Trump continues to confound his critics

December 12, 2016 - 16:27

Donald Trump’s appointments to his new administration continue to confound critics of the president-elect.

His latest is perhaps the most eye-catching: Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, is expected to be offered the post of secretary of state, which will make him America’s most internationally recognized figure after the man in the White House himself.

This has raised eyebrows since Tillerson has no background in diplomacy. But he fits the pattern of Trump’s cabinet selections: his team is made up of people whose “real world” expertise is striking.

If Tillerson is confirmed, he brings to the post extensive contacts, notably with Vladimir Putin. How to handle a resurgent Russia is likely to be one of the biggest foreign policy challenges facing Trump so there is sense in being surrounded by people who understand the thinking of the Russian leader.

Trump promises to bring a completely different set of priorities to his foreign policy, as his decision to speak with Taiwan’s president and risk China’s anger has already demonstrated.

The liberals so emboldened by the election of Barack Obama in 2008 may recoil from the appointment of an industrialist to such a key post. But they can hardly argue that the foreign policy of the outgoing administration has been a success.

Obama came to the White House on a tide of high-blown rhetoric but delivered very little. On his watch the disaster of Syria has occurred and western influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf has waned.

Trump promises to bring a completely different set of priorities to his foreign policy, as his decision to speak with Taiwan’s president and risk China’s anger has already demonstrated.

His detractors see this as an extension of his bellicose personality and lack of experience. But now that the shock of his victory has started to wear off, a revaluation seems to be taking place.

A columnist in the New York Times recently likened the geopolitical impact of Trump’s arrival to that of Ronald Reagan’s famous denunciation of the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire”.

At the time Reagan was castigated as a warmonger; yet he did more to bring peace and democracy to half of Europe than any liberal leader ever did.
President Obama believed oratory would solve intractable problems in areas that have been resistant to the blandishments of outsiders for centuries.

It takes more than fine words for America to engage with the rest of the world; and if Trump is bringing in people who know how deals are made, that is no bad thing.

(Source: The Telegraph)

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