Trump just screwed up big time. Again.
Just days after accidentally promising the Prime Minister of Pakistan a “blank check” and inflaming the already contentious Middle East, Trump decided he would also destroy America’s relationship with China, the largest country on earth and one of the nation’s chief economic partners. And it was over something so incredibly boneheaded. A phone call meant to stoke his ego.
Financial Times got the scoop:
Donald Trump risks opening up a major diplomatic dispute with China before he has even been inaugurated after speaking on the phone on Friday with Tsai Ying-wen, the president of Taiwan.
The telephone call, confirmed by three people, is believed to be the first between a US president or president-elect and a leader of Taiwan since diplomatic relations between the two were cut in 1979.
Although it is not clear if the Trump transition team intended the conversation to signal a broader change in US policy towards Taiwan, the call is likely to infuriate Beijing which regards the island as a renegade province.
Way to go, Trump. You colossal imbecile.
And there are two very bad possibilities for why he did it.
It could be that Trump is truly oblivious. He likes being flattered, and he likes being flattered by world leaders even more. The possibility of the president of Taiwan speaking to him on the phone was probably all too tempting for the fleshy bag of ego destined for the White House. We know that Trump is skipping his intelligence briefings and has previously demonstrated he is completely ignorant of things like American foreign policy, the histories and cultures of other countries, or the complex diplomatic web that makes up the modern world.
This is not an excuse.
Being a belligerent moron when you are a call-in guest every week on Fox and Friends is fine. You have a right to be stupid and freely revel in it on Fox News. Lots of people do that. You do not, however, have the right to jeopardize the relationship with one of the world’s superpowers because you are too dumb and too stubborn to read a book or listen to experts. Not after you decide to run for president. And certainly not after you get elected.
The other option is worse. The other option is almost too terrifying to entertain. Here’s the other option: Trump did this out of spite for getting his feelings hurt.
Last week, China mocked Trump for being a climate change denier. He once famously suggested that global warming was “invented” by the Chinese. The country responded by essentially calling him an idiot.
With a bruised ego, Trump may have phoned up the president of Taiwan in order to thumb his nose at the country that just hurt his feelings. He was willing to create an international incident with profound, perhaps devastating future consequences because the Chinese government mocked his very stupid tweet.
It’s impossible to know which option is the real one. So far Trump has remained silent about his chat with President Tsai Ying-wen. Instead, the rest of us are left to stew on the fact that our future president is either intentionally provoking our allies to settle a petty feud or too stupid to realize he’s doing it.
UPDATE: Things may be worse than we thought. A third option has emerged. A report from two weeks ago (before the phone call was known) has surfaced suggesting Trump wanted to “expand his business empire” in Taiwan. The call may have been related to getting his “large-scale urban development project” – i.e. a few Trump hotels – off the ground in one of Taiwan’s districts.
A representative from the Trump Organization paid a visit to Taoyuan in September, expressing interest in the city’s Aerotropolis, a large-scale urban development project aimed at capitalizing on Taoyuan’s status as a transport hub for East Asia, Taiwan News reports.
UPDATE 2: A good run down of Trump’s last two days of destroying America’s diplomatic relations before he even gets inaugurated.
Trump has now 1. worried India by saying he'd visit Pakistan 2.invited Duterte to DC 3. angered China by speaking w Taiwan pres. In two days
— Dave Lawler (@DavidLawler10) December 2, 2016
Featured image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images