30 June 2020   Leave a comment

Carl Bernstein has written a fairly long and well-documented article for CNN on US President Trump’s telephone conversations with foreign leaders. The article is highly disturbing and is based on interviews with “former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff”. Bernstein concludes that “the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States” in the eyes of these former advisers. According to Bernstein:

“The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that the President was often “delusional,” as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.”

Bernstein continues:

“Two sources compared many of the President’s conversations with foreign leaders to Trump’s recent press “briefings” on the coronavirus pandemic: free form, fact-deficient stream-of-consciousness ramblings, full of fantasy and off-the-wall pronouncements based on his intuitions, guesswork, the opinions of Fox News TV hosts and social media misinformation.”

There are also many examples of how deferential Mr. Trump is with Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan. The calls with Erdogan were especially disturbing:

“Two sources described the President as woefully uninformed about the history of the Syrian conflict and the Middle East generally, and said he was often caught off guard, and lacked sufficient knowledge to engage on equal terms in nuanced policy discussion with Erdogan. ‘Erdogan took him to the cleaners,’ said one of the sources.

“The sources said that deleterious US policy decisions on Syria — including the President’s directive to pull US forces out of the country, which then allowed Turkey to attack Kurds who had helped the US fight ISIS and weakened NATO’s role in the conflict — were directly linked to Erdogan’s ability to get his way with Trump on the phone calls.”

After three and a half years as President, it still seems to be the case that Mr. Trump does not fully understand what a President is supposed to do. He remains a reality TV actor.

Posted June 30, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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