International Policy Digest

Joyce N. Boghosian
World News /11 Sep 2019

Foreign Policy Analysts Should Remain Silent on Trump

A lot of foreign policy analysts have gotten into the habit of constantly trying to analyze Trump’s various off the cuff remarks, moments of “inspiration,” and subsequent policy reversals. My question is, why? First of all, it is a thankless task that is bound to lead to an unenviable track record of inaccuracy on the part of the analysts. Second, it lends credibility to Trump’s inane thought processes and actions. And third, it is contributing – needlessly – to the “all Trump all the time” 24/7/365 news cycle. Wouldn’t it be much better if analysts (and the media for that matter) simply remained silent?

It used to be the case that U.S. presidents warranted being listened to, and their comments warranted being opined upon, but that was before America had a president who was an incessant liar and whose world view was defined by sound bites. Is there really any value – at all – in devoting serious thought to anything that might come out of his mouth? There is a very good chance that whatever he says will either be untrue, a warped interpretation of the truth, or contrary to what the foreign policy establishment actually thinks.

Foreign policy analysts have spent a lot of time analyzing Trump’s tweets and proclamations in a serious way. If any of their analyses happen to be accurate, it is only likely to be so for a short period of time, given how frequently he changes his mind or turns a previous proclamation 180 degrees to the opposite end of the spectrum. How many times have foreign policy analysts actually been correct in trying to predict either what Trump will do next or what the likely impact of one of his actions might be? And how many times might that accuracy merely have been the result of his failure to flip his own decision-making process around, as he might do on any subject at any time?

The analysis of foreign policy is serious business, conducted by serious people in serious publications. Trump has succeeded in degrading that process to little more than the predictive value of flipping a coin. To some, that may be perceived as a challenge – being forced to try to essentially guess what might happen next if they choose to say anything at all. But doing so is an act of self-degradation unworthy of the profession they belong to.

As we slide into the latter half of the third year of the Trump presidency, the American people are exhausted. Even the president’s most ardent supports are suffering from “Twitter-phobia.” It would be really nice if America’s foreign policy community simply decided to focus on anything other than Trump for the remainder of the first (and hopefully last) term as president. Otherwise, they may end up as tarnished as America’s political system and foreign policy. Once Trump is gone, the country, and the world, will need a robust recovery, and analysts that can be relied upon. Foreign policy analysts should not be included in the path of destruction he is leaving behind.