Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What, me worry?

Donald Trump, not worried, by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
by Gage Skidmore
If American news reports accurately describe the events of last week's meeting between President Trump and Russian representatives, somewhere in the Western Asia at least one person probably has a lot less confidence in their future than they did a few days ago. We may never know the name or names of the people who apparently took huge risks to obtain important details of the latest efforts by the Daesh to loose chaos on international air travel. We can only hope the president of the United States did not sentence them to an unpleasant death by recklessly boasting about his intelligence sources.

We have less room for doubt about what happened next. After both his national security advisor and his secretary of state denied the story in carefully worded statements, Mr. Trump took to late night Twitter and cast doubt on their claims by stating he had, in any case, the right to tell the Russians anything he wanted them to know.

Governments exist to negotiate. They allow the individual members of the body politic to find the compromise between our individual and community goals. They cooperate with other governments, finding ways for disparate communities to work together. In a real sense, to govern means to agree to talk, with the goal of cooperating.

To translate negotiation into action takes trust. Governments have nothing but trust; that what the promise they will deliver, and what they threaten they will carry out. If the government's promises only hold until the president gets hold of his smart phone and changes his mind in a hundred and forty characters, then legislators, trading partners, allies and above all adversaries have no way, and no reason, to engage in the the principled discussion or quid pro quo that reaches solutions. When the tweets concern matters critical to the security of the country, other countries, and their respective citizens, we have to ask whether or not Donald Trump can actually carry out his duties. Does he even want to?

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