The outgoing and at times smug US President Barack Obama, suggests a superior foreign policy knowledge to his successor Donald Trump. This impression matches much of the US mass media’s take. That perception is an oversimplification of what has been evident.
Recently, Obama erroneously referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a former head of the KGB. Within a month’s time, Obama repeated that fallacy. This error received little if any follow-up in US mass media, where heavy handed Putin and Russia bashing is the norm. Obama’s gaffes get comparatively downplayed, as Trump is inaccurately portrayed as an ignorant oaf.
This past November 21, MSNBC’s overly partisan Rachel Maddow, falsely claimed that Trump isn’t a good sport, when it comes to taking satire, unlike other US presidents who’ve been targeted for such treatment. (BTW, the much maligned RT has a number of hosts, who’re far more objective than Maddow and some of her other MSNBC counterparts, including the Democratic Party connected Lawrence O’Donnell.) In actuality, Trump has previously acknowledged good satire directed against him, inclusive of his having appeared on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL).
Maddow’s reference to the SNL opening skit of November 19, highlights her questionable sense of good humor. Trump and others are perfectly within reason to believe that particular segment to be a poor example of political comedy. In that instance, Trump’s Campaign Manager, Kellyanne Conway, is poorly depicted by someone who looks and acts nothing like the person in question. Playing the role of Trump, the anti-Trump actor Alec Baldwin, portrays a fool who doesn’t know what ISIS is.
Mind you that Obama referred to ISIS as the JV (Junior Varsity) team – something that the then Obama appointed Defense Intelligence Agency Director, Michael Flynn, took issue with. (The Democratic affiliated Flynn went over to Trump’s campaign and has been appointed to the national security adviser spot.)
Foreign policy ability takes varying forms. There are those who’ve studied the field at length (keenly knowing numerous particulars), with a track record of getting things wrong. In stark comparison, there are others who can make more accurate assessments with less knowledge of the specifics. The latter instance is typical of the successful corporate executives with vast projects to lookover. With only so much time in a day, these power driven individuals understand the need to be as accurately concise as possible, for the purpose of achieving all of their objectives. On a number of foreign policy issues, Trump has stumped the establishment.
In one debate during the Republican Party selection process, Trump was chastised by his rivals (notably Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) for saying that he would be neutral in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Trump calmly replied by noting the need to be as objective as possible – adding that his support for the Jewish state is strong. This life long New Yorker has a Jewish son-in-law who he’s close to. Fearing little chance of being reasonably called anti-Israeli, Trump has enough sense to recognize the importance of trying to be objective (as US president) on a topic like Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Without a thorough overview, Trump likely might not know how to best defend his comments about Russia, which are more reasonably understanding of the Russian mainstream than much (if not all) of the Republican and Democratic establishments. With further study and the appropriate team, he can easily follow-up on that matter. As previously noted, Trump is under some high profile influence to harden his views on Russia. On this subject, it remains to be seen how he’ll proceed.
In some influential circles, the role of UN ambassador has been somewhat belittled as a messenger kind of position. A rejoinder on that emphasis notes that the tone set by the UN ambassador helps to underscore the attitude of the government that he/she represents. The Obama appointed UN Ambassador Samantha Power is a prime example of high horsed hypocrisy, with an arrogantly ignorant demeanor.
For that UN position, Trump was said to have considered Hawaii Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. She would’ve been a good choice. Having her in the Trump administration would give the appearance of a more diverse presidency. Gabbard became disgruntled with the Democratic Party establishment, to the point of supporting Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. She’s a decorated Iraq war veteran. Her foreign policy views mesh well with Trump’s. Gabbard is pro-Israel, while seeking to work with Russia against ISIS and opposing the advocacy of seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.
Trump’s UN ambassador selection of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is a solid move for the Republican Party and the incoming president. Haley is viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party. She’s considered a success as governor. Haley’s new role will provide a foreign policy background to broaden her government experience.
During the Republican presidential nominating process, Haley pointedly opposed Trump. Her position in the Trump administration will serve to put a lid on such manner. South Carolina Lieutenant Governor and Trump supporter Henry McMaster, is in line to replace Haley as governor.
This article first appeared at the Strategic Culture Foundation on December 1.