Thursday, April 21, 2016

U.S. Allies Frightened Of Trumpidency

by JASmius

[S]ure, [our allies would] probably be mobilizing against Ted Cruz, too, but not anywhere near on this scale, because whereas the Texas senator's record as a modest interventionist is firmly and consistently established and our enemies would know that the unheard-of strategic buffet that is the Obama Doctrine (might be) closing, foreign allies have to be perceiving our country as unhinged for being about to nominate what they doubtless see as an unstable lunatic, and what our enemies will see as an easy mark. Cruz would restore as much credibility and psychological deterrence as humanly possible, while Trump would be likely to incentivize pre-emptive attacks against the U.S.

- Me, five and a half weeks ago

The difference between now and any previous time in his miserable, misbegotten, worm-eaten, egg-sucking life is that when you rise to the level of even possibly becoming POTUS, what you say actually matters and carries weight worldwide. Trump's ego will never permit him to realize this, but before now that was never the case. But he thinks it always has been, and so he doesn't see the difference, and doesn't change his Al Czervik persona - or rather, can't change it, but wouldn't even if he could. And so he just spouts his dangerous ignorance willy-nilly like a continent-spanning rainbird, convinced that everything he says is bound for engraving on stone tablets, and puts entire regions of the globe into a figurative blender with the setting on "liquify".

- Me, three and a half weeks ago

Over that latter stretch of time Trump got largely shut out and out-hustled by Senator Cruz, and the anxieties of "world leaders" apparently abated somewhat, judging by the absence of such news reports.  Then Trump romped in the New York primary on Tuesday, and our allies' fears have been re-stoked anew:

World leaders are privately terrified Donald Trump will be elected president, but are keeping quiet publicly over fears of retaliation should the billionaire businessman succeed in his quest for the White House, Politico reports. [emphases added]

"Terrified".  "Fears of retaliation".  And remember, this is coming from our allies.  Shouldn't it be our enemies that are afraid of the POTUS, and our allies reassured and confident in his leadership?  Frankly, I think Putin and Xi and Kim and Khamenei and al-Baghdadi are looking at what we're doing in this primary campaign and are slackjawedly grinning that it could actually get better for them than it's been for the past seven-plus years.

The website quoted more than two dozen U.S. and foreign officials, saying world leaders are in "full-boil panic" at the prospect of a Trump presidency and are not comforted by Barack Obama's assurances that Trump will either fail in his effort to secure the Republican nomination or will lose to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election....

The former is up in the air; the latter is inevitable, if it comes to it.  But I can understand why they're in a "full-boil panic".  Basically, Barack Obama set the world on fire (literally), and rather than his successor (if there ever actually is one) doing everything in his power to put out those fires, Trump is promising to abandon all our allies - both NATO (to Russia) and Pacific Rim (to Red China) - and leave them to their fate once and for all.  The perfect coda to the Obama Doctrine.  If I were they, I'd probably be pissing myself a little, too.

"They're scared and they're trying to understand how real this is," one American official was quoted. "They all ask. They follow our politics with excruciating detail. They ask: 'What is this Trump phenomenon? Can he really win? What would it mean for U.S. policy going forward or U.S. engagement in the world?' They're all sort of incredulous."

They're far from the only ones. <eyeroll>

The Brits come closest to articulating why, but they don't quite get the right verbiage:

"However much people recoiled from George W. Bush or have been disappointed by Obama, they see Trump as off the Richter scale," said Peter Mandelson, British Cabinet member for prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. "The reason for that is not that he must be stupid — nobody thinks that — but that he’s disdainful, unscrupulous, prepared to say anything to harvest the populist vote. And that makes people frightened." [emphasis added[

What makes Trump a danger to our country and our allies is that he is arrogant, ignorant, incurious - a lethal trio all by itself - but also venal, impulsive, and emotionally unstable.  He'd want to cut deals with our enemies even more than Barack Obama did, with even greater delusional self-assurance that ONLY HE can deal with Putin, Xi, Khamenei, Kim, et al.  And like Obama, Trump's supreme vanity would either cause him to cut bad deals and then lie about them in order to save face, or provoke international incidents if they won't budge from their negotiation position(s) and won't be bullied to do so in retaliation for their intransigence.  He would bluff and bluster, and it will impress nobody on the world stage.  And nobody would apprehend that except allies who fear his "retaliation" against them.  Almost as if Trump would be completing Obama's turning of America to "the Dark Side".

The only parallel for allied fears I can think of to employ is when a close friend or loved one starts sinking into senile dementia, and that person is still your benefactor and protector.  What the devil do you do then?  Actually, I can think of another: It may be an amusing oddity to the rest of the planet for a celebrity entertainer to get elected president of Guatemala; of what was once the benevolent global hegemon, more like a zip file of the ten plagues of Egypt writ large.

I can't blame them, really; the experience is more than a little harrowing from the inside as well.

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