Trump’s Business Intuition And Why Foreign Policy Experts Are To Blame For Trump’s Decision to Withdraw From Syria
Donald Trump and his decisions baffle political insiders. Domestically, he often appears tone deaf to the political fallout of his most controversial positions, yet he also obsessively tries to control the political message via his social media accounts. Internationally, he acts on what he feels is best for US interests while refusing to recognize his lack of expertise in foreign affairs and embracing the advice of his expert advisers. The seemingly impromptu decision to pullout of Syria serves as a bold example of how the President completely baffles the so-called experts. Donald Trump is, of course, not the only US President to do this. Unlike his predecessors, whose controversial foreign policies could largely be retroactively rationalized within a traditional foreign policy framework, George W. Bush acted more on emotion and instinct than intellectual deliberation. His Presidency compelled political scientists to study the psychological of leaders instead of assuming all leaders are rationale state actors. In the case of Donald Trump, he too is motivated by instinct, but he also injects his business intuition into his public policies.
CEOs make 50% of their decisions in less than nine minutes while only 12% of their decisions take over one hour to make according to author and "thought leader" Sheena Iyengar. She also points out that CEOs tend to know only 10% of the story behind the decisions they are making. Given their positions and responsibilities, many of their decisions are likely to have a significant impact on their companies, their subordinates, and their communities. Although Iyengar correctly uses these statistics to call attention to the hazards of procrastination, it is important to recognize engineers, architects, and scientists can take months, or even years, to make decisions, which is why most people would rather drive across a bridge designed by an engineer than one designed by a CEO. Clearly, the manner in which CEOs make decisions means they are either relying on the expertise of others to compensate for their ignorance or relying on their trained intuition, which exposes them to the hazards of bias and error.
Thanks to his entrepreneurial background and reliance on intuition, US President Donald Trump has emphasized the impact of this decision-making style in government, where the consequences of bad decisions are far-reaching. Despite a history of being politically outspoken and dealing with regulations relevant to the real estate industry, the simple truth is that Mr. Trump has little experience in addressing public policy issues. He is, therefore, extremely reliant on the expertise of his advisers and their preconceived public policy prescriptions. In reality, Mr. Trump and those who share his decision-making style are not actually making decisions. They are selecting from the options given to them by their advisers. Not only does this decision-making style limit the President’s options, even if he had a diverse group of advisers, it encourages the kind of thoughtlessness that prevents the development of alternatives while empowering those special interest who have access to him. Given Donald Trump has shown that he does not feel beholden to his advisers, it is no wonder foreign policy experts are alarmed by his snap decision to abandon Syria.
With that in mind, foreign policy experts and pundits are wrong to frame Trump’s thinking as “irrational,” “reckless,” and the product of a thoughtless fool. The decision is rationale from his perspective and the perspective of anyone who is not steeped in the bias of modern and contemporary foreign affairs. Trump made his decision to withdraw from Syria against the behest of his advisers during a phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which he was supposed to use the talking-points of his advisers to refute the Turkish President’s position. Instead, he sided with Erdogan when his advisers failed to make a compelling argument for US involved in Syria. In truth, the case for US involvement in places like Syria is largely predicated on the dubious argument of “vital US interests,” which could encompass almost anything Recognizing Trump’s decision-making process, the inability of his advisers to give him a clear, concise, and irrefutable argument for US intervention in Syria left the President unable to disagree with Erdogan, especially since Erdogan promised to eradicate the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State.
Donald Trump is, of course, a conspiracy theorist who assumes deep-state actors are attempting to manipulate his government to pursue their own agenda while he does not believe in international governance. As such, the inability of his advisers to refute Erdogan’s simple argument probably triggered his innate sense of distrust as well as his indifference toward those who are experts in fields he does not fully grasp. Although it is easy to fault Trump, it is actually the fault of his advisers and their profession. Experts make assumptions in order to dissect issues, but they need to recognize those assumptions and work to justify those assumptions to outsiders. When they fail, it undercuts their arguments and policy objectives. As for Erdogan, his argument was hardily solid or honest. His goal was to compel the US to remove itself from Syria, so Turkey could crush Kurdish forces. Like Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Israel, Turkey simply wants to manipulate US foreign policy to achieve its own agenda. Erdogan wants the US out of his way, but he also wants the US to bankroll Middle Eastern security and provide military support when necessary. US disengagement is not wanted by anyone, even America’s enemies, and all sides are willing to do whatever it takes to compel US engagement. All parties involved in all Middle Eastern conflicts want to bent US intervention to their needs, which is what Erdogan was really trying to accomplish.
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