January 27, 2017

BRINGING ALL HIS MULTIPLE-BANKRUPTCY SKILLS TO BEAR (profanity alert):

Donald Trump Blows Up the U.S.-Mexico Relationship (Ryan Lizza, Jan. 27th, 2017, The New Yorker)

On Wednesday, when Videgaray and his colleagues came to the White House for a day of meetings with Jared Kushner and other senior Trump aides, Trump signed one executive order calling for "the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border" and another greatly expanding the categories of undocumented immigrants who will be prioritized for deportation. The Embassy official said the team of diplomats at the White House was furious and despondent at the timing. "They were like, 'What the [f***] are we going to negotiate?' " the official said. " 'You've done the job. What are we going to negotiate if you've signed this? What's wrong with you?' "

Peña Nieto made an emotional televised statement to his country on Wednesday evening condemning Trump's executive orders. "Mexico will not pay for any wall," he said. He promised to turn Mexico's fifty consulates in the United States into "true ramparts in defense of migrant rights."

The relationship between the two leaders completely ruptured yesterday. In one of his first instances of Twitter diplomacy as President, Trump wrote on Thursday morning, "If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting." Not surprisingly, Peña Nieto cancelled.

This depressing episode confirms several of the worst fears about Trump. The first is that he is not a good negotiator. Rather than waiting a week before he issued his executive orders on immigration, Trump signed them at a moment that maximally embarrassed Videgaray, the Mexican official who is the most sympathetic to him. The moves left the unpopular Peña Nieto with no choice but to cancel next week's visit, and poisoned the relationship with one of America's closest allies and our third-largest trading partner.

Furthermore, it showed that with his impulsive use of Twitter to make foreign-policy statements, Trump is turning American diplomacy into a series of personal relationships unguided by strategy or forethought. He praises foreign leaders who flatter him, such as Vladimir Putin, and marginalizes those who criticize him, like Peña Nieto, without regard to the strategic value of the relationship. 

Posted by at January 27, 2017 8:13 PM

  

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