One of the many spurious memes that Donald Trump voters spouted to praise him during the campaign (promoted by Trump himself of course) was that he was such a fantastic businessman, such a skilled negotiator that he would make great deals for America and use his abilities to make foreign leaders bow down to him and give him what he wanted.
Anyone who has never played Three Card Monte or never responded to emails from Nigerian princes promising to pay millions tomorrow for a loan of thousands today, knew that this type of material is usually spread over new grass seed and shouldn’t have been consumed.
Trump’s business history does show he knows how to be a bully and use threats, intimidation and his (inherited) wealth to extort what he wants from others but when it comes to how to negotiate in the real sense of what a negotiation is, Trump seems to have spent that class at Wharton locked in his dorm room cursing his tiny fingers.
Consider the situations that have arisen while he’s been in the White House that required negotiation and how he’s fared. Repealing Obamacare, getting at least 60 votes in The Senate for his candidate Gorsuch to join the Supreme Court and most of his cabinet to be approved, convincing Russia to stop aiding in Syria’s genocide and getting Mexico to agree to pay for his wall.
In fact, all of his alleged accomplishments have nothing to do with being able to negotiate anything, using declarations through Executive Orders, forcing cabinet nominees and his Supreme Court pick through The Senate on party line votes (having to use the “nuclear option in Gorsuch’s case) and dropping bombs in mostly unoccupied deserts as “statements” to enemies.
When Trump does try to negotiate, he doesn’t do so like a sharp businessman, he just uses extortion like any thug or terrorist might. There is no art to the dealing Trump does, just the threat of brute force, that’s all he has.
One current example is the dangerous and erratic action he has been taking to “convince” Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, to back down from his recent provocations. Trump and his minions have been directly threatening to attack North Korea. Some say that in this case, having a president who appears to be a bit crazy, irrational and capable of anything is a good tool (Trump is a tool indeed) against another leader who acts similarly. Maybe, maybe not. It has ratcheted up tensions and fear in the region and when so many lives hang in the balance and those who give the orders for buttons to be pushed are emotionally unstable and paranoid, that’s not exactly a recipe for good things to come.
But that’s all Trump has in his “negotiation” sack, threats of harm. When Freedom Caucus Republicans threatened to derail the Obamacare repeal that Trump and Paul Ryan were trying to shove down the nation’s throat, he turned on them, threatening to destroy them in their re-elections. How did that work out, did The Great Negotiator get another predicted “win”, as he bragged people would get tired of seeing, and get Obamacare repealed?
Trump has announced a new tactic now that he believes will force Democrats to negotiate the terms of surrender on Obamacare…threatening to strip 3 million Americans of federal subsidies that allow them to afford health insurance in the exchanges unless Democrats agree to supporting the repeal of Obamacare. Due to legally disputed terms in the ACA and a current court case, that funding is vulnerable to being blocked by Trump. If ISIS held 3 million Americans hostage and threatened their well being unless its demands were met, what would we call that? “Negotiating”? Of course not, we would call it terrorism.
Donald Trump is a terrorist in the literal sense. He may call it “negotiating” but his only tactic is terrorism and it’s the one way he knows to try and get what he wants. He used terrorism to help himself win the election, instilling terror in voters against Mexicans and immigrants, black people, Muslims, Hillary and Democrats, the U.S. Intelligence community and the media (but not Russia and Putin of course). He has used terror tactics in Syria, Afghanistan and now in North Korea, using violent bombing and the threat of it to “make his point”.
Does terrorism work as the primary “negotiating” tactic of a country’s leader? Against enemies AND his own citizens (no coincidence Trump called Turkey’s oppressive Edrogan to congratulate him on winning an election to change the laws of their government so he could become dictator for life)? Trump knows no differently and the media praise he’s received for being so quick to drop bombs seems to have assured him that this is what he should continue doing.
Trump is using terrorism through his transformation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) into something resembling a national militia, grabbing undocumented immigrants anywhere at anytime no matter how wonderful they are in contributing to America. An atmosphere of fear has gripped this vulnerable community in this country, it is scaring away needed migrant workers (farmers around the country are now worried about many crops spoiling due to a shortage of workers) and intimidated a growing number of victims of crime from contacting police because they are undocumented.
Terrorism works…until it doesn’t. Trying to manipulate others with the fear of violence can be effective until the violence begins, then the threat no longer is a tool and the violence opens the door to a response of violence or mass uprisings against it.
In the case of trying to use extortion in the healthcare debate, threatening to harm up to 3 million American lives if Democrats don’t agree to repeal Obamacare, Trump’s terrorism is a lose-lose for him and Republicans. If Democrats refuse to negotiate with this terrorist as they should with any terrorist, this self-declared enemy of millions of Americans would have to “execute” his attack on those Americans (which isn’t ideal for him and Republicans to run on in 2018…when many of those will be their constituents) yet would still fail in being able to pass a full repeal of Obamacare since Democrat votes would be needed in The Senate on the non-financial aspects to overcome a filibuster. Or, he would have to abandon his terrorist threat as another in a string of failed “negotiations”.
And what about North Korea? Will Trump’s response to terrorism with terrorism have the desired results and force Kim Jong Un to back down…or might it make Un feel that an attack by the U.S. is impending and the only way to defend himself is to strike first? Or might the result be a terrorist one-upmanship, where neither side wants to be seen as buckling and so another step closer to war is taken by one then the other until war is unavoidable in the eyes of one or both?
One thing is for sure, a president who can only “negotiate” what he wants by threatening terrorism against others in the world and against his own citizens can only dig a deeper hole for himself when it comes to being seen as stable, trusted and respected. He may be feared but that’s not a positive when trying to win re-election for yourself and your party in the U.S.. Americans like their president to be revered, not reviled.
Trump vowed that if he was elected president, he would end terrorism. He won’t be able to accomplish that now…until he loses the White House to another candidate. Here’s hoping he keeps at least that one promise when 2020 rolls around.