Trump’s Big-Stick Diplomacy Is Having a Very Bad Week | Vanity Fair
The news that Kim Jong Un launched two “short-range missiles” on Thursday, the latest weapons test for North Korea after a period of diplomatic quiescence, is surely disappointing for Donald Trump, who has built his entire foreign policy around the belief that he can bully, befriend, and then bend the world’s dictators to his will. In the past weeks, however, the president’s cult-of-personality approach to international affairs appears to be faltering—not just on the Korean Peninsula, where tensions are once again rising, but also in South America and the Middle East.
In Venezuela, the Trump administration’s efforts to force out authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro appears to have backfired, both for the Venezuelan opposition, which launched an anemic, failed coup last week, and for Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton. Trump previously recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, and took Bolton’s advice to ramp up pressure on Maduro to leave the country. Now, however, Trump is reportedly fuming that Bolton is trying to get “into a war” that he doesn’t want to fight. (So much for Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatening a “military option.”) Maduro, far from fleeing the country, has responded by detaining political enemies who tried to depose him, solidifying his power, and exposing Trump and Bolton as paper tigers.