US President Donald J. Trump participates in a press conference in the East Room in of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 16 February 2017.
SHAWN THEW/EPA

Aiming high, Trump hopes to eliminate world fears

Updated
Donald Trump hosted a White House event this week with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and the U.S. president offered some amazing insights into his views on international affairs. The joint press conference made headlines because Trump abandoned his stated belief that NATO is “obsolete,” but there were some other notable remarks.

Asked about North Korea, for example, Trump said he hoped to get Chinese cooperation, but he doesn’t see it as absolutely necessary. “[O]therwise we’re just going to go it alone,” Trump explained. “That will be all right, too. But going it alone means going it with lots of other nations.”

I haven’t the foggiest idea what that means. “Alone” isn’t a generally a word with subtle nuances.

Nevertheless, later in the press conference, the president had an even more amazing answer when asked what he believes European countries have to fear from Russia if current tensions continue to escalate? Trump replied:
“Well, I want to just start by saying hopefully they’re going to have to fear nothing, ultimately. Right now there is a fear, and there are problems – there are certainly problems. But ultimately, I hope that there won’t be a fear and there won’t be problems, and the world can get along. That would be the ideal situation.

“It’s crazy what’s going on – whether it’s the Middle East or you look at – no matter where the – Ukraine – you look at – whatever you look at, it’s got problems, so many problems. And ultimately, I believe that we are going to get rid of most of those problems, and there won’t be fear of anybody. That’s the way it should be.”
The Washington Post had an interesting piece today, referencing this Trump answer, and noting the political psychology behind it. Barack Obama tried to remind people there’s never been a better time to be alive, while Donald Trump insists the world is unraveling, falling apart at the seams before our very eyes.

“To ordinary Americans, the gulf between the worldviews of the United States’ two most recent leaders could not be more vast,” David Nakamura wrote for the Post. “But historians and foreign affairs analysts said that, despite their apparent contradictions, both things can be true. The world is always a mess…. The question, they said, is how a president responds to the mess and how he frames the threat and the response to the public.”

For Trump, the response to “the mess” involves an unhealthy focus on his predecessor and an emphasis on bold promises: look again at the aforementioned quote and you’ll see that the amateur president believes he’ll be able to “get rid of most” of the world’s problems, and create an environment in which “there won’t be fear of anybody.”

I like an ambitious president as much as the next blogger, but I have some advice for Trump: aim lower, because that’s an impossible standard for success.