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Save Face or Protect Your Friends

Posted by Michael Lyman on

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Particularly in long-term friendships, none of us hope to be confronted with the dilemma that President Trump just faced, and seemingly blundered. When it comes down to it, do you protect yourself and save face, despite negative consequences for your friends, or do you stand your ground and protect those you support?

You see this in movies all of the time, especially crime dramas. A gang of men get caught committing a crime and as the police begin questioning, the decision comes to one, let’s call him the protagonist, of whether to roll over on his friends or do the hard time and save his co-conspirators.

This week, Congress passed a bill that would bring new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. President Trump, handcuffed into signing the bill that would hurt his seeming ally in Eurasia because of an overwhelming majority and certain override of any veto, slammed the bill as impeding his power. Of course he believes that he alone should and could conduct better foreign policy.

The White House, however, does not always seem to be on the same page. The administration’s official remarks indicate that Trump supports the legislation and wants to put pressure on Russia. This is the “saving face” moment for a man who, though not consistent in most respects, has unfailingly proven his incapability to being undermined. There is no way he is going to allow people to think something happened without him being the architect.

Russia, of course, is less than thrilled. In a statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the legislation was bemoaned as “short sighted.” The Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev blasted the administration, and Trump specifically, as “utterly powerless” and that this constitutes a “full-scale trade war.” This is what happens when you sell out your friends.

The legislation has another caveat; that any relieving or removing of sanctions by President Trump would need Congressional approval.

Trump has thoroughly found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. His hands are tied by the bill but he wants to continue to appear in charge, though given the legislative agenda to this point it is unclear if he has ever been.

Just days later, a grand jury has been impaneled in the Russia probe, looking into whether Trump was elected thanks to the efforts of Russian involvement and to what extent the Trump campaign colluded in that effort.

So, six months into his presidency, Donald Trump has been made small by Congress, while relations, both personal and governmental, have become further strained with Russia. Trump’s reaction is to flip from support for his Congress to support for himself. All the while…the investigation continues.


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