Almost immediately after President Trump was elected in November, many foreign leaders started to express concerns about how his temperament would affect important foreign policy matters. After 200 days in office, Trump has given these leaders plenty to worry about, especially with his recent threats against North Korea.
At this point, several foreign officials have also had firsthand experience with Trump, and six diplomats from Europe recently spoke to BuzzFeed about what those meetings were like. These diplomats spoke to BuzzFeed on the condition of anonymity, and they all made it clear that they do not approve of Trump’s leadership style.
A common theme in all the interviews was a concern about the way Trump uses his Twitter account.
The international community is also extremely worried about the threat Trump’s lack of experience poses to international stability. One diplomat explained:
‘He has no historical view. He is only dealing with these issues now, and seems to think the world started when he took office. He thinks that NATO existed only to keep the communists out of Europe. He has a similar attitude in Asia-Pacific with Japan, ignoring that the US basically wrote their constitution.’
Diplomats are also put off by Trump’s obsession with undoing policies put in place by President Obama. One argued that that is Trump’s “only real position.”
‘He will ask: “Did Obama approve this?” And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: “We don’t.” He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama.’
Another explained that it is impossible to have a serious discussion with Trump about important international issues. They described a meeting between their boss and the president regarding Libya as “basically useless.”
‘He [Trump] just bombed us with questions: “How many people do you have? What’s your GDP? How much oil does [that country] produce? How many barrels a day? How much of it is yours?”
‘He’s not the kind of person you can have a discussion about how to deal with [Fayez] al-Sarraj [the prime minister of Libya]. So you look for people around him, and that is where it’s a problem: The constant upheaval, it’s unclear who has influence, who is close to the president.’
During their interviews, several officials also revealed concerns over the general lack of experience in the Trump administration.
‘The White House lacks crucial expertise. The State Department and others are isolated. You have the generals, the National Security Council, and then a void. There aren’t enough diplomats, experts etc. in the White House. Tillerson has a small team. Does Trump listen to Mattis, McMaster, to the experts?’
They also warned of the potential consequences of Trump’s “America First” rhetoric.” One said about the main risk of this agenda:
‘The main risk is a progressive disengagement from multilateralism, not just on economic issues, but also from political matters with potential risks linked to a return to unilateral action.’
Many of the diplomats also noted that it is obvious Trump is trying to win the approval of other foreign leaders. However, he’s clearly going to have to start working a lot harder — and listening more than he talks — if actually wants to obtain it.
Featured image via GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images.