Deal-Maker In Chief

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By: RK Coffey

President-elect’s Trump’s views on foreign relations are best understood in the context of a question he asked 3 times during an August security briefing:

“If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

He was referring to nuclear weapons.

Threats of mass casualties are not usually associated with superpowers but with insecure regimes like North Korea and terrorist organizations.  Their use is unthinkable to the majority of the planet. It has been an unspoken policy for decades that the US would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

President-elect Trump wants you to believe that this may no longer be the American position after January 20, 2017. Mr. Trump’s foreign policy is not based upon political science, military expertise, collateral damage, escalation or preventing the world from self-destruction. His guiding principle is that America’s concerns are paramount which makes other issues of less importance. Putin’s similar “Russia First” perspective partially explains Trump’s admiration for the Russian leader.

Trump has said that many, if not all, of the recent international agreements and treaties are “bad deals” because they have failed to put America’s interests first. He blames this on career diplomats that have no experience in real-life negotiations and are more interested in getting to an agreement than in getting a good result for the US. It makes no sense to him that the world’s strongest country cannot get the best deals.

In Trump’s view, the unwillingness of our State Department to leverage our strengths is what has led to our weakened situation in the world. Negotiating from a position of power is one his most important deal-making principles. Trump has shrewdly appreciated that almost everything can be utilized to the United States advantage. Especially for a President that is perceived to be willing to act unilaterally and forcefully.

It’s a brilliant negotiating tactic. If you want China to seriously discuss trade, then equivocate on the “one-China” policy by speaking to the President of Taiwan. Want Iran to be less bellicose? Promise to shoot their boats “out of the water” and to dismantle the nuclear agreement. Want our allies to pay more toward security alliances? Buddy up to Putin and talk about reducing our international military alliances. Want the world to know that literally everything is on the table? Then ask about the use of nuclear weapons.

Its all about the leverage.

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