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Trump is a walking, talking national security liability Trump is a walking, talking national security liability
(31 minutes later)
As the Trump administration cycles through officials and policies at a whiplash-inducing speed, the one constant that remains is President Donald Trump and his unique talent for exacerbating national security threats. As the Trump administration cycles through officials and policies at a whiplash-inducing speed, the one constant is Donald Trump and his unique talent for exacerbating national security threats.
While the list of this administration’s national security catastrophes is long from announcing the country’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement to eroding America’s alliances the events of recent weeks alone bring into stark relief the danger of Trump’s national security agenda. Trump defends himself as whistleblower controversy focuses on Ukraine live
Everyone agrees that China presents serious economic challenges to the United States, but Trump has addressed the problem by inflicting economic damage on America instead. Trump launched a trade war that has hurt Americans one analysis found that the trade war has killed 300,000 US jobs and is feeding concerns of a global recession, while failing to change China’s behavior. Trump is so mad at his own inability to secure a deal that he regularly tweets out new tariff threats or pauses because he can’t stick with a strategy, a habit which will likely continue and continue to undermine the American economy until Trump decides it’s time to declare victory, at which point it won’t matter to him whether anything substantive has been achieved. While the list of this administration’s national security catastrophes is long from announcing the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement to eroding America’s alliances – the events of recent weeks bring into stark relief the danger of Trump’s national security agenda.
Everyone agrees that China presents serious economic challenges to the US, but Trump has addressed the problem by inflicting economic damage on America instead. Trump launched a trade war that has hurt Americans – one analysis found that the trade war has killed 300,000 US jobs – and is feeding concerns of a global recession, while failing to change China’s behavior. Trump is so mad at his own inability to secure a deal that he frequently tweets out new tariff threats or pauses because he can’t stick with a strategy, a habit which will likely continue – and continue to undermine the American economy – until Trump decides it’s time to declare victory, at which point it won’t matter to him whether anything substantive has been achieved.
Iran posed serious threats already, but Trump found a way to add yet another one by ending the nuclear deal that had verifiably stopped Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Now, Iran is ramping up its nuclear capabilities, and growing tensions and the recent attack in Saudi Arabia have once again raised the changes of conflict. Trump’s sporadic interest in diplomacy is positive (though when starting from the precipice of war, just about anything else is a positive step), but after withdrawing from the deal and alienating allies in the process, Trump has squandered any credibility or leverage to give diplomacy a chance.Iran posed serious threats already, but Trump found a way to add yet another one by ending the nuclear deal that had verifiably stopped Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Now, Iran is ramping up its nuclear capabilities, and growing tensions and the recent attack in Saudi Arabia have once again raised the changes of conflict. Trump’s sporadic interest in diplomacy is positive (though when starting from the precipice of war, just about anything else is a positive step), but after withdrawing from the deal and alienating allies in the process, Trump has squandered any credibility or leverage to give diplomacy a chance.
Trump continues to treat one of the world’s most dangerous regimes – that of Vladimir Putin in Russia – as a friend, regularly undermining US interests with Russia, from his recent decision to withhold security assistance from Ukraine, to his refusal to safeguard the 2020 election from foreign interference, to the recent revelation that the CIA extracted an intelligence source from Russia in 2017 because Trump’s cavalier handling of classified secrets put the asset in danger.Trump continues to treat one of the world’s most dangerous regimes – that of Vladimir Putin in Russia – as a friend, regularly undermining US interests with Russia, from his recent decision to withhold security assistance from Ukraine, to his refusal to safeguard the 2020 election from foreign interference, to the recent revelation that the CIA extracted an intelligence source from Russia in 2017 because Trump’s cavalier handling of classified secrets put the asset in danger.
Even when Trump’s instincts might seem right – talk to North Korea, get out of Afghanistan – he can’t deliver, and makes perilous situations even more dangerous.Even when Trump’s instincts might seem right – talk to North Korea, get out of Afghanistan – he can’t deliver, and makes perilous situations even more dangerous.
After almost launching an unnecessary war with North Korea, Trump reversed course and sped into a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un instead. Diplomacy is the only way to effectively deal with North Korea, but instead of real diplomacy led by seasoned US diplomats, Trump insists on making his personal relationship with the world’s most brutal dictator the hinge on which this diplomacy depends. And so far, three photo ops with Kim Jong Un have failed to deliver any meaningful results for America. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to advance its nuclear and missile programs, and Trump cares so little that he has barely seemed to notice North Korea’s ten missile tests since May. After almost launching an unnecessary war with North Korea, Trump reversed course and sped into a summit with Kim Jong-un instead. Diplomacy is the only way to effectively deal with North Korea, but instead of real diplomacy led by seasoned US diplomats, Trump insists on making his personal relationship the hinge on which this diplomacy depends. And so far, three photo ops with Kim have failed to deliver any meaningful results for America. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to advance its nuclear and missile programs, and Trump cares so little that he has barely seemed to notice North Korea’s 10 missile tests since May.
On Afghanistan, Trump has continually claimed that he wants to end the war, but increased the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan instead. And while his team was working on a peace deal with the Taliban – no matter how imperfect, it could be the first step that leads to a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban to end the conflict – Trump found a way to botch whatever small chance he had at success. Regardless of what really transpired behind the scenes of the now-cancelled (and ill-conceived) summit with the Taliban at Camp David, Trump threw the baby out with the bath water by ending the talks altogether. After almost a year of negotiations with the Taliban, Trump threw a tantrum and now says that the talks are “dead.” Meanwhile, Americans continue to die in Afghanistan. On Afghanistan, Trump has continually claimed that he wants to end the war, but increased the US troop presence in Afghanistan instead. And while his team was working on a peace deal with the Taliban – no matter how imperfect, it could be the first step that leads to a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban to end the conflict – Trump found a way to botch whatever small chance he had at success. Regardless of what really transpired behind the scenes of the now-cancelled (and ill-conceived) summit with the Taliban at Camp David, Trump threw the baby out with the bath water by ending the talks altogether. After almost a year of negotiations with the Taliban, Trump threw a tantrum and now says that the talks are “dead”.
The reasons for these disastrous policies are manifold. But the thread connecting them all is Trump’s need to filter everything through his own ego. Trump met with Kim Jong Un because no sitting president had done it before, and now Trump can’t admit that it’s not working. Trump ended the talks with the Taliban because his idea of a summit at Camp David didn’t work out and so if he couldn’t personally bring peace to Afghanistan, he wasn’t going to let anyone else do it. Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal because it was a crowning achievement of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and Trump’s rise to prominence rested on Trump’s promotion of the fiction that everything Obama did was awful. And on Russia, the Trump campaign’s collusion to win the 2016 election places Trump squarely in Putin’s pocket, and therefore Trump cannot change course. Meanwhile, Americans continue to die in Afghanistan.
The reasons for these disastrous policies are manifold. But the thread connecting them all is Trump’s need to filter everything through his own ego. Trump met with Kim because no sitting president had done it before, and now Trump can’t admit that it’s not working. Trump ended the talks with the Taliban because his idea of a summit at Camp David didn’t work out – and so if he couldn’t personally bring peace to Afghanistan, he wasn’t going to let anyone else do it. Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal because it was a crowning achievement of Barack Obama, and Trump’s rise to prominence rested on Trump’s promotion of the fiction that everything Obama did was awful. And on Russia, the Trump campaign’s collusion to win the 2016 election places Trump squarely in Putin’s pocket, and therefore Trump cannot change course.
If all this wasn’t concerning enough, a whistleblower in the intelligence community was reportedly so concerned by a promise Trump made to a foreign leader that it was reported to the intelligence community’s inspector general. Trump literally cannot even be trusted to have a normal conversation with a foreign leader without potentially compromising national security.If all this wasn’t concerning enough, a whistleblower in the intelligence community was reportedly so concerned by a promise Trump made to a foreign leader that it was reported to the intelligence community’s inspector general. Trump literally cannot even be trusted to have a normal conversation with a foreign leader without potentially compromising national security.
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton is gone, and that’s good. And with this president, a simple shift in the wind could trigger yet another course correction on Afghanistan, or North Korea, or anything else. But what doesn’t change any time soon is the toddler who leads the most powerful country in the world. And when he fixates on a national security problem, you can be sure it will get worse, and the American people will pay the costs. John Bolton is gone, and that’s good. And with this president, a simple shift in the wind could trigger yet another course correction on Afghanistan, or North Korea, or anything else. But what doesn’t change any time soon is the toddler who leads the most powerful country in the world. And when he fixates on a national security problem, you can be sure it will get worse, and the American people will pay the costs.
Michael H Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairsMichael H Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs
Michael H Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairsMichael H Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs
US newsUS news
OpinionOpinion
Donald TrumpDonald Trump
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