As President Trump wrapped up his first international trip since taking office, Americans grappled with the farce of his domestic budget in addition to several already-brewing scandals and growing sniffs, in both parties, of the “I-word.”
I have thoughts enough on this President’s domestic “policies” and the clear and present danger of his legal troubles. Today, though, I prefer to focus on the most dangerous part of this current presidency: Trump’s views on foreign policy — or his lack thereof.
Now that I think of it, it’s more that he has too many views, and they all conflict with one another.
Candidate Trump made loaded and alarming statements on NATO, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, our allies, our enemies, and the refugee crises that plague the globe. President Trump now sings quite a different tune. True, you often see an adjustment period of sorts with any new president, especially one with less experience on the international stage than any of the 44 presidents that have come before him. But it’s usually assumed that this adjustment comes from a new appreciation of the scope and power of the office.
As we Americans watch this president flounder and sputter through his first interactions with foreign leaders, it is clear this a period of adjustment is not the issue. He has not shown any appreciable new respect for the office he holds nor America’s place in it. It’s tempting to enjoy this from a schadenfreude perspective. But as a thankless liberal, I can’t. This is too troubling, on too many levels.
President Trump has repeatedly decried our relationship with NATO — and pointedly refused to affirm or nation’s commitment to Article 5, which provided for a collective defense in the case of attack on any member. On this trip, he clearly kowtowed to Saudi interests. He contradicted himself on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict several times, condescending to define it as easier than people thought to resolve. You know, it’s just one of the oldest and most convoluted conflicts in the history of the world. I’m sure the assistant-apprentice-almost-author of The Art of the Deal will attend to this tout suite.
All of this would be amusing, perhaps, if it weren’t such an incredibly dangerous time for the world. Terrorist attacks in the UK. North Korea’s posturing. Duterte’s fascist smackdown in the Phillippines. Bristling tensions in Syria. ISIL militants abroad. Oh, and something regarding Russia — what was that again? Oh, right: allegations of massive collusion with the president’s staff, and his son-in-law. No bigs.
The world faces real challenges. One can question exactly whether, and how much, America will retain its status as the “leader of the free world,” and whether that’s important or not to some Americans, one can’t ignore that we still play a significant role and must be led by politicians of guts and conviction. This president obviously lacks either one, therefore he endangers our place and our voice in the world.
Scandals aside, snide comments aside, vulgarity aside, even Trump’s repugnant domestic policies aside, the president has now introduced himself on the world stage, and God knows what happens next. Aside from what we can do when outright treason is committed (and maybe it was), the Constitution doesn’t give us many options with which to remove a president for creating global anxiety or demonstrating gross incompetence. The Founders were also more interested in current crimes than past transgressions. So what are we to do? It becomes more and more obvious that President Trump cannot be allowed to continue down the dangerous path he treads with regard to the American relationship with the world.
Maybe it’s time to rewrite the rules.