The incredulous in Donald Trump has become the normal. It is very difficult to fathom that any U.S. president would extend a state visit to the head of country who has been roundly accused of extra-juridical killing of drug lords. Speaking to Philippine President Rodrigo Duarte last night, President Trump invited him to visit the United States. It is very difficult to wake up and try to answer why Trump is doing this regardless of how or whether Duarte may join in an effort to rein in North Korea.
It boggles the mind to consider with whom, if anyone did Trump spoke before deciding to invite Duarte. The problem is not Duarte himself, his record, and his authoritarian rule, the problem is Trump’s modus operandi. Was anyone informed of this decision? Did the NSC chief, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster even know about the intention? Who at the State Department provided background? As was the case with Trump’s call praising Erdogan after his victory in the Turkish referendum or flip-flopping on China, the likely answer to all these questions is he consulted no one.
Trump’s decision-making approach presents two difficult problems. First, how does a country function when its leader appears only to be interested in stirring the pot and creating problems. Unless something is happening, it appears Trump is not happy. He appears to have a limited concern for consequences or fall-out. Others will clean up the mess and deliver a explanation. World leaders and U.S. Government employees are told to make sense of the behavior of one of the most unpredictable world leaders ever seen.
The problem with this style of operation is that eventually Trump will make a decision on his own which will be irreversible and unexplainable. A geopolitical decision will be made which will harm the country and no amount of rationalization will save the President or the country. Woe is the nation when Trump really gets peeved with Kim-Jong-un. Not only is the President and the Republican Party in trouble but so is the country and world.
It seems clear that the President’s trip to Europe this month could well be the final straw. The magical “100 days” have past. Global leaders, the heads of both parties, as well as public figures, and intellectuals need to stop hoping for better. It is becoming clear that there is no “better”. He may have a few good days, but there is no change.
People are scared to confront the President. American politicians are afraid of his wrath and retribution. World leaders cringe at alienating America and shrink at the economic or political consequences of a confrontation with Trump.
The Republican Party is trapped with what they wished. The Democratic Party is disorganized and leaderless. If it has any sense of the danger the country can and might well face, at a minimum it must organize itself to retake the Congress in 2018. There must be a national figure as well who can emerge to lead the country back to normalcy in 2020. Failure to begin that process now could well doom the country and the civilized world.