It has become challenging, if not downright foolish, for anyone to dismiss the inaugural US political elections, especially since Donald Trump strutted onto the global stage. This is true even for someone who lives halfway around the world from the United States. And then, whether you like it or not, the season has started in Asia, according to a Reuters news story from February 2:
Do n’t try to reach a deal with China that could jeopardize years of coordinated efforts to restrain Beijing and endanger the region’s precarious peace, according to Japan, the United States ‘ closest ally in Asia. As a result of the 77-year-old’s triumphs in Republican primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, Tokyo has intensified its efforts to interact with Trump supporters in subsequent weeks. According to some surveys, he is the front-runner in the November presidential election.
Here’s a second look at an article I wrote again when the Trump Age was actually starting to show how things have changed—not for the better, we perhaps also fear. The element appears to have made some corrections. The grownups in the room finally arrived to restrain President Trump from acting on some of his most irrational whims with the help of trained civilian and military officials.
But that was back then. Some of his most extreme supporters, led by the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, referred to themselves as an “army,” and they have spent years formulating strategies to get rid of the “deep condition” in a second Trump administration and give him the freedom to act as he pleases.
It is unclear how serious President-elect Donald Trump is about the policies he has supported, such as saying” sayonara” to Japan and South Korea if the two nations do n’t contribute more resources to their own defense or abandoning the nonproliferation policy by allowing them the go-ahead to create new nuclear weapons to counter those that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is developing.
Trump is primarily a performer, just like the later Kim Jong Il of North Korea. We have n’t heard anything about him reading books or thinking tank reports on complex international issues if he enjoys policy. He obviously admires his reputation as a strong communicator who shakes stuff up. But did he steadfastly pursue plans that, at this point, amount to nothing more than catchphrases for advertising?
Since we are unable to provide a definitive answer, the earliest indications to look for are the names, origins, and opinions of the influential individuals he uses to manage daily US political and military relations with other countries. Even so, we might not know much because his hiring swimming is unlikely to include many of the most well-known names in foreign and defense policy—those names that we can associate with specific policies.
During his plan, it stood out that comparatively few well-known people supported him. He was publicly criticized by almost the complete Republican top international policy creation.
Three people were identified as Trump’s “brain faith” for Asia policy in August by Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report in Washington. As I do with Pyongyang, I emailed William C. Triplett, II, a former aide to the late Senator Jesse Helms, who was most concerned with North Korean plan.
Triplett never responded, and I have n’t heard anything more about his chances of getting a cushy job at the White House, State, or Pentagon. For all that it’s fair, his book on North Korea does n’t downplay the threat posed by that country. Rogue State: How a Nuclear North Korea Endangers America is its headline.
Trump is not known to be the loving type, despite the fact that he said in his triumph speech,” I am reaching out to you for your assistance and your assist” to bring the nation together. Do n’t hold your breath while you wait for him to plead with his numerous public critics —especially the Republican foreign affairs experts who signed a manifesto opposing his candidacy—to offer their knowledge to him now that he has won.
He may choose from his small group of supporters for the best positions, such as a former political candidate like Newt Gingrich for secretary of state. Trump may choose a hardliner like former UN ambassador John Bolton, who wants the work and has publicly supported him, if he particularly wants to win over the most conservative congressional Republicans.
Beyond that, there is still a sizable pool of career experts who regularly carry out political orders in the defense and the State Department Foreign Service.
For instance, a whole generation of inexperienced officials reached adulthood while serving in and participating in the Vietnam War, even though many of them secretly opposed the conflict. They believed that their job was to implement plan, no to create it.
Perhaps to an even greater degree, troops are trained to let lawmakers decide when, where, and who to fight. Given that pre-election surveys revealed they frequently favored Trump, there should be plenty of buzz-cut troops ready to put on suits and ties and carry out his orders.
Are we doomed to watch blankly as some formerly private employees aid Trump in destroying the current global order if he pursues unwise plans?
The thing about career professionals is that they would follow Trump’s orders, unless and until he ordered something that many of them thought was absolutely idiotic, in which case they might use the bond they had developed with him through earlier obedience to try to convince him to change his mind. This is true even if Trump requires more personnel than is common for fresh administrations.
The most notable instance of this kind in current memory involves Korea. During his 1976 presidential campaign, Democrat Jimmy Carter declared his intention to send US soldiers back from South Korea, which at the time was ruled by a former general who had since taken over and violated individual freedom.
Veterans of the military and state office hunkered down and thwarted Carter at every change because they saw South Korea as a political and economic development in progress and were concerned that US army withdrawal may allow North Korea to engulf the South. In a face-saving move, he finally agreed to “postpone” carrying out his plan in 1979.
Carter ran for a second name the following year but was unsuccessful.
Since 1977, Bradley K. Martin has worked as the commission key for the Baltimore Sun, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Asia Times, concentrating on Asia and the Pacific. He was the top North Korea observer at Bloomberg News. He is the creator of Nuclear Blues, a story, and Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty.