It’s here. Donald Trump’s presidency has already begun. We imagined it, or rather we feared it, but we weren’t expecting Trump to start making pre-emptive announcements of any changes he would make in foreign policy when he is in the White House before he has even chosen the team that will lead this policy, or before meetings have begun between his transition team and the outgoing administration.
As we also suspected, he is doing so by unorthodox and fairly un-presidential channels. Last week, he stated that he was going to end the Pacific free trade agreement. In an announcement published on YouTube, Trump announced a macroeconomic trade deal that had already been negotiated and signed, involving no less than 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific basin that account for a third of world trade, including such strategic partners for the U.S. as Japan, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
Even yesterday on Twitter, after announcing Fidel Castro’s death to his 16 million followers on Saturday, he promised that he would review the agreement reached between Obama and Raúl Castro and that if the U.S. couldn’t get more concessions for Cubans (without specifying what concessions exactly), he would end that agreement.
Once upon a time, press releases or official statements were used for such things. Even before then, diplomacy relied on letters or telegrams sent through the usual diplomatic channels. But today, 70-year-old Trump and others like him who can hardly be described as millennials, are demonstrating that they have understood better than anyone else that YouTube is the global television and that Twitter has replaced radio as a means of mass communication.
But with one crucial difference: Compared to traditional means where someone has to produce and distribute information, here, everyone has limitless means of self-publishing and there are no intermediaries. Bypassing intermediaries between the masses and their leader is the secret object of desire of every populist. And now this is within reach. It’s scary just thinking how Trump will handle his first international crisis.