So says The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who says he heard it from an unnamed “senior White House official with direct access to the president and his thinking.”
Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked a number of people close to the president to provide me with short descriptions of what might constitute the Trump Doctrine. I’ve been trying, as part of a larger project, to understand the revolutionary nature of Trump’s approach to world affairs. This task became even more interesting over the weekend, when Trump made his most ambitious move yet to dismantle the U.S.-led Western alliance. …
It’s fascinating that the only person Goldberg posed this question to that he identifies by name is Thomas Wright, a fellow at the Brookings Institution as well as fellow Atlantic contributor and liberal. In keeping with contemporary journalistic practice, Goldberg doesn’t reveal the identities of the individuals with “direct access to the president and his thinking” whom he allegedly spoke to.
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The senior adviser who defined the Trump Doctrine as “We’re America, Bitch” elaborated on his formulation:
Obama apologized to everyone for everything. He felt bad about everything. [President Trump] doesn’t feel like he has to apologize for anything America does.
Goldberg isn’t totally turned off by this notion of what the Trump Doctrine is:
I’m not arguing that the attitude underlying “We’re America, Bitch” is without any utility. There are occasions — the 1979 Iran hostage crisis comes to mind — in which a blunt posture would have been useful, or at least ephemerally satisfying. President Obama himself expressed displeasure — in a rhetorically controlled way — at the failure of American allies to pay what he viewed as their fair share of common defense costs. And I don’t want to suggest that there is no place for self-confidence in foreign policymaking. The Iran nuclear deal was imperfect in part because the Obama administration seemed, at times, to let Iran drive the process.
Interesting again that in comparing Trump’s leadership style with Obama’s he qualifies Obama’s displeasure over American allies failing to pay their fair share as having been expressed “in a rhetorically controlled way.” I think it would be difficult for Golberg or anyone else to cite an instance of when the previous president, whose own doctrine might best be defined as “leading from behind,” didn’t conduct himself in a rhetorically controlled way.
Goldberg in any case doesn’t waste much time on ennobling Trump’s efforts as commander in chief. In the next paragraph, he writes:
But what is mainly interesting about “We’re America, Bitch” is its delusional quality. Donald Trump is pursuing policies that undermine the Western alliance, empower Russia and China, and demoralize freedom-seeking people around the world. The United States could be made weaker — perhaps permanently — by the implementation of the Trump Doctrine.
Can we infer from this that Goldberg doesn’t think that Obama — who sat on his hands when the citizens of Iran attempted to foment a revolution against the theocracy, converted Syria from a dictatorship into another Islamofascist menace, and unfroze $150 billion in Iranian assets in exchange for a weak promise from that sworn enemy of Israel to set aside its nuclear ambitions — was weak?
The article ultimately reveals more about the author than it does about his subject matter.