Once again Donald J. Trump confounds the experts and the media.
By not doing what others before him have done, Trump is creating new paths both in foreign affairs and domestically.
What is surprising critics and the media is the effect Trump’s efforts are having on the leaders of other countries. Often, their response is the opposite of what domestic critics and media expected.
This came home most recently in Trump’s handling of the touchy diplomatic issue of Taiwan.
Breaking conventional wisdom and custom, the President-elect called Tsai Ing-wen the President of Taiwan and talked about trade and other issues.
Immediately, pundits and the media said this move, unprecedented since the U.S. recognized the government of mainland China, would provoke the Chinese government.
So what happened, China treated it as a minor issue. Taking its cue from the new wind wafting through the diplomatic world, a Chinese official chose to call it a minor annoyance.
On the diplomatic front as well as in domestic matters, in the short time since the election, President-elect Trump has flouted normal expectations and steered discussions to his priorities not his critics. The result has been confusion in those ranks and around the world as well.
But world leaders have taken notice.
Despite what critics might think, this may help the U.S. as it confronts a new world order in coming months.
For one thing, the recent admittance that OPEC’s oil production war against American producers has failed gives Trump new leverage against Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. America is already a net exporter of natural gas, oil could also prove to be a new export cash generator as well. More importantly, it is a powerful diplomatic weapon Trump is expected to use.
What’s more Trump’s chats with Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, Rodrigo
Duterte, President of the Philippines, and other strong man leaders is making critics angry. Yet, as others have pointed out, such moves gives Trump added leverage with other leaders because of his sharp contrast with President Obama.
Trump wants to work with strong leaders even if they were less democratic than liberals might prefer. President Obama detested them. His interference in Libya and Egypt among other places left American influence in those areas a tattered remnant.
Trump is putting his stamp on a new direction for American foreign policy. The choice being made for Secretary of State between Rudy Giuliani and Milt Romney clearly shows his plan to direct American foreign policy in another direction. Giuliani is more of a maverick than Romney the pick of the old guard in the Republican Party. Who Trump finally picks whether it is one of these two men or another, clearly America’s relationship with other nations will change.
Well known for his feelings on Immigration, Trump has threatened to build a wall against illegal immigrants and appears focused on getting Mexico and other Latin countries to help stop the stream of illegals into America.
During the primaries and campaign, critics and the media focused on what he said rather than how his message was being received. Foreign officials tell their American counterparts Trump’s message is being heard by their people, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. In both places, a bolder, more focused American foreign policy could affect political systems plagued by weak economics and militant immigrants.
In fact, almost unprecedented, French President Francois Hollande will not seek re-election, the first incumbent in many years not to seek a second term. Clearly the unrest in France spurred the move, which comes as rightest leaders are reasserting themselves in the wake of the Brexit and Trump’s triumph.
All of these factors come as the critics and media try to put Trump into some box, which he constantly wiggles out of much to their chagrin.
His so-called thank you tour across the nation has put critics on the defensive surprised by the wave of support he is generating.
There are many issues facing Trump when he assumes office. Despite what many believe, he may be far better than his predecessor due to his fresh, unexpected approach.