Nel's New Day

October 19, 2019

How DDT ‘Deals’ with World Leaders

[Note: To readers who notice when postings disappear on Nels New Day for a while, I will be gone for several days. Looking forward to a recap of this week’s events next weekend—like the bedbugs at Doral are safe because Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) didn’t like all the criticism of holding the 2020 G7 summit at his personal resort. There goes his millions of dollars.] 

The following piece by Shay Khatiri  posted on Charlie Sykes’ The Bulwark analyzes the reason behind DDT’s relationships.

“On Wednesday, the White House published a letter, dated October 9th, that President Trump sent to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. First, he issued a warning to Erdogan that he would ‘destroy the Turkish economy’ if Erdogan went ahead with his genocidal plan. Then, he gave Erdogan a carrot, that if he makes peace with the Syrian Democratic Forces’ leader General Mazlum Abadi, ‘history will look upon [Erdogan] favorably.’ That didn’t deter Erdogan. Instead, the letter ended up in the trash. It’s obvious to virtually all observers of foreign policy that this type of intimidation would not work, but not to the President.

“Surveying Donald Trump’s brand of personal diplomacy, one wonders whether the President of the United States is committing the fatal sin of mirror imaging.

“Mirror imaging is a cognitive trap that strategists fall into when they mistakenly assume that an adversary will behave the same way they themselves would. It is common—something strategists are wary of and teach inexperienced analysts to avoid. For example, the key mistake made by the United States that led to Pearl Harbor was mirror imaging. The attack surprised American strategists because they would not have made the same decisions had they been in Japan’s position.

“This is a trap that Donald Trump is falling into.

“Based upon his past actions, Donald Trump has made clear there are a few things that incentivize him: personal recognition and financial gain, chief among them. The notoriety and historical significance of being the first president to walk in the Korean demilitarized zone or being the guy who signs a deal with the Taliban to end the Afghanistan War on an anniversary of 9/11 are cases that attest to his desire for grandiosity at the expense of rational strategy. The consequences of his decisions that will come to fruition after he leaves the office are no matter to him.

“It is troubling to imagine then, that he thinks that all leaders function the same way.

“Trump’s most frequently (read: only) used foreign policy tool has been America’s economic power. Whether dealing with the Europeans or the Chinese, whether punishing the Iranians or the Turks, Trump’s only resort has been sanctions and tariffs. Issuing a threat to Turkey to deter it from massacring the Syrian Kurds, Trump vowed to destroy Turkey’s economy if Erdogan went ahead with his plan. Similarly, he has responded to Iran’s growing aggressions since the spring only with sanctions.

“He also tries personal appeasement. Trump infamously praises dictators regularly, even as he is slamming them with economic pressure. He also praises allied country leaders like Macron, Merkel, and May, again, as he is slamming their economies with tariffs and criticisms on military expenditure.

“Donald Trump was a New York real estate developer and TV celebrity. His previous life was almost entirely comprised of materialistic individuals driven by greed and ego. The characters he found himself surrounded by responded to straight-forward personal incentives. World leaders don’t. There are other and often greater factors heads of state take into consideration when they make decisions.

“But Trump thinks that they operate the same way he does, or at least are motivated by a similar type of selfishness. This is why he wrongly assumed that the threat of economic sanctions would deter Erdogan from massacring Syrian Kurds. The same logic applies to his thinking that sanctions would deter Iran in the Persian Gulf, something that hasn’t happened. Similarly, he tried to broker deals with China and North Korea with the stick of economic pressure and carrot of personal appeasement.

“In the case of Turkey, Erdogan has other concerns. He doesn’t want a Kurdish separatist group on his southern border. Fertility rates for Turks and Kurds in Turkey suggest that Turkey’s population could be majority Kurdish within a generation or two, which is unacceptable to Erdogan’s ethno-nationalist vision. These are factors that have never and would never cross Trump’s mind. This is the result of mirror imaging.

“Miscalculations by leaders pose “tremendous” threats to international security. Khrushchev’s miscalculation led to the Cuban missile crisis and almost brought on a nuclear war. Japan’s miscalculation and mirror imaging cost it to absorb two nuclear bombs.

Since the end of World War II, Americans have benefited from reasonably responsible leaders, the quality of our governmental institutions, and our power in most forms. These factors have minimized the costs, number, and magnitude of miscalculations like mirror imaging. As the power gap with our adversaries is narrowing, partially due to their rise and partially due to our self-inflicted wounds, we also must grapple with the fact that we have a leader religiously committed to miscalculations and weakening our institutions.”

Erdogan was highly offended by the language and message in DDT’s letter because he values himself as a strongman. DDT’s condescending language such as “don’t be fool” and DDT has “worked hard to solve some of your problems” shows Erodogan that DDT considers himself superior to the Turkish president. Erdogan sends people to prison for milder language and reacts negatively to criticism from other countries.

At first, Erdogan pretended he didn’t get the letter, and Faik Oztrak of the Republican People’s Party called the letter a “rag.” Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu tweeted: “The Turkish nation has been insulted. [Erdogan’s planned] U.S. visit must be canceled unless an immediate apology is forthcoming.” Then a government official reported Erdogan’s rejection by saying the letter “was thrown into the trash.”

Fifty-five years ago, Lyndon Johnson wrote Turkish Prime Minister Ismet Inonu about the damage that a Turkish-Greek war would cause to NATO and warned of the Soviet involvement. Johnson threatened that he would not agree to the use of U.S. military equipment if that happened. Turkey didn’t take up arms against Cyprus, but the country restored relationships with the Soviet Union. Anti-Americanism peaked four years later in 1968 with the Vietnam War and western “imperialism.” Erdogan has scheduled talks with Vladimir Putin next week. 

DDT sent this letter during a time of shrinking U.S. popularity among Turks: 81 percent of them pick the U.S. as the greatest threat to Turkey, up from 44 percent three years ago. Last Thursday night, DDT bragged to a rally audience about his wonderful agreement, one that gave up everything for what he called a “ceasefire,” but Turkish forces began bombing Kurds almost immediately after VP Mike Pence, who brokered the non-deal, left Istanbul.

In a bizarre spin, DDT repeated Erdogan’s lies that there was only “minor sniper and mortar fire that was quickly eliminated,” something that the Kurds “want … to happen.” He added that the Kurds should be grateful for this “ultimate solution.”

A series of DDT’s tweets included this one:

“The U.S. has secured the Oil, & the ISIS Fighters are double secured by Kurds & Turkey.”

No and no.

DDT desperately needs praise, and his actions have produced great acclaim from Russia

“Putin won the lottery! Russia’s unexpected triumph in the Middle East. Those who were convinced of Trump’s uselessness for Russia ought to think again… Trump’s mistake in Syria is the unexpected ‘lottery win’ that further strengthened Moscow’s position in the Middle East and undermined America’s prestige as a rational political player and a reliable partner.”—Mikhail Rostovsky in the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

“All of this benefits the Russian Federation. You know, I’ve been watching Trump’s behavior lately and get seditious thoughts: maybe he really is a Russian agent? He is laboring so hard to strengthen the international image of Russia in general—and Putin in particular…In this situation, Americans—to their chagrin and our enjoyment—are the only losers in this situation.”—Maksim Yusin, editor of international politics at the leading Russian business daily Kommersant

“This is such a pleasure. Russian soldiers have taken an American base under our complete control, without a fight! Trump ran away!”—Olga Skabeeva, host of Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes

“It’s been a long time since America has been humiliated this way. For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.” —Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak, political analyst

 “They ran away in shame! I can’t recall such a scenario since Vietnam. For us, this is of great interest, because this is a key region where energy prices are being determined. That is a shining cherry on top.”

It’s the “art of the deal” from someone who believes that everyone thinks exactly like him.

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