If anything became apparent during the past week, it is that Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy is disjointed, reactionary, and failing. He seriously alienated some of his most ardent supporters by his military intervention in Syria while garnering support from Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Not only that, if he hoped to achieve a boost in the polls by taking action against Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people, that also was a failure.
The daily Gallup poll shows a drop from 41% approval before the Syria raid to 40% in the days after his missile attack.
If he hoped to impress the President of China by taking this action, the reports coming from Chinese news media, released after President Xi was safely out of the United States, decry his actions as those of a weak leader. Fail.
On the Sunday talk shows, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Halley presented two entirely different courses that the United States intended to pursue in future regarding Syria. Fail.
The Russian government has announced that Putin will not meet with the U.S. Secretary of State when he goes to Russia for talks. This is a direct slap in Trump’s face. Remember when he announced that American officials would be treated with dignity if he were president after Raul Castro failed to greet President Obama on the tarmac when he arrived in Cuba.
In the meantime, we have diverted a naval strike force which includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson from Singapore to the waters off the Korean peninsula. This may be a prudent move given North Korea’s recent proclivity for lobbing missiles in the general direction of Japan. On the other hand, with an unstable juvenile in control of the country, this might just be all the provocation Kim Jung Un needs to launch nuclear weapons.
The internecine warfare in the White House between the isolationist Steve Bannon and Democrat son-in-law Jared Kushner no doubt contribute to the schizophrenic policies that the Trump administration seems to be taking. If the recent demotion of Bannon suuporter K. T. McFarland from the National Security Council to a posting in Singapore is any indication Team Kushner is winning over Team Bannon.
In the meantime, other than the statement he made Friday night announcing the strike against Syria, Trump has remained strangely (even for him) silent. There have been no speeches to the American people outlining the course he intends to chart. His spokespeople have offered no cogent or coherent policy by the United States.
Until this morning, he tweeted his thanks to our military, offered a pathetic reason for not taking out the runways at the Syrian airbase, and re-tweeted a (not surprisingly complimentary) tweet from Fox News.
His messaging this morning is vague and disturbing. After telling China that it would be better for them to solve the North Korea problem
He then goes on to say “we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
Trump might think that acting like a strong man when you are weak makes you strong. It doesn’t It makes you a bully. The Chinese recognize this. And so do the American people. Trump’s dangerous lack of experience and his inability to articulate a consistent message to the rest of the world does not make America great again. It puts us in an extremely dangerous situation.
During the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II Admiral Chester Nimitz sent a now-famous message to Admiral “Bull” Halsey regarding the whereabouts of his missing Task Force during the battle. “Where is Task Force 16? The world wonders.”
Over 70 years later a similar message needs to be sent to Donald Trump:
“What is your foreign policy? The world wonders.”