President Grybauskaite Gets Trump

Yesterday President Trump conducted a brief press availability with the Baltic heads of state, following his meeting with them. Understandably, the main news that came out of the event was Trump’s comments on the border and the caravan. But I was struck by the statement by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, which I don’t think has been reported anywhere. The context was NATO, but her observations on how Trump operates are widely applicable.

President Grybauskaitė spoke in English, and her comments are transcribed as delivered:

[W]e understand how important NATO is for all of us, and why we, during our discussions, talked so much about the reforming for — reforming NATO, the investment into our defense, the amounts necessary to invest into our defense, and, of course, together where it is necessary all of us. And Lithuania is with the United States on fighting the terrorists through all the world. We — back in Afghanistan. We in Mali. We in Central African Republic. We in Kosovo. We in Ukraine together. So we are partners, allies, and trustful allies.

And because of that, we are sure that the reforms of NATO, which we are investing together and preparing together, will be resultative as it was before, but especially now, because we are seeing United States leadership. We’re seeing the willingness of United States to see different NATO, different quality of NATO.

And I can be, probably, open. We talked to the President. I was joke a little bit — joking about that we need leadership sometimes for decision-making, even unpredictable leadership, to make enough leverage and pressure for the rivals to believe that we can make a decision. And that’s, we think, this kind of leadership in President Trump.

President Trump’s approach to deal-making is not exactly a secret, and yet his political opponents obtusely pretend not to understand it.