Opinion: An extraordinary abdication of national influence

(AP)

American leadership, once deemed essential to world peace, is now mocked and ridiculed. We find ourselves increasingly isolated within institutions that we led the world in creating, such as the G-20, NATO and the United Nations, and are treated by allies and adversaries alike as an non-entity that can safely be ignored, as an obstacle to be worked around or as a dupe to be manipulated.

Nobody did this to us. We have done it to ourselves. A man elected on the promise to make America great again is turning the country into a laughingstock in the eyes of the world. They have taken his measure, both as a person and as a leader, and have concluded that he is a blowhard, a man for whom spectacle substitutes for substance. And because the U.S. president is commonly viewed as the embodiment of his nation, America is now treated as a blowhard as well. It is an extraordinary abdication of national influence and power, unprecedented in its haste and scale, and it comes at a particularly dangerous moment in world history.

I know the excuses, the explanations. Our new leadership claims to take great pride in its lack of predictability and its willingness to break the rules. That explanation might be more convincing if its unpredictability had a purpose or served an underlying strategy, or if they were capable of anything different. Neither is the case. It is unpredictable because it cannot be anything else, because from the top on down it is handicapped by a lack of discipline, an incoherence and incompetence that allows it to toss out bizarre ideas without benefit of study or forethought, to make promises or policy statements with no later attempt at implementation.

On Sunday morning, for example, President Trump was touting the creation of a joint cyber-security effort with the Russian government as a major accomplishment of the G-20 summit. It would be impenetrable! It would make our elections safe!

Other administration figures echoed the argument. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the joint effort would allow the two countries “to work together to better understand how to deal with these cyber threats.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, an increasingly comic sycophant, called the arrangement a “strategic alliance” with Russia that “I think is a very significant accomplishment for President Trump.”

Meanwhile, news was breaking that our new Russian “partner” in this “strategic alliance” had hacked into at least a dozen American nuclear plants, probing for weaknesses. A few hours later, after widespread mocking, this appears without explanation:

After less than seven months in office, it is already implausible to describe Trump as the leader of the free world, because a leader by definition has others willing to follow and he has almost none. On issues from Iran to the status of Jerusalem to Russian intervention, the president, the secretary of state, the ambassador to the United Nations, the defense secretary and the national security adviser all express opinions and policy statements at variance with each other. And an administration that can’t perform the basic task of getting themselves on the same page has no capacity to try to do the same with the international community.

The president’s defenders also laud him as a master negotiator, as the inventor of a strategy they call “America First But America Not Alone.” Yet there is zero evidence that such skills exist. On North Korea, President Trump had allegedly gained the cooperation of China in helping to restrain its client state; Trump has also significantly raised the military rhetoric. North Korea, meanwhile, seems singularly unimpressed, and last week China and Russia issued a joint statement undercutting U.S. efforts to pressure North Korea after its test of an intercontinental missile. Trump the candidate would have immediately condemned the missile test as evidence that North Korea did not fear or respect the United States; Trump the president merely whined that somebody had better do something.

And on and on it goes. We hear constant talk and threats of new trade deals, but where are they? You can argue that it’s still early, but where are the processes that might conceivably, some day, produce these non-existent trade deals? Our alleged master negotiator has negotiated nothing. He has destroyed but not built. The same pattern of grandiose talk undercut by incompetence and incoherence that has rendered him ineffective in Washington has done the same on the international scene, and heaven knows what another 41 months of this will produce.

Reader Comments 0

1556 comments
Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Just reported, Ossoff is back to his old trade, he is sending a film crew to find out how the Russians cost him the House seat, he says " The World needs to know " after that he plans on taking long walks with Hillary

Kamchak
Kamchak

"avowed traitor"?

Thats big time, right there.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Kamchak 

I lurve it when conservatives use words that they don't understand!

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Kamchak  I obviously missed TBS posting that he was a traitor to the USA.  Or maybe avowed doesn't mean what DiA thinks it means.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Sounds good though, huh?

TBS
TBS

Was he trying to be funny or thought he was really getting in a witty diss?

Either way that was yet another face plant Down in Albany.

Not sure if he keeps tripping on the sidewalk or just clumsily over his own feet but those face plants are becoming more and more frequent

Plus the traitor thing his is something he has been throwing out for a few weeks now. Must have been a new talking point he picked-up at breitbart

Paul42
Paul42

Just returned from a few weeks in Europe.  Strictly anecdotal, but my experiences with the citizens there, across several countries, mirrors the points Jay made.

Every conversation I had was initiated by a foreign national.

The overall theme was bewilderment at what was going on in America, a sense of 'how could you do this' and 'how are you going to get through it?"


There was no sense of America as a leader.  As Jay pointed out, a leader needs to have someone to lead.  Europeans are not willing to follow Donald.

They view the lack of knowledge, ideas, understanding by Trump as sad, yet laughable.  Again, 'how could you elect such a person?'

Overall, Europeans were much better informed than most of the people I follow on this blog.  There was no partisan slant to their comments, it was more analytical, with a sense of history and the idea that 'you've placed yourself on the outside and we will go on.'

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Paul42 when you regularly walk by buildings that are hundreds of years old, you realize that the river of history flows longer than your own imagination can conceive.

gadem
gadem

@Paul42 well when conservatives think education is the devil...and they do all they can to  hinder education.....uninformed is what you get.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Paul42

Much as I want to return to Yurp, I almost dread having to field the same kinds of questions you got.

No, I don't know how we could have let this happen. Except to say "sorry, we just didn't try hard enough. We naively thought scores of millions of our countrymen wouldn't vote for a small-time hood like that."

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Obama "led" by doing whatever the Euros wanted him to do, regardless of consequences.

Those days are over.

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@gadem @Paul42 Education gets in the way of pushing CC denial and lots of other stuff. Plus all teachers and professors are screaming liberals and poison kids minds. Also we don't want kids finding out that the earth isn't 5,000 yrs old, now do we?

Kamchak
Kamchak

You cant have breitbart without a Muslim prayer rug story and a definite lack of desire for the truth.

TBS
TBS

Don't forget the fake news story about fake news and the claim of a survey that didn't exist in the breitbart article or the hyperlink to the Newbusters article

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Hands up those who had DiA in the pool for first person to post "but Hillary" this morning.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@PaulinNH

He just can't quit her.

It's ok, he's hardly the only guy who's had a crush on the lady.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Nick_Danger @Visual_Cortex @PaulinNH

that slogan was MINE dammit, and NOBODY ELSE's.


(and seriously? How effective would it have been in puncturing the misogynists' balloon if even just a few thousand of those bumper stickers were seen on the road?)

TBS
TBS

Someone's feelings are hurt.

Too funny. Maybe he will say he won't be posting no on this blog much any longer and encourage others to do the same.

Wait a minute .. he already did that but didn't follow through on his word

ByteMe
ByteMe

@TBS Because that's how con trolls roll.  They don't even believe their own indignity.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@ByteMe @TBS  They don't even believe their own indignity. 

Got to remember that one.  The same way we have a few RW concern trolls on the blog.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Got to go, the Rookie's are outside ready to cut my lawn, they have undercut the Mexicans  

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Infraredguy If they play more than 100 days in a season, they're no longer called "rookies".

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@ByteMe @Infraredguy

or even "rookie's."

What IS the deal with wingnut pluralization? is it hard-wired for them to insert that apostrophe the weirdest of place's, erm, places?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Up In Cleveland @Visual_Cortex @ByteMe @Infraredguy

In td's case, FWIW, it's something of a passive/aggressive weapon, inasmuch as he has admitted that he "doesn't have time to proofread" a post after he's dumped it.

Shows how little he cares about how clear he is. He just wants to piss off liberals and yes, has said "absolutely!" when I accused him of having that as his PRIME DIRECTIVE.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

BREAKING NEWS:  The Trump campaign tried to collect as much dirt on Hillary as possible.  (obviously, a SLOW news day)

Kamchak
Kamchak

Not from Russia, they didnt.

Putie-poo pinky swears it didn't happen.

He said, "Cross my heart and hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye."

That means he is For. Realz.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@DownInAlbany Not breaking news: knowingly accepting contributions from a foreign government for your political campaign is a felony.

Peachs
Peachs

@ByteMe @DownInAlbany Downs is blind on purpose, he couldn't have stayed alive, even in rural America being this deaf and dumb..

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Because 30 years in public life as a Republican target wasn't enough.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@ByteMe @DownInAlbany  Clinton got tens of millions from Russia, all conveniently deposited in the family foundation account.  Of course, the Dems claim that Russia did it out of the goodness of their hearts, never expecting anything in return, amirite?

ByteMe
ByteMe

@DownInAlbany You say that like she took money from the foundation or something.


Both Bill and Hillary take no money from the foundation.


But you probably knew that.  Or maybe you just hate them enough not to know that.  Who cares which?

JKToole
JKToole

@DownInAlbany Most investigated political couple of all-time: nary a conviction, nary an indictment, nary a criminal charge, fingerprinting, mugshot or film of a perp walk.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@ByteMe @DownInAlbany  You'll obviously believe anything positive about the Clintons and anything negative about the Trumps.  That's the definition of stupid.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Paul42 @DownInAlbany  Well, I've read articles in Politico, Fox News, Breitbart, and HuffPo.  I'm more knowledgeable than the regular bear, yes.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@DownInAlbany No, the definition of "stupid" is knowingly believing falsehoods without doing your own damn homework by looking up the federal tax filings.


Stupid.

TBS
TBS

Deflections for 1000.00, Alex

gadem
gadem

@DownInAlbany @ByteMe the Trumps show us who they are, every f***ing day. They are the embodiment of negativity. They've not done one positive thing for anyone if it has not benefited them.

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@DownInAlbany @JKToole Show us one crumb of a money trail that shows Hills took money from the foundation for personal use or shut up. You think Justice Watch and tons of others haven't looked? You're a joke.

TBS
TBS

He is desperate to deflect even when he ask someone for info and it isn't posted.

JKToole
JKToole

@DownInAlbany @JKToole OJ was investigated, charged, indicted, tried and found not guilty. He also had his fingerprints taken and his mug shot on the cover of Time magazine.

One of these, is not like the other. Right?

quaterhorselady
quaterhorselady

@DownInAlbany @ByteMe Hahahahahahahahahaha!  WE listen to trumplethinskin bloviate and any fool with half a brain KNOWS what a bully and a dumbass he IS!