Trump and The Doctrine of Strategic Niceness
Scavenging through YouTube for clips of Trump on his Asia-tour it is becoming increasingly clear that Trump is using “niceness” as a weapon. If I remember correctly it was Scott Adams on one of his Periscope streams that talked about how Trump wants to make it preferable to be his friends. His Twitter “attacks” can certainly be seen as a part of a pattern of behavior lending credibility to this theory. He pounces on media and political critics and lavished praise on those who are nice to him. We know that Trump is an exceptionally good persuader. Often one talks about fear as being the strongest persuasive tool, just look at the anti-Gillespie ad that went viral for featuring a pick-up truck hunting down minority kids. This can lead to “lesser” persuasive tools being overlooked. How Trump has behaved so far on the Asia trip can be extrapolated to how Trump behaves in general.
Let’s set the stage first. Trump is unhappy with the current trading paradigm between the United States and many other countries. Particularly the so-called trade deficit between the US and the world. Trump is also known as a tough negotiator. Bringing this back to the easy-to-be-my-friend and hard-to-be-my-enemy viewpoint we see that Trump’s actions are far from random. This is similar to how Trump’s Twitter insults to outsiders appear to be signs of a delusional mind, while deeper analysis yields a strategic continuity incompatible with deranged randomness. Trump flies away from Japan with a strong posture. He has made his viewpoint on trade very clear, while maintaining exceptionally good relations with Abe. I don’t speak or read Japanese, so I can’t say for certain what is in the Japanese press, but I have some qualified guesses. Trump was polite and courteous all the way, including his visit with the emperor and empress. He shook hands “normally” and spoke highly of them before a state dinner.
Trump visited and listened to close family members of abductees captured by North Korea. This was very significant domestically in Japan and will create goodwill in the people. That goodwill can easily be translated into support for Abe’s approach to Trump. The custom ballcap signing is proof positive of the genuine nature of the relationship between Trump and Abe. It is impossible to imagine something even in the same ballpark happening with Merkel or other elitist globalist heads of state. This is also meaningful. Germany is “out in the cold” and is being served up as an example of what happens when you get on Trump’s bad side. Compare and contrast with Macron and France. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to predict that France would enjoy better relations with Trump than Great Britain. They have fumbled and messed up both Brexit and their stance towards Trump. Trump should be a natural ally of the United Kingdom, instead it is with Japan that we see the strongest bond.
The pedagogic lesson for world leaders is clear. Abe was the first to reach out and visit Trump personally and he has reaped great benefits for his own country in return. Britain has debated banning Trump from the country in parliament and has wavered on offering Trump a state visit. What do they have to show for it? Their political and economic future is in shambles amidst a messy half-hearted attempt at Brexit. Reject Trump and suffer the consequences. It should be remarked that this pattern transcends the “natural” bonds between the US and other countries. This has pedagogic significance for countries usually outside the inncer circle of good graces.
Back to Asia, Trump has received another warm welcome in South Korea. I would be very surprised if he doesn’t get a warm welcome in China and the other countries he is going to visit on his trip. It will serve well as a litmus test of my theory. Again, compare with the bare-bones treatment Trump got in Germany at the G20. Trump is in it for the long haul and this will serve him well in the coming years when he wishes to enact foreign policy.
This can also be seen as part of the ongoing negotiations with North Korea. Trump has talked very aggressively about the North Korean situation, including “Rocket Man”, “Fire and Fury” and “Locked and Loaded”. Kim Jong-Un isn’t cut off from learning about the goings on in the world. I’m sure he like other world leaders can see what happens when you “play ball” with Trump and what you get for not doing so. As usual, the mainstream media completely overlooks anything beyond the shallowest scraping the surface analysis. This strategic long-haul psychological play looks so far to be succeeding for Trump. Finally, I will mention that this “play” wouldn’t be possible for anyone other than Trump. It is precicely because he doesn’t play by the standard rulebook that he can do this. Hillary would be expected to maintain country to country relationships as usual and wouldn’t have nearly the same leverage as Trump does.