With Friends Like Us, Who Needs Enemies?


Let’s review a few of the specifics.


  • President Trump has trash talked NATO from the beginning. The only time NATO activated its “attack on one is an attack on all” clause was when we are attacked on 9/11. Our allies responded, including with many deployments to Afghanistan at our request. Now our allies wonder if we would answer when called. Border states in Eastern Europe certainly wonder. So too the Russians. We are now the weak link in NATO. That was unthinkable for over 50 years.
  • Trump more than once tried to insert himself into the British elections. He did so in a manner that would have outraged us if someone tried the same with us. It’s one thing to have an opinion about Brexit (as Obama did). It’s quite another to rank active candidates. Mind your own business, buddy.


  • Trump says that things are going swell with North Korea. He says so because they are “only” firing short range missiles. In other words, who cares since these do not reach the US. Too bad, Japan and South Korea. Not our worry
  • They seemed unlikely to succeed, but talks were ongoing with the Taliban. Career diplomats have been working at this for many months. The Afghan government was marginally being given a seat at the table. Then in one weekend, Trump blew it up with a reckless Camp David ploy that was never going to work. As someone said, he wanted to be Jimmy Carter without doing the work. Would you, as a foreign government trying to mediate a conflict, want this government as a partner?


  • We have dumped international agreements. This with no good rationale, no replacement plans, and leaving our friends in the lurch. Such was the case with the Iran deal. Same for the Global Climate Agreement, and the Transpacific Treaty. Some disliked the Transpacific Treaty, but I find the case is compelling that we were all better off with it. It still exists – only now China is the big player, not us.
  • To say that there is a broad and sustained global refugee crisis would be an understatement. In years past, the US would have led global responses and would have been a driving force in UN and regional solutions. Now, we hide behind a mythical wall. We fret about “bad people” slipping in among 70,000 homeless Bahamian  refugees. Which reminds me- Are you a close neighbor and ally with a natural disaster? Looking for help from us? Good luck. Ask Puerto Rico and the Bahamas how a close history with the US is serving their needs.
  • The Group of 7’s most recent gathering was instructive. The fireworks were minimal. That was so because the other members decided to ignore Trump when they could. They chose to work around him when necessary. In yet another key forum, we have become marginalized. Countries who thought they needed our leadership are finding out that is not so much the case any more.
  • Gratuitous Trade Wars and clumsy tariffs are hallmarks of this Administration. Trump is using 19th Century tools for 21st Century problems and it is hurting everyone. For sure, the Chinese are hurting, but so are we. Ask American farmers how they are doing with all this.The average American got a piddling tax cut that will run out in a few years. In the meantime, tariffs are costing us about $1000 per household annually. We all wanted the Chinese in the WTO to have a forum and tools to address trade issues. The issues with China are real. The tools chosen by Trump are not. They are failing. They will not lead to meaningful agreements.

Latin America

  • We had reversed a failing 50-year policy with Cuba. We had begun building connections with the next generation of Cubans. No More. The fact that Obama implemented the change meant it had to go, no matter what.
  • We have made things worse in Venezuela. We are encouraging the new leader of Brazil who makes Trump look rational and humane.

And Worst of All

  • Trump is completely carelessness with classified information. It may be more than carelessness; it may be willful misuse. Our most important allies are holding back sensitive intelligence sharing. They fear Trump will tweet it or share it with the Russians. Reports say we pulled a key asset out of Russia fearing compromise by Trump.
  • I cannot imagine any of America’s almost 20 intelligence agencies have any trust at all in our President. Think about that as the next crisis develops. Who do they brief?

Add all that up and one has a pretty sorry scorecard. America is weaker, more vulnerable, and more isolated than at any time since before World War II. The world is leaderless and drifting into nationalistic and ethnic chaos.

Every day under this regime is a cancer eating at civilization.

     Bill Clontz

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