Monday, July 16, 2018


"Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz, who turned against Trump well before the 2016 election, was asked Sunday how he could have so erroneously predicted that Trump would succumb within a year of becoming president and resign. He stated  “You’re right, I completely missed it. I think I underestimated the enormous attachment he would have to being in that office. I think he likes meeting all of these people and he particularly likes dominating these people.”

One of those people is NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, whom Greg Sargent reports on Thursday

was talking about how NATO members had agreed to boost their contributions to NATO defense costs, as insisted upon by Trump, who claims the United States is getting ripped off. But then Trump demanded Stoltenberg give him credit for it...

After Stoltenberg noted that NATO members had boosted their spending recently, Trump asked: “Why was that?” Stoltenberg took Trump’s cue and said it was “because of your leadership.” Trump then gestured to the press and said, “They won’t write that.” Stoltenberg then supplied Trump with the additional praise he wanted, even claiming that “your message is having an impact.” It was after Stoltenberg extolled the virtues of our alliance that Trump launched into the diatribe about Russia, Germany and energy — and again claimed the United States is being treated unfairly.

What’s remarkable here is Stoltenberg’s active effort to get Trump to take credit for getting his own way at NATO. European officials badly want Trump to do this, because they are hoping it will mollify him. The Post reports that diplomats are worried that Trump’s commitment to the organization might weaken to a crisis point, which would “send the alliance into a tailspin, damaging security by opening the question of whether NATO’s most powerful member is still willing to defend its allies if one were attacked.” On top of that, they fear this will play into the hands of Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump is also set to meet.

And so, to avert this crisis, European officials “would love nothing more than for Trump to take a victory lap and claim credit for them boosting their defense spending,” Jonathan Swan recently reported.

Stop prostrating yourself, Jen.  Donald Trump subsists on being the alpha dog or, as Schwartz observed, "dominating" people.  Capitulation to an authoritarian typically will boomerang. Yglesias adds

The trouble is that Trump won’t even acknowledge what our allies are actually doing in this regard. He keeps claiming that other NATO countries have fallen short of their defense budget commitment, but this is false: In fact, this target is a future one that NATO members agreed upon.

In that context, this exchange with Stoltenberg underscores the point. Stoltenberg gave Trump a big moment for domestic consumption, particularly for his base: The power of Trump’s “America First” message is forcing the Euro-weenie elites to stop fleecing the U.S. and pony up! They’re not laughing at us anymore, dammit! America is respected again! Or as one administration official recently described the Trump Doctrine: “We’re America, b—h!”

Yet the takeaway from the episode has to be that Trump is far from satisfied. But what would satisfy him?

Even granting him Venezuela probably wouldn't mollify him- not even if it were the Sudentenland. That didn't work previously and probably wouldn't now, either.

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