Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Forum - the administrative competence of the Trump Administration

I think that the thing that most surprised me about President Trump's Executive Order "PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES" was the apparent administrative incompetence involved, something that may be becoming a feature of the new US Administration at this point in its life.

Consider the Order first. I accept although I may not like the Administration's focus on being seen to deliver on campaign promises. Accept because they were campaign promises, dislike because I thought that some of them were very silly indeed. However, the way that the Order was drafted and then "implemented" was ham handed and confused. It seems that the need for immediate political atmospherics overrode common sense and practical administration.

From an administrative perspective, there were three problems with the Order: it was poorly drafted, containing ambiguities that meant that its scope was not properly recognised; partially as a consequence of this, there were potential legal uncertainties about its validity; and it was put in place without the necessary administrative underpinnings required for effective delivery. All this led to confusion, collateral damage to individuals and the US reputation and subsequent backtracking.

You can get a feel for the degree of confusion and backtracking if you compare the Order and its initial implementation with this formal statement on the scope of the Order issued by the UK Foreign Office following discussions between Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the US Government. To my mind, this statement provides a gloss not supported by the original Order, initial US actions or statements from the President and his team.

Even then, there are ambiguities in the British statement best captured in this paragraph, one that appears to conflict directly with the earlier parts of the statement.  "The only dual nationals who might have extra checks are those coming from one of the seven countries themselves – for example a UK-Libya dual national coming from Libya to the US". Now compare this with the earlier parts of the statement:
The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has today held conversations with the US Government and as a result we can clarify that:
  • The Presidential executive order only applies to individuals travelling from one of the seven named countries.
  • If you are travelling to the US from anywhere other than one of those countries (for instance, the UK) the executive order does not apply to you and you will experience no extra checks regardless of your nationality or your place of birth.
  • If you are a UK national who happens to be travelling from one of those countries to the US, then the order does not apply to you – even if you were born in one of those countries.
  • If you are a dual citizen of one of those countries travelling to the US from OUTSIDE those countries then the order does not apply to you.   
The first part of the UK statement appears in direct conflict with the Order, while the last paragraph would appear to be in conflict with the earlier paragraphs.I note, by the way, that while both the Canadian and UK Governments have responded on behalf of their residents to the US Order, the Australian Government appears to have been silent on the issue, preferring to focus instead on the deal with the US on refugee resettlement. I may be wrong here, but I checked both the PM's and Foreign Minister's websites.

I siad that administrative incompetence may be becoming a feature of the new US Administration. The terrorism/migration Order is not the only example. President Trump may be suffering from the delusion that signing an Order is equivalent to making something happen.

Consider, example, the Order calling for a 30 day review on the Best way of defeating ISIS. I have no especial problem with this.Indeed, quick, sharp, reviews on particular issues can be important in allowing a new Administration to refine its views and set new directions. However, the volume of Orders as well as some of the more contentious content does raise questions about the capacity of the Administration to even consider let alone implement consequent recommendations. We have seen from a number of recent Australian Governments what happens when the desire to do, to be seen as active, outruns the capacity of supporting systems to deliver.

In writing this post, I have chosen to focus on the question of administrative competence. Obviously, many other issues are involved. However, the question of policy and administrative competence is central to what actually happens.

I am treating this post as the Monday Forum post. As always, feel free to go in whatever direction you want.


The polarising effects of Mr Trump's Order are remarkable, building on existing divisions. Most of the people I know including my own family have strong reactions against the Order, building on existing attitudes to President Trump.On the other side of the ledger, there has been an uptick in nationalistic anti-immigration feeds. Open your mouth to express contrary views to either side and you will get your head bitten off.

I was interested in the attitudes adopted by the Westminster democracies. Canada is on one side of the ledger, directly attacking the Order, even using it as a device to promote Canada's open door inclusive approach. Canada also seems to have acted very quickly to clarify elements of the order, including the position of dual nationals.

On the other side we have Australia. This press statement from yesterday (Monday 30 January) captures the Australian position, reflecting lock-ins from existing policies. :
Prime Minister, will you be undertaking an assessment of the Trump Executive Order, particularly in regard to Australians who are dual nationals, going to the US for business or for tourism, or students? Is there a need for an assessment of how that policy may impact on Australians?
Well, as the Foreign Minister's spokesman said this morning, our Embassy is engaging with US officials on this subject but at this stage, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has not received any requests for consular assistance from Australians unable to board transport to the United States.
Do you agree with the terms of that Executive Order? As it affects dual citizens?
Well, Michelle, as I said, we have not seen any cases of it so doing. If cases do arise, then we will take them up with the government. The Foreign Minister's spokesman has said that already.
Can I just say to you though, it is not my job, as Prime Minister of Australia, to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries.
We have, here, in Australia, border security arrangements which are the envy of the world. I know this from when I was at the UN in September. I can tell you, leader after leader spoke to me about how much they admired the security, the intelligence-based security systems we have on our border to keep Australians safe and to keep terrorists out of Australia.
We've got very strong systems. That is a fact. So we're proud of those and we'll maintain them, and where we can, we will enhance them. If others wish to emulate what we're doing, they're welcome to do so but I am not about to run a commentary on other countries’ practices.
Mr Turnbull, other leaders, western leaders, have taken issue with the Executive Order. You don't find it discriminatory? Secondly, in your conversation with President Trump, did you mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Our rules, our laws, our values are very well known. Our commitment to multiculturalism, our commitment to a non-discriminatory immigration program is well known. I spoke about it at some length just last week on Australia Day. So that's where we stand. That's our policy. But our borders are secure. That is the bottom line. Our borders are secure. We are not complacent. Peter Dutton is constantly looking at how we can enhance our security. We recognise there are real threats and we are determined to keep Australians safe.
Both the UK and New Zealand came out in direct opposition to the Order, if with a degree of kicking and screaming on the UK side where the Government seems to have temporised initially.  The New Zealand position is far more nuanced, if this news reporting is any guide. I think New Zealand, like other countries was blindsided by the nature of the Order, leading to a lagged response. In responding, Mr English:

  • States that while he does not see the Order as anti-Muslim, New Zealand is opposed to the ban. In stating this, Mr English is quite careful not to be drawn into commentary on US domestic politics 
  •  Focuses on reassuring New Zealanders that the NZ Government will not apply the same approach, that New Zealand remains an open welcoming country
  • States that New Zealand is seeking clarification, especially on the position of dual nationals. 
In a comment, Winton Bates wrote:
I suspect the new POTUS would perceive administrative confusion as a plus if it got more "liberals" on the streets protesting. Many of his supporters will assume that he must be doing the right thing if he upsets the "liberals".
Winton may well be right. There are fault lines, divisions, that I am seeking to understand. In this context, Winton also pointed me to this article from TimeDonald Trump, Stephen Bannon and the Coming Crisis in American National Life. As an historian, I do use history to inform my writing, but am very cautious about "grand theories", including those set out here. However, the piece is interesting in providing possible clues to some of the thought influences within the US Administration.

My focus in the post was on what the Order and other decisions of the Trump Administration might say about the administrative competence of the Trump Administration. That will be tested by time. For the moment, this is a short term Order, one designed to give the Trump Administration time to put new approaches in place, including "extreme vetting".

The ambiguities in the order as well as immediate problems in its enforcement have already forced a range of clarifications. It remain the case, however. that no one is really sure what it actually means when it comes to specific cases. The clarifications have clarified some things, added further confusions in other cases.
As I write, it appears that the Australian Government has secured the same deal that applies to Canadian and UK dual citizens, they can travel freely to the US. No doubt this will be extended to New Zealand. This is actually messy in itself. Where does it leave dual-nationals from Germany or Denmark or Sweden, for example?  No doubt this will be worked out, it may have been already for all I know. meantime, the chaos and conniptions roll on. 


Winton Bates said...

I suspect the new POTUS would perceive administrative confusion as a plus if it got more "liberals" on the streets protesting. Many of his supporters will assume that he must be doing the right thing if he upsets the "liberals".

Anonymous said...

This post has the sniff of that Yes PM skit about the hospitals being perfectly run - until somebody suggested it actually be put to use :)

Anyway, I see the bar has now been raised from 1) he won't follow thru, to 2) he followed thru, but not with the proper forms, to maybe 3) ahem, well all he's really doing is what his predecessor did - regarding executive orders and all that.

Scott Dilbert has the theory that he's confusing his enemies (the press) by throwing so much out there all at once; he maybe has a point. And make no mistake - they really are the enemy.

Waiting for him to tweet "if you like your wall, you can keep your wall" - and then the press will of course be onside :)


Jim Belshaw said...

Sadly, you may be right, Winton. I consciously kept the focus on administration because I think that is an important dimension in making judgments about the impact of the Trump administration.

I noted your inverted commas around "liberals". I would agree that some of those who might be described as "progressive" are hardly liberal!

Effective government depends on the consent of the governed. You can define this in various ways, but the principle is still there. Both Sanders and Trump in the US context played to those who felt ignored, who in the end were withdrawing their consent. Clinton relied on the "liberal" consensus.

It's very messy. Sanders is still campaigning, drawing increasing crowds. The core of his message is very similar to Trumps. However, the symbols they use are different.

I'm not sure how all this is going to break. I'm still trying to work through what i see as the dynamics as compared to the atmospherics.

Jim Belshaw said...

Wasn't sure how to interpret you comment, kvd. I certainly reject the idea that the post had any sniff to that Yes PM skit.

2 tanners said...

I too am not sure what you meant, kvd. This seemed to be the opposite - the policy was promulgated but failed, at least in several courts which have ordered stays on the order, as being possibly illegal. And it's a long time ago, but didn't that skit have the hospital being used (in the end) as serviced housing for underprivileged or refugees?

He's doing exactly what he promised and for those of us who thought many of his followers were picking and choosing which parts of his message to believe, it may come as a shock if bits they didn't want (friendliness with Putin and Assange, the wall actually being built, punishing US companies who moved jobs offshore) are mixed in with bits they did want.

I'm with Jim, though. The key is how this administration will pan out.

Anonymous said...

To both:

Jim's comment was restricted solely to the administrative process:

"From an administrative perspective, there were three problems with the Order: it was poorly drafted, containing ambiguities that meant that its scope was not properly recognised; partially as a consequence of this, there were potential legal uncertainties about its validity; and it was put in place without the necessary administrative underpinnings required for effective delivery"

- to which my mind immediately turned to the only perfectly administered government project in my lifetime: the fully equipped, staffed hospital-with-no-patients.

It is only when policy is set free 'in the wild' that matters become 'chaotic' - to use a word being bandied about quite a bit lately. But I see that as both normal and natural, and part of any government process.

Consider the pretty simple concept we have in Australia called the GST. Policy-analysed to death, debated ad naseum, subject to spirited opposition from many interested parties. You'd think after that trial by fire some sort of perfect piece of legislation, accounting for all contingencies and quirks, would have emerged? Don't make me laugh. For the first few years half the High Court calendar was taken up with interpretations of what the meaning of 'is' is. And to this day the number of amendments, changes in applications, rulings, administrative work-arounds, etc. rolls on. In fact, one might be tempted to say of it:

"From an administrative perspective, there were three problems with the Order: it was poorly drafted, containing ambiguities that meant that its scope was not properly recognised; partially as a consequence of this, there were potential legal uncertainties about its validity; and it was put in place without the necessary administrative underpinnings required for effective delivery"

So, to claim as fault that DJT has produced an EO requiring further administrative tinkering, explanation, modification, is afaics nothing more than par for the course.

A while ago Jim was saying he would require a bit of distance (meaning time) before he would be prepared to offer judgement on the new president. Me, I just think 7-10 days is a bit previous :)


Anonymous said...

On Jim's "chaos and conniptions":

Summary of Trump and Chaos:

Trump Ran 'Most Chaotic, Poor' Campaign in Modern History
Oct 28, 2016 - As this presidential election draws to its close, I keep wondering: Why has Donald Trump run such an ineffective campaign?

Trump's Campaign
Trump Campaign Chaos: Deja Vu All Over Again | MSNBC
Sep 30, 2016 - GOP strategist and NBC News political analyst Mike Murphy says Donald Trump is "doubling down on failure" by launching an overnight Twitter

Trump throws GOP into chaos -
Oct 9, 2016 - The mess enveloping the Trump campaign is just the latest stunning lurch

Donald Trump's chaotic campaign - Detroit News
Oct 11, 2016

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's campaign chaos - Daily Kos
Oct 14, 2016

Trump Ran 'Most Chaotic, Poor' Campaign in Modern History
Oct 28, 2016 - As this presidential election draws to its close, I keep wondering: Why has Donald Trump run such an ineffective campaign?

Trump's Victory
Stocks bounce back after Trump win causes market chaos - NY Daily ...
Nov 9, 2016

Trump's Transition
With transition in chaos, McCain warns Trump on Russia | Chicago ...
Nov 15, 2016

Donald Trump transition team descends into chaos | The Independent › News › World › Americas
Nov 16, 2016

Inside Donald Trump's Chaotic Transition |
Nov 17, 2016

Trump Transition Chaos Claims Another Victim | Vanity Fair
Nov 17, 2016

Trump is setting up the government in a way that promises chaos - Vox
Jan 20, 2017

Trump's First Week
Chaos Defines Trump's First Week in Office - NBC News

Trump's first week: 'Chaos rules at this White House,' analyst says ...

The Chaos Presidency: Trump Week 1 | MSNBC

Must look up conniptions. There seems to be a theme developing here :)


- copied without attribution. Kinda like that list of countries...

Jim Belshaw said...

hi kvd. While I already had some doubts, the unfolding chaos on the refugee order triggered my judgement. Because that judgement was made quickly, it stands to be corrected. It may be normal for a decision to require "further administrative tinkering, explanation, modification", but what happened here went far beyond that. I haven't been back through the EO to check just what backtracking has been required and what actually still remains in place and for whom, but as a matter of basic practice it's normal to do some checking as to questions that might arise, ambiguities, problems.

Forget the damage done and problems created for the US and key allies. If you focus just on the US and its citizens, it would seem clear that the Administration did not fully recognise the impact of the EO when interpreted by the officials required to carry it out in the absence of clear directions. Winton may be right in terms of the perspective of Mr Trump and his team, but the practical ripples running across the US appear to be substantial. In the higher education sector, for example, universities and colleges are asking what it means for students and staff. In the business sector, firms like Google are asking similar questions.

I really have no idea how all this is going to work out. Things will calm down, but it was all so unnecessary.

Jim Belshaw said...

Our comments crossed. Conniptions - a fit of rage or hysterics

Anonymous said...

Can I just add one thing into the pot - has bubbled in and out of my brain several times and then got lost.

This "chaotic" transfer of power reminds me quite a bit of the Whitlam troika period - with the difference being only that 'the press' is this time in lockstep against the usurper.

Be interested to see if you remember any administrative parallels from your own experience, Jim?


Jim Belshaw said...

Interesting question, kvd. I do remember that and the chaos. I was in Treasury working on foreign investment issues. I didn't know how to draft advice! I'm not sure how far one can apply it to Mr Trump. The analogy would be a new Government determined to catch up and to implement as fast as possible.

Anonymous said...

Just a gentle reminder. Both you and tanners are responding with your hearts on your sleeves, as it were - but the topic you raised referred solely to 'administrative competence'. Nothing in my comments indicates one way or t'other how I view his first week's worth of EOs personally.

A competent public service would respond as best it could, to whatever asked of it, by its new masters.

Not sure complaining about "why weren't we told" carries much weight against a new master simply trying to do what he said he would, hindered by a politicised public service he has as yet had no part in 'renewing'?



Winton Bates said...

Since Jim suggested that the discussion could go in any direction, might I suggest that our prime minister deserves praise for the stance he has taken of not offering a running commentary on U.S. government policy. Those who advocate that our government should join the international chorus of condemnation seem to be prepared to place at risk the resettlement of refugees on Manus and Nauru.

Anonymous said...

Winton thoughtful as ever :)

Who knew a mere public servant (even if retired) could see beyond the chaos to what might better serve his country's further interests? Be interesting to be appraised of what that particular negotiation cost us.

That's what gets me about the unicorn lovers: nobody thinks about picking up the poop :)


Winton Bates said...

kvd: Perhaps the cost is just the obligation that comes with friendship. It could be costly if our friend threatens a major business partner, but perhaps we will be better placed than otherwise to advise restraint. From what I have been reading about the art of dealing with powerful people with symptoms of malignant narcissism, it looks as though you can have more influence if they see you as a friend rather than a critic.

Anonymous said...

This is a fairly intimidating conversation to wade into. I am not, nor have I ever been, a public servant in the sense that all of you seem to have been. I am however a relatively new student of history and I am finding President Trump's actions quite unnerving, despite the undoubted fact that he is delivering as promised. It has all happened before on some level. Winton, with the greatest of respect (and knowing that you know more than me), the US has called us (Australia) the best of friends so many times through history, but it is only as it suits their own interests. You probably have economic or other thoughts in mind.

One of my friends is ceaselessly engaging on Facebook with right-wing Americans - the feed is flooded with it. Against better judgement I read a little bit. There is no rhetoric, it is just ranting and it is exhausting.

I really do hope things get more moderate but I doubt it.

GL (be kind)

Anonymous said...

The world is full of hypocrites. Most of the countries on the banned list ban entry themselves from other countries. Chief target is Israel. Not a peep out of the commentariat. Shades of Ernie Bevin and Glubb Pasha, I imagine.


Winton Bates said...

GL:I agree with you about many of President Trump's actions. My strong impression is that most Americans have strong regard for Australians, but their leader doesn't like criticism from anyone.

Republicans are split between the Trump supporters - economic nationalists - and those who still believe in small government and free trade. At this stage it looks as though the Trump supporters have just about taken over the party. I am not optimistic that the tradional Republicans in Congress will be able to exercise much restraint on the president unless his popularity declines among party supporters.

Jim Belshaw said...

Focusing on my point about administrative competence Quotes via the BBC -

"Top Republican Paul Ryan said he regretted that some people with valid documents were affected.
But he also defended the ban, saying it aimed to prevent terror attacks."

"Speaking at a news conference, the heads of the department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said 720 people had been detained and "humanely processed" since Mr Trump's executive order had been issued.
CBP chief Kevin McAleenan acknowledged that communications "publicly and inter-agency haven't been the best" as the policy was rolled out.

He also said that although the order had suspended the US refugee programme, 872 refugees had been granted waivers and were due to arrive in the US this week because they had been ready to travel and preventing them from doing so would have caused undue hardship."
Mr McAleenan offered some clarification on how dual citizens were affected, saying the US authorities would handle people based on the passport they were travelling on.

Several governments - including the UK, Canada and Switzerland - have already said that their citizens who are also citizens of the seven countries affected by the ban are free to travel to the US.

Mr Ryan said he was confident that the policy would now be "done correctly" and would impose the "kind of vetting standards that we all want to see".
"No-one wanted to see people with Green Cards or special immigrant visas, like translators, get caught up in all of this," he said."

To my mind, these comments support my position about administrative and policy process so far as this EO is concerned. I am not an expert on the US system, but on my reading of the Order, officials were applying the literal meaning of the Order, leading to unforeseen consequences while they struggled to put processes in place based in part on the appeal provisions of the Order.

Whether, as I suggested, this EO is a symptom of emerging administrative incompetence can only be judged with time. The alternative view is that it is initial fumbling that will be fixed with time. At the very least, it must be sucking time and oxygen out of the new Administration to do other things.

Jim Belshaw said...

On the Australian deal. Much of the conversation has focused on the vetting processes. My view is that the vetting processes might be toughened, meaning that more might miss out, but there was nothing in the Order that actually precluded the deal. A second and more important issue is prioritisation. Here the Order reduced the US refugee intake. The apparent effect of the restated US support for the deal is that those on Manus or Nauru who pass vetting will be given priority within a diminished US refugee intake.

Jim Belshaw said...

On Sally Yates and the associated question of politicisation. This Guardian piece will give you the "progressive" view.

I have a fairly simple minded view here. As in Australia, the Attorney General is a political appointment. That appointee also has constitutional responsibilities set by precedent. Sally Yates was asked to stay on on an interim basis. She felt that at least aspects of the Order may have been illegal. Taking her role into account including her previously stated views on the role, she should have first raised her concerns with the Administration. If they failed to respond, she should have resigned, stating her position.

If time precluded all that, then she may take initial action, but should then have resigned at the same time.

The fall out within official non-political career ranks is more complicated. I find I lack the knowledge to comment sensibly at this point.

Anonymous said...

I think GL that most of us are, like you, concerned by the transition now playing out in the US - but I guess some of our differences in reaction are based upon our different weightings of the issues we see as important? And I'd be surprised if anything written here was less than polite, even where those opinions differ markedly.

One aspect of Jim's concern with "administrative process/competence" which I see as quite significant, and as quite different from the Aus and UK experience is the position of the various public services. Here, as in the UK, there is way less patronage granted to the political party in power than in the US - thus, at every change in US president, you see a great swathe of political appointees being replaced in what are essentially, under our own system, regarded as apolitical roles. This cannot assist transition - particularly after such a hard fought, ideology-driven, election.

I can't help feeling that this is one aspect of democratic government where the US 'got it wrong' - but I'd be interested in others' views on that.

There's the inevitable wiki article on the UK system, which I think is worth a read:

- and I'll also admit that my own current views are somewhat influenced by the recent re-reading of a couple of Frederick Forsyth novels which deal largely with the behind the scenes machinations of the PS - all for Queen and Country as it were :)


Anonymous said...

Sorry Jim. Had not read your last comment before posting - but I think we are more in agreement than at odds anyway.


Anonymous said...

See - there's the thing. Trump has just now announced his first SCOTUS appointment. Assuming confirmation, I think that 'issue' was way more important than any 'adminstrative failure' evidenced by days 1 to 10 of his presidency.

But that's just me.


Anonymous said...

'nominee' not 'appointment'. Apologies to the pitnickers :)


Winton Bates said...

kvd: I am sure the Supreme Court nomination was the more important consideration to many of the people who voted for Trump. They wanted a Republican nominee for the court despite strong reservations about the suitablity of Trump to be POTUS.

I suspect they might come to regret that choice, but possibly not before 2020.

Anonymous said...

Winton, I see there's a joke going round the traps about objecting to his getting a choice - seeing as "it's his last year in office". Things are getting a bit hairy imo.

Difference between Trump and his critics is that they don't seem to understand the value of a fallback position - and that's what makes me a little nervous.


Winton Bates said...

kvd: He might need more security.

I expect world leaders are starting to think seriously about fallback positions. Perhaps owners of intellectual property in the US should be getting nervous about the future of bilateral deals negotiated on their behalf.

2 tanners said...

I too thought about Whitlam as a direct comparison. I haven't read the Cabinet papers from 1972/3 so I don't know if Whitlam and Barnard were getting advice, but even so, it was crash through or crash stuff. I think Turnbull has a very reasonable point in not commenting on US policy except as it affects Australians, and then to cut a deal rather than publicly wring hands. In my book, he only loses marks for selling it so poorly. And despite my earlier musings, I now get the impression that if someone pushes back on Trump in terms of a deal, he'll simply desert his initial proposal and look for another deal. By and large, he has the strong hand unless someone can find a real vulnerability, like (say) using his remarkably thin skin as a trading tool. My point remains that bureaucrats do not function well in ambiguous environments (particularly legally ambiguous ones, where history shows that it is the official who gets hung out to dry) and that Trump either needs a plan/mode to cope with this or face the inability of the bureaucracy to adjust/help him.

But it's far too early to make a call; I tend to think the "first hundred days" measure is also too brief.

Jim Belshaw said...

kvd @ 1 February 9.00. We are.

In his first comment in this thread, Winton wrote: "I suspect the new POTUS would perceive administrative confusion as a plus if it got more "liberals" on the streets protesting. Many of his supporters will assume that he must be doing the right thing if he upsets the "liberals"

I mention this now because of the remarkable unfolding story around the conversation between Turnbull and Trump. The framing of that story has shifted several times during the day. I wonder what you thought it all meant?

Anonymous said...

Neither Trump nor Turnbull are fools. DJT's "you're twisting my arm Manny" is straight off the streets of NY - and Mr T, being no fool, knows that.

I guess the rest of it you'll have to leave up to the self-annointed cognoscenti, who will of course tell us what to make of it, and how they were expecting/surprised aghast/meh all along.


Winton Bates said...

Perhaps a new series of the West Wing could be shown as reality TV.

Anonymous said...


Your "you're twisting my arm, Manny" analogy makes a lot of sense to me.

And I do appreciate that most stuff on here is polite even if there is disagreement. I wasn't being critical but I can be a bit timid in certain circumstances and I am trying to push myself to express opinions. This last would probably make people who know me well laugh, it is true. Even though today I was asked to do something difficult and a workmate referenced me as "a hard-nosed bitch who doesn't take crap from anyone". Not entirely accurate but I suppose we are all complex creatures.


Jim Belshaw said...

You almost caused a serious accident, Winton, as a consequence of spluttering. Yes, kvd, I did have a glass of wine near by!

You may well be right on the first, kvd. At the risk of being placed in the self-annointed cognoscenti class (ahem), so far we seem to have established that Mr Trump is sticking to his announced program, plays things in an aggressive way and has yet (my view)to demonstrate that he or his Administration can actually deliver.

My primary interest is in Mr Trump's international impact. Here he has introduced an almost random but quite palpable influence not just on the global system but in domestic politics in various countries including Australia. I don't know how this will work out. I can make best and worst case assumptions, but in the end we have to just wait to see what happens.

I was prepared to make an initial call on the admin question because I have some claim to expertise in this area, but I don't know internationally. Mr Trump's biggest underbelly is, I think, an overweighted perception of American power, of the extent to which he can pull levers and have something happen. I think 2t is right. It is going to take some time before anybody can make a sensible judgement. The one thing that I would be reasonably sure of, and I accept that this is a gross generalisation, is that every country in the world with the possible exception of Israelis treating this Administration with a high degree of caution.

Jim Belshaw said...

One of my points on the admin sidelies in sorting out what things mean first. This story, yes it is the Washington Post, shows what happens when you act without due thought.

Jim Belshaw said...

Scenes of chaos