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Year One Report Card: Donald Trump Failing

One year into his presidency Donald Trump has failed and is showing no growth in his role.

As of January 18th 2018 53-58 percent of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing, 37-45 percent approve.

There is little trust in the president. Donald Trump told his 2,000th lie on his 355th day in office. He lies at a scale and pace never seen in the United States before. He has yet to acknowledge even a single one of his dishonest statements. He lies about things that don’t matter, like the size of his inauguration crowd (pants on fire). He lies about things that are easily researched, blaming Obama for a London embassy deal that George W. Bush made. He lies about things that are important, like “Nobody knows” if Russia interfered in the 2016 election. He isn’t even good at lying, he just does it all the time.

As of Nov. 7, 2017 he’d tweeted 2,461 times since the election, using Twitter to bully, name call, spread fake news, reverse his own policies, and countermand his own cabinet. His unceremonious firings look bad, sometimes disgraceful. His transgender ban in the military, failed. It’s as if he is convinced his new role is some synthesis of his backroom dirty businessman dealings and a reality show in the White House.

His crony-friendly tax bill, which will add $1.4 trillion to the national debt and net him millions, is his only big legislative win—and, as is usually the case with his wins, a major loss to working Americans.

At the moment Trump is blocking the pathway to avoid a government shutdown over the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It is a baffling move as it angers Republicans who’ve worked hard on the bipartisan effort. Meanwhile he’s making excuses claiming that democrats want a shutdown to avoid talking about the success of the tax bill (persistent dishonesty).

Has he learned anything?

The greatest credit Donald Trump earns is allowing the diplomacy of the Iran Deal to hold up. After months of campaigning against Barack Obama’s Iran Deal—he called it “disastrous” and questioned “who would make that deal?” The Iran Deal continues to deliver increases in safety and security with low costs. But he only receives partial credit here because of his persistent threats and dishonesty regarding the diplomacy and because he is up against deadlines this month, whether to slap U.S. sanctions back on Tehran or not. His inability to lead may be the only reason that the Iran Deal is still in place.

Trump’s civilian kill rate while fighting ISIS eclipsed Obama’s in seven months. Under his command the Associated Press estimates that between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians died in the battle to free Mosul alone. Investigation reveals that civilian casualties in Iraq have been 31 times higher than acknowledged. Trump has taken Obama’s “highly unsatisfactory” policy and pushed it into the realm of “complete failure.” The U.S. is also alleged to have used white phosphorus in Syria; the use of white phosphorus in populated areas is a violation of international law.

Ret. General Petraeus routinely spoke to Congress to let them know that non-combat operations were both more effective and less costly (both in terms of dollars and human life). Trump’s use of military force appears to function more an extension of his ego than deliberate strategy, just like replacing E Pluribus Unum with Make America Great Again. But he doesn’t see “out of many, one,” he sees “my military.” He has routinely insulted those who’ve served, and sacrificed, despite escaping from service because of supposed bad feet.

Angela Merkel was recognized as “leader of the free world” by international press early in Trump’s administration, an unofficial title that has reflected the U.S.’s role in global politics, and been attached to the US president for decades. No longer. His withdrawal from the Paris Accord and abdication of the U.S.’s role in the G20 reveal strikingly poor leadership as well as his refusal to accept the facts of climate science and the dangers of climate change.

His competitive and often coercive attitude has lost more than it has gained. Previously friendly and collaborative relationships are disappearing, in fact the world has voted against Trump several times most notably when U.N. Votes Overwhelmingly To Condemn U.S. Decision On Jerusalem, a 128-9 loss, which left the U.S. “taking names.” The tough talk only reveals his impotence in dealing with increased threats. North Korea is another unfortunate example of this reality. Diplomacy is at work in the Korean peninsula, North and South Korea will march together under one flag at the Olympics, but Trump pokes the nuclear power, that could attack us or could be bluffing, with childish tweets. A one-trick pony: he bosses, bullies, and makes threats.

“I would bomb the [expletive] out of them” was an ignorant campaign promise; sadly, he has shown no growth. His grade in all areas is reflective of his inability to learn, adapt, change, evolve, or improve. He simply hasn’t matured in his role.

Recommendations for improvement: Trump has only developed two conflict management temperaments: avoidance and competiveness; he will be greatly benefitted by developing skills in accommodation, compromise, and collaboration. He is unable to fill key positions and reduce worker turnover. He also has shown poor judgment in many of his appointments, choosing corrupt cronies over qualifications has not gone well. These deficiencies have an exaggerated and cumulative impact.

He could benefit from competent mentoring, but he is unwilling to follow the paths of former Presidents: ex. While they chose to volunteer on Martin Luther King Jr. day, Trump decided to go golfing instead. He has to stop calling white supremacists “some very fine people” and fueling racial antagonisms by pardoning people who’ve run self-proclaimed “concentration camps.”

The Mueller investigation is clearly distracting him from his job duties. Trump should spend less time with Fox & Friends and more time with the President’s Daily Brief. The Fox & Friends coverage appears to fuel that distraction, and the Daily Briefings could help him to make much better policy and strategy decisions. In the last analysis he is clearly unqualified for the position and unable to adapt to the rigors of the job—he does global damage every day he is in office—the true preference would be for him to resign.

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Wim Laven is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association. 

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