12.6.18

PROCESS, NUANCE, FAILURE

It's been a while since I've deployed that theme, but a recent American Greatness essay by Matthew J. Peterson sounds all the right notes.  He opens, "One must jettison the abstractions of modern intellectuals in order to make politics possible again."  I repeat, because repeat I must, simplicity beats inordinate complexity.

Mr Peterson continues.
Does Donald Trump have enough experience and expert wisdom to give away as much to North Korea as the American foreign-policy establishment, with all its experience, top-shelf degrees, and stratospheric test scores, has given away in the past 30 years?

Does Donald Trump have enough experience and expert wisdom to keep the hostile stalemate the American foreign-policy establishment created and fostered with North Korea since America first waged the Korean War?

For that matter, does Trump even have the experience and caste of mind to start a war, say, in the Middle East, that costs trillions of dollars and disrupts and inflames the region as President Bush and his entourage did? Does he even know how?
It's possible, though, that whatever agreement in principle the president and the chairman think they have reached will look very different once the diplomatic corps does its work, as it will.
If you understand anything about modern American elite culture, call to mind the totality of the persons of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: their respective educations, life experiences, philosophies of the human person and politics, and everything that makes them who they are.

Next, imagine them, alone in that room with Kim Jong-un, trying to negotiate for you.

The result is parodic. What, in their person and experience, would render Obama or Clinton suitable for the role? Such people, along with most establishment Republicans are wholly unequipped. Wholly unequipped. They are wholly unequipped to do anything other than follow a risk-averse script, cobbled together by committees upon committees of bureaucrats.

As one Washington, D.C. bureaucrat who has worked closely with two U.S. cabinet secretaries and the head of a regulatory agency told me, “[i]n anecdotal support of this very correct evaluation . . . the amount of preparation, and scripting, and artificiality that goes into a bilateral meeting with the foreign counterpart of a minor cabinet secretary is embarrassing and absurd.”

An average, celebrated elite American political leader’s meeting with another world leader only makes sense for a few moments in a predetermined photo-op, with a phalanx of fake experts supporting them as they serve as talking heads, with all manner of technocrats carrying them along a long and complicated process before and after the meeting, supported by white papers and myriad bureaucratic procedures meant to deflect all risk and, of course, and even more importantly, accountability.

President Trump, on the other hand, simply needs to be secured firmly in the role and then pointed in the right direction. So long as his self-interest is tied to peace, he seems exponentially better, even granting all manner of bullish and hardened personality flaws.
That might be so, and yet, if Our President has any hope of achieving a treaty ending the Korean War or limiting theater nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia, he's got to seek the advice and consent of the Senate.  Otherwise it's just more pen-and-'phone show business.

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