Grow-Up, Mr. Trump–You are not Robinson Crusoe

January 4, 2017

Comments from Paul Krugman

Grow-Up, Mr. Trump–You are not Robinson Crusoe

For the past couple of months, thoughtful people have been quietly worrying that the Trump administration might get us into a foreign policy crisis, maybe even a war.

Image result for Trump vs Australia's Malcolm Turnbull

Trump with Michael Flint (National Security Advisor) and Steve Bannon (White House Chief of Staff)

Partly this worry reflected Donald Trump’s addiction to bombast and swagger, which plays fine in Breitbart and on Fox News but doesn’t go down well with foreign governments. But it also reflected a cold view of the incentives the new administration would face: as working-class voters began to realize that candidate Trump’s promises about jobs and health care were insincere, foreign distractions would look increasingly attractive.

The most likely flash point seemed to be China, the subject of much Trumpist tough talk, where disputes over islands in the South China Sea could easily turn into shooting incidents.

And while there may be an element of cynical calculation in some of the administration’s crisis mongering, this is looking less and less like a political strategy and more and more like a psychological syndrome.

The Australian confrontation has gotten the most press, probably because it’s so weirdly gratuitous. Australia is, after all, arguably America’s most faithful friend in the whole world, a nation that has fought by our side again and again. We will, of course, have disputes, as any two nations will, but nothing that should disturb the strength of our alliance — especially because Australia is one of the countries we will need to rely on if there is a confrontation with China.

Donald Trump: Americans apologise to Australia after US President’s phone call with Turnbull

But this is the age of Trump: In a call with Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Prime Minister, the U.S. President boasted about his election victory and complained about an existing agreement to take some of the refugees Australia has been holding, accusing Mr. Turnbull of sending us the “next Boston bombers.” Then he abruptly ended the conversation after only 25 minutes.

Well, at least Mr. Trump didn’t threaten to invade Australia. In his conversation with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, however, he did just that. According to The Associated Press, he told our neighbor’s democratically elected leader: “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

White House sources are now claiming that this threat — remember, the U.S. has in fact invaded Mexico in the past, and the Mexicans have not forgotten — was a lighthearted joke. If you believe that, I have a Mexico-paid-for border wall to sell you.

The blowups with Mexico and Australia have overshadowed a more conventional war of words with Iran, which tested a missile on Sunday. This was definitely a provocation. But the White House warning that it was “putting Iran on notice” raises the question, notice of what? Given the way the administration has been alienating our allies, tighter sanctions aren’t going to happen. Are we ready for a war?

There was also a curious contrast between the response to Iran and the response to another, more serious provocation: Russia’s escalation of its proxy war in Ukraine. Senator John McCain called on the president to help Ukraine. Strangely, however, the White House said nothing at all about Russia’s actions until Nikki Haley, the United Nations ambassador, issued a condemnation late Thursday night to the Security Council. This is getting a bit obvious, isn’t it?

Oh, and one more thing: Peter Navarro, head of Mr. Trump’s new National Trade Council, accused Germany of exploiting the United States with an undervalued currency. There’s an interesting economics discussion to be had here, but government officials aren’t supposed to make that sort of accusation unless they’re prepared to fight a trade war. Are they?

I doubt it. In fact, this administration doesn’t seem prepared on any front. Mr. Trump’s confrontational phone calls, in particular, don’t sound like the working out of an economic or even political strategy — cunning schemers don’t waste time boasting about their election victories and whining about media reports on crowd sizes.

No, what we’re hearing sounds like a man who is out of his depth and out of control, who can’t even pretend to master his feelings of personal insecurity. His first two weeks in office have been utter chaos, and things just keep getting worse — perhaps because he responds to each debacle with a desperate attempt to change the subject that only leads to a fresh debacle.

America and the world can’t take much more of this. Think about it: If you had an employee behaving this way, you’d immediately remove him from any position of responsibility and strongly suggest that he seek counseling. And this guy is commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military.

Thanks, Comey.

This column has been updated to reflect news developments.

16 thoughts on “Grow-Up, Mr. Trump–You are not Robinson Crusoe

  1. Trump aka drumpf is incompetent for presidency. His people even fumbled Turnbull name which is likely delibrate denigration.

    Usa will realise soon they have put a blithering self serving idoit suitable for tv ratings on top job

    • What makes you think you are qualified to insult a foreign elected leader? It is not fair or proper..
      You should describe local leaders.

  2. No one should have the right or may have expertise to advise leaders of other countries on how to rule their countries.Those who want immigrants to come should be willing to accept them in their own homes and care for them at own expense and ask others to bear the cost of those they are not in favor.

    Foreigners protesting about Trump policies may be interfering in the internal affairs of USA.

  3. “What makes you think you are qualified to insult a foreign elected leader? It is not fair or proper..
    You should describe local leaders.”

    By this reasoning what makes anyone qualified to insult any leader, foreign or local.

    This is a forum about local and foreign issues, so anyone regardless of qualifications is encouraged to question or defend, leaders foreign or domestic.

    Foreign policy is sometimes predicated on destabilizing governments , which is why foreign hegemonic policies – US, China or Russia – is open to criticism because they affect the world we live in.

    If the US did not want people protesting about their policies domestic or foreign they should not be interfering in the domestic and foreign policies of other countries.

    With the specific issue of immigrants or refugees, there is an important difference. The US is party to various international treaties which makes how they behave to those affected, a global issue and not solely a domestic issues.

    The US has never been shy of reminding countries of their responsibilities to democracy, rule of law and capitalism, and yes to refuges and immigrants, so I see no issue with people reminding the US of the same .

    Of course with specific ME countries it is US foreign policy which caused refuge crisis and while the rest of the world had to absorb these refugees I don’t see why the US should abdicate from its obligations.

    If foreigners protesting a US presidents policies is considered interfering in the internal affairs of the country what then of a US president protesting the policies of sovereign states ?

    • I am ferring to name calling and not to discussion on serious matters..
      Yes USA is made up of Europeans who came and conducted genocide in the Americas and today want to teach the world about civility and good governance when they have just approved corruption as an acceptable culture in business.

  4. What David Pakman had said in this youtube is what Adam curtis has echoed quite some time ago over what Putin, Trump, sifu is trying to do

    Shapeshifting……..I bet kaytee CB moc and his sifu, RPK are masters in this

  5. Perhaps, the “diplomatic” language has met its expiry date and for what it is worth, we, in seeing the world outside through the prism of our very own limited worldview, need to come to a new world order in calling a spade a spade regardless of ineffectual national boundary. We always thought that we knew things best and our own versions the wisest and why can’t someone call our own bs a bs? All things within and outside of Malaysia included.

  6. Trump thinks he is running Trump USA Inc. and the White House is Trump Tower and the national leaders of other countries are either business associates or business competitors.

    Let’s wait for his 100 days, impeachment or assassination, whichever comes first.

  7. Everyone is upset and doing his own rant and says that only The President rants. Every action will draw a reaction. That is the Law of unintended Consequences. Many are waiting for the first 100 days just as they waited for the decision of the Electoral College. As the Former Vice President said during confirmation of the results of the elections, “it is over”, get use to it.

    • Uh-huh because the POTUS is supposed to be held to a higher standard. Not this one though. No this one uses his official twitter account to rant against a commercial enterprise that dropped his daughter’s label, libels the judiciary, lies about crimes statistics, lies about the media underreporting terrorist acts, lies about minorities and a whole host of issues.

      You do not get over stuff like that and if you did, it says something about you.

  8. It doesn’t take a licensed professional to see that something is not right with Donald Trump where his behavior is concerned. Something is absolutely wrong with the man. Whether it’s a mental illness or whether it’s senility or possibly the beginning of Alzheimer’s, something is wrong with Trump.

    I’m not qualified to diagnose what specifically is going on with him, but virtually every mental health professional of The American Psychiatric Association (APA) believed, with 100% certainty, that Trump satisfied the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria of this incurable illness called “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD) and that, as a result as President of the United States, he is a very, very serious danger to the country and the world.

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