Friday, June 23, 2017

Trump to Xi: Toughen Up!

No sensible adult is going to defend all of Donald Trump’s tweets. Yet, no sensible adult should reject them all out of hand.

Case in point: Trump’s tweet regarding China and North Korea. Isobel Thompson at Vanity Fair calls it mystifying. It is anything but.

Following the death of Otto Warmbier, Trump tweeted this:

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

This tells us that Trump asked China’s president Xi for help in dealing with North Korea. And it says that the Chinese president agreed to do so. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a diplomatic solution to the problem with North Korea. It  beats the alternatives. Surely, it is more diplomatic than making threats. 

Now, Trump is saying that President Xi may have oversold his ability to influence the regime in Pyongyang. The subtle and ironic jab at China, wrapped in compliments, suggests that if the Chinese expect more from America they will need to do better with North Korea. After all, the whole world is watching. That is what it means to send the message via tweet instead of via back channels.

If China wants to be recognized as a world leader, it should honor its commitments and deal with its vassal states. Your move, President Xi.

Trump is not telling Xi what to do. He is not condemning him. He is saying that China’s president is embarrassing himself on the world stage, looking weak next to North Korea, and that Trump hopes that he can do better.

Thus, Trump is leaving Xi a way to save face and is putting Xi on notice that he expects more than a good effort. The tweet is sophisticated, diplomatic and subtle… apparently too subtle for many observers. Don't these readers understand irony?


Sam L. said...

Most of those observers are Democrats with by-lines, and they are paid to fin=d fault (after fault after fault) with Mr. Trump.

Ares Olympus said...

On content quality, one way to evaluate communication is to try to reverse roles.

Xi Jinping: While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Trump and the U.S. to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know the U.S. tried!

In this case it seems to work fairly. I wouldn't interpret this to mean Trump is embarrassing himself on the world stage and looking weak next to North Korea, like Stuart suggests. OTOH, when Trump told Comey he was doing a great job, we now that is apparently a sign he was about to get fired, so who knows.

Overall, I'd say it is best to not read much into Trump's tweet, especially since it wasn't specific.

On timing, we might assume it was about Warmbier, but we don't even know how long he was in a coma, could have been months, sometime after his January trial. And there are three other American citizens being held as well.

I'm confident the Trump administration will never stop trying to get them freed as well, although I'm not sure China cares that much.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Sam L.: It's not just Democrats. Don't forget the NeverTrump "conservative" intelligentsia who would rather live in their imaginary, theoretical universe of "principles" rather than win. Bill Kristol, Stephen Hayes, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry, et al. Meanwhile, respectable, intelligent and reasonable Republicans are feckless cowards who allow government to grow and grow. Yawn.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

This is off-topic, but I'm sharing it to demonstrate everything that is wrong with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his "followers" who comment on this post.

It seems the billionaire savant is now around to understand middle America better. So he's going places like Iowa (with a photographer) and tries a Hemingwayesque approach to understand people:

There is something really creepy about this guy. The "follower"comments are gushing, vacuous, silly and sentimental. One of them is quite telling: "No security? Just saying if I was a billionaire... I'd have plenty." Yeah, in an Iowa town of 2,800. That guy (Joseph M Billiot) sounds like a Midwestern anthropology wizard. I wonder if he actually wrote it himself, or if some Facebook bot did.

I look at Facebook one a month -- if that. When I do, I'm reminded that people have a lot of time on their hands. That includes Zuckerberg. After the stuff he said in his commencement speech at Harvard this year, I hope he's not thinking about politics...

James said...

I wonder what Zuckerberg wore for his sojourn into the "Heart of Darkness". Did he look like an escapee from "Whole Earth Provision Co." did everything he had on have "North Face" written all over it? What was his look, certainly not metro sexual, perhaps for Iowa it was rural sexual saving lumber sexual for the Great Northwest when he is safely back among his own kind. I do compliment him on the attempt, but it smacks of one of Stanley's trips up the Nile.