Like him or not, Donald Trump appears ready to be a president unlike any in recent American history. Consider that Trump spoke with the president of Taiwan shortly after his election and suggested that global warming is a hoax China is trying to foist on the world.
Diplomacy is at the heart of any presidency, and multiple news agencies have reported concerns that Trump is ready to push the U.S. towards a pro-Taiwan policy. Writing in the Japan Times, one American academic voiced his concerns about what angering China could mean for the U.S.
For starters, he could embolden Taiwan to be more aggressive in trying to upend the status quo. Indeed, Tsai’s own Democratic Progressive Party is officially committed to Taiwan’s independence, and while Tsai herself has not yet sought to realize revisionist goals, that could change if she feels that Trump is sympathetic to her cause.
Trump could also do damage by inflaming Chinese government and military hardliners, if he confirms their belief that the U.S. wants to undermine their country’s “core interests” — namely, sustaining the appearance, if not the reality, that there is only one China.
The latest example of Trump being not so diplomatic when it comes to diplomacy — he’s refusing to allow any current ambassador to remain in his or her post beyond Jan. 20, the day he is sworn in as president. Perhaps the most relevant part of Politico’s examination of the decision is this:
In typical presidential transitions, politically appointed ambassadors have been allowed to stay on the job for weeks or months after the new president has taken office. It’s partly been done this way out of personal courtesy for their family situations, but also to allow for some continuity as the new administration moves to fill a vast number of postings stateside and abroad.
Thus, on one level Trump is wantonly disrupting the lives of men and women who, regardless of how well they have represented the U.S. around the globe, are associated with Barack Obama. Meanwhile, he also is unnecessarily disrupting U.S. diplomacy.
Anything Trump does on the international stage will be overshadowed by how he deals with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Presuming he takes as credible information that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Trump would be hard pressed to continue saying some of the kind words he’s used in the past.