|Did you get that, foreign relations students? The three epochs of statecraft are: Before Kissinger (BK), During Kissinger (DK) and After Kissinger (AK) 🙂
Trump is throwing the old school diplomat book out the window. Forget the polite chit-chat in private, smoke-filled rooms: Trump’s style is to negotiate and communicate frankly — even tweeting — about problems in the wide open.
And diplomatic double-talk and $10 words are also out. Trump wants plain-English diplomacy — straightforward language that German car mechanics, Chinese factory workers, and the President of Ukraine can understand.
The Negotiating Bible — The Art of the Deal
Smelling victory during the Battle of El Guettar in the North African desert, General Patton scanned the battlefield with his binoculars, grinned, and supposedly said:
“Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!”
If Patton was fortunate to have read Rommel’s writings on military tactics, imagine how lucky Presidents Putin, Xi, and Pena Nieto (Mexico) were to find a dozen best-selling books Trump has written on his negotiating strategies.
A key chapter in The Art of the Deal is “Trump Cards”, where Trump codifies his advice for deal making. I’ve summarized the Trump Cards into 11 principles in the diagram below:
Let’s drill down on a few of these 11 principles and see how Trump and his team are applying them to the art of diplomacy.
- Get the Word Out — Trump’s flare for commanding media attention has done wonders for communicating his policy positions. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump aired dirty-laundry with the leaders of very specific countries.You’d have to go back to Teddy Roosevelt to find an American President so provocative and direct. Recall how Trump blasted Germany, Japan, Mexico, and China in the 2016 campaign: “They are killing us on trade!”
When the shock wave from those remarks hit the posh embassies of the world, ten thousand whiskey glasses crashed to the floor — the event tipped the Richter scale in Tokyo. :- )
But as we’ve already seen, Trump’s provocations set the stage for the upcoming negotiations. To get his opponent’s attention, Trump bats a couple home runs in the pre-game warm up.
- Fighting Back Against the Lawless, Fake Media and Deep State — The battles that Trump is fighting and winning against the forces destroying America are getting wide news coverage around the world.And by fighting back, he’s earned the respect of presidents, prime ministers, and dictators who know full well how hard it is to battle a government festering with corrupt people who would surely destroy the nation if not opposed.
So the respect Trump earns as the “Man in the Arena” is another major asset Trump takes to the negotiating table. And becoming a visible friend of “Trump, the fighter” boosts the credibility of leaders who fight their own fights to grow a prosperous and civil society.
- Deliver the Goods — Way before the election cycle, Trump was one of the most famous entrepreneurs and businessmen in the world. His massive press coverage, best-selling books, and his 15 years as the star/co-producer of a prime time TV show all speak to Trump’s ability to “deliver the goods”.So can a prime minister afford to diss a guy with such a track record of winning? No. If you’re playing the odds, you place your bets on Trump’s next roll of the dice.
And yes, integrity and trust in your diplomatic partner is still the backbone of international relations.
Surf & Turf at Mar-a-Lago… or Sauerkraut Working Lunch in DC
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe got on the good side of Trump early on — and it’s paying dividends for him back in Tokyo where his ability to govern by his relationship with Trump.
And a few notable Japanese executives, such as Masayoshi Son, the owner of Sprint, pledged to create thousands of new American jobs. In turn, Trump showed his appreciation to the Japanese by playing a round of golf and wining/dining with Abe at Mar-a-Lago. Melania and Abe’s wife meanwhile toured a local Palm Beach Japanese garden together.
A President who’s serious all the time is not very effective. In fact, having fun on the job is another way of exerting power. Even as the DeepState and fake media daily try to take him down, Trump smiles at daily Oval Office meetings, laughs it up at rallies with Deplorables, and makes sure the cameras are clicking as he signs executive orders. It’s a way of communicating that “progress is being made” and “we continue to win.”
|Of course, when Germany’s Merkel came to town, Trump’s face clearly showed his dissatisfaction: he even handed Merkel a YUGE $370 billion invoice for NATO defenses. That was certainly a diplomatic faus pas, but for pushing his MAGA agenda, it was a powerful negotiating gambit. In fact, Trump’s guarded smiles and business-only engagement with Merkel sent a message to every one of America’s allies and enemies.
And apparently Merkel did get that message. Earlier this week, Merkel quietly recommended the German military budget be raised to 3 percent of GNP!
Prudent Use of US Military Might
Military power is the greatest of diplomatic tools, but it’s also the most costly in terms of American lives, civilian lives in the war zone, and international risk.
So far, Trump has prudently used America’s military might. For political reasons, the fake media refuse to cover Trump’s military victories in the Middle East. But with the help of American special forces and air support, Iraqi and other forces are now crushing ISIS on the battlefield.
In the face of North Korean taunts and missile launches, Trump has deployed an aircraft carrier task force near Korea and beefed up defensive missile protection for South Korea and Japan.
And certainly the most diplomatically significant military strike was the 58 tomahawk missiles fired from a Navy destroyer on the airfield from which Syrian aircraft launched chemical/biological attack on civilians.
Trump’s military actions thus far signal: strength, stealth, rapid decision-making, smart strategy, and a willingness to use military force when it’s needed.
The State Department
The Art of Deal packs a lot of business wisdom in a small book, but it doesn’t cover one of the biggest success challenges: selecting and cultivating the right employees and business partners. Regardless, in the last several months, Trump has proven his genius as a recruiter of talent.
It staggers the mind to think that Rex Tillerson, ex-CEO and Chairman of ExxonMobil — and a man of great stature and integrity — is now working for us as our Secretary of State.
Exxon is America’s second largest company (after Walmart) and our single largest industrial firm. With 75,000 employees, Exxon has enormous global operations, high-tech research, and distribution issues. Plus Exxon’s environmental footprint, government scrutiny, and energy-exploration risks are also yuge.
How did Trump attract T-Rex? Probably several factors convinced him — the money not being one of them. T-Rex could clearly see the high quality of people already working with Trump. Trump probably offered Tillerson wide latitude to run his own show at State. And there’s a clear rapport between the men: is there anyone in the Washington political elite who even comes close to Trump as a executive peer?
And the prestige of MAGA must also have been appealing. Said Napoleon: “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” Likewise, earning the praise and esteem of millions of true blue Americans is a much coveted prize for a man of principle and high accomplishment.
It’s too early to tell how soon State will recover the respect it lost during the Obama/Hillary/Kerry years, but T-Rex is making his mark, meeting with Putin recently and slashing State’s budget by 38% and letting go 9 percent of all diplomats and civil servants in the next two years.
Leverage: China’s Access to America’s Rich Market
“Having something the other guy wants, or must have.” That Art of the Deal principle is Trump’s diplomatic ace in the hole.
You can bet that China will bend to Trump’s demand that the balance of trade be restored. After all, Trump is merely backing his home team as China itself has done during the past 8 years of Obama trade appeasement.
But as you work with a trading partner, you can’t just separate trade from everything else. And since Trump is eager to stop the North Korean threat, helping him on that front becomes China’s leverage point with Trump.
A deal has struck, and it was made long before Xi and Trump met in Mar-a-Largo. The trade imbalance will be corrected over time. China, North Korea’s largest economic partner, will exert its pressure to stop the madman Kim Jong-un from acquiring nuclear weapons. And though the details have yet to be worked out, the balance of trade with China will be lowered to support American jobs.
Boost Location: A National Theatre Review at Mar-a-Lago
An interesting aspect of the Trump/Xi meeting at Mar-a-Lago was that it brought two of the biggest television stars in the world together: Trump and Peng Yiyuan, China’s First Lady.
How best to describe the fame of Peng Yiyan? Well, maybe if you combine the meanings of Folk Singer, National Singing Idol & Sweetheart, Fashion Icon, and Best Supporter-of-the-Troops USO Entertainer, perhaps that gets close. Exploring her career onYouTube, she reminds me of a few Japanese singers I see on TV Japan who have cultivated the image: Diva of National Spirit and Culture.
Peng’s life work fits beautifully with the MAGA national pride revival Trump is pushing for America. Indeed, wouldn’t it be great if an American entertainer (the female equal of Lee Greenword) stepped up to fill the role Peng does in China?
So the meeting in Mar-a-Lago was a stage production to please the folks back in Shenzhen. Truth is: China and the USA are inextricably tied together. Xi and Peng’s daughter graduated from Harvard a couple years ago. And I’d rather not give up my high-quality laptop and monitor from Lenovo, a business IBM sold to China many years ago.
|Trump’s granddaughter Arbella — singing a Mandarin song she learned from her Chinese nanny — rounded out the Mar-a-Lago performance. It was perfect because it reflected Peng’s heritage as a singing legend. And talk about a low cost, high impact diplomatic move: Arbella touched the heart of the Chinese people and bridged our two nations for a precious moment.
Best of all, we heard this week from financial genius Wilbur Ross (and our Secretary of Commerce) that China — among other trade concessions — has opened up the market for American beef product for export to the largest country of the world.
The Fake Media will never give Trump credit for his accomplishments, but the last few weeks have revealed several foreign policy successes. Trump’s unconventional diplomatic style is winning big.
And to put the icing on the cake, Trump just got a visit from none other than Henry Kissinger. So I guess it’s time to update that old Diplomatic Strategy book sitting on the shelf collecting dust.