The recent phone calls between President-Elect Donald Trump and the leaders of Taiwan and Pakistan reveal a serious lack of foreign policy acumen on the part of the future Commander-In-Chief of the United States military. Donald Trump, who has often touted his negotiation skills and has even authored a book on the subject, The Art Of The Deal, may indeed be capable in a corporate board room, but the office of the president of the United States – often carrying the unofficial title of “leader of the free world” – also requires a deep knowledge of the delicate network of international relations across the globe. The recent phone calls between Donald Trump and leaders in Taiwan and Pakistan, as well as with the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, suggest that Trump is unprepared to navigate the waters of international diplomacy on his own.
The call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, which took place Friday, is particularly contentious. Duterte has been likened to Mr. Trump in that his election represented a shift away from mainstream Filipino politics, was seen as a move towards a right-wing populism, and for his outspoken nature. The comparisons become less flattering, however, when one takes into account the Duterte crackdown on drug users in the Philippines, which has reportedly involved the extrajudicial killings of some 5,000 people.
“When I become president, I’ll order the police and the military to find these people and kill them,” Duterte stated during his March campaign. “The funeral parlors will be packed,” he added.
According to CBS News, Duterte discussed the Friday call with Trump and said that Trump gave his tacit approval of the draconian drug policies.
“(Donald Trump) wishes me well in my campaign and said that we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” Duterte said.
“I could sense a good rapport… He was wishing me success in my campaign on the drug problem. He understood the way we are handling it and he said that there’s nothing wrong in protecting your country.”
The Trump transition team released a statement mentioning none of these details, and it is possible Duterte is using the phone call to further his own domestic agenda. The Trump team said merely that they hoped the United States and the Philippines, who have a long and often contentious history, “continue to work together closely on matters of shared interest and concern.”
Then there was the phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan released a summary of the call, in which Mr. Trump seemed to favor the government deeply.
“You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it.”
Problematically, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is tenuous at best. The two countries have sparred over the seeming lack of willingness of the Pakistani government to crack down on terrorist groups, the use by the United States of drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and of course, the fact that 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan. The Atlantic also mentions in a recent piece on the phone call between Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan and the neighboring country of India, a key ally of the United States in the region, are very hostile to one another. Barack Obama, during his tenure as president, visited India twice and attempted to build economic ties there. The offer by Trump to visit Pakistan could be seen as a shift in the balance of power and could, in the end, hurt diplomatic relations in the region between all three countries, as well as neighboring powers like China. All four of these governments possess nuclear weapons.
Turning to China itself, Donald Trump has also most recently communicated with the leader of Taiwan. A recent article in the Inquisitr details the fine points of the relationship between the United States, Taiwan, and China. The call spurred China to lodge a formal diplomatic protest and has shaken relations in the region that date back to President Richard Nixon.
Donald Trump has, just over the last weekend, shaken the walls of international diplomacy with a few phone calls. It would be advisable for the RNC, GOP leadership, and his transition team to immediately find qualified diplomats and foreign policy experts to get a handle on the situation. Mr. Trump’s lack of experience in this sphere is showing, and he will need experts around him if he is to guide the United States through the waters of international politics without further hitting the rocks.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]