Trump Thinks His Foreign Policy Success Rests On Being A Crazy Madman. Seriously. | THE POLITICUS

Trump Thinks His Foreign Policy Success Rests On Being A Crazy Madman. Seriously.

It’s not hard to see that Donald Trump is crazy. Apparently, though, he thinks that having his staff portray him as crazy is a good negotiating tactic. Really. Truly. He wants his staff to talk him up as a crazed madman to foreign leaders to extract more and bigger concessions from them.

Take South Korea. We’ve been working with them on a trade agreement that Trump, of course, wants to pull out of. According to Axios, he reportedly told his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, to tell Korean officials that he was crazy:

You’ve got 30 days, and if you don’t get concessions then I’m pulling out,” Trump told Lighthizer.

“Ok, well I’ll tell the Koreans they’ve got 30 days,” Lighthizer replied.

“No, no, no,” Trump interjected. “That’s not how you negotiate. You don’t tell them they’ve got 30 days. You tell them, ‘This guy’s so crazy he could pull out any minute.'”

“That’s what you tell them: Any minute,” Trump continued. “And by the way, I might. You guys all need to know I might. You don’t tell them 30 days. If they take 30 days they’ll stretch this out.”

The problem, as Axios writer Jonathan Swan says, is that world leaders already think he’s crazy. The “madman” persona can be unsettling and possibly off-putting for them. It can also lead to unnecessary conflict and bloodshed. The way he’s handling Kim Jong Un of North Korea, for instance, could force Kim to stop with the posturing and actually do something.

While some of his top staff believe that his madman persona is what forced Canada and Mexico into renegotiating NAFTA, and put more pressure on China, this only really works in the short-term. A president cannot think only to the end of the quarter. A president has to see the bigger picture and play the long game.

Trump is making national security officials nervous, too. General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a point of emphasizing how careful the military is about making statements and bolstering Trump’s crazy persona, particularly where North Korea is concerned. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said:

I have been very careful, at the military level, to make no statements that would exacerbate the current crisis.

I certainly won’t comment on things that our senior political leadership have said, but I certainly can tell you, inside the military we’ve made no statements and we’ve had a conscious decision not to make any such statements, to ensure that the lead right now is Secretary Tillerson, and the message being delivered is primarily being delivered by the State Department.”

Trump is making the military’s job far more difficult than it needs to be with his “crazy man” tactic – this almost sounds like they feel they need to walk on eggshells, lest Kim or other hostile leaders start taking Trump at his word. He’s very likely making everyone’s jobs far more difficult than they need to be.


Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images

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