'Cui bono,' Mr. Trump?
For quite a while Donald Trump has been trying to dislocate his own shoulder patting himself on the back and telling us all what a great “dealmaker” he is. Now, I have no question that many multimillion-dollar deals have been negotiated by “The Donald.” If he hadn’t negotiated a lot of great deals, he wouldn’t have a $10-billion empire.
But I have one question that stands out above all others regarding Mr. Trump’s “deals.” Exactly who benefited from those deals? Did anyone, other than Donald Trump himself, benefit? Is “The Donald” capable of making a deal in which he has absolutely no personal stake?
For centuries, beginning during the Roman empire, criminal inquiries have invariably started with the question “cui bono?,” or “to whom the good?” In other words, who benefits? The very same question has to be asked about all these great “deals” that Mr. Trump brags about.
How much interest will Trump have in negotiating a deal with China when his own wealth is not at stake? For that matter, how much interest does Mr. Obama have in negotiating any deal when all he gets out of it is a certain level of ego satisfaction? Mr. Obama keeps telling us his recent administrative agreement with Iran is a great “deal.” Yet Obama has yet to answer the question “cui bono.” As nearly as most people can tell, Iran seems to be the only group involved in the negotiation, or “the deal,” who actually benefits.
With that kind of history of dealmaking in this nation, shouldn’t we be asking exactly what any participants in a negotiation can expect from Donald Trump? More specifically, American citizens, as participants in any negotiations with foreign powers, should be fully informed as to what the aim of any negotiation actually is, how much it will cost them, and what they will gain from it.
Trump has to start explaining the negotiating tactics that made all these “great deals” successful. All negotiations start with the simple concept of give and take. Each person involved in a negotiation wants something and is willing to offer something in exchange. However, when you are negotiating with a foreign government, one of the great assets that those sitting across the negotiating table from you have is their honor, their pride, their delusions of grandeur. Dealing in affairs of state asking other nations to willingly give up some portion of their honor, their pride, and their delusions means that we, the United States, have to be willing to give up something that they value just as much.
Exactly what does Trump equate to the pride another country has? What is he willing to give up in a negotiation with the country that has enormous self-pride? Let’s just say, as a hypothetical example, Iran. What then do we have to give up? Would he be willing to give up America’s ability to defend itself from nuclear attacks? Would he be willing to give up any of the leverage that America now has in keeping Iran in check, in terms of nuclear power, supporting terrorism, or trying to create hegemony in the Middle East?
What exactly would he give up? If he is willing to give up something of value to this country to negotiate a deal, what he gets in return has to be a lot more than simply ego satisfaction.
If Trump’s ego satisfaction is all we get for any deal that he negotiates, then all we get is another Barack Hussein Obama.
Candidly, that doesn’t sound exactly like a “great deal.”
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller and a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy, and American cultural idiocy. Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/ and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.