… and all the world is now their plaything

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It began with President-elect Donald J. Trump arranging a telephone call with the president of Taiwan, thus breaking a four-decade understanding between the United States and China that has been the basis of their diplomatic relationship.

China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province, not a sovereign state, responded with muted anger and diplomatic protest, suggesting that perhaps the new American president didn’t fully appreciate the importance of his gesture.

Trump responded by saying that he understood the situation very well, and that he doesn’t consider himself bound by America’s past support for a “one-China” policy.¹ China blustered back in an editorial Thursday in a state-run Communist Party newspaper, suggesting that “it might be time for the Chinese mainland to reformulate its Taiwan policy, make the use of force a main option and carefully prepare for it.”

“It is hoped that peace in the Taiwan Straits won’t be disrupted,” the Global Times wrote. “But the Chinese mainland should display its resolution to recover Taiwan by force. Peace does not belong to cowards.”

UPDATE at noon: China’s navy has seized an unmanned, underwater U.S. Navy vehicle in international waters of South China Sea, according to a U.S. defense official. 

The world awaits Trump’s response.

Also this week, our president-elect announced the nomination of David Friedman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Friedman in turn announced that he intends to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to “Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” That too represents a sudden and major shift in longstanding U.S. policy, with both Republican and Democratic administrations treating Jerusalem’s status as an item to be negotiated in a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Friedman is also an ardent advocate and financial sponsor of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, which also directly contradicts longstanding U.S. policy. He has likened American Jews who oppose settlements to the Jews who assisted Hitler during the Holocaust, calling them “smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz describes him, Friedman “makes Netanyahu look like a leftie.” In fact, the Israeli government at this very moment is trying to evict illegal settlers whom Friedman has financed with tens of millions of dollars, with leaders of the illegal settlers pleading with the Israeli army to defy the government’s eviction order. (That settlement was built on private land owned by Palestinians, without government permits.)

From Israel, look south to Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally that Trump has angered by proposing an embargo against any importation of Saudi oil. Look north to Syria, where he has promised to abandon Syrian rebels to the tender mercies of the Assad government. Look east to Iran, where Trump has promised to break a nuclear arms treaty painstakingly negotiated with the help of American allies who still strongly support it.

Look north to Europe, where Trump has questioned the future of NATO and suggested he would not be bound by pledges of mutual defense among NATO members. As the well-respected German weekly Der Spiegel reports, European leaders are now quietly debating whether they need to develop their own nuclear arsenals if they can no longer count on American protection. “Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an ‘avalanche,'” Der Spiegel writes. “The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this ‘Pandora’s box’ were to be opened.”

Finally, look closer to home, where Trump has demanded that our NAFTA partners renegotiate the 22-year-old trade pact, and where Trump has angered and offended our southern neighbor by insulting its citizens and by pledging to build a wall and to make Mexico pay for it.

Set aside, for the moment, the critically important debate about the wisdom of any one of these moves. Whatever their merits, each represents a dramatic shift of U.S. policy,  upending longstanding arrangements and agreements that those in the affected regions have come to count upon. Unless managed with care and sophistication, each change has the potential to set off a string of events that could put this country in a place that we really do not want to be.

But these changes are not being handled with care and sophistication. No one acting with even a minimal degree of thought would attempt to implement so many wide-ranging changes simultaneously in so many corners of the world, with so little preparation. Trump and his advisors are acting less like statesmen and more like heedless five-year-olds set loose on Christmas morning without adult supervision, ripping open everything they see without even pausing to notice what they’ve done.

You could say the same about their approach to domestic policy as well, but at least in that realm the range of damage to be done is finite and somewhat within our control. That’s not the case internationally, where foreign countries will respond according to their own needs and perspectives, in ways we can neither predict nor control. For more than 60 years, the United States has been the essential nation, the source of global stability and leadership. Now we are undertaking a massive, reckless transformation of global policy with a secretary of state who has worked his entire career in the oil industry, a national security adviser who believes that Muslims are plotting to implement Sharia law in the United States, and a U.N. ambassador who served competently as governor of South Carolina but has no diplomatic experience.

All this, overseen by  a president-elect with an exceedingly short attention span and an aversion to study, who has been too busy traveling the country and reveling in the worship of his fans to sit down and listen to intelligence briefings. I’m sure it’s going to work out well.

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¹That policy goes back to the 1972 Shanghai Communique, negotiated under Nixon and Mao, in which “The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.”

Reader Comments 0

1916 comments
TomMiddleton
TomMiddleton

'"Peace does not belong to cowards'"? Really, Donald? Nor does it belong to those wing-nut egoists only trying to serve themselves!!

Peachs
Peachs

What impeachable offense?  You were having impeachment plans for Clinton before she even got there!  Trump was going to lock her up, and she knew what she was doing, Trump should be indicted in the first year and chances are he won't even realize he broke the law.  Conflict of interest is my guess, but he is so talented he may invent a whole new thing like Nixon and the tapes. 

honested
honested

As the wrong wing celebrates the EC removing the last chock keeping the boulder from rolling down the hill nobody can demonstrate what a chump administration will to do IMPROVE life in the United States or the world.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Trouble times ahead my friends.


oh and by the way ... Sheetz.

rimsky
rimsky

@Donnie_Pinko @rimsky You have a vivid imagination.  How did you connect voter fraud with Rooskie hacking.  I like to see how you do it.

td1234
td1234

@rimsky Coming from the same paper that told you Clinton was going to win for 18 months and told you they tried everything they could to stop trump and you still believe them. 

Peachs
Peachs

If the Republicans get a nose full of Trump they can impeach him and replace him with Pence, who is really a Republican. They turn down Trump's agenda, he executive orders it anyway and they impeach him for breaking the balance of government. Trump is a very weak president unless he gets liberal support. 

td1234
td1234

@Peachs Well see, the movement, has a grassroots plan to keep the establishment Republicans in line and to implement our agenda. 


Just watch and the next couple of years and learn. 

Peachs
Peachs

@td1234 @Peachs what Congressmen or Senator did you get elected, more were overcoming Trump to win not riding him.

td1234
td1234

@Peachs Wait, watch and see how the grassroots of the party is going to take over the party. 

TomMiddleton
TomMiddleton

@Peachs 

The coal miners are ready to impeach him now with their black lung and no help coming from the Donald.

td1234
td1234

Blhahahahaha


"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo booked 200 hotel rooms in Washington, D.C. for his family, friends and potential supporters of his future run for the presidency to attend the inauguration of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to Page Six.

"A little overconfident," one Republican told Page Six.

After Donald Trump won, Cuomo directed a staff member to call New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and offer him the 200 rooms in the Loews Madison, a hotel in downtown D.C."

Peachs
Peachs

@rimsky Sylvester will dye his hair add 100 lbs and play Trump in a movie before this is over, making far more money.

Peachs
Peachs

No mandate, no representation, that should work!

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

O'Henry called. He wants his irony back.

Peachs
Peachs

Trump is going to punish California and the northeast.  Right....

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@td1234 @Peachs 

Will he have an Enemies List, like Nixon, or will he punish he perceived enemies secretly?

td1234
td1234

Oh the irony meter has just blown up. Obama warns Trump not to overuse executive orders. 

Peachs
Peachs

@td1234 if Trump uses it he is going against his own party, which will discover he ain't one of them.  They could impeach Trump and get Pence who is one of them.  Just a thought. 

RantNRave
RantNRave

 "What is going on with this crowd? Seems the bleeding hearts are not as sensitive as they profess. "


@Johnny The Rebel Rousing MAN IN THE MIRROR


We're holding the MIRROR UP so you can


see the man staring back at you.


K

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

If all that matters is the EC, why are the RWers going on and on about how Clinton only won the popular vote because of CA?  Why, it's almost as if they are trying to persuade themselves that Trump has a mandate from the population.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@PaulinNH Trump does have a mandate from the states.

That's all just talk, however, you should instead be concerned of what is coming as the result will be viewed as a mandate.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Kamchak @PaulinNH  Yep - have it ready to record.  It depends on which Everton team shows up - the one that played against Arsenal would be good

Kamchak
Kamchak

@PaulinNH

Just like the Ga./Ga. Tech games, with those kind of rivalries, anything can happen

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Donnie_Pinko @PaulinNH @Kamchak  Just looked it up - rave reviews in the Guardian for his performance against Espanyol.  It should be illegal having Messi and Iniesta on the same team.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@JohnnyReb 

 Trump does have a mandate from the states.

Dirt is more important than people.

Got it.

honested
honested

@JohnnyReb @PaulinNH 

All chump has is an obligation to put jobs in the hands of coal miners, steel mill workers and uneducated factory hands....

He better get-to-steppin because those people are waitin' on their free stuff.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@PaulinNH

He lost the popular vote by the biggest margin since 1876 and his electoral college victory ranks 44 out of 54 presidential elections.  If you do Con Math, that's a landslide any way you look at it.