A short time ago, I wrote a short piece about President Trump’s foreign policy, a win (so far) in the current dustup with Iran. If you recall, that series of back and forths with Iran, resulted in their top terrorist, Major General Qasem Soleimani being reduced to smoldering pieces, none larger than a few square inches.
My articles get some commentary, both good and bad. I actually appreciate the bad stuff along with the good, as it helps me up my game. This piece was no different. One of my Army buddies, I’ll call him Rob, took issue with my assertion that President Trump was working as a 3-dimensional Chess Master. With his permission, here are two comments out of an extensive FaceBook discussion. They are of course out of context, but serve as a good start point for where I’d like to go in this piece.
I get that you are attempting to connect a variety of data points and call it grand strategy. I’m more apt to see it as backing into the answer…..US oil production being the easiest to opine on. In this case, deregulation has little to do with Trump grand strategy than market forces.
Do you honestly believe that the only difference between the last wave of Iranian protests and now is a matter of presidential tweets in Farsi?
It’s not totally unreasonable to ascribe the sentiment of the first comment as, “possible” and the second, as a “reasonable question.” I simply disagree with both of them. It took me a few days, but I believe I’ve hit upon a framework to put all the pegs in their proper holes and thereby explain how all of this ties together.
There’s an old adage, “Luck, is when preparation and opportunity meet.” President Trump has his own version of that. It’s called, “When MAGA meets DIME.” Make America Great Again. How do we do that? What is “great?” Well, it turns out there’s an app…OK, a model for that.
The DIME model of National Power. DIME is a time-honored acronym for: Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic…all critical elements of national power. I am by no means claiming that President Trump pulled out a dusty old International Relations textbook and is now laying the DIME template across all of his actions. However, if you look at the things he has accomplished so far, and put those pegs in the proper DIME holes, you begin to see a pattern…a pattern of increasing capability in all areas. In other words…the Preparation part of the Luck equation. Here are just a few.
Diplomatic. Diplomatic is the totality of all the engagements we have with other nations, short of war. It includes treaties, embassies, policies, and other engagements. In this arena, despite the leftist mantra that President Trump is destroying relationships, the opposite is true. He has demanded and gotten acquiescence from our NATO partners for increased contributions on their part, which I address further down. The President has secured written agreements with Mexico and Canada (USMCA) as a replacement for NAFTA, which resulted (hat tip Ross Perot) in a “giant sucking sound” as our jobs went South to Mexico. He has just finished signing a “Phase I” agreement with China, moving the ball toward full trade reciprocity, yet another thing the naysayers said couldn’t happen. USMCA & the China deal will have hugely positive effects on our economy.
Informational is the entire range of activities that the United States uses to advance its thinking to the World. President Trump has added an additional dimension with his Twitter account. Instead of simply relying on State Department briefings, or printed products in U.S. Information Service reading rooms worldwide, he bypasses all of that and speaks directly to the people. When coupled with his successes in other areas of the DIME paradigm, these “mere” tweets, have a larger than normal effect.
I heard David Webb interview Brad Parscale the other day. Parscale is President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. He related the results of some technical polling he had done. He found out that if a person had received his information regarding a Trump policy solely from press reports, said policy had a 3 point decline in favorability. However, if a person had received the information directly from Trump via a speech or tweet, that same info, got a 20 point positive bounce. This is why President Trump will never stop tweeting.
Military. As he has often stated, President Trump wants our military to be the most powerful in the World. At the beginning of his administration, our military was already the most powerful in the World. However, decades of war have degraded equipment, reduced supplies and quite frankly, worn our valiant Warriors out. President Trump has done three major things to rectify this. First, he has attempted (with violent Democrat and RINO objection) to withdraw the United States from these endless and counterproductive conflicts. Second, he has secured more funding for equipment and training, along with better pay for the Troops. Third and most importantly, he has gotten NATO to start picking up its share responsibilities. Not only did Trump secure increased monetary commitments, but he also forced contributions to operations where, heretofore, the U.S. had carried the whole load. This frees up U.S. forces to respond to other unforeseen requirements.
Economic. Last, but certainly not least, is the economic factor in the model. Nations without robust economies have difficulty funding their militaries and projecting power. They can have trouble defending themselves against hostile takeovers from outside, or as in Venezuela, popular uprisings within.
We all know the centerpiece of all President Trump’s efforts has been his economic agenda. His initiatives have run the gamut, from easing of regulations, to tax reform and yes, putting China and other bad trade actors, on notice. None of these actions are accidental. Each of them was a deliberate decision by the President to advance the economic ball. There is a long list of economic accomplishments of the Trump administration. Here are just a few (It’s important to note at the outset, some of these, also enhance other DIME components, but more on that later): China Trade Deal signed; Net energy exporter; Tax Reform; Unemployment Rate lowest ever recorded in several categories, just to name a few. These achievements have established the fundamental building block of American “preparation.”
As I mentioned earlier, President Trump likely didn’t lay down the DIME template and then execute according to its metrics. He did, however, deliberately focus on economic and military preparedness objectives. He had focused on those two elements in his campaign and has throughout his term since elected. With those put in place, his diplomatic and informational (Twitter) have had much more effect than they might have given a weaker economy and military.
Circling back to the comments from my good friend and Army comrade, there was a strategic bent. President Donald J. Trump decided to put all the enablers in place, Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economic. It’s an analog of how we went to Baghdad in 2003. I’ve often heard, “20 days to Baghdad.” That was incorrect…it was the better part of 2 years (of preparation) followed by 20 days of execution.
President Trump has done the same thing. He has put the enablers in place…economic, military and diplomatic. The result of that — a tweet saying he supports the Iranian people now has an outsized effect. It has such effect because the target audience-the Iranian Populace AND their evil masters know, we have a military that has demonstrated capability, an economy that can fund it for the long term, and most importantly, when Donald J. Trump says something, even via Twitter, he has put in place the wherewithal and has demonstrated the willingness to back it up.