Belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed

Simon Tisdall at the Guardian starts off analyzing Trump’s current frolics as if they were a product of thought and planning.

The US president is now saying he is also open to a repeat meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to reboot stalled nuclear disarmament talks. On another front, he has offered an olive branch to China, delaying a planned tariff increase on $250bn of Chinese goods pending renewed trade negotiations next month. Meanwhile, he says, new tariffs on European car imports could be dropped, too.

Is a genuine dove-ish shift under way? It seems improbable. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. He has cosied up to autocrats, attacked old friends and blundered into sensitive conflicts he does not fully comprehend.

That puts it too politely, not to say feebly. It’s not that Trump is trying to do the job but not entirely succeeding. It’s that Trump is not trying to do anything other than Indulge Whatever Impulse Arises. He doesn’t have a plan, he doesn’t make “shifts,” he doesn’t “not fully comprehend” – he knows absolutely nothing and his only motivation is his own mood. That’s it. There’s no more to him. It’s pointless to analyze him as if he were a grownup, however flawed – he’s not any kind of grownup at all, he’s a monster of greed and ego and sadism. There’s nothing else there. Nothing.

We have a hard time believing it, and we keep trying to translate it into more normal terms. Journalists probably have even more of an urge to do this, because of the conventions of journalism. It looks amateurish to just exclaim that he’s a reckless moron with no clue – but all the same that’s the truth of it.

The suggestion that Trump will make nice and back off as election time nears thus elicits considerable scepticism. US analysts and commentators say the president’s erratic, impulsive and egotistic personality means any shift towards conciliation may be short-lived and could quickly be reversed, Bolton or no Bolton.

That’s closer, but it’s still politely hedged.

Trump is notorious for blowing hot and cold, performing policy zigzags and suddenly changing his mind. “Regardless of who has advised Mr Trump on foreign affairs … all have proved powerless before [his] zest for chaos,” the New York Times noted last week.

There you go. That’s better. Think “monstrous blown-up tantruming toddler” and you’ve got it.

Lacking experienced diplomatic and military advisers (he has sacked most of the good ones), surrounded by an inner circle of cynical sycophants such as secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump’s behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university.

All that plus being ravenous for constant adulation and enraged by its opposite.

“The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed,” Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal. “Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] … should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy.”

And it shouldn’t encourage us to forget that he could destroy everything at any moment.

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