The randomization of Diplomacy

U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump is quickly proving that he is not going to be slave to diplomatic processes and niceties when it comes to relations with other nations of the world. The rest of the world is aghast at some of his recent actions and is hardpressed to understand the rationale behind his thinking and actions.

Well, we better get used to “random thinking” on the part of the leader of the free world (as U.S. likes to call itself). So far, we only thought that such random thinking and behaviour happen in dictatorial jurisdictions which are largely driven by one larger-than-life individual who controls the destiny of his people. For that to happen in the U.S. was previously unthinkable, but it is now fast becoming a fact of life even before the President-Elect assumes the Presidency in a few weeks’ time.

Is that necessarily wrong? Most of the world thinks so, and surely the diplomatic world thinks so. However, sometimes it is better for diplomatic niceties to be replaced by hard realities of life. Diplomacy means “avoidance of collision” while continuing to talk or negotiate, keeping nice and courteous behaviour as the essence of policy-making to avoid troubles and misunderstanding. While diplomacy has produced some notable successes, people sometimes feel that it is overblown and lot of time and money is wasted while waiting for some real action on the ground.

I believe Donald Trump is blazing a new, bold trail by making an unprecedented call to the President of Taiwan which has been a no-go for all past U.S. Presidents. He is also firmly telling China to play by the rules when it comes to trade, and it appears that he has every intention of making China realize that he means business. He is sending a strong message to the American people by selecting his Cabinet in a unique way – it now comprises of some very wealthy and some very aggressive secretary-nominees. While for outsiders it appears to be made up of bad choices, we have to let Trump decide his own fate, and that is the smartest thing to do. The policies of his government are going to be vastly different in areas such as the environment, income taxes, healthcare, labour, immigration and education. Foreign policy of course is going to be very different compared to the current regime of President Obama.

Given that Trump does not take briefings or instructions well or ignores their implications for America, most of his actions is going to be based on gut feel, or the result of what his outlandish cabinet advises him to do. So, there is going to be lot of action and lot of fun watching how the new American leadership performs on the world stage. Coordination amongst the cabinet members is going to be hard as they are all very independent-minded isolationists with ideologies vastly different from the GOP or the Republican Party. There will be several fights coming up in Congress hearings and confirmation of nominations, and it will be telling on the quality of the leadership provided by Trump.

So, in a nutshell, diplomacy is going to be hugely randomized and converted to adhoc decisions as things go along. America is going to disengage itself from trade pacts, while trying to ensure that American corporations bring jobs back to America.

Interesting times, indeed. Watch this space for more coverage and analysis.


Vijay Srinivasan

11th December 2016







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