“Trying to predict President Trump through
traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media,
is like using ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes”---Scot Faulkner
The newly installed Trump Administration continues to catch New Zealand officialdom by surprise. So National Press Club president Peter Isaac asked Washington insider Scot Faulkner (above) what Wellington’s response should in fact be? Mr Faulkner was elected the first Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. His reforms became a model for the operation of national parliaments around the world.
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry has set up a special focus group solely for the purpose of identifying early warning of new policies promulgated by President Trump, the ones which will have an impact on this country. Can you short circuit this by helpfully forecasting any of these pending surprise policies?
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry’s Trump Task Force will only be of value if it discards long held assumptions and embrace a totally new way of thinking and acting. Trying to predict Trump through traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media, is like using ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes.
The Ministry’s primary objective should be to move at “Trump speed” and navigate in Trump’s world. Non traditional sources, non traditional methods will be keys to success. Thinking like a visionary risk-taking entrepreneur instead of a politician is the first step into this new reality.
Trump is unique. No one like him has ever been the President of the United States. While a few Presidents had business experience, their main credentials were either the military or government. America usually faced political or military crises. The 2007-2008 economic collapse convinced most Americans that something radical was necessary. So they rallied around a businessman who was known to most as a reality television star. As Trump stated, “everyone else has failed you – what do you have to lose? Try me.”
Trump’s unique background means unique thought patterns and processes. President Trump gets his ideas, news, and validation from places never before involved in governing. He is fearless, non linear. He embraces chaos, acts on intuition, moves quickly, and uses surprise as a strategic weapon. Sometimes only he knows the ultimate objective. He is a student of military history, especially Sun Tzu. That is what gave him the winning edge in business, the Republican primaries, and the 2016 general election.
Trump’s new Administration is already being tested by China, Russia, and a variety of other nations. President Trump’s responses will indicate many things: how fast he responds, how he responds, how he views the challenge and the challenger, how he frames the challenge within his existing world view, how willing is he to vary from stated positions to address a unique situation, how willing is he to escalate, whose advice does he value, who he collaborates with, and who, how, and what does he communicate regarding the challenge to Congress, the American public, and other nations.
New Zealand needs to understand that the next four to eight years has a very different global player. Trump’s approach will be very personal, intimate, intuitive, immediate, chaotic, and against all conventional wisdom, very successful.
All the indications are that the New Zealand diplomatic apparatus in New York and Washington was wrong footed by the Trump ascendancy. This led to falling in line with the Obama era last moment positioning of New Zealand as co-endorser of the UN anti-Israel resolution. Does New Zealand need to backtrack here?
New Zealand should always be wary of being pulled into American politics. Obama’s last minute swipe at Israel during his waning days as President should have been avoided at all costs. Obama’s behind the scenes orchestration of the resolution, which was being delayed until the new Administration, was ill-advised and dilatory. It undermined decades of America being a positive force in the region.
President Trump is a great friend of Israel. He and his team believe that, historically, enemies of America have funded the radical elements of the Palestinian cause.
Trump is committed, heart & soul, to destroying radical Islam and reining-in Iran. His priority is working with those nations that share his view. He sees Israel, and the moderate Arab governments, like Egypt and Jordan, as allies in eradicating ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their regional and tribal affiliates throughout the Arab world, Asia, and Africa.
Trump and his foreign policy team fundamentally differ from the Neo-conservatives who surrounded President George W. Bush. They adhere more to the Reagan-Thatcher/John-Paul II approach of destroying tyranny, but not trying to second guess centuries of local custom through nation building. America’s role is to inspire, not intervene, in a nation’s journey toward a freer society.
Israeli settlements are far more complex than the media portrays. Palestinian contractors and workers build Israeli settlements. West Bank unemployment soars whenever Israel slows or suspends new settlements. The chasm between peaceful, free, and democratic Israel and violent, oppressive, Islamic failed states in the region is stark. Land for Peace has been a chimera for Israel. De-radicalizing Palestinian leaders and their movement would go further in creating lasting peace than continuing to place the onus on Israel.
The Anti-Israel Resolution validated Trump’s view that the United Nations is currently there to promote radical anti-Western policies while wasting vast sums of money. It further proves his wisdom of pursuing America’s interests through bilateral, not multilateral, arrangements.
New Zealand has supported in spirit the US-EU trade embargo against Russia called up by President Obama. Is there a defined timetable to conclude this embargo?
There is no defined timetable for ending or modifying the trade embargo against Russia.
President Trump and his inner circle have a non-ideological practical “America first” world view. It harkens back to the 17th/18th Centuries. During that era, Western nations united to stop the expansion of the Ottoman Empire then competed, sometimes violently, to dominate world trade.
President Trump wants to build relationships with Russia and China for ridding the world of rogue players – radical Islam, Iran, and North Korea. This is why he picked Rex Tillerson, who has strong relationships with Russia as his Secretary of State, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is friends with President Xi Jinping, as Ambassador to China. This is also why Trump picked a skilled fighter, James Mattis, as his Secretary of Defense.
Trump’s trade and business team is equally ready to help America win in world commerce. Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuckin, and Robert Lighthizer will aggressively negotiate favorable trade agreements and rebuild U.S. competitiveness.
Russia remains problematic as its adventurism in Ukraine and intimidation of the Baltic States complicates Trump’s desire to be “frenemies”. Tillerson will be challenged to craft the right mix of incentives and punishments to refocus Russo-American relations. The current US-EU trade embargo will be assessed within this context.
The Transpacific Partnership Agreement signed in Auckland last year was No 1 on President Trump’s hit list. Looking at the longer term where do you see the advantages/disadvantages in this?
President Trump is all about building one-on-one personal relationships with world leaders. Bi-lateral relationships were his strong suit in business and will serve him well as President. They allow him more flexibility and agility. He has little interest in multi-lateral agreements or entities.
This is why TPP was in his cross hairs as a candidate and now as President. New Zealand and other TPP nations need to offer their best “value proposition” for trade relationships that will benefit the U.S. as much as themselves. These are the kinds of agreements that will get Trump’s attention and become his priority.
Trump prides himself on the foreign investments in America he has facilitated or promoted. He wants American companies to “come home” to America, and foreign companies to settle in America. Trump’s goal is to bring the best of the world to America to rebuild infrastructure and generate lasting employment opportunities. There is a new world of opportunity for New Zealand investment and partnering in America.
Given the available evidence it is hard not to conclude that officials here have only a threadbare understanding of what is going on in the relevant circles of United States policymaking. Where should they be looking? Who should they be talking to now?
Trump’s tweets remain the best original source. Trump won the nomination and the general election by going directly to the public. Over 50 million Americans follow Trump on Twitter and Facebook. The Washington-New York media have become completely irrelevant to the Trump Administration and to Trump’s America.
President Trump has revolutionized the way policy is created, promoted, and implemented. The establishments within the Federal Government, Congress, media, academia, and policy forums, still do not have a clue about what is happening before their eyes.
America’s post-Cold War drift through four failed Presidents has come to an end.
Reagan won the Cold War by using skills he developed in movies and television to command the world stage. Those skills destroyed the Soviet Empire, relaunched the U.S. economy, and redefined the role of government. Trump is using his business and reality television skills to command the world stage for himself and the United States. Like Reagan, Trump is seeking to defeat tyranny, in this case radical Islam, relaunch the U.S. economy, and not just redefine, but completely reinvent government. The establishment dismissed Reagan until he succeeded. The establishment is dismissing Trump, and will be just as embarrassed should he succeed.
Conservative talk radio speaks for Trump and puts his actions and tweets into context. They aggressively expose the liberal media and the Democrats when they promote fake news and conspiracies about Trump. Trump watches Fox news, listens & calls into conservative talk radio, and avidly follows their social media posts. Each validates the other. The most articulate and insightful conservative commentators are Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, and Chris Plante. Washington-based WMAL radio hosts all three.
Warco Chris Turver
Honoured for Services
To Local Government,
Community & Journalism
National Press Club’s Chris Turver, appointed MNZM in last month’s honours list, is drawn to the very different spheres of action, ideas, and public administration. He was born into strife in the industrial north of England at the height of the Blitz. He went on to become the first official war correspondent from New Zealand at the height of the Vietnam conflict.
As the New Zealand Press Association’s war correspondent of the era he was to touch down on several other conflicts of various intensities, notably in Borneo. He was embedded on the RNZN deployment to Mururoa.
Subsequently Christopher Turver (pictured, above) was to deploy here his own and still earlier experience gained as a pavement-level daily newspaper reporter in his native UK.
His near two decades as divisional editor, notably on the political desk, on Radio New Zealand brought a seasoned print-journalism level of unremittingly disciplined concision and impartiality to RNZ during its glory days before its eclipse by privatisation and then by the audience fractionalisation wrought by the internet.
At the conclusion of this tour of duty his career went anywhere but on the spike. He launched himself into local government as Kapiti district representative on the Wellington Regional Council. He became chief executive of the Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation. He served on the district health board.
Later his public service career has embraced still further roles in which he has become president of the Paraparaumu RSA and chairman of the Electra Trust which represents district power users.
Christopher Turver JP’s Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit citation was for “services to journalism, local government and the community.”
On Display at
Energetic agricultural specialist Jon Morgan decided to acquire a new car in order to commemorate his 50 years in journalism. The hands-on reporter opted for both substance and style. He acquired the very last of the British premium luxury cars in service in the New Zealand corporate and official sphere--- the Rover that was once also the standard limousine for diplomats and cabinet members.
The vehicle with its smooth leather and wood upholstery is barely run-in. The acquisition went on display at the 22nd annual review of long serving Wellington region journalists which is always held in January on the Morgan estate near Otaki.
Death of Clare Hollingworth
Greatest reporter of
Clare Hollingworth, the outstanding reporter of the last century, has died in Hong Kong at the age of 105.
Her greatest scoop was the announcement of the start of World War 2.
Clare Hollingworth (pictured) was the National Press Club’s International Year of Womens’ Suffrage guest speaker. She was brought to Wellington by the National Press Club in association with the British High Commission.
At that time the war in the Balkans was underway
Miss Hollingworth in her talk to the National Press Club outlined the ethnic and religious rifts and their genesis which were to become so evident in this century.
“Just because your neighbour watches the same television programmes that you watch does not mean that they will share your opinions,” she said.
Miss Hollingworth was the first British female war correspondent.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong announced her death.
''The FCC is very sad to announce the passing of its much beloved member Clare Hollingworth at age 105.”
Washington Club Member
Runs Central Districts
Washington National Press Club member Victoria Gaither (pictured at right) is now running a radio station in the heart of New Zealand’s Central Districts.
She worked for many years for ABC and NBC and began her career with ABC’s Ted Koppell one of the signature broadcaster anchors during the heyday of network television.
After her tour as news anchor, reporter, and producer she anticipated the present era of narrow-casting and decided to focus on community broadcasting.
It was now that she encountered New Zealand community broadcast specialist Stu Frith. The result is the Central Districts station, International Connection Radio.
The region has long been regarded as favourable to news media in all its forms. In recent memory the two main centres, Wanganui and Palmerston North, each supported morning and afternoon daily newspapers.
In the Westminster sphere, New Zealand was a pioneer in the introduction of private radio and the region has long hosted an in-depth variety of broadcasters.
The station is based in the old flax port town of Foxton which remains the region’s heritage focus.
She has found the area quite literally receptive to the introduction of enhanced community participation broadcasting which she describes as being in essence a form of networking.
Under the New Zealand club’s reciprocal arrangement with the Washington National Press Club, Victoria Gaither enjoys full membership rights.