Tom Shannon: "Donald Trump Believes That His Most Important Advisor Is Himself"

Former director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the US State Department, Tom Shannon, expressed in a talk with Clarin his views on the government of Donald Trump.

-How is President Donald Trump? How was it working with him?

-According to my experience, President Trump is exactly as one sees it on television and in his public appearances. He is a man with a large personality, a very large self-confidence and is totally convinced that he understands what is happening and that many do not. He believes that his most important advisor is himself.


– Is that good for a president?

-It depends on the moment and what he is facing. It is important to understand his election as the consequence of political changes that were taking place in the country and that he represents, in the same way as Bolsonaro and others, a rejection of a political class of which the people themselves had lost confidence. We are living in a very polarized country. The upcoming elections, in November 2020, will have a great impact on the definition of the style of government that the United States will adopt. President Trump brings a style to non-institutional government and he does not feel obligated by prior agreements. In this sense, he believes that there should be no restrictions when acting.

– What impact does the commercial war with China have within the United States?

-It is important to understand that, at least for now, he has a lot of support in the United States, even in the areas where people are really suffering from that trade war, especially the rural sectors, those who harvest soybeans and other traditional products that We have sold to China. There is recognition that we have to rebalance our economic and commercial relationship with China.

– What do you think of these hearings of the impeachment process against Trump in Congress? Several State Department officials have stated that there was a parallel diplomacy with Ukraine.

– I admire a lot my colleagues who have come to present to Congress to give testimony and answer the questions of the different members of the commission, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. They were not for a political purpose and it is very important to understand that. It is a matter of our elected leaders in the chamber and in the Senate to determine the seriousness of what has happened. What we are learning throughout this process is that at least in one aspect of Ukrainian politics there was an unofficial, non-institutional attempt to manage our bilateral relations with Ukraine and our security and defense assistance with Ukraine for political benefits. and from the president. This is something serious and worth the attention of Congress and the American people. We are in a moment of great decision.

– How do you evaluate in general the policy of Donald Trump towards Latin America?

-Trump came to power with a personal interest in the subject of Venezuela. He took advantage of political changes in the region to completely change the way the region understands Venezuela and acts on Venezuela, not only in the OAS but also in the Lima group. In his policy about Venezuela, he has done something he has not done anywhere else in the world: he built a multilateral response to the problem of Venezuela and linked that multilateral process to a sanctions policy and won approval in the region with sanctions and commitments of countries that had the legal and regulatory structure to do something similar. This was a great achievement. That is, he convinced a government of the PRI of Mexico to work with him to bring down the presidency of Nicolás Maduro. The PRI in its history would never have done something similar. That was an impressive diplomatic achievement.

-Although there was no result at the end …

-Yes. He also opened doors in the region to improve relations in Brazil, in Argentina and Chile and that was also important. But unfortunately, what we are going to see next year is that electoral pressure and the need to capture and preserve votes here in the United States will diminish the government's ability to understand our entire hemisphere. That is, the focus is going to be in Mexico, in Central America, in Venezuela and Cuba.

-Argentina no?

I have hope, but let's see, but there are no votes in Argentina.

Washington, correspondent




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