During his first 15 months as president,
He railed about
Through all the bombast and follow-ups, Trump's supposedly more sober and judicious appointees -- especially former National Security Adviser
This script was well known from the days of
Then Kissinger was sent over to reassure both troubled allies and tense enemies. He pleaded for modest concessions to ward off what might be far worse. He confided to leaders that Nixon was a madman who terrified Kissinger as much as he did the world abroad.
The net effect was to gain compromises and advantages that otherwise would have been impossible.
Remember how in the old cop movies, arrested suspects were worn out and scared by unpredictable and brutal police interrogators? Once softened up, they were then handed over to make their confessions to a new shift of kindly detectives who brought out the good-cop gifts of cigarettes, coffee and donuts while they badmouthed their colleagues' harsh interrogation methods.
No one knows whether these simplistic stereotypes are even half true in the Trump administration. But what is certain is that new Secretary of State
Instead of worrying the Europeans, frightening the North Koreans, and assailing the Russians and Chinese, will he more calmly express his fears that he can scarcely control the righteous anger of his new foreign policy team?
There might be lots of advantages for a new good-cop Trump, compared with his past bad-cop role.
First, playing the skeptic with foreign interventions puts him more in tune with his swing-state, blue-collar supporters. Remember that Trump ran on avoiding entangling overseas interventions. Now, he can emphasize that role as he winks and nods to Pompeo, Bolton and Haley to ratchet up the pressure as he publicly tries to calm them down.
Second, Trump's art-of-the-deal style has been to play the mediator who claims that there must be some way to find common ground between two adversaries. As a good cop, he can say to the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and others, "Let's make a deal so I don't have to call in the tough guys, who are starting to scare me as much as they scare you."
Third, Trump has a special affinity for Mattis. But in the past, Mattis was stereotyped as a good cop trying to talk Trump out of straight-arming
Even in role-playing. it is wise to have Mattis and Trump on the same side. One reason Trump has a special affinity for Mattis is that his caution and reluctance to intervene abroad fit Trump's own campaign sloganeering.
There was always a paradox with Trump's Jacksonian foreign policy. How was he to restore deterrence abroad without another costly intervention? How does he bomb
Trump now can outsource his lone-wolf hawkishness to new hard-liners Bolton and Pompeo, and remind enemies that his art-of-the-deal comprising is their last chance at an agreement.
In sum, the tough reputations of the highly regarded Pompeo and Bolton now allow Trump to be what he always was -- a dealmaker.