The expert contribution by Andrew Korybko to the Panel Discussion Any advice to Trump? by the American University in Moscow, courtesy of the author:
President Trump’s first six months in office have left his supporters with decidedly mixed feelings. There are those who still “believe” in him and are convinced that he’s perfectly executing some “master plan”, while there are others who have given up all hope on him and are convinced that he disappointedly “sold out”.
The reality, as it usually is, lies somewhere between these two extremes.
Trump has clearly made several major foreign policy concessions to his opponents in the permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (the “deep state”), though he doesn’t seem to have fully given up on his campaign promises to be a revolutionary president.
What happened, though, was that the “deep state” expertly exploited Trump’s deal-making propensities to push him into a corner and capture control of most of his administration’s foreign policy.
Trump’s appointment of multiple individuals with a neoconservative worldview completely contradictory to the one that he campaigned on isn’t “to keep his political enemies forever guessing his real intentions”, as everybody already knew what he supposedly intended to do if he was ever elected president.
Instead, these people were placed in their respective positions because Trump was conned into thinking that he was cutting a deal with the “deep state” whereby he sacrificed some of his ambitiously revolutionary foreign policy promises in exchange for encountering less opposition to the implementation of his desired domestic agenda.
As could have been expected, the “Republicans In Name Only” (RINOs) didn’t abide by this “gentlemen’s agreement” between the President and the “deep state”, and they continued to make it all but impossible for Trump to govern except in the select instances when he could rely on Executive Orders.
Whereas Trump thought that he was wheeling and dealing in the foreign policy sphere in order to obtain advantageous outcomes in the domestic one, he soon found out that the domestic and foreign policies of the US are so intertwined as to be inseparable, meaning that a loss on one front inevitably leads to further losses on the other.
Trump has thus been caught in a trap from which he’ll have immense difficulty escaping, and which requires legendary “deep state” management skills and strategies to reverse, if it’s even possible to do so after all the negative momentum that he’s been tricked by his adversaries into generating.
Reflecting on how he got into this whole mess, it’s obviously due to the inter-services “deep state” collaboration which concocted the conspiracy theory about “Russia’s intervention” in the 2016 elections, and which therefore placed Trump on the strategic defensive and made him more likely to inadvertently enter into a series of disadvantageous deals.
Now that his back is to the corner on both the foreign and domestic policy fronts, Trump has no choice other than to embrace his revolutionary self that was proudly on display during the campaign trail if he wants to stand any feasible chance at implementing his policies.
It’s presumed that he’s working behind the scenes with his trusted advisors to slowly but surely place “his people” into key positions so as to facilitate this at a later time, but the clock is ticking, the momentum is turning against Trump, and he’s already been pressured into walking back many of his promises, whether as “tactical retreats” for the short term or as genuine strategic reversals.
If President Trump doesn’t bullishly embrace “Candidate Trump”, then he’s bound to politically perish and go down in history as one of the most ineffective and hamstrung leaders that the US has ever seen.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.