The news of the weekend indicates that we’ve entered a new phase of the Trump Presidency, the “Roll Over”. This phrase can be interpreted two ways, both of which are appropriate. One way is that other countries may begin to dictate terms to Trump and he will work to fulfill their commands.
This is equivalent to a dog performing tricks, and will happen if and when any foreign leader has compromising information on Trump. He is wounded, and every international leader knows it. He also desperately wants to retain power and remain in the spotlight. If he has approached anyone else with improper demands in the past, and they have recorded it, they know have a weapon against him.
This is why maintaining national security is key. It is an example of why there were so many concerns voiced regarding Clinton’s affair with Monica; when a President is compromised, it renders them, and the entire country by extension, vulnerable to pressure and blackmail.
Because the President’s scandals are tied to foreign affairs, that is his point of vulnerability, and it will be exploited.
For years, some have voiced concerns that Russia’s Putin may have compromising information on Trump. Some of it has been ridiculous, such as the rumored urine/hooker recordings… very likely a fantasy equivalent in their way to the Obama birth certificate ravings… and some of it has been likely, such as the possibility that Russia retains proof of reciprocity in the 2016 election interference or damaging information about Trump’s businesses due to the money lent to him by that country’s oligarchs.
Now there is the potential for dozens of other countries – any foreign leader with whom a senior member of the Trump administration has spoken privately – to have compromising information on the President. If they do, many will be taking advantage of that fact now.
This, I believe, is the reason we have announced the equivalent of an immediate abandonment of the Syrian battle zone to Turkey. It will empower both of Turkey’s major allies in the area, Russia and Iran, and simultaneously allow Turkey to annihilate the Kurds, who have been trying for years to form an independent state which would include some Turkish land.
It is also likely the reason that the North Koreans walked away from the bargaining table this weekend. Whatever deal they were offered was less than the deal they demanded, and they are feeling empowered right now to demand a deal.
Then there is the other form of rolling over. That’s where a person or object stands in the way, and a tank simply rolls over them as if they weren’t present. That is what will happen when our firm allies who don’t want to abuse their relationship with us and those countries who don’t have compromising information wish to negotiate a deal.
Those deals will happen, and they will happen quickly, as President Trump seeks distractions as well as “wins” he can use to rally support. Trump, in the midst of the investigations, wants to be able to claim a win far more than he wants any long-term, positive results.
This interpretation of the phrase is what springs to mind when hearing that the trade deal with Japan has been finalized.
Japan has wanted a fast resolution to the new trade negotiations, and walked into the talks with a list of offers and requests. The United States, on the other hand, wanted to drag them out and examine each aspect of our trade relationship in an effort to find some points where we could be given the illusion of a great victory. It’s what we did with South Korea, where we arranged for the potential purchase of tens of thousands of cars even though SK buyers don’t generally want our cars and we weren’t approaching the prior limit on purchases. It’s what we did with Canada, where opening up our markets for dairy products resulted in fewer American products – particularly dairy – being sold to that country’s citizenry.
We have given Japan the fast resolution they wanted, and there is only one evident reason for it: Trump wants a “win” as a distraction from the impeachment investigation.
It does provide a window for Boris Johnson and the Brexiteers to actually get the greatly preferential trade agreement for which they’d been hoping. A damaged and desperate Trump is ideal for their purposes.
Both interpretations of “rolling over” bode poorly for American foreign policy in the near term. We have begun to see the results of Trump’s abuse of power, and we can expect to continue to see those results throughout the weeks ahead.