Donald Trump swung back into presidential mode on Thursday, convening a meeting in Washington with members of his newly established foreign policy team and rolling out his U.S. House Leadership Committee as the real estate mogul tries to build a more sturdy campaign.
Trump’s volatility has been on full display over the past two days as he verbally attacked a reporter who accused his campaign manager of battery, disavowed his pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee, bemoaned the Geneva Conventions and suggested that women should be punished for having abortions if they become outlawed — before quickly reversing himself.
Not to mention his promise to drop nukes on random locations in Europe if he had a bad pad thai.
Don’t expect too much out of this meeting. Trump in phenomenally uninterested in anything more nuanced than “I’m a great negotiator.” Anyone who places the dystopic terrorist state overseen by the Palestinian Authority on the same plane as Israel is simply someone who doesn’t have either intellectual curiosity or even a rudimentary sense of justice. Beyond that, Trump has been very blatant about saying that he does not hire smart and accomplished people:
“I know what I’m doing, and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are,” Trump said earlier this month. “But my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff.”
A week later, he rattled off the names of five men who are sources of regular advice on national security: Walid Phares, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Joe Schmitz and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg.
The list, however, provided little reassurance to those concerned about Trump’s readiness to become commander in chief, as many of his named advisers are either unknowns or have mixed reputations among GOP national security pros.
I’m not saying that I think the “GOP national security pros” have any lock on brilliance, in fact, “too clever by half” would be a better description. But the group that Trump has assembled doesn’t give one great hope. For instance:
Papadopoulos, a 2009 graduate of DePaul University, directs an international energy center at the London Center of International Law Practice.
He previously advised the presidential campaign of Ben Carson and worked as a research fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has had meetings with the president of Cyprus and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. He obtained a masters’s degree from the University of London in 2010.
On his LinkedIn page, Papadopolous lists among his awards and honors that he was U.S. Representative at the 2012 Geneva International Model United Nations.
Funny, he should have Model UN experience. Trump’s National Security Policy Would Look Like a High School Model U.N.
So we have to look elsewhere for our predictions, including the totality of his record. Based on that, here are seven likely expectations:
1. None of Trump’s signature foreign policy promises will come to pass…
2. There won’t be any progress on trade deals….
3. On top of the failures of his campaign promises and the trade deals, Trump will launch many other initiatives that will also fail….
4. Trump will have the least distinguished national security team in modern memory….
5. Trump’s administration will have a high turnover with lots of kiss-and-tell memoirs from former staff detailing the behind-the-scenes chaos….
6. Trump will isolate America from its allies and partners….
7. When he gets in trouble, he will do something or say something that will embarrass the country….
If you add it all up, the picture looks rather like a sophomoric high school Model U.N. performance. The delegation that believed you could “win” by saying the most outrageous things rather than doing the hard work of advancing sensible resolutions. The delegation that opted to make up facts rather than to do their homework. The delegation that floated absurd proposals that made the serious participants mad and made the others laugh at the serious participants.
Perhaps the best guess of what Trump’s national security policy would look like is that it would resemble your typical sophomore Model U.N. delegation — only this time the other actors and the stakes would be real and nobody would be playing.