Is Trump experienced or expert enough to stuff things up more?

President Donald Trump is having some successes and some things are going his way, but he also looks like an incompetent disaster waiting to happen. But despite his obvious inexperience and lack of expertise, is their much risk of him stuffing things up any more than past US administrations?

The US has made a mess of many things over the last half century and more – the Korean war was in the 1950s and still isn’t resolved. Cuba, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Russia…

Mathew J. Petersen at Intellectual Takeout: Thank God Trump Isn’t a Foreign Policy Expert


What Trump Lacks
In fact, many on the Right and Left over the past two years have suggested their main worry about Donald Trump is the fact he now represents America to the rest of the world and will cause a devastating disaster, nuclear or otherwise.

I propose some simple, evaluative questions and a thought experiment to set the minds of the nation at ease the morning after the most significant moment of the Trump presidency.

Does Donald Trump have enough experience and expert wisdom to give away as much to North Korea as the American foreign-policy establishment, with all its experience, top-shelf degrees, and stratospheric test scores, has given away in the past 30 years?

Does Donald Trump have enough experience and expert wisdom to keep the hostile stalemate the American foreign-policy establishment created and fostered with North Korea since America first waged the Korean War?

For that matter, does Trump even have the experience and caste of mind to start a war, say, in the Middle East, that costs trillions of dollars and disrupts and inflames the region as President Bush and his entourage did? Does he even know how?

Does Trump have the expertise to take over the wreckage of such a war and support jihadist rebels, help create ISIS and a global refugee crisis, and give Russia the most power it’s had in the region since the peak of the Cold War, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did?

The truth may alarm you. Trump has never even started a war before—not even a little one.

Trump is such an ignoramus, forget war—for decades the uniparty American foreign policy establishment’s most basic solution to problems overseas has been to supply the gift of training and weapons to people in other countries who then end up becoming terrorists or some other version of our worst nightmare. That’s an inside the beltway American tradition, for Democrats and Republicans alike.

Does Trump even know this?

Departing from “the Norm”

There’s sure as hell no way Trump knows yet how to meet with a foreign dictator like Kim Jong-un and come to an agreement that ultimately doesn’t change anything or makes things worse, like all our sane and competent leaders have been doing since the Cold War ended. Thus, we should indeed all consider the possibility that Trump might somehow be different.

Assuming North Korea has some desire to reform itself—admittedly, the very assumption we are now testing—the biggest obstacle to peace on the Korean Peninsula is the disastrous legacy of Hillary-Obama foreign policy, which mimics decades of earlier, similar American failures.

Regardless of the spin on both sides, remember: whatever the ultimate result of the Singapore summit, it will not be determined, as it has been in the past, by the slow-moving, Byzantine maneuvers of the foreign-policy expert class, the members of which Michael Anton aptly calls “priests” in “America and the Liberal International Order.” This priest class has tried to make a science of “international relations” that somehow abstracts from prudence and the plain old study of human nature, history, and politics.

Trump upended their order. What matters now is the result of two men in a room, representing their respective people, sizing each other up, and speaking directly to one another.


There is no guarantee this will work any better (or less worse) than past military and diplomatic attempts, and there will almost certainly be some negatives to the inexpert bluster of Trump, but he doesn’t need to achieve much to improve on past efforts.

Ok, there is a risk that Trump will blunder bigly and something really crappy will happen in Korea, the Middle East or with Russia, or somewhere else the US has been involved or decides to interfere, but those risks were there under past presidents too.

In shaking the old norms up Trump may create chaos, but out of that we may end up with a better world. May.

43 Comments

  1. Not just Democrats expressing concerns.

    It is a bit premature claiming success with denuclearisation yet.

  2. Blazer

     /  June 14, 2018

    the nations Trump deals with have assessed him and know what they are dealing with.
    His simplicity…’I’ve got more,bigger bombs than you’….actually permeates without any ambiguity.
    Same with trade and his other issues.

    • Corky

       /  June 14, 2018

      His simplicity????

      I’m wondering who has a simplicity problem. Seems many aren’t interested in peace and global progression, but more about wanting Trump to fail..as he must on somethings. Be careful what you wish for, Blazer.

      • Blazer

         /  June 14, 2018

        what don’t you understand…you don’t have to be a simpleton to understand simplicity…

        • Corky

           /  June 14, 2018

          What I don;’t understand is people like you. I understand Trumpy perfectly.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  June 14, 2018

    Good post, PG. Let’s all keep an optimistic open mind that the world can change for the better.

  4. Grimm

     /  June 14, 2018

    The obstacles that Trump has overcome to this point mark him at out as an extraordinary human being. No one else in history has beaten the entire US political, media and elite establishment to get where he is.

    He may be portrayed as a baffoon, I expect to some extent he actually is one, but things are getting done in a way that I’ve not seen in my lifetime. Global conflict actually seems less.

    Calling out Trudeau for the girly man he is, may be his zenith.

    • Zedd

       /  June 14, 2018

      ‘Calling out Trudeau for the girly man he is, may be his zenith.’ sez grimm

      you obviously did not see the news item on AlJz recently ?
      picture of a very pissed off man.. I think he is not the only one (G6+1)

  5. High Flying Duck

     /  June 14, 2018

    James Clapper is no Trump fan, but he has said Trump broke the diplomatic deadlock and has changed the narrative to allow progress on finding a resolution in North Korea:

    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/12/politics/clapper-trump-kim-korea-summit-cnntv/index.html

  6. Zedd

     /  June 14, 2018

    I heard many commentators asking ‘YES.. but what has actually been achieved in Singapore ?’, with all the handshaking & rhetorical bravado.. looking like an episode of a reality TV show.. or even ‘Lets make a deal’ (with the Devil ?)

  7. sorethumb

     /  June 14, 2018

    While states sit behind analysts and play chess, Trump goes in man to man. NK may want to get itself off the hook, after all it is stuck up a tree. The thing about Trump is he is so flexible ( a skeleton key compared to the state apparatus) he may be able to relate to Kim the man and get him down out of his tree.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  June 14, 2018

      I doubt that. The only person he relates to is himself by the look of it,

      There are many more people involved than the two egomaniacs.

      • Gezza

         /  June 14, 2018

        Only one of them can order his people to love him. Kim.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 15, 2018

          You can tell the difference between them quite easily, One is an egomaniac dictator with a very odd hairstyle.

  8. sorethumb

     /  June 14, 2018

  9. sorethumb

     /  June 14, 2018

    I think what is at stake here for the liberal order is human nature versus a rationalising managerial state. People like a human head that represents them; they don’t want universalists.
    https://www.academia.edu/5966802/GROUP_IDENTITY_AND_NATION_IDENTITY

  10. phantom snowflake

     /  June 14, 2018

    Trumpism from a Psychotherapy perspective:
    The public rhetoric of Trumpism normalizes what therapists work against in our work: the tendency to blame others in our lives for our personal fears and insecurities and then battle these others instead of taking the healthier but more difficult path of self-awareness and self-responsibility. It also normalizes a kind of hyper-masculinity that is antithetical to the examined life and healthy relationships that psychotherapy helps people achieve. Simply stated, Trumpism is inconsistent with emotionally healthy living – and we have to say so publicly.
    https://citizentherapists.com/manifesto/

    • sorethumb

       /  June 14, 2018

      That sounds like toxic metanarrative as when Maori blame all their problems on colonisation even if they have more Pakeha ancestors than Maori.

      If think more relevance should be placed on evolutionary psychology which has a lot to say on the subject.

      • phantom snowflake

         /  June 14, 2018

        An astounding leap of illogic. I’m stunned.

    • sorethumb

       /  June 14, 2018

      aren’t therapists supposed to understand a persons thinking (rather than parody it)?

    • sorethumb

       /  June 14, 2018

      HistoricalTrauma,&Race;based&Trauma∧&Resilience&of&Indigenous&Peoples:&A&literature&review
      Abadian (2006) made a similar argument as Denham (2008) in her presentation at the “Healing our Spirits Worldwide” conference. She argues that cultural renewal can be as dangerous as it can be rehabilitative. She refers to the Lakota people’s historical attempts to renew culture that ended tragically – as in the 1890 Massacre of Wounded Knee. Furthermore, other so-called cultural renewals, such as Hitler’s attempts to renew the “great Aryan nation” or Serbia’s attempt at cultural resurgence have all ended horribly and been toxic to survivors. Abadian argues that cultural renewal requires paying attention to the stories that one tells themselves in relationship to others and who is responsible for the way things currently are. She refers to these stories as meta-narratives – and asserts that toxic cultural renewal is an outcome of toxic cultural narratives. In turn, these cultural narratives are the outcome of past traumas. The first step in the regeneration of healthy and affirming cultures is the telling of life-affirming and healthy narratives. She draws on the example of a young child who was sexually abused by an extended family member. Because the child only has “pre-operational thinking” (Piaget, 1928) or believes that everything that happens is as a direct
      result of what they have done, they come to believe that any harm that occurs is their fault. This child thus goes through his life believing he is damaged, unloveable and unworthy of healthy relationships. These “post-traumatic” narratives tend to be habitual, frozen in the past, self-referential and selfreinforcing. In the same way, entire communities can pass on
      unhealthy narratives to future generations.
      https://fncaringsociety.com/sites/default/files/online-journal/vol5num1/Fast-Collin-Vezina_pp126.pdf

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 14, 2018

      What a load of pretentious crap. Trump acts to change things for the better. That’s why his supporters are happy. He only battles verbally against those who perpetually attack and slander him. That’s why they are unhappy.

      • Gezza

         /  June 14, 2018

        Trump acts to change things for the better.
        Sycophantic bullshit. He doesn’t always act to change things for the better. He does what he wants because he’s had a lifetime of getting away with that. He may turn out to have changed things for the better, but it’ll be what’s best or most satisfying for him, and America, in that order. He slanders people & even pushes lies (Obama’s birth certificate a case in point) because that’s his style. Trump needs to be evaluated over the long and the short term, like all his predecessors.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 14, 2018

          Red fog. He is changing things for the better. Your slanting of his motives just satisfies your prejudices and reflects your world view rather than his.

          Those he slanders have usually slandered him. He is more likely to forgive them than they him.

          • Gezza

             /  June 14, 2018

            He is often just changing things. You worship the guy so anything he does is for the better whether it is or not.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 14, 2018

              No, I don’t support everything he does but the balance is favourable.

    • MaureenW

       /  June 14, 2018

      How did William J Doherty rate Obama when he destroyed Libya? I wonder if he found those actions consistent with healthy living and did he feel the need to say anything publicly then?
      What a load of clap-trap

    • phantom snowflake

       /  June 14, 2018

      Looks like I’ve ‘triggered’ a few Snowflakes!

      • MaureenW

         /  June 14, 2018

        Just looks like you post crap to me

        • phantom snowflake

           /  June 14, 2018

          Well here’s some more crap then; Laurie Penny this time:
          Donald Trump in particular is a Gordian knot for modern psychiatry: at once an emblem of violent, impenetrable masculinity—the nasally-rigid, iron-hearted business Svengali determined to slap America until it stops sniveling—and a byword for hysterical sensitivity, a wailing man-baby with a hair-trigger temper who almost nobody feels comfortable having within five miles of the nuclear codes. Donald Trump is the personification of hurt male feelings masquerading as strength.

          • MaureenW

             /  June 14, 2018

            More rubbish. Are you done yet?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  June 14, 2018

              Yes thanks. I had this terrible searing pain in my frontal lobe, but now that I’ve wound up a few RWNJ Trumpophiles all is well. Ahhhh…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 14, 2018

              If we want to read pretentious crap there are mountains of it in Lefty bookshops and newsstands, phantom.

  11. Zedd

     /  June 14, 2018

    ‘Trump acts to change things for the better.’ Sez Alan

    BUT.. for the better of whom.. (him & his cronies.. perhaps) sounds like Natl are taking leaves from the same book ?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  June 14, 2018

      Look at US employment and economy, Zedd.

      • Zedd

         /  June 14, 2018

        yes, just what the previous Natl govt. kept saying.. BUT most workers were on minimum wage or minimum hours & the ‘rock star economy’ was only benefiting those on the ‘rock star incomes’.. they still have no idea of ‘fairness’ & the ‘trickle down’ is all B-S 😦

        thats why NZF went with Lab/Grns

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 14, 2018

          And that’s why business confidence and investment is crashing. There will be more overpaid bureaucrats and fewer employed workers.

  12. David

     /  June 15, 2018

    Odd claims. Trump has far more foreign policy experience than Obama did.