Monday, May 20, 2019

Realism Is About Understanding Different Country's Interests and Red Lines - National Interest

President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has taken quite a hit over the past several weeks, and the poor assessments from foreign policy analysts and journalists alike are beginning to leak onto the front-pages of America’s most popular newspapers. In a span of two days, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today all ran featured stories about the Trump administration’s struggle to cow three adversarial governments into submission: Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

Writing for the Times on May 12 David Sanger and Edward Wong observed that “Mr. Trump’s problems with all three countries reveal a common pattern: taking an aggressive, maximalist position without a clear plan to carry it through, followed by a fundamental lack of consensus in the administration about whether the United States should be more interventionist or less.” Former State Department negotiator James Dobbins made a similar observation to the Washington Post. He commented that “The president’s apparent tendency to brinkmanship brings with it a degree of danger—and it’s even more dangerous when it’s combined with a pattern of bluffing.” USA Today summarized Trump’s foreign policy as approaching an inflection point, “hitting the diplomatic rocks, with potentially disastrous results.”

In short, all three reports pin the blame for the lack of tangible success on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela on President Trump’s negotiating acumen and the tendency of his national security staff to often stray away from their boss’s worldview. This interpretation, however, doesn’t provide us with much context or tell the full story of why Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program is still alive and well, why the Islamic Republic is still bankrolling proxy forces across the Middle East, why and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is still occupying the Miraflores presidential palace. - Read More

Realism Is About Understanding Different Country's Interests and Red 


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