Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not The Sharpest Tool In The Shed

Canadians and Mexicans are wondering whether Donald Trump will tear up NAFTA. The rest of the world is wondering whether Trump will tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Roger Cohen writes:

The president’s refusal to certify an accord his own defense secretary, James Mattis, says Iran is upholding, and is in the American national interest, would send a strong signal that the United States has become a bait-and-switch power whose word is worthless.

It’s America’s word as solemn gage that has underwritten global security since 1945. Goodbye to all that.

Trump claims that the accord was a lousy deal. Cohen writes that it never promised an ideal outcome, but it was negotiated when both parties had their eyes wide open:

Iran’s nuclear program was pitched into reverse by the agreement after a decade of rapid development. The number of centrifuges was slashed. Iran’s uranium stockpile was all but eliminated; enrichment levels are capped at 3.7 percent, a long way from bomb grade; outside inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency is rigorous. The IAEA, like Mattis, has found that Iran is in compliance.

Would it have been nice if Iran had been persuaded to dismantle its nuclear program and its scientists induced to consign their mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle to amnesiac oblivion? Sure. Dream on. Diplomacy takes place in the real world, as those mouthing off about North Korean nuclear dismantlement will discover. It involves trade-offs equally painful for both sides that produce an imperfect outcome better than the alternative.

Throughout his entire life, Trump has never had his eyes wide open. It has been reported that when Steve Bannon warned Trump that he could be removed under the 25th Amendment, Trump's response was, "What's that?"

Not the sharpest tool in the shed. 



Anonymous said...

You're right, Don's not the sharpest tool in the shed, he's a leaf blower. Basically, a rake (see definition #2) that blows lots of wind, makes ten times the noise and annoys the hell out of the neighbours.


Owen Gray said...

An excellent characterization of the man, Cap. A blowhard.

Steve said...

It would be Trump like to suspend NAFTA but let the Chinese free to run rings around the US economy.

Lorne said...

Were it not for their power to destroy the world, the United States could slip into irrelevancy under Trump very quickly, Owen. They are not exempt from the fate of all empires.

The Mound had an interesting post yesterday about the ascendancy of China, suggesting that it will soon be compelling Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan, a move that would ultimately have dire consequences for the greenback. Interesting times, indeed.

Owen Gray said...

Trump really doesn't understand the reasons for China's rise, Steve -- or the reasons for the United States' decline.

Owen Gray said...

An interesting post from, Mound. Lorne. Trump really doesn't understand American decline, Lorne -- or the role he is playing in that decline.

The Mound of Sound said...

If there's any coherence in Trump it is his unwavering resolve to re-negotiate everything with everyone. His approach is that America has been persistently ripped-off by its adversaries and its friends alike and this is embodied in every pact and treaty. Whether it's the EU, NATO, NAFTA, the TPP, the Iran nuclear agreement, virtually anything, the United States has been shortchanged and, as such, no agreement is inviolate. Trump is indifferent to his policies that undermine America's global hegemony and can even drive historic allies reluctantly toward America's adversaries, particularly in Asia.

With America's international comity unraveling, this leaves coercion as the default option. Diplomacy becomes displaced by the threat or use of military force as the primary instrument of foreign policy. That really took hold under Bush/Cheney but Trump has taken that dysfunction to a far higher level. It's an extremely dangerous development when the man with the nuclear launch codes is so psychologically and intellectually impaired and has an impulsive nature.

Owen Gray said...

Cheney got five deferments from Vietnam, Mound. I read that Trump also got several deferments. People who worked so hard to stay out of military conflicts cannot pass themselves off as experts on military conflicts.