by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
During his first 15 months as president, Donald Trump has postured as the bad cop.
He railed about NATO members’ welching on their promised contributions to the alliance. Trump rhetorically reduced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to “short and fat” and “rocket man.” He ordered the dropping of a huge bomb on the Taliban and twice hit Syrian chemical-weapons sites. He talked of trade wars and hitting back at China.
Through all the bombast and follow-ups, Trump’s supposedly more sober and judicious appointees — especially former national-security adviser H. R. McMaster and former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis — played good cops against the outnumbered lone-wolf Trump. …
… No one knows whether these simplistic stereotypes are even half true in the Trump administration. But what is certain is that new secretary of state Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, along with strengthened U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, are more likely to question the status quo and to take some risks in restoring U.S. strategic deterrence.
Will Trump now reverse roles and become the good cop?
Instead of worrying the Europeans, frightening the North Koreans, and assailing the Russians and Chinese, will he more calmly express his fears that he can scarcely control the righteous anger of his new foreign-policy team?