The downside of freelance diplomacy

Aaron Blake reminds us of other reasons – other than the danger of Putin – to be very afraid of Trump’s confidence that he knows what he’s doing without any help from pesky adults.

The episode crystallizes Trump’s tendency to eschew basically any expert guidance — even on issues of huge import. That certainly has implications for U.S. relations with Russia and for efforts to combat Russian interference in U.S. elections. On the latter, Trump has declined to take a harsh tone and has even suggested that he believes Putin’s denials. But, more immediately, it has huge implications for Trump’s impending meeting with Kim.

Immediately the blood temperature drops.

Trump’s penchant for off-the-cuff diplomacy and policymaking has been on full display during his presidency. High-profile meetings with nuclear-weapon-wielding dictators with questionable states of mind, though, tend to require intensive preparation and adherence to scripts. Experts generally tell you that you should go into such meetings knowing how they will turn out, one way or another. Failure to anticipate and successfully guide the conversation could have dire consequences, both from propagandistic and militaristic standpoints.

Existential standpoints – whether everything goes boom or not.

[G]iven that Trump has essentially accepted Putin’s denials of interference in the 2016 election, there is little guarantee that he will actually press Putin on the Skripal poisoning. Trump’s rhetoric has been pretty measured thus far, and he has apparently ignored his national security team’s desire to get him to broach the topic directly with Putin. As with the conversation about Russian interference, it seems Trump simply doesn’t want to press Putin in the way those around him wish he would, and he apparently can’t be persuaded to abide by even a very basic strategy.

There is basically no reason to believe that he wouldn’t freelance in a similar way with Kim — whether because of chutzpah or a complete inability to stay disciplined. And whatever hope there might be for a breakthrough from the meeting with Kim, this should severely temper everyone’s expectations.

Or just plain convince us we’re doomed.

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