David Ignatius strikes me as a fount of the conventional wisdom. If so, the conventional wisdom about Donald Trump may be changing.
On December 6, Ignatius proclaimed that Trump had “flunked his first foreign policy test” by following up his phone conversation with Taiwan’s president with an anti-China “twitter storm.” This certainly was the conventional wisdom.
But earlier this week, Ignatius found value in Trump’s “early foray with China.” He now believes that Trump’s behavior has “created some useful ambiguity and negotiating room” when it comes to our relations with Beijing.
Ignatius also suggests that Trump may be introducing “new dynamics in the triangular relationship among the United States, Russia and China — by taking a harder line with Beijing and a softer one with Moscow.” This, he notes, is what Henry Kissinger did, in reverse, in the 1970s. There may be benefit in it, Igatius allows.
Ignatius also finds potential benefit in Trump’s hard line rhetoric about Iran. He reports that in two recent visits to Abu Dhabi, he heard many Arab officials enthuse over Trump’s defiant stance toward Tehran. The enthusiasm has been reinforced by Trump’s nomination of retired Gen. James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom of a few months ago, Arab leaders don’t seem concerned about Trump’s comments about Muslims. It’s his comments about the Muslims who control Iran that matter to them.
That is genuine wisdom.
Genuine wisdom about Trump’s foreign policy in general consists, I think, of a wait-and-see attitude.