President Trump has become a one man show. This really shows up in his foreign policy. The sign of a true leader is when that person surrounds himself with the best he can find. No one person knows it all.
Escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea have dominated headlines and foreign policy debates from the outset of the Trump administration. Since the president took office in January touting a hardline against the world’s most reclusive nation, reports of naval exercises, economic sanctions, increased political pressure, beefed up North Korean military demonstrations and the repeated testing of missiles have become increasingly commonplace. Indeed by many measures, the situation between the United States and North Korea is at its most tenuous in many years.
It has long been the policy of the United States to diffuse North Korean aggression through direct negotiations and diplomacy in concert with our regional allies. The Trump administration’s insistence on abandoning this decades-old, successful strategy in exchange for talks of pre-emptive military strikes has left many baffled, but more importantly has needlessly stoked the flames of North Korea’s ire. There exists a large body of foreign policy and cultural experts in Washington and across the country who possess a wealth of experience and knowledge in dealing with the North Korean regime. And yet, the Trump administration seems loath to consult these individuals, insistent on going it alone.
Former Governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson is one of many experts in this arena whose guidance could prove instrumental in the administration’s efforts. After famously negotiating the release of several Americans held in captivity in North Korea in the 1990s, Richardson opened the Richardson Center for Global Engagement to “promote global peace and dialogue by identifying and working on areas of opportunity for engagement and citizen diplomacy with countries and communities not usually open to more formal diplomatic channels.”
Richardson is one of many leading foreign policy experts who has urged the administration to exercise caution in its language about military engagement and suggested that officials invest in strengthening relations with nations like China who have a history of intervening to dampen North Korea’s efforts. To date, no one from the Trump administration has contacted Richardson to weigh in. In a recent exchange with the former Governor, he conveyed to me that a majority of diplomats have yet to be contacted by the president or his aides.
It is imperative for our national security that the United States maintain stability in the East and avoid provoking unnecessary and avoidable military conflicts. Sound diplomatic efforts and direct engagement have been the hallmark of successful American foreign policy for many years. The Trump administration would do well to maintain that stance.
NH Sen. Lou D’Allesandro is a Democrat from Manchester and is serving his 10th term in District 20. You can reach Sen. D’Allensandro at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a regular contributor to Manchester Ink Link with his NH Senate Report.