In at least one past blog entry, I fretted about how it seemed Trump didn’t understand that the peaceful transfer of power was one of the things that made our democracy great. It meant, among other things, that our international treaty partners could rely on agreements made by past administrations, that our foreign policies could withstand ideological shifts at home without upsetting the world, that our currency would be stable, and that domestic political differences would be tempered by a strong moderating force.
If the storm cloud of Trump’s election has a silver lining, maybe it’s that we didn’t have to be tested in this area. The “Lock Her Up” faction was mollified, at least temporarily. The “Lock and Load” faction can put their assault weapons down for a few minutes.
But it seems that the man-baby needs more than just the adulation of his fans, more than constantly seeing his name on every newspaper, internet site, and media outlet at the same time, and more than just the legitimacy and acceptance into the political elite that the election conveys.
What is now becoming crystal clear is that Trump needs chaos.
Only when all his allies are completely flustered, torn between jumping ship and circling the wagons, can he feel in control. Only when all his detractors are apoplectic with disbelief can he be assured of the commitment of those loyal to him. Only when the world is holding its breath to see if he was serious about his latest outrage does he feel that he actually controls the levers of power.
It’s bad enough that Trump intends to conduct foreign policy by Twitter, away from any sane or even semi-informed advisers. We’ll all see where that leads soon enough. But can we all at least agree that he must wait until he’s actually the president before doing it?
The Chinese seized a U.S. drone operating in international waters, escalating tensions in the Pacific. The U.S. protested through the usual channels and the Chinese agreed to return it to de-escalate the crisis. So far, we’re talking about a fairly normal, if dangerous, international incident with an optimal outcome for all – Chinese faces saved, Navy gets its drone back, world at peace.
But that’s not good enough for Trump. Apparently the idea of the Obama administration continuing to operate effectively and within accepted norms is too much for him. How can any crisis be settled without his input? Isn’t he the one with the “mandate” now? Doesn’t everyone need to know what he thinks?
Time for some action from Trump Tower. Time to cause some chaos. With a tweet, of course. China can keep the drone – I don’t want it!
At last, the man-baby is pacified, at least for a couple of hours. Everyone’s talking about him again, so he can rest. Doesn’t matter that he’s not even the president yet. Doesn’t matter that he’s weakened our position with China. Doesn’t matter that the world is laughing at us.
The Global Times, a Communist Party-controlled newspaper in Beijing, poked fun at the confusion in the United States.
“Before Trump’s generous announcement that he didn’t want the drone back, the Pentagon had already announced publicly that they have asked China to return the ‘illegally seized’ [unmanned underwater vehicle] through appropriate governmental channels,” the paper wrote. “We don’t know, after seeing Trump’s new tweets, if the Pentagon should feel boggled.”
Ahhhh. Sweet, sweet chaos. That’s the thing.