Is Trump Learning?

Given the Korean debacle, there are no signs yet that Trump is learning. Learning what? For one thing, learning how to make appointments in the foreign policy arena. He chose Pence, Pompeo and Bolton and many other clowns like Nikki Haley. His staff in the first year was a joke. Does Trump yet realize that he’s giving people like this a position of power, a microphone and a license to speak out to everyone’s detriment including his own? Has he learned yet that political appointees do not act like corporate employees? Has he learned that the ambitions and weapons of his appointees are fiercer and sharper than anything he has encountered in the business world? Has he yet learned that the field of battle is much less under his control and much more devious? Has he learned political wiles? Has he learned how treacherous his closest advisors are?

Has Trump learned how to acquire information from trustworthy and knowledgeable sources beyond a closed circle that surrounds him and beyond talking heads on cable channels? This is an urgent need. Trump needs a non-appointed kitchen cabinet with deep experience. He needs people who can tell him accurately what his own official advisors are up to. He certainly needs such people to guide him away from his woefully bad appointments.

Trump stepped into the presidency as an amateur. Business experience doesn’t substitute for political experience. As in most things, specialization is the rule. Skills have to be acquired by experience. Trump doesn’t have it. Also, while being in a job is typically necessary to such development, it is not sufficient, Hillary Clinton being an example. Trump recruited a pack of wolves ready to control his moves. Has he learned that what he feels as rapport or compatibility with someone is not sufficient grounds for hiring them? Not yet.

When and if Trump learns, he will fire Bolton. He will dump Pence, if he lasts that long and runs again for president.

There is time for Trump to recover from the Korean jiggle. There is always time to come up with strategies and policies that alter the landscape, for good or ill. It’s 17 months into the Trump presidency, and there is no evidence that this caretaker emperor is steering the ship of empire any better than his recent predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “Better” in the space of foreign affairs means toward peace, toward the resolution of intractable conflicts, toward reasoned diplomacy, away from wars, away from entanglements, away from conflicts, and away from militarism. The empire’s course hasn’t changed. Syria remains a place for the U.S. to meddle. Iran remains viewed as an enemy to bully and distrust. Israel remains a nation to support unthinkingly. The war on terror remains a strategy. Venezuela remains a place to meddle in. Africa remains a new playground for military bases and state-to-state military exercises. Sadly, a Korean opportunity is currently sidelined. The neocon ideas remain in place, while Trump’s vision remains confused, inconsistent and ineffective.

Trump hasn’t learned yet to be his own president. He needs right now to do two things, if he is to own his own presidency. He needs to find, articulate, and lead toward a new and better direction for the empire, one that involves retrenchment, moderation and peaceful solutions, one that has a sound basis other than military means. The neocon philosophy has to be rejected strongly and openly. Trump needs a sounder guide than “America First”. That’s a faulty guide. It comes down to Trump choosing policies on an ad hoc basis that he happens to think support the vague “America First” notion. The result is inconsistency, contradiction, and lack of clear direction. Trump cannot possibly change the empire’s direction by abdicating leadership to a neocon clique that he himself has created. Secondly, Trump needs to select a small task force whose charge is to find new blood for this new strategy of the empire.


8:20 am on May 25, 2018