For a long time it was not clear to me what was behind the unusual decisions and actions of President Trump. His meeting with the North Korean dictator gave me a clue.
Western leaders of recent times have failed to achieve their goals in diplomatic negotiations with dictatorial regimes. They were able to liquidate such regimes by force – like they did in Libya or Iraq. As for conducting successful negotiations, they failed. A typical example is the deal made between Iran and Obama together with a group of European leaders. As a result of this deal, Iran gained access to colossal amounts of hard currency in exchange for vague promises to stop developing nuclear weapons. It is quite clear that for the leaders of Iran this promise (given to the infidels) does not have any power, and that they are either continuing to develop nuclear weapons or shall continue to do so in the near future (having accumulated the money for this).
So really, Trump justly criticized Obama for this deal.
But Trump himself seems to have made the same agreement with Kim Jong-un. The text of the pact has not been officially published, but judging by the press, it is as vague as the deal with Iran.
All was promising at the start. Trump did something via the use of pressure that many thought to be impossible. He forced Kim Jong-un not only to agree to negotiations, but to actually ask for them.
Trump repeatedly stated that, in his view, signing a piece of paper was irrelevant, and that the main thing was to achieve the goal: and that was for North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons. Otherwise, he would interrupt the negotiations and get up from the table. But in the end it would appear that the “piece of paper” was still the main thing. Trump did not want to risk his reputation in his first major foreign policy deal. He pretended that he was successful – not to lose his position at home, in America.
This means that in his decision-making, Trump was guided by concerns of “benefit”, and, moreover, by concerns of “immediate benefit” – that is to say, in no way by higher ideas. He behaved like a businessman, calculating what the most profitable scenario would be for himself.
Can a politician be different? Yes. Actually, he/she is obliged to be different. The real politician relies on ideals, on his/her understanding of the Higher Order of the universe. Gandhi and Havel are examples, and in part, so are de Gaulle and Churchill. And even Ronald Reagan.
This also stands true for our individual lives. It is impossible to calculate everything; life is not a game of chess. As the paraphrased proverb goes –
If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.
Decisions made based on calculating possible benefits are the sheepish solutions of sheepish people. Such calculations can extinguish our courage and kill our intuition.
When choosing an action, the most important thing is the principle behind the choice – how do we make the choice? Why do we choose this or that option?
Do we expect maximum benefits? Or, perhaps, maximum security?
Or do we rely more on our feelings and intuition? This is especially important when we are trying to achieve long-term goals, the path towards which cannot be pre-calculated.
Do we have a system of internal values, which we can juxtapose with our decisions and the steps that we take? Across which we can match who we are choosing to be?
The choice is ours – the choice of how to make choices.