March 21, 2017

NSFW: An interview with the President (JK, it’s SFW)

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Since time immemorial (well, since the fifth century BC, anyway), rulers have turned to Sun Tzu’s treatise The Art of War for guidance in military strategy and philosophy. This ancient text is even one of “at least three” books that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has read and recommended to his “associates.”

Famously, The Art of War encourages disciples to know the enemy:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Luckily for any world leader who might be looking to understand the complicated inner workings of President Donald Trump, the definitive text might not be anything so tedious as his record of public service (he has, of course, no record of public service), but rather an interview the president-to-be gave to Glenn Plaskin of Playboy magazine in 1990.

For The Atlantic, Adam Chandler reports that “at least two world leaders [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel] have shared the interview with their staffs in advance of their first meetings with the president.”

What Trump may lack in subtlety or sanity he appears to make up for in consistency: “Beyond the standard self-aggrandizement and hagiography of Trump’s own business deals, what makes the Playboy interview instructive reading for foreign eyes is how, with greater depth than many of his campaign soundbites, the future president prioritizes America’s trade partnerships.”

In addition to singling out Japan for “openly screwing us” (“we need to be tough”), 1990 Trump said that if he were to become president “he would believe very strongly in extreme military strength… he wouldn’t trust anyone… he wouldn’t trust our allies” and, elsewhere, “a toughness of attitude would prevail.”

. . . Sound familiar?

 

 

Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.

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