The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Trump Wins, and the Left Complains

Posted on | June 12, 2018 | No Comments

 

No matter how much President Trump succeeds, the Left simply will not acknowledge his success. The headline on Robert Kuttner’s American Prospect column — asserting that Trump is inflicting “damage” by his “disastrous diplomacy” with North Korea — shows how the Left is committed to denying any recognition of Trump’s success.

What is Professor Kuttner’s argument?

It’s hardly a surprise that Donald Trump blew up the Group of Seven summit. In his warped view of the world, America’s closest allies are enemies, and nations that represent dangerous threats are friends.
Thus Russia is to be welcomed back, while Canada, about as benign a neighbor as exists, is a menace for taking advantage of the United States on trade. (Fact check: The U.S. government’s own data suggest the United States ran a small trade surplus with Canada in 2017.) The European Union, whose subsidy and open-market policies are on a par with our own, is seen as a bigger threat than mercantilist China. And North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-Un gets warmer words than the leaders of Europe.
Has the world gone mad? No, only Donald Trump.

Has the world gone mad? No, only Professor Kuttner. He engages in the simple tactic of argument by assertion — he says that Trump views our “closest allies as enemies,” and expects us to accept this as fact, without further discussion. Likewise, Professor Kuttner contrasts the “warm words” Trump expressed during the negotiations with Kim to what Trump has said about “leaders of Europe,” without regard to context.

Trump’s deliberate disruption of the diplomatic status quo, his willingness to re-examine our relationship with “America’s closest allies” is one of those crazy-like-a-fox moves that cannot be understood by those committed to defending the convention wisdom, Left or Right. Professor Kuttner expresses the Establishment’s sense of a “world gone mad” without bothering to ask the fundamental question: Why?

Isn’t it obvious that Trump’s unpredictability is a tactic?

Trump knows a simple truth of business: You will always negotiate from a position of weakness if you are unwilling to walk away from the deal.

Embrace the power of “no.”

The United States possesses both the world’s most powerful economy and the world’s most powerful military. Why should “America’s closest allies” be permitted to treat us disrespectfully, as if such alliances are a one-way street with no reciprocal obligations on their part? Why should Canada or the European Union be allowed to act as though America’s friendship can be taken for granted, and that we have no way to prevent them from enacting policies that are harmful to American interests?

As for Trump’s “warm words” for the North Korean dictator, was his conduct not influenced by the advice of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, two of the most hawkish Republicans imaginable? Do these men understand better how to deal with Kim than does Professor Kuttner? Maybe these men, with access to every bit of information our intelligence agencies can supply, know something that the professor doesn’t?

What matters, in diplomacy as in business, is results. President Trump has been in office less than 18 months. It is too soon to know what the long-term consequences of his policies will be. But the man has a winning record so far. Almost no one imagined Trump could ever have been elected President, but he did it. Trump’s behavior intimidates and mystifies people, and I don’t think this effect is accidental. Trump doesn’t care whether you like him personally or understand what he’s doing. Trump cares about exactly one thing: Winning.

As the man said, the United States has the power to wipe the Pyongyang regime off the face of the Earth with “fire and fury.”

 

If it came to war, America would not lose, and Kim would certainly be dead. Trump knows this, Kim knows this, and if Professor Kuttner doesn’t understand this, what kind of “expert” is he?

Aren’t Japan, South Korea and Taiwan among our “closest allies”? Haven’t these allies grown tired of America refusing to take action to halt the North Korean nuclear threat? Is it not also the case that North Korea is dependent upon support from China, so that by playing hardball with Kim, Trump thereby sends a message to Beijing? And isn’t this helpful to our “closest allies” in Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand?

Donald Trump is not stupid. Crazy maybe, but not stupid.

It’s his craziness that unnerves Trump’s enemies, both foreign and domestic. They cannot predict his behavior — does he really mean all those crazy things he says? — and this unpredictability puts Trump’s antagonists at a disadvantage. Furthermore, Trump has a knack of getting away with errors that would destroy anyone else in politics. When the Access Hollywood tapes became public in October 2016, I thought, “That’s it. He can’t possibly win now” — and I was wrong.

Trump was proven right. He really could grab them by the you-know-what and they didn’t mind — 53% of white women voted for him.

Nobody voted for Professor Kuttner, and American women wouldn’t want to be grabbed by him. This probably bothers Professor Kuttner more than anything Trump said or did during the Singapore summit.

Winners win, and losers complain. As one of my college professors liked to say, the dogs may bark, but the caravan rolls on.



 

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