what the flock is John Bolton doing at Trump’s right hand at an ECONOMIC summit? Are they contemplating war with Germany? Canada?

    (Dr. T, with full justice, refers to Trumpsky as the Dunning-Kruger President. Know what Merkel did before politics? She was a quantum chemist. Think E Germany trained stupid people for those jobs? )

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  16. Joe says:

    The “think method” was how Professor Harold Hill described this alternative to preparation.

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  17. Lit3Bolt says:

    Trump is right that this summitt will be easy for him. All he has to do is what Russia and China tell him to do.

    See? #Winning! Triple checkmate and double yahtzee, libtards! *flips over Candyland board*

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  18. TM01 says:

    ”I think he is only dimly aware of what is being done,” said a former senior Pentagon official.
    ”He does have a problem of listening to whoever talked to him last. I don’t think he has deep, strong convictions about anything. He has conflicting
    instincts. He thinks he can negotiate anything with anybody, but he doesn’t understand the substance of negotiations. This President has signed things he
    didn’t read. He’s certainly signed things he didn’t understand.”

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  19. PJ says:

    @TM01:
    Ronald Reagan most likely had early Alzheimer’s in 1988, what is Trump’s excuse?

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  20. CSK says:

    @TM01:

    Trump has no deep, strong convictions about anything other than his own self-aggrandizement.

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  21. Kathy says:

    @PJ:

    If I had to guess, this person is trolling and will reveal the president in question is Obama. And it’s not worth playing along. Don’t feed the troll.

    Every specialist who has deep knowledge of an issue will think the boss doesn’t understand it fully, or doesn’t understand it enough. I see this in my work, where we know much more about the projects we put together than the boss or the supervisors ever will.

    This doesn’t mean they’re signing things they don’t understand. They do understand, just not in the same level of detail.

    But I’ve also had bosses who want to oversimplify things, to the point that any ambiguity from the client, or any are open to interpretation is ignored or glossed over. More important, they don’t care to listen to important details or issues. These people do sign things they don’t comprehend, and are often surprised by predictable negative results.

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  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    If I had to guess, this person is trolling and will reveal the president in question is Obama. And it’s not worth playing along. Don’t feed the troll.

    The person in question is Reagan, and the troll is attempting to draw a link between Reagan’s conduct in approaching the Soviet Union and Trump’s in this thing in North Korea.

    The disparities between the two situations should be obvious to anyone with a brain, which obviously rules out the troll.

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  23. An Interested Party says:

    Ronald Reagan most likely had early Alzheimer’s in 1988, what is Trump’s excuse?

    Perhaps history is repeating itself…

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  24. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’ll take your word for it. My bad.

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  25. MBunge says:

    These criticisms would be more persuasive if, you know, all of you hadn’t been wrong about everything related to Trump and North Korea up to now. Trump has gotten the North Koreans to come to the table and discuss getting rid of their nukes. Obama didn’t do it. Bush the Younger didn’t do it. Clinton didn’t do it. None of you thought Trump would do it.

    More embarrassing, you all confidently predicted that Trump’s approach would have the opposite effect of what it has actually achieved. So the people who were wrong are slamming the guy who was right for screwing up something they were sure could never happen.

    Of course, it could all end in tears and ashes…like the failed efforts to keep North Korea from getting nukes in the first place. But Trump ultimately being wrong doesn’t retroactively make any of you right. It would just make you all a bunch of broken clocks.

    You know why Trump supporters embrace this “nonsense?” It’s because the alternative is a mixture of proven failure, invincible arrogance, and callous indifference. The rise of Donald Trump should have been an occasion for people like Steven Taylor to wonder “how did we let it get to this point?” Instead he’s still stuck on wondering “why is everyone else so stupid?”

    It’s not them, Steven. It’s you.

    Mike

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  26. David M says:

    That’s all completely wrong. NK did not say they would get rid of heir nukes. DID NOT. Saying otherwise means the person is delusional like Trump or a useless sycophant like yourself.

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  27. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: ” Bush was smart enough to know his limitations and hired grown-ups and then trusted them to do their jobs.”

    My money is on Poppy hiring them. Dubya came in with an incredible cabinet, and I realized only recently that *of course* Bush I made sure of it.

    And notice what happened when the President failed as a leader – that really good cabinet f*cked things up.

    Now consider that Trump’s cabinet is the dregs and that Trump on his best day was worse than Dubya when he was passed-out drunk.

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  28. Barry says:

    @MattBernius: “My understanding is that the norm is that the outcome of bi-lateral summits we’ve engaged in is settled before the summit happens.”

    This would not surprise me, but – ‘norm’.

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  29. Barry says:

    @mattbernius: “Which I guess gets to a second point. Do Trump backers actually resonate with his recent comments that “I think within the first minute I’ll know. Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do.” According to norms, he should know before Airforce 1 touches down in Singapore.”

    Remember ‘we take him seriously, but not literally’? In the end, they are guzzling pitchers of cognitive dissonance.

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  30. TM01 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Perhaps history is repeating itself…

    In the sense that you can LITERALLY pick any quote about Reagan that people just like you said about him, along with all the hand wringing and pearl clutching, complaining about the Norms, etc. Reagan was crude, a rube, naive, a war monger. You name it.

    You were wrong then, you’re wrong again.

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  31. Charon says:

    Trump’s behavior at the G-7 was extremely offensive, I expect that will have really antagonized public opinion in other countries. With their voters psyched up for confrontation, that would be an easy path for foreign leaders – i.e., make it clear they are not to be pushed around.

    Trump really is incapable of responsible behavior.

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  32. @MBunge: Any president could have gotten Kim to the table: it is what Kim wants: to be treated as an equal on the global stage with the US President. As such, no matter what we get, by having the summit Kim gets want he wanted.

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  33. Yank says:

    Trump has gotten the North Koreans to come to the table and discuss getting rid of their nukes. Obama didn’t do it. Bush the Younger didn’t do it. Clinton didn’t do it. None of you thought Trump would do it.

    This is a perfect example of how stupid Trump supporters are.

    Any US President of the last 25 years could have gotten this summit with NK. None of them did so because all of them were smart enough not to buy into NK’s bad faith when it comes to their nuclear program. They have no intentions of ditching the nukes. The goal of this summit for Kim is to get legitimization and Trump hand that to them on a silver plater by accepting this meeting with no prior concessions.

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  34. @Yank:

    Any US President of the last 25 years could have gotten this summit with NK. None of them did so because all of them were smart enough not to buy into NK’s bad faith when it comes to their nuclear program. They have no intentions of ditching the nukes. The goal of this summit for Kim is to get legitimization and Trump hand that to them on a silver plater by accepting this meeting with no prior concessions.

    So. Much. This.

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  35. And, Good Lord, this is not the first time the US has talked to the North Koreans. It is just the first time there have been head of state level talks.

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  36. An Interested Party says:

    It’s not them, Steven. It’s you.

    Good grief, it’s getting to the point where no one can defend the Orange Blob without sounding like (or in many cases, being) an idiot…take the following for example…

    You were wrong then, you’re wrong again.

    Ohhh, you poor ignorant innocent waif…

    It’s pathetic how many rubes allow themselves to be swayed by this conman…it’s like Trump University over and over and over again…are people that desperate for a savior? That desperate for someone to fix their problems? I thought Jim Jones was dead…

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  37. ddennis says:

    @MBunge:

    The only thing we were wrong about is just how stupid America is to have voted into what is inarguably the world’s most powerful office this shyt storm of an individual.

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  38. ddennis says:

    @TM01:

    Except all those monikers were from REPUBLICANS who didn’t want Ronnie Raygun on the ticket in the first place!

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  39. michilines says:

    According to the NYT, Trump is ready — he was born ready.

    I give up at this point. No matter what happens, some reputable source will find a way to spin this as a win for Trump.

    While he claims the economy (mostly due to Obama’s hard work and no thanks to congressional Republicans), he has in fact, destroyed the part of the economy that I belong to. It’s so fragile now that I am not sure if it will last much longer.

    I’ve seen nothing of what the repercussions of this summit might be for Koreans — only what it means for Trump. Ignoring an ally is nothing to him, and selling them out for his own benefit, which will be touted as a victory for him, will ignore this aspect as well. It’s America first for everyone now I guess.

    As Steven and Yank have pointed out, this is not for our country’s benefit, but Trump’s own. I suggest that James looks closely at the coverage of this summit and any explanation of its consequences to decide if in fact not some sort of bias.

    I know people from Korea. They are conflicted. That this president thinks that he can wipe away all of that and our history with in this conflict is ridiculous. But there is the NYT seeking out someone to assure people who don’t believe then anyway ever proclaiming that Trump’s strategy is legit.

    Nothing Trump aims to do will help America or Korea. It will only help him. When I think about people who used to be considered reliable commentators here on this blog who used to claim that Obama said the word “I” too much for their liking, it makes me really hopeless.

    My life is much more difficult now because of Trump. I think that people’s lives in Korea will be much more difficult because of Trump as well. This is not going to end well.

    The comments on the NYT page are even more depressing.

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  40. TM01 says:

    “When you consider that in the climate we’re in—rising violence, the Ku Klux Klan—it is exceedingly frightening.” “We sometimes have the feeling that we are living in the time preceding the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.” “I could not help remembering how economic turmoil had conspired with Nazi nationalism and militarism—all intensified by Germany’s defeat in World War I—to send the world reeling into catastrophe… It is not entirely mistaken to contemplate our post-election state with fear and trembling.” The voters who supported Trump were like the “good Germans” in “Hitler’s Germany.” “The worst nightmares of the American left appear to have come true. The United States has embarked on a course so deeply reactionary, so negative and mean-spirited, so chauvinistic and self-deceptive that our times may soon rival the McCarthy era.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, keeper of the “Doomsday Clock” that purported to judge the risk of nuclear annihilation, has moved the hands on the clock from seven to four minutes before midnight.

    Try something new.

    Please.

    You’re pathetic.

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  41. An Interested Party says:

    You’re pathetic.

    Oh that’s rich coming from someone who quoted from a post on Powerline…pathetic doesn’t begin to cover that…you can just be added to the rather long list of people who have also been conned by this grifter…

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  42. Tony W says:

    One concern I have is a boycott of American goods and companies.

    It’s hard enough to find good people to work for us, and customers have choices.

    Trump knows not what he does…….

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  43. grumpy realist says:

    @MBunge: Dude, the guy you’ve been ass-kissing for months has given the North Korean leader everything in the way of PR bennies while obtaining nothing in return. Some negotiator!

    If you actually think that the Norks are going to give up their nukes you are really smoking something. They’ll do the same song-and-dance they’ve done historically.

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  44. Lounsbury says:

    @michael reynolds: yes, confounding Bush II with Trump is an error.

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  45. JohnMcC says:

    Cliches ignored by the WH this weekend: “Make your friends before you need them.” And “The ‘will to win’ is NOTHING without the will to PREPARE to win.”

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  46. Robert Prather says:

    @Kathy: Emporer Hiro-Cheeto is my personal favorite.

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