Why Donald Trump’s First Trip Abroad May Be Overly Ambitious [Opinion]

Three days into Trump’s first trip abroad as president of the United States, a White House official had already declared him “exhausted.”

The remark was in reference to a blunder Trump committed in a speech he gave in Saudi Arabia, where he used the term “Islamic extremism” rather than “Islamist extremism,” which carries a significant difference in meaning.

The White House official explained the blunder by pointing to Trump’s weariness, stating that he was “just an exhausted guy.”

Should the official’s pronouncement on Trump be true, that exhaustion is likely to increase dramatically over the coming days as Trump hops from country to country in his quest to make his first foreign trip a success.

Where recent presidents have chosen to visit Canada or Mexico in their initial journey beyond America’s borders, Trump has decided to flout that easier approach and take on five countries—in the Middle East and Europe—over a nine-day period.

According to CNN, Trump’s advisers cite three main goals which they are hoping the trip will accomplish: “to reaffirm US leadership in the world, to build key relationships with world leaders and to display unity with three of the world’s great religions.”

Those ambitions, compressed into such a short span of time, would be considered daunting for any president to undertake, but for Trump, the difficulty becomes even more pronounced.

Trump had spent his campaign and even some of his presidency openly insulting, or else somehow comprising, the nations and figures whom he now must make peace with.

His visit to Israel, for instance, which will occupy two days of the trip, comes after allegations that Trump shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with Russian officials. This was considered an outrageous move on Trump’s part, as the shared information has the potential of undermining Israel’s national security.

Trump will likely have to address these concerns in some fashion during his visit there.

Additionally, his trip to the Vatican this Wednesday may also prove contentious. Trump notoriously feuded with the pope during the election when the latter publicly criticized him, saying that anyone who “thinks only about building walls…is not Christian.” Trump, in response to the pope, lashed back with a heated message on social media.

Then there’s the trip to Brussels, where Trump will visit NATO headquarters and meet with European Union officials. In regards to both NATO and the EU Trump has, in past remarks, taken a critical and even hostile stance.

Besides having to nurse all of these relationships back to health, Trump and his team also face the challenge of having to solve the logistical nightmare that this trip presents.

As Loren DeJonge Schulman notes in The Atlantic, “Trump’s first trip is bigly. In the face of this nine-day adventure, any sane White House denizen would quail, with the absolute certainty that by day four, most staff would be miserable and opportunities for screwing up would grow.”

In an administration that has routinely churned up scandals and controversy, the possibility of Trump committing a major international error on this trip seems all the likelier given its complexity.

When taken on its own, the itinerary of the trip is complicated enough, but the team’s inexperience in such matters only adds to the headache.

As Schulman puts it, “Trump’s proposed schedule of five countries, two summits, three holy sights, and a Toby Keith concert in Riyadh would fell a fantasy team of commanders-in-chief and West Wing veterans.”

Although the president’s intentions are good, and his desire to accomplish a great deal of global outreach deserves some credit, he may have taken on too much at once with this initial trip. Trump and his staff are now entering their fourth day overseas, having recently landed in Israel. We’ll have to pay attention to whether they can remain on pace moving forward, or else crack under the exhaustion.

[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]