JUST IN: Mattis ignored orders from Trump, White House on North Korea, Iran: report https://t.co/bPah2j4ocH pic.twitter.com/kK2gBcuVka— The Hill (@thehill) April 29, 2019
One is reminded of Trump's very recent claim that "nobody disobeys my orders" when it has become clear that several people have ignored his instructions, and also have, in fact felt really relieved and like we all dodged a bullet because they did decide to ignore the crazy old man who watches too much Fox News. General Mattis apparently felt the impulse to try to inhibit Trump's "talking out loud" fumbling regarding foreign policy because he distrusted Trump's ability to assess the information he was given and thought he might be swayed by whoever the last person he talked to was.
Here's what bothers me about this--a Commander in Chief and top executive should actually be able to give directions that can be obeyed because they are clear and make sense, are timely and neither violate the letter of the law nor "burn" personnel by hanging them out to dry because their chain of command refuses to take responsibility. Trump doesn't seem to take in daily briefings to the extent that people who know him feel comfortable with his assessment of what is going on. He also has to be trusted as a person who appreciated historical alliances and recognizes the value of previous negotiations without trying to tear everything up and start from scratch--he has shown he can not be trusted in this way, because tearing everything up is exactly his plan. Also he lacks good planning about how to achieve deals, but that's another thing.
One recent episode to look at is the recent information that North Korea requested $2 million for the hospital bills of Otto Warmbier.
Trump administration agreed to pay $2 million ransom to North Korea for release of Otto Warmbier, but did not actually pay, says Bolton. @Kate_OKeeffe https://t.co/o7EKcufYUh— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) April 29, 2019
An agreement was signed to pay this, and we received the all but deceased body of a once-vibrant young man. And the best that Trump officials can do now about what this implies is to blithely admit that there was no intention to pay, because Trump stiffs people all the time.
Of course, the return of Warmbier was important, in whatever state, for the sake of closure for his family. But the reality of his condition and the demands made by North Korea could have been made transparent and pushed back upon to demonstrate that the US does not accept this treatment of our citizens. It would have been better to keep the family better in the loop (I think this might have blindsided them, but can't confirm) and for the love of all future negotiations, who in the hell ever goes on international television (it all basically is, these days) and admits the US stiffs anyone?
So, sticking with all this ill-advised business, where Trump deals with NK who violates agreements all the time, and who still are doing basically what they want with respects to nukes, let's get real, because Trump doesn't give a fuck about inspections or how allies feel about what he's doing, he just likes the love letters and will sit with Kim Jong-Un and feel understood. We all know Trump decided to get out of the multilateral Iran nuclear deal and has given Saudi Arabia his special attention (like defending MBS regarding the death of US journalist Khasshoggi and vetoing the congressional decision to stop involvement with KSA in their apparent genocide in Yemen).
So why wouldn't an Iranian spokesperson now feel his government speaks from the high road?
After a wink at the dismembering of a journalist, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day—even crucifying one two days after Easter. Membership in the #B_team —Bolton, Bin Salman, Bin Zayed & "Bibi"— gives immunity for any crime. pic.twitter.com/GgtfOqowGq— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 23, 2019
This isn't to downplay any human rights abuses on the part of Iran and whether they execute their political dissidents in job lots or whether they take "political prisoners" (hostages) or interfere in Iraq or elsewhere where the US has a military concern. The US messaging, thanks to Trump, is basically now "You can't trust us, our word isn't worth anything, we'll take it back tomorrow, and also our policies are flexible depending upon what US official you talk to."
Trump also doesn't understand who are allies are or why, and they, in turn, have lost trust in our government. This effect is a terrible legacy. It does not make America seem great, at all.