A common mantra of mainstream media types and the Washington establishment is that President Trump has no strategy but are they right? One reporter wrote, “Trump does not have a grand strategy’. Rather, it is a collection of principles.
What that reporter and many others miss is that what passes for strategy in Washington is a strategy to maintain the status quo. Core principles are what those who voted for Donald Trump wanted and that is what they are getting.
Examples of Trump’s strategy of principles:
On Dealing with the Republican Establishment
Since the 2016 primaries, Trump has understood what pundits in Washington and the Republican establishment were slow to acknowledge – he is the first independent in decades. He and many who voted for him refer to the Republican Party as “they” rather than “we”.
The Wall Street Journal observes: “Republicans in Congress need to think of themselves as governing with an independent president – if they don’t already. This doesn’t mean joining Democrats as ‘the Resistance’. But it does mean acting on their own to fulfill their legislative promises with or without the support of Mr. Trump.”
The Journal is correct in part but misses the mark concerning Congressional Republicans. Trump is right to remind those who voted for him he is on track on their agenda and Republicans in Washington, for the most part, have one that serves them rather than the people.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders agrees. “I think it’s clear that the endgame is for Congress to do its job and actually pass legislation,” she said. “I think the American people are very frustrated with Congress’s lack of action. And for years they’ve been all talk and no action. We’re looking for them to step up at this point.”
Trump’s strategy – remember who elected him and let them know he remembers them.
On Immigration and other Constitutional Issues
President Trump played a clever hand when he announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Introduced by former President Barack Obama’s executive order, DACA suspended the deportation of close to 800,000 illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children.
The Washington Examiner wrote before the decision was announced:
“By giving Congress six months to find a replacement law, Trump is returning power to where it belongs, to the authority the Constitution sets in charge of making laws on naturalization. But in return for Democratic congressional support for securing the border, Trump should call for a DACA replacement law that allows relevant recipients to remain in America to pursue better futures. If he takes this approach, Trump will insulate conservative members of the Republican caucus to vote for such a bill without facing huge blowback in next year’s midterm elections.”
Trump’s Strategy – use the power of executive order to undo the damage done to the constitution by his predecessor
Nothing proves that Trump has a strategy more than his dealings with North Korea. He finds support for his dealings with North Korea in of all places, with Gordon G. Chang of The Daily Beast. Chang observes that when the President had The State Department add North Korea to its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” he took the best possible measure to hold Kim Jong Un and his regime in check.
During a cabinet meeting, President Trump announced the decision saying, “It should have happened a long time ago. It should have happened years ago.”
Chang wrote: “He’s right … [In the past, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” [the State Department’s standard for inclusion on its list]
North Korea was added to the list in 1988 in one of Ronald Reagan’s last directives but The State Department of George W. Bush removed it in 2008 in hopes of encouraging the Kim regime to abandon nuclear weapons.
CNN was able to find a former minor officer of the South Korea’s State Department to make light of Trump’s actions. Mintaro Oba told CNN, “Re-designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism doesn’t add much to our efforts to pressure North Korea, but it is an action with symbolic value that will make it harder to get on a path toward denuclearization… ,” Mintaro Oba, once a State Department Korea desk officer told CNN, “It will be seen in Pyongyang as confirming the United States is not serious about negotiations.”
CNN once again fails to see that Trump does indeed have a strategy and one that seems to be already working. Oba is wrong on his main point. Officially designating North Korea a terrorist state will not close off diplomacy but rather serve to force the country into a negotiated settlement.
Because the new sanctions come from Treasury it seems possible that the administration will target Chinese financial institutions, North Korea’s only source of trade. Common knowledge says that North Korea will only back down on their quest for nuclear weapons if it has no choice. If its funnel of cash from China is cut off, Kim Jong Un’s system will fail.
There is already anecdotal evidence that the totalitarian state is feeling the effects of the Trump’s doctrine of “maximum pressure”. Reports are appearing that the favored class in North Korea is not getting rations that normally come through when the regime calls its “special distribution channel” i.e. China’s largest bank.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a White House briefing that fuel shortages are surfacing in North Korea and its officials are now are now requiring an acceleration in “loyalty payments,” signs that Trump’s strangulation policy is beginning to have an effect.
Because of Trump’s strategy, Kim Jong Un will realize his regime must come to terms with the United States in order to survive. CNN and progressives just don’t understand that negotiating over money is one thing Trump understands.
Trump’s strategy – play hardball in negotiations with those who understand nothing else.