No matter how good a leader might be, no man rules alone. Especially in a democracy, it is essential that you learn to delegate…unless you’re Donald Trump. Whether he hopes to learn everything he can about the job himself or whether he’s just unaware of how important the top jobs actually are, Donald Trump has still not filled the top positions in his own State Department.
This is actually really serious. It has been nearly one year since his election and only a quarter of the jobs that require confirmation from the Senate have been filled. This includes key jobs in the East Asia department, particularly Ambassador to South Korea which remains vacant. Yes, you heard that right! In the midst of rising tensions with North Korea, the USA still doesn’t have an ambassador in Seoul.
Trump’s main reason range from Democrats obstructing him (even though Republicans have a majority however slender) to the fact that it’s a cost-cutting measure. Incredibly, despite everything he’s been through and everything he’s been advised, he still thinks he can run a country like you run a business.
Take this quote, for example:
“I’m the only one that matters because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that. You’ve seen it strongly.”
Then we get this:
“So, we don’t need all the people that they want. You know, don’t forget, I’m a businessperson. I tell my people, ‘Where you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ But we have some people that I’m not happy with their thinking process….We don’t need all of the people. You know, it’s called cost-saving.”
If this is his business strategy, then it’s easy to see why many of his projects failed. It’s also easy to see why nothing substantial or new has been done. How can anything get done when you don’t have people in the right position.
Do you take out managers and make the lowest employees report directly to the CEO? Of course not! So what the hell is this?
Whether Trump likes it or not, he needs people in those positions. You can’t run the world’s biggest economic and military power using Twitter. You don’t base your foreign policy based on what Fox News tells you. More importantly, you run your country as a country, not a corporation.
He’s also wrong in saying that it doesn’t affect his policies. It does! Take the Ambassador for South Korea as an example. An ambassador is defined as ‘an accredited diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country.’ Generally speaking, ambassador represents their country’s interests aboard and help to maintain diplomatic relations, often serving as a way for countries to communicate in private. An embassy can technically function without one but when tensions are running high, an ambassador can urge calm and reassure allies.
Trump seems unable to see the problem. He seems to think that America is facing North Korea alone and that South Korea and Japan are just spectators. They are America’s allies and yet Trump seems to blow hot and cold. He sends missiles to South Korea but then threatens to tear up trade deals and refuses to send an ambassador. What kind of message does that send Seoul? That tax cuts for billionaires means more than America safeguarding their interests?
It also serves to make America seems weak and contradictory. Many in Europe have already lost faith in the president’s ability to represent American influence aboard. Asian countries aligned with America are more trusting and hopeful that Trump will work with them. Yet, with North Korea, Iran, Russia and ‘America First,’ weighing heavy on the White House, questions are being raised. Questions like does Trump hold their interests at heart?
America has spent years, even decades, building relationships with its East Asian allies and has been a major player in helping to keep China in check. With Russia flexing its muscles and China united under Xi Jinping, now is not the time for America to retreat from the world stage. It can ill-afford to lose ground to its two major rivals.
This is the true effect of Trump’s lack of appointments. It limits America’s ability to influence its neighbors aboard and makes it harder for anyone dealing with foreign affairs to do their job properly. Even the men who have been appointed to positions of power hardly inspire confidence. EPA’s chief being a climate change denier, Goldman Sachs executives, Rex Tillerson having no experience in diplomacy, the list goes on.
But remember, Trump is the only important one here. He’s more important than anyone else.
And so, America’s influence will diminish. Trust will be lost and rivals will grow stronger when friends lose trust and hope. All because of the vanity of a man who wanted be a king rather than a president.