No one should have been surprised at Trump’s outburst yesterday. The President has been there many times before and no doubt will be there again. His sexist, misogynistic, bullying toward Mika Brzezinski defied any reasonable explanation or rationalization. It was insulting to both men as well as women. Anyone trying to justify Trump’s outburst in any way is similarly culpable.
That having been said, the outburst once again raises very serious issues concerning the governance of the United States. In the hands of Donald Trump there is no reason that anyone should be sleeping well at night. Given his glaring character faults and his unpredictable personality, no American ought to assume that the U.S. is safe under Trump’s leadership.
Specifically with respect to foreign policy and national security matters there is a distinct possibility that Trump could create a dangerous international crisis; insult the women leaders of two of America’s closest allies—Merkel and May; respond irrationally to actions which Trump perceives to be threatening from North Korea, Afghanistan, or Iran; or reek economic chaos with the American economy should the Chinese annoy him.
When Trump insulted the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, it occurred as a result of his not reading the entire text of the Mayor’s remarks. When informed as to the entire text the President did not apologize, rather he doubled down on his attack of the Mayor.
The most obvious potentially unnerving international moment immediately ahead will be the side meeting which the President will hold with President Putin during the G20 Summit. Putin clearly has Trump’s number. General H. R. McMaster, the national security advisor, pathetically declared that Trump has no prepared agenda for his meeting with Putin and will discuss whatever he wishes. There is pause to consider what will be discussed and what Putin might do should he become the recipient of the one the President’s tweets.
There is one final consideration. In international affairs, cultural norms, religious considerations, and social behavior play a critical role. If a foreign government is dissed by President Trump, there is no way to assess what might be the diplomatic or security consequences for the United States.