An Under-Qualified Presidency

Trump’s political openness with China and Russia is alarming.

We have survived the first six months of Trump’s presidency. The result is a weak, under-qualified child, in need of intensive care and full of unpleasant surprises. His arrival at the White House has caused an increase in global uncertainty, damaged the reputation of the USA and astonished America’s allies. There is currently no other power capable of taking on the challenge of filling the leadership void caused by the U.S. retreat.

The only plausible option, China, is still in the process of internal consolidation and has no intention of rising up to the challenge. Xi and Putin have already been giving lessons to the least experienced president in recent U.S. history. The extent to which the Russian president is involved with Donald Trump and his family is currently unknown, but Russia’s interference in the presidential election is currently being investigated by Congress and the special counsel.

The president is entwined in growing collusion with Russia, while his lawyers look for a way to limit the investigation – accusing special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of conflicts of interest, and exploring the possibility of a self-pardon that the president would grant himself. Meanwhile, the president has issued a vote of no confidence against his own Justice Department. There is no foreign policy toward Russia, beyond the Russian president’s inexplicable admiration of Trump.

Xi Jinping has formed a similar attachment with the ignorant president, and he is apparently fighting to make China great again. Trump was foolish enough to break the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, almost certainly without having read or understood the geo-strategic implications of doing so. Now, he must bilaterally negotiate with Beijing, rather than leading an agreement with 12 nations who control 40 percent of the world’s commerce. He abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement, allowing Beijing to somehow adopt the title of clean energy champion. Xi halted trade retaliation threats from Washington by claiming to have helped defuse North Korea’s nuclear threats. Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, states that in America he’s called “Trump,” but in China it’s pronounced “chump” which means “silly” or “fool” in English.

The relationship between the USA and China is an issue central to the world order. Containing China, attempting a repeat of Truman’s operation with the USSR, is not repeatable. But Trump is ignorant to both geography and history. Peace or war at the end of the second decade of the 21st century influences the area where the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean meet — the South China Sea. It is the maritime umbilical cord through which Beijing receives the energy it needs and exports its cheap products. Author Robert D. Kaplan argues that China’s desired hegemony is similar to the U.S. hegemony over the Caribbean, which launched the U.S. empire at the start of the 20th century. Like the USA, China also aspires to be a power with two oceans, the Pacific and Indian. It’s geography, idiot!

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