President Trump believes unpredictability is a virtue. During his election campaign, Trump argued that America must “be more unpredictable. We are totally predictable. We tell everything. We’re sending troops? We tell them. We’re sending something else? We have a news conference. We have to be unpredictable, and we have to be unpredictable starting now.”

As a business strategy, maybe it’s effective… but in international relations, where the fate of nations are at stake, it seems like a dangerous gambit. Unpredictability can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and miscalculations. It can also alienate allies, possibly even driving them into the arms of your rivals (see, for example, the rapprochement between the two Koreas).

On the other hand, North Korea has just announced its willingness to hold talks with the US. In 2017, China agreed to unprecedented sanctions against North Korea. Officials in Pyongyang are apparently unsure if Trump is genuinely “nuts” or just pretending to be “crazy” (echoing Nixon’s infamous “madman theory”). So, maybe Trumps tactics are working?

Anyway, maybe it’s unfair to blame global tensions on the current occupant of the White House. After all, it’s not like his predecessors haven’t made questionable decisions. On Barack Obama’s watch, Islamic State carved out a brutal (and thankfully short-lived) caliphate across large swathes of Iraq and Syria. George W. Bush led the United States into military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, now widely regarded as reckless and ill-conceived foreign policy disasters.

Yet Trump’s relentless attacks on the institutions of democracy (the courts, the media, opposition political parties) have been noticed by autocrats and strongmen the world over. The number of journalists imprisoned globally has reached a record high. The term “fake news” is now routinely used to distort the truth and attack political opponents.

Perhaps the most dangerous possibility is that Trump is not unique. What if Trump is the new normal? Even if we accept the notion that it can be advantageous to be the only “crazy guy” in the room, surely that only holds true if the rest of the international system follows somewhat predictable norms and codes of behaviour. If everybody is crazy and unpredictable, is it still a winning strategy?

Has Donald Trump made the world more dangerous? Or is unpredictability a virtue in international relations? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – ICAN Germany

37 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Unfortunately the world became more unstable and dangerous under Obama. .his decision to effectively disengage from hotspots like Ukraine, Syria..north Africa and Korea led to the rise of russian engagement and the emboldelment of dictators.

  2. avatar

    Only if you are triggered lefty in need of a safe space.

    • avatar

      So racism is OK then?

    • avatar

      @Hannah racism ? where ?

    • avatar
      Paul X

      of course they do, that’s why on D-Day the Allies stormed the beaches carrying tickling sticks

    • avatar

      How exactly ?

    • avatar

      Aggression politics, absolutely appaling humanitarian and social stance, destruction of national healthcare systems, support and constant bailout of an anachronic monetary system, scaremongering propaganda tactics against the left, brutal pro corporation against the green movement, well, u name it! Not to worry, the entitled baby boomers, who are leaving an absolutely horrendous legacy on this Earth are dying, and a more humanized, clearminded generation is taking their place… hopefully it’s not too late…

    • avatar

      @Ricardo And now the evidence for your bizarre claims please ?

    • avatar

      It would take forever and I certainly have better things to do than to wind a righty… Keep kissing that orange pig’s ass, see where it gets you! Well, Britain for instance on the short term, down the drain…

    • avatar

      Ricardo Pinhal So no evidence & just the usual lefty BS then. I can’t say I’m surprised. Meanwhile back in reality here Obama doing exactly what you accuse Trump of. Have fun :)

    • avatar

      Yup, that’s it, lefty BS… Well, keep up the good work, that “scaremongering propaganda tactics against the left”…

    • avatar

      Blah blah, yadda yadda… Good propaganda, @Ivan… Bottomline, the right has no future in tomorrow’s world, your generation has ruined pretty much the prospect of a clear, bright future ahead! Steer clear please…

    • avatar

      @Ivan everytime we kill a large amount of Muslims for example we give terrorist groups something to use. Terrorism happens when they get a child that’s lost their family to pointless bombs and say look, look what they do to us, you’d be saving us, youd be a hero if you gave your life etc. If we stopped the wars, the bombing, the attacks. They’d have nothing to say oh look what they do. Someone needs to make the first move when it comes to peace. Hate breads hate. I don’t hate you or feel anger that you have a different opinion, we are supposed to be different, please stop hating those that are different from you. Maybe If we all worked together and started being nice no matter what we’d live a nicer life :)

  3. avatar

    I think Erdogan has made the World more dangerous. Between his desire for Ottoman power and personal glory and radicalising more than half of the Turkish citizens going back to merciless barbarism. I don’t see the EU doing anything to prevent these backwards Turkish citizens from coming into the EU. Proof in the Occupied North of Cyprus when Turkish settlers damaged a building for reporting the truth whilst more secular Turkish Cypriots defended freedom of speech in another protest. Expect this and worse in the EU. No Turkish EU visas until there is proof they have evolved from barbarism and respect fundamental human rights.

    • avatar

      I agree, he’s gonna send Turkey back to the dark ages.

    • avatar

      When it’s about occupations the EU is extremely inconsequent. On one side the EU didn’t know how fast to implement sanctions against Russia for their occupation of Crimea. On the other side they don’t mind making (political) deals with Turkey, despite them occupying the Northern part of Cyprus already since the 70’s.

      This isn’t about European values, but cheap political opportunism and that is exactly what makes Europe a less safe place.

    • avatar

      And the EU or any other governing body will stay that way until the majority of EU citizens demand something better.

  4. avatar

    Safer. Much safer. Terrorists and tyrants do not respect weakness and we can see in their actions that they respect and fear Trump. EU weak atitude caused terrorists and tyrants to thrive.

  5. avatar

    Nope, just shined the light of reality into the room. Then he made it clear he doesn’t bother with messing around when threatened.

    • avatar

      Yeah his ‘thoughts and prayers’ are really helping American school attacks

    • avatar

      Pull your head out and take a look around, a lot more than that is happening!

  6. avatar

    Nope. Obama’s weak attitude regarding Putin and Syria made the world dangerous.
    A bellicose America actually makes the world safer.
    because everyone fears Wall Street, CIA and stealth planes.

  7. avatar

    No he just uncovered what was underneath a corrupt establishment.

  8. avatar

    Sarkozy made the world more dangerous by killing Kadaffi… Bush made it very dangerous by invading Irak… EU MADE IT Dangerous by supporting Ukraine…

  9. avatar

    Lol USA make the planet more dangerous since ever. 33 years on this planet and he always bomb some nation and take down some regime; and all of this in name of freedom. Unfortunately every time get worst

  10. avatar
    Octavian Damian

    No. US under any administration shared same values and stick with its allies better than they received back and this make them 100% predictable. They saved Europe from self killing. Twice. Being more unpredictable is the non allies concern. Last time when media and public was afraid of world becoming more dangerous, was during Reagan administration. And it ends up with communism collapse and being one of the major US presidents. Europe did not prove to be any better than US, being so predictable but weak and selfish.

  11. avatar

    The US has had a military machine to feed for as long as I can remember, so it’s probably just a matter of time before the current incumbent finds his call. He seems intent on breaking new grounds in Asia. Certainly that strategy is not making anyone safer.

  12. avatar

    Most Presidents and Prime Ministers are puppets. Especially in the US. No agree with hidden hand? They kill you.
    There has never been an actual good President in the US. Not one. Some came close to mediocre at best.

    The US is the leading warmonger since 1946 by a large margin. They have 700 bases around the world, they bribe and threaten politicians in the EU and world.
    They have bombed and murdered tens of millions. Done “color revolutions”, coups, and killed leaders.

    They have supported authoritians, dictators, communists, socialists, anyone who givess them gain. And the EU just follows like a puppet. Never questioning.

    This is not about Trump. He is irrelevant. Just like Obama, Clinton or Bushes.

    If you dont understand covert politics, then you dont understand politics.

  13. avatar

    Everyone just stay calm and wait. Think of how we deal with an insane person!

  14. avatar

    Interesting story. Seems like a former agent inspired a game called BadAsVlad. Not the best one from the gaming design standpoint but it hints at some points mentioned above. Check it out.

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