Washington chaos may lead to reckless foreign policy
US President Donald Trump has encountered his latest open challenge from James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After being fired in May last year, Comey came back with his new book A Higher Loyalty and called Trump “morally unfit” for the presidency in his high-profile interviews for the book.
But as many American media outlets commented, despite Comey’s unprecedented stature among the US elites standing up against Trump, his criticism has added one more item to the list of domestic chaos confronting Trump. As veteran Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter told The New York Times, “He [Comey] just adds one more hole to a ship that’s already sinking.”
What’s truly alarming is in what way Trump will cope with a lengthy list that ranges from the Russiagate investigation, a messy administration with vacancies and frequent dismissals, to the scandals of his officials. These incidents have dampened public faith in the president. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump’s average approval rating of 38 percent after 15 months in the presidency is the lowest on record since the administration of Harry Truman.
To divert public focus from domestic affairs is probably the main reason behind his order of air strikes on Syria together with the UK and France, not the purported protection of Syrian women and children from chemical weapons. After all, there are precedents for rallying around the flag in US history. According to Gallup, former US president George W. Bush had his overall job approval rating rise 13 points to 71 percent after launching the Iraq War in 2003. The job approval rating of his father, president George H.W. Bush, jumped 18 points to 82 percent after he started the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
It is probably for the same purpose that the Trump administration has been reckless and aggressive in pushing China hard over trade disputes, threatening Beijing with billions of dollars of tariffs. In the latest move, the US on Monday banned American companies from selling parts to China’s telecommunications company ZTE for seven years, which will exacerbate US tensions with China.
No one is confident enough to guess what Trump will come up with next. Although the US president has restrictions on wielding his power, he also has enough political resources to do anything he wants. It’s thereby likely that he will get very extreme and make unexpected steps, especially in international affairs, to secure his voter base. The world can never let down its guard.