Trump’s Delusions Damage Diplomacy

A Genius in His Own Mind

It takes a degree of self-confidence, narcissism and perhaps even arrogance to achieve high political office. Once there, however, most competent individuals recognize their lack of expertise in highly specialized areas. Thus, they rely on experts for advice in areas such as economics, foreign policy and military strategy.  Not so this President, who sees himself as the most knowledgeable on every subject—a genius, in fact. But he is a genius only in his own mind, and that is when Trump’s delusions are most evident.

What is Delusion?

Mental health professionals define delusion as a false belief that is firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof to the contrary. They provide several classifications of delusion and Trump displays many. For example, there is the delusion of persecution. Others are out to get you, frustrate and embarrass you or inflict suffering on you. A complicated conspiracy is frequently imagined. Consider Trump’s constant ravings against the media as “false news” or his tirades against the FBI, conspiring to “get him.”

Then there are his delusions of grandeur—a conviction of his own importance, power, or knowledge. He claims to know more than any expert about a smorgasbord of topics, including taxes, banking, renewables, the U.S. system of government, trade, jobs, infrastructure, the military, ISIS, [military] offense and defense, the visa system.

He believes he is reassuring when he says, “I’m very highly educated. I know words, I know the best words.” And to add to his delusional arsenal of skills, he reminds us that he is the great negotiator, master of the art of the deal.

All Trump’s delusions reflect his inability to deal with reality, an unshaken belief in something that is untrue.

Trump’s “Good Friend” Kim Jung UN

Trump’s “good friend” Kim Jung Un provides an example of another Trump delusion, erotomania, his belief of someone being infatuated with him. After their first meeting and exchange of letters, Trump declared, “We fell in love.” Later he added, “I like Kim, he likes me’”

Suffused with love, convinced of his negotiating ability and all that was accomplished in his first summit meeting with the dictator, Trump decided to advance the progress made by holding another meeting. Of course, the two men were no longer threatening to nuclearize the other, so that could be called progress. But after that first meeting, Trump’s delusion took over. He tweeted, “ . . . everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.

The fact that nothing substantive was agreed upon at that first meeting was of no importance to this genius. He and Kim were now friends and in love with each other. Surely, Kim would yield to the strength of Trump’s persuasive personality and agree to denuclearization. It was time for another summit. So, disregarding the advice of his intelligence chiefs and those trained in the art of diplomacy, he rushed ahead.

In their Worldwide Threat Assessment, his intelligence chiefs warned him that North Korea “is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities.” But the delusional Trump disagreed. After all, he knew better. He knew he could make a deal with his good and loving friend Kim. Foreign policy experts warned against the danger of the President meeting without prior agreement on what was to be accomplished. Of course, this was nonsense—not an issue for the great negotiator, master of the art of the deal.

The Summit Ends Prematurely

So off Trump went to Hanoi to meet with his new best friend Kim. There, he offered to end all sanctions constricting the North Korean economy. In return he asked North Korea to simply give up its nuclear weapons and capability. Alas, the great negotiator was unable to persuade his BFF that this was a wonderful deal; Kim rejected Trump’s proposal. No deal—no lunch. Trump cancelled their joint luncheon and decided to end the summit prematurely.

Trump’s delusion was now bare before the world. His advisers had warned him that North Korea would not give up its nuclear weapons and had rejected the same proposal advanced by previous U.S. Presidents. But Trump believed that their mutual love and the force of his personality and negotiating skills could achieve success where his predecessors failed. He likely still believes that.


Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations, the skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility. Other than Trump himself, and perhaps his sycophants, no one could describe Trump as a Master of Diplomacy. Indeed, one might readily describe his actions as reflective of the statement, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford made that statement in 1973. Years later he also encapsulated a clear tenet of foreign policy. “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”  Its meaning is simple: be friends, but policy must be based on interests not friendships. Nonetheless, because of Trump’s delusions, he does not grasp this fundamental principle when representing the United States in foreign policy. His personality and needs reflected in his delusions must dominate. Sad!

Trump the Great Negotiator

He believes that he really is the great negotiator. To Trump this is not a delusion. And based on the aura he has created for himself, it’s easy to understand why. He portrays himself as a self-made billionaire who became one through his negotiating skills as a successful businessman. But I suggest that image will be revealed as the fabrication it is.

His father provided millions of dollars to fund his business and kept him solvent to avoid bankruptcy after he ran his casinos into the ground. He stiffed contractors who worked for him and cheated individuals as was shown in his Trump University settlement. He flouted the law and New York State forced the closing of the Trump Foundation. Millions of dollars suddenly materialized to finance his business when no U.S. bank would lend him anything.

Trump’s long-time attorney Michael Cohen recently appeared at a public hearing of the Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives. His accusations of Trump’s wrongdoing now provide a road map to unravel many of the yet undisclosed details of the Trump Organization’s improper acquisition of wealth. When that happens and reality—the truth—becomes known, I have no doubt that Trump’s delusions will remain unchanged.

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