Blogs: Paul Pillar

Slower May Be Better in Going at ISIS

Foreign Policy and Trump's Conflicts of Interest

Israel-Palestine: The Deal-Maker Deals Himself Out

Paul Pillar

As with other early moves of President Trump, his posture on this set of issues illustrates a more general tendency of his regarding governing.  Trump billed himself as a master deal-maker, but supporters who liked him for that reason should have looked more carefully at the sorts of deals he was accustomed to making.  Most of his business deals were more like one-night stands than like lasting relationships.  Sell naming rights, pocket the cash, and let someone else worry about running the enterprise that bears the Trump name.  Even when Trump’s own organization was more directly involved in a property, there was a tendency toward cutting and running.  His business record featured repeated stiffing of suppliers and sub-contractors and, when necessary, repeated bankruptcies—help on which evidently is part of what earned the settlement-loving David Friedman that ambassadorial appointment.

Note how often Trump’s foreign policy is referred to, by himself and now by others, in terms of whether “a deal” will be made with some other country, whether it is Russia, China, or some other state.  Foreign relations should not be thought of in such a one-shot, pointillist way.  Foreign relations, and how they affect U.S. interests, are instead a matter of continuing relationships in which interests are always intermingling, colliding, and evolving.  “One and done” may work for aspiring pro basketball players, but not for U.S. foreign policy.

This is as true of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as of other sticky foreign policy problems.  Pressuring Palestinians into something that can be labeled a “deal” but does not respond to ordinary human aspirations for a better life and national self-determination does not make a problem go away.  It can make it even worse.  It can come back in the form of intifadas, terrorism, or something else that damages the interests of Israelis and Americans as well as Palestinians.  Trump may not have to worry about such things any more after either impeachment or re-election defeat, but the rest of us will. 

Image: Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. Creative Commons/Pixabay

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Shaking the Foundations of Loyalty

Paul Pillar

As with other early moves of President Trump, his posture on this set of issues illustrates a more general tendency of his regarding governing.  Trump billed himself as a master deal-maker, but supporters who liked him for that reason should have looked more carefully at the sorts of deals he was accustomed to making.  Most of his business deals were more like one-night stands than like lasting relationships.  Sell naming rights, pocket the cash, and let someone else worry about running the enterprise that bears the Trump name.  Even when Trump’s own organization was more directly involved in a property, there was a tendency toward cutting and running.  His business record featured repeated stiffing of suppliers and sub-contractors and, when necessary, repeated bankruptcies—help on which evidently is part of what earned the settlement-loving David Friedman that ambassadorial appointment.

Note how often Trump’s foreign policy is referred to, by himself and now by others, in terms of whether “a deal” will be made with some other country, whether it is Russia, China, or some other state.  Foreign relations should not be thought of in such a one-shot, pointillist way.  Foreign relations, and how they affect U.S. interests, are instead a matter of continuing relationships in which interests are always intermingling, colliding, and evolving.  “One and done” may work for aspiring pro basketball players, but not for U.S. foreign policy.

This is as true of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as of other sticky foreign policy problems.  Pressuring Palestinians into something that can be labeled a “deal” but does not respond to ordinary human aspirations for a better life and national self-determination does not make a problem go away.  It can make it even worse.  It can come back in the form of intifadas, terrorism, or something else that damages the interests of Israelis and Americans as well as Palestinians.  Trump may not have to worry about such things any more after either impeachment or re-election defeat, but the rest of us will. 

Image: Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. Creative Commons/Pixabay

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Ukraine Buffeted from East and West

Paul Pillar

As with other early moves of President Trump, his posture on this set of issues illustrates a more general tendency of his regarding governing.  Trump billed himself as a master deal-maker, but supporters who liked him for that reason should have looked more carefully at the sorts of deals he was accustomed to making.  Most of his business deals were more like one-night stands than like lasting relationships.  Sell naming rights, pocket the cash, and let someone else worry about running the enterprise that bears the Trump name.  Even when Trump’s own organization was more directly involved in a property, there was a tendency toward cutting and running.  His business record featured repeated stiffing of suppliers and sub-contractors and, when necessary, repeated bankruptcies—help on which evidently is part of what earned the settlement-loving David Friedman that ambassadorial appointment.

Note how often Trump’s foreign policy is referred to, by himself and now by others, in terms of whether “a deal” will be made with some other country, whether it is Russia, China, or some other state.  Foreign relations should not be thought of in such a one-shot, pointillist way.  Foreign relations, and how they affect U.S. interests, are instead a matter of continuing relationships in which interests are always intermingling, colliding, and evolving.  “One and done” may work for aspiring pro basketball players, but not for U.S. foreign policy.

This is as true of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as of other sticky foreign policy problems.  Pressuring Palestinians into something that can be labeled a “deal” but does not respond to ordinary human aspirations for a better life and national self-determination does not make a problem go away.  It can make it even worse.  It can come back in the form of intifadas, terrorism, or something else that damages the interests of Israelis and Americans as well as Palestinians.  Trump may not have to worry about such things any more after either impeachment or re-election defeat, but the rest of us will. 

Image: Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. Creative Commons/Pixabay

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