Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump's global demolition derby continues

by digby

My Salon column today tees up Trump's upcoming foreign trip

Today begins the latest installment of Donald Trump's great global demolition derby as he leaves for the annual meeting of NATO allies, a meet and greet with the queen of England and a big bilateral summit in Finland with his favorite authoritarian oligarch, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Odds are that he is feeling his oats after handing the rose to his latest Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, which he sees as yet another unprecedented accomplishment due to his leadership genius. So get ready: This could be a wild ride.

Before Trump gets back on Air Force One, we should catch up on the latest news surrounding his last bit foray into international gamesmanship, the pageant in Singapore last month. I know this will come as a huge surprise to everyone, but it turns out that Kim Jong Un wasn't actually so enthralled by the force of Donald Trump's dazzling personality that he rushed back to Pyongyang to order the immediate dismantling of his nuclear program. He and his government seem to have come away from the talks under the impression that the United States would make even more concessions before North Korea needed to think about doing anything at all. Frankly, since Trump chatted alone with Kim for some time and the agreement they ended up signing was so vague, that may very well be what was agreed between them.

Bloomberg published a fascinating inside look at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's disastrous follow-up trip to Pyongyang last week. The North Koreans really ran him through his paces and in the end contradicted his happy talk about "progress" by complaining that the U.S. was acting “gangster-like” with its demands that they denuclearize. It's pretty clear they would prefer to deal directly with the president, for obvious reasons.

Trump, who had grandly proclaimed after the summit that we could all sleep easily because North Korea was "no longer a nuclear threat," responded to the Pompeo debacle with a lame tweet that practically begged his pal Kim to stop making him look bad and suggested that China was pulling the strings.


As I have written many times, any day that we are not in a nuclear crisis is better than the alternative. Perhaps at some point this will result in some kind of normalization of relations with North Korea. But Trump's other foreign policy disasters with the trade war with China, the G7 summit in Quebec and what most observers expect will be yet another clash at the upcoming NATO summit have left Trump without many friends at a time when he needs them more than ever to ensure that happens.

North Korea expert Victor Cha has said that normally in this situation, the U.S. would go to Chinese President Xi Jinping and say that diplomacy has hit a snag and it was time for China to tighten its sanctions to bring North Korea back to the table. But Trump has started a nasty (and incoherent) trade war with the Chinese and is now blaming them for the diplomatic impasse with Pyongyang. So his government is unlikely to get much of a hearing there.

He could also, in normal circumstances, go to NATO and other regional allies to put pressure on China and otherwise show a united front to lean on the North Koreans. But he's loaded for bear going into the annual meeting and is preparing to harangue the other NATO members over money again because it is literally the only aspect of the organization he knows or cares about. To state the obvious, Trump's ability to bring America's traditional allies on board for any collective campaign is now severely hampered by his increasingly hostile relationship with all of them.

So that leads up to Trump's meeting in Helsinki with his most trusted foreign policy adviser, Vladimir Putin, who will likely suggest that the president do something that will weaken the West's position and strengthen Putin's own country. After all, he already persuaded Trump to cancel the joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises as a freebie in the North Korean negotiations. (Trump has unconvincingly insisted that was done to save money, even though those exercises cost less than his cumulative trips to Mar-a-Lago.) Who knows what Putin can persuade Trump to give up next?

When I characterize Putin as being Trump's favorite foreign policy adviser, I'm not entirely joking. Our president apparently asks the Russian leader for guidance with some frequency. The Washington Post describes a call between them last November in which Trump reportedly asked his friend, "What should I do about North Korea?" Meanwhile:

Some White House officials worry that Putin, who has held several calls with Trump, plays on the president’s inexperience and lack of detailed knowledge about issues while stoking Trump’s grievances. The Russian president complains to Trump about “fake news” and laments that the U.S. foreign policy establishment — the “deep state,” in Putin’s words — is conspiring against them, the first senior U.S. official said. 
“It’s not us,” Putin has told Trump, the official summarized. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”
The New York Times reports that when Putin complained about some Trump aides not wanting the president to congratulate him on his electoral win, Trump told him to pay no attention because they are "very stupid" people. In contrast, the Times describes Trump being brusque and impatient with leaders of America's traditional allies, often interrupting them in mid-sentence or insulting them to their faces.

As we have now seen demonstrated in living color, Trump's alleged negotiating savvy and deal-making prowess have been monumentally oversold. It's not that we didn't suspect that already, considering how clumsily he has botched his own domestic legislative agenda over, even with a friendly GOP Congress. Still, you never know. Maybe he had a secret talent for one-on-one negotiations with foreign leaders. But no. He is a disaster.

There is a lot of trepidation among experts in the U.S. and around the world about this trip. Trump seems intent upon blowing up the NATO alliance over his obsession with what even some Europeans now describe as a "protection racket," in which he blatantly threatens to trade security for economic return.

Since Trump is uninterested in history, he does not know or care that peace and prosperity in Europe are essential to peace and prosperity in the United States. When Europeans go to war with each other, as they did twice in the last century, the U.S. ends up paying a huge price in both human and financial terms. As former U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said on MSNBC this week, "70 years of peace is a pretty darned good investment."

But then, good investments are something Donald Trump doesn't really understand. This is the guy who couldn't even make a profit running casinos. He simply can't recognize a sensible long-term deal when he sees it.