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During the last four years, one of the regular complaints about President Trump was that he was too nice to our enemies. He met with them (gasp!), he spoke well of them (horrors!), he complimented them (mon dieu!). And this was why Democrats (and far too many Republicans) kept insisting he was an agent of Russia or some such nonsense.
The fact is, when you’re trying to get someone on your side, you do exactly what President Trump did. You kill them with kindness. You show an interest in them. You speak well of them. You highlight their successes. It’s all right there in How to Win Friends and Influence People, the kajillion-selling book by Dale Carnegie. (A book I recommend to everyone, but especially those who seek public office.) It’s probably found in The Art of the Deal, too, but I haven’t read that one.
It seemed as if Democrats (and far too many Republicans) wanted President Trump to enter into delicate negotiations by insulting world leaders or otherwise telling them off.
How well does that tactic work?
It goes without saying that when conducting high-level diplomacy, you don’t insult the other party at a joint press conference before the negotiations begin. And if you choose to do something so foolish, you must be ready when the other party retaliates in its response.
It is incredible that secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not understand this when they began talks with their Chinese counterparts in Alaska yesterday. At what was supposed to be perfunctory two-minute statements by the US and Chinese delegations to the press before the talks began, Blinken and Sullivan criticized Chinese activities against the Uighurs, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as for cyber attacks on the US and economic coercion of US allies. Blinken said China’s behavior ‘threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability’. Sullivan added that ‘China has undertaken an ‘assault on basic values’.
Although Blinken and Sullivan needed to raise these issues with their Chinese counterparts, doing so publicly at a joint press conference deeply insulted them and needlessly damaged US-China relations. Chinese Communist party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi and foreign minister Wang Yi angrily responded with long diatribes against the United States which included accusing the US of human rights and freedom of the press violations. The Chinese officials also accused Blinken and Sullivan of being condescending and staging the Alaska meeting to embarrass China on US territory.
Blinken looked like a deer in the headlights when the Chinese officials responded. He and Sullivan obviously decided to criticize China at the press conference to counter Republican criticism that President Biden is weak on China. This was not diplomacy — it was virtue-signaling for America’s Biden-lapdog mainstream media. But it is inexplicable that Blinken and Sullivan were not prepared for a furious response by their Chinese counterparts.
Blinken and Sullivan seemed genuinely surprised by the reception they got. But Washington is now operating under the rule “Whatever Trump did, do the opposite.” (Even regarding things that should have bipartisan support — like lowering the cost of insulin.) It’s now “opposite day” — or “opposite four-years” to be precise. And we’re seeing the results of how well that approach works.
President Trump didn’t much care for diplomatic niceties, but he knew from his career as a dealmaker how to conduct diplomacy with America’s adversaries. When he appeared before the cameras with officials such as Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un, Trump set a cooperative and optimistic tone. Trump also often bragged about his personal friendships with these leaders. The former president knew building trust through these personal relationships was part of what he called the ‘Art of the Deal’ to get these countries to the negotiating table and to strike deals with them.
That is exactly correct. That’s how you turn adversaries into partners. Enemies into friends.
President* Biden, known for insulting random Americans at campaign stops, decided to extend his tough-guy image beyond the borders by repeating a claim that back in 2011 he looked Vladimir Putin in the eye and declared that he had no soul. To which Putin allegedly responded, “we understand each other.” It’s one of those oft-told stories that you get with old men like Joe. It most likely didn’t happen. But Joe wants to look tough. I guess we’re lucky he didn’t call Putin a “lying dog-faced pony soldier,” because that would probably have started World War III. But in declaring Putin a “killer” and telling the old “had no soul” story, what did Biden expect would happen? He probably didn’t expect anything to happen. He gets away with this stuff all the time. It’s red meat for his media sycophants.
However, sometimes there are consequences.
Moscow then took the unusual move of temporarily recalling its ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, in what’s believed to be the first such instance in more than 20 years.
“I’ve just thought of this now,” Putin told a Russian state television reporter. “I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called. Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States.”
Ouch. Clearly Biden’s (and therefore America’s) weakness is on full display, internationally, and Putin is taking full advantage of it. So yes, Russia’s playing games here. But the Democrats and their media allies have been blaming every domestic ill on Russia for the last four years. If I were Putin, I’d be growing tired of being their whipping boy, too.
It should be no surprise that the Biden administration, which even treats American citizens as enemies, can’t build bridges with other countries either. But Russia and China are our two biggest international rivals. You’d think they’d at least try to be diplomatic. But they don’t seem to understand the first thing about diplomacy.Published in