Xenophobia defines him

Xenophobia defines him

by digby

More evidence of Trump's disordered mind:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo grew testy in a recent newspaper interview when asked to explain why President Trump would take North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “at his word” about the death of a U.S. college student taken prisoner in North Korea.

National security adviser John Bolton, making the rounds of Sunday talk shows, flatly refused to offer his personal assessment of whether Trump’s summit with Kim — which ended early and without an agreement — had effectively handed the autocrat an unearned victory.

And Trump and his top trade adviser quibbled in front of reporters and Chinese officials late last month during an Oval Office meeting over how to describe the contracts that would form the basis of any trade deal between the United States and China.

Two years into a presidency that has upended assumptions about the U.S. role in the world and flipped the script on core Republican tenets such as arms control, ardent support for democratic principles and free trade, Trump’s national security officials and Republican allies are still struggling to defend or even explain the president.

“The party is silent on foreign policy for the same reason it’s silent on other issues: fear and trying to keep open lines of influence,” said former senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a Trump critic.

Trump’s foreign policy is part nationalist, part conservative, part isolationist, part militaristic pageantry. He distrusts traditional alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and slaps punitive tariffs on adversaries and allies alike.

In many ways, Trump’s worldview has been boiled down to a mantra lacking labels and ideology: It is what Trump says it is.

Let's not forget "bomb the shit out of 'em and take the oil" and "to the victors go the spoils." Also, "spend as much as humanly possible on the military."

Part of what vexes Republicans is Trump’s unpredictability and insistence on relying on his gut impressions. Several former aides said this side of Trump’s foreign policy was cultivated during the early days of the 2016 campaign, when Trump would sharply criticize the GOP elite for becoming entangled in foreign wars and argue that he could do better as a businessman and outsider who does not have an orthodox method.

“He used to say that everyone else who thought they could send representatives to cut big deals was stupid and that the protocols set up by those administrations seemed designed to fail,” former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said. “There was certainly an element of hubris to how he thought he could be the one who’d be able to solve things that others couldn’t solve.”

At a fundamental level, the GOP has also flailed in adjusting to Trump because most of its leading policy figures have had their ideas forged over decades through the prism of conservatism and a firm belief in a muscular foreign policy during the Cold War and through the administration of George W. Bush.

High-profile Republicans in Congress, such as the late senator John McCain of Arizona, have usually been hawkish defenders of alliances such as NATO.

While some veteran Republican hawks — such as Vice President Pence, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James E. Risch (Idaho) — have become staunch Trump defenders, others have grown frustrated or resigned to Trump’s dominance.

“The Republican Party has been a free-trade party, a party of strategic alliances, and it’s been tough for a lot of Republicans to get used to this,” said Thomas H. Kean (R), a former governor of New Jersey and former chairman of the national 9/11 Commission. “Some have adjusted better than others, and the hawks have taken a step into the background.”

Since 2017, several Trump administration officials — including Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley during their tenures as secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations, respectively — have frequently appeared uneasy about, if not outright opposed to, aligning with Trump’s most incendiary statements about geopolitics.

Less than two months after joining the administration, Haley said she did not “trust Russia” despite Trump’s outreach to President Vladi­mir Putin. “We should never trust Russia,” she said.

Trump’s apparent reluctance to challenge Kim about the case of Otto Warmbier, the American college student detained in North Korea, caused a breach with Warmbier’s parents, who had previously praised Trump for calling attention to their son’s detention and successfully demanding his 2017 release. Warmbier died days after he returned to the United States with severe brain damage.

At a news conference following his meetings with Kim in Hanoi, Trump said he took the North Korean leader, who intelligence analysts say rules his country with an iron fist, at his word that he did not know what happened to Warmbier until after he fell into a coma.

“He felt badly about it,” Trump said.

In his interview with USA Today, Pompeo bristled when pressed about Trump’s comment — he said he had been “very patient” with the questions, according to the paper — before saying the North Korean regime was responsible for Warmbier’s death.”

It's hard out here for a toady.

Just as his trade "policy" such as it is, is driven by his infantile playground worldview and simple xenophobia, so too is his foreign policy.