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The headline on the anonymous op-ed that has shaken Washington reads: “The Quiet Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

Quiet resistance. That’s exactly the problem.

Trudy Rubin mug

Trudy Rubin | The Philadelphia Inquirer

As The New York Times essay spells out, the United States has an ignorant, reckless president whose senior officials struggle to curb his worst foreign-policy instincts. “His impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back,” writes the anonymous “senior Trump official.”

Those senior aides – and Cabinet members — can probably prevent Trump from provoking a war. Yet, even short of war, the damage the president has already done and will do by 2020 is so severe that quiet resistance equals collusion. Unless the “adult” members of Trump’s foreign-policy team – along with those he’s fired – go public soon, preferably in unison, history will judge them as harshly as him.

Yet the so-called adults in the room who seek to counteract Trump’s preference for dictators over allies still refuse to challenge him openly. Almost Trump’s entire leadership team – including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis – have rushed to deny authorship of The New York Times essay and distance themselves from its critique. Ditto for the distancing from Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” which also recounts the frustrations of Trump’s national security team at his lack of knowledge and refusal to learn. The book claims Mattis told close associates that the president acted like “a fifth- or sixth-grader” (a claim Mattis denies).

Morever, it’s no secret that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster opposed many Trumpian moves — and that Trump treated them with contempt. Yet, having been ousted, they have kept silent about Trump’s narcissism and ignorance in dealing with foreign leaders. At the moving memorial service for Trump critic John McCain, speaker after speaker praised the senator’s principles in obvious contrast with the (unnamed) Trump, but that still hasn’t inspired a show of Republican backbone.

Of course, the anonymous author self-servingly argues that the quiet resisters can keep Trump’s “erratic behavior” in check and his “bad decisions contained to the West Wing.” And indeed, the president’s security officials and military commanders can probably restrain him from embroiling America in new wars. In large part that’s because Trump’s past “fire and fury” rage against Pyongyang, his past public threat to invade Venezuela, and his other warlike blustering may never have been serious. The president rages for effect but has an attention span so brief it’s hard to imagine him ordering the military into major combat.

Yet, even if war is prevented, the “quiet resistance” has been unable to halt the Trump foreign-policy wrecking ball beyond the West Wing, as he aids our adversaries, and diminishes America’s standing in the world.

By now, most world leaders get it: This is a president who doesn’t understand the role or respect the office of a U.S. president. They also grasp that he is so susceptible to flattery that any foreign thug can win him over with honeyed words.

Look no further than Trump’s current tweets to Kim Jong Un to see the consequence of ignorance. Just last week the president tweeted his thanks for Kim’s “unwavering faith in President Trump.”

Perhaps that faith grows from the fact that Kim was so easily able to bamboozle Trump at the Singapore summit, where the president signed on to a vague statement calling for “demilitarization of the Korean peninsula.” Despite Trump’s claim that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, Pyongyang does not define that term to mean that it will eliminate all its nuclear weapons.

On the contrary, as any expert on North Korea will explain, the North Korean definition calls for the United States to withdraw its troops and nuclear protection from South Korea and endorse a peace treaty between North and South Korea, while Kim makes minimal concessions. At that point, Pyongyang hopes the world will accept it as a major nuclear power such as Pakistan.

Despite the fact that there has been virtually zero progress toward eliminating North Korea’s weapons, Trump appears blissfully ignorant of those differences, perhaps because Kim keeps up the effusive praise.

More and more foreign leaders also grasp that Trump doesn’t know how to behave with dignity. I just returned from India, where despite better U.S. relations with Delhi, officials are aghast at a video of Trump mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a gathering of U.S. governors in the White House. And then there were Trump’s insults to Germany’s Angela Merkel, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and other allies.

Meantime, more and more adversaries understand they can ignore the White House as it wrestles with internal turmoil. China is bucking U.S. tariffs and speeding ahead with militarization of international sea lanes; Russia’s Vladimir Putin pockets Trump’s undercutting of NATO, while ignoring U.S. requests to stabilize Syria. And rather than fold, Iran expands its hold on Syria and Iraq.

Still, Trump crows of foreign-policy successes while “the quiet resistance” stays silent, and those Trump has dumped mostly do likewise. This is the moment for McMaster and Tillerson and Mattis and any official who cares about American security to stand up, preferably together, and confirm what the anonymous sources have told us. And to keep up the critique until the public grasps the need for change in the Congress and White House.

Otherwise, the “quiet resistance” is just enabling Trump to remain Trump.

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Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin can be reached at trubin@phillynews.com.

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(12) comments

oldhomey

At this point, I don't think it would be enough for two, three or even all of Trump's cabinet to come clean and declare the man incapable of the office. It would take the majority of the GOP in both the Senate and the House to step forward, too, and faith leaders in all religions, but particularly the evangelical Christians so strongly aligned with Trump, to step forward and speak out, too. He is a rabble rouser, and he has a significant core of rabble he can still rouse. They have to be impressed that the country is overwhelmingly opposed to Trump and his behavior. He is a menace to the entire world at this point.

Cassandra2

Wrecking foreign policy abroad and environment, economic, and health policy here at home. The underlying problem is not the anonymity, it is the republican platform.

martian2

I hope some high level official in the white house does speak up publicly about the craziness and ineptitude going on in the executive branch. I hope someone has the back bone to put their loyalty to country first and steps in front of the cameras and tells the American people what a mistake we have made. I hope this is done soon, before the mid term elections so we have a congress that can offer more resistance to Trump. The republicans in congress now have shown no back bone to stand up to the tyrant, thinking only of their own personal political careers. I hope Americans have had enough and give this country a blue wave that not even Trump can ignore. It cant happen soon enough.

Rick Czeczok

Signed, the anonymous Kingman. What a brave soul, talks big as long as he is hidden under mommies skirt. You sir are a joke, change your old anonymous name, for another anonymous name...COWARD........I here the road to Canada is wide open for your socialist agenda. But not here in the greatest country in the world. Please move.

martian2

I see Rick is still suffering from the effects of being dropped on his head numerous times. It must trigger episodes of severe delusions, self hate, foggy memories, and symptoms of a severe hangover. You did your mama proud Rick, your years of education really helped you. Too bad it took six years to graduate from sixth grade. Hoped you learned to stop and smell the roses along the way! Don't get too close to those roses, they do have thorns.

oldhomey

What else do you "here", Ricky? And where are those voices located? From the radio? The light sockets that talk to you in your home? Inside your head? Are those voices telling you to harm other people? Or do they just tell you to continue posting on these forums to make a complete fool out of yourself? You are so obedient to the latter instructions that I am fearful of you listening to the former ones, too.

johnnybragatti

The Rickzero Kok, did acid for breakfast,lunch, supper and the rest of the time had a whole lotta alcohol going on. in and around Lacrosse.
It sure shows., how he got to be Facist.

capedcrusader

Do you drink martinis? How do you know that he changed his name? You sir are the COWARD. You make numerous claims about people and won't answer the questions posed to you.

Cassandra2

More baseless and sexist observations from our local Russian troll, Zerocock. How pathetic that he is so emasculated he always has to resort to sexist taunts.

PhysicsIsFun

Ricky please return to Fastenal University where you majored in loose screws and over tightened bolts. You're going to blow a gasket one of these days, meanwhile you continually make a fool of yourself. You seem to be suffering from the same malady as your guy Trump.

capedcrusader

Now that was funny!

oldhomey

agreed, caped

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