Donald Trump has been taking (or making, hard to tell) phonecalls from foreign leaders congratulating him on his electoral victory. He has been doing this without the benefit of briefing by the State Department, official interpreters and note-takers, or anyone else who has the US’s interests at heart, possibly on unsecured phones. Pakistan released what appears to be a verbatim transcription of his part of the call, featuring the words “fantastic” and “amazing” rather too many times and promising to help Pakistan with whatever. India was not pleased.
On Friday, Trump really upset the applecart by becoming the first high American official to talk to the president of Taiwan since 1979. Taiwan is opposed to the Beijing government, which the United States has agreed is the sole legitimate government of China. It’s more complicated than that, of course, and we sell weapons to Taiwan, one of the reasons that those State Department briefings might have helped Trump. But whattheheck, disruption is good, right?
Here are a few articles on why it’s not good in this case. I would suggest that one foundation of diplomacy is “No Surprises,” while Trump has expounded on his theory that uncertainty is the way to get great deals.
There is considerable overlap among the articles, with background and analysis, but each offers something different. Read only the first two, if you’re not up for reading them all.
Added December 6, 2016: Here is the bottom line: Bob Dole, who is paid to lobby for Taiwan, lobbied the Trump campaign on Taiwan. He was the only former Republican presidential candidate to endorse Trump. He set up the phone call. Trump and his entourage have no expertise in foreign relations, so they will continue to be susceptible to lobbyists. Look for more one-off miscalculations.
Evan Osnos, The real risk behind Trump’s Taiwan call
Olivier Knox, How a presidential phone call gets made
David Graham, So, why can’t you call Taiwan?
Jeffrey Bader, Trump, Tsai, and a break in a long tradition
Global Times (a hawkish Chinese news source), Trump-Tsai phone call and the One-China Policy
Added 12/4/16: Explainer from Max Fisher, New York Times
Added 12/6/16: Greg Kulacki, Origins and Implications of the Taiwan Call
James Palmer, China Really Isn’t Joking About Taiwan