The Madman Theory


As Aardvark types, it is the afternoon of Friday, February 24. A little more than a month into the Trump presidency, debate continues as to whether he’s actually crazy or a relatively sane person pretending to be crazy, for some perceived tactical purpose.

But a consensus is beginning to form.

This morning the odious Charles Krauthammer writes about the recent spate of instances where Trump’s ridiculous statements on important foreign policy and defense matters have been contradicted by senior officials.

In Trump and the ‘madman theory,’ Krauthammer, tongue buried so far in cheek that he can hardly speak, addresses the occasional benefits of  pretended madness as a tool of foreign policy, a la Nixon and Kissinger. Krauthammer concludes,

To be sure, a two-track, two-policy, two-reality foreign policy is risky, unsettling and has the potential to go totally off the rails. This is not how you would draw it up in advance. It’s unstable and confusing. But the experience of the first month suggests that, with prudence and luck, it can yield the occasional benefit — that the combination of radical rhetoric and conventional policy may induce better behavior both in friend and foe.

Alas, there is also a worst-case scenario. It needs no elaboration.

No, it does not need much elaboration. But take a look at the discussion this morning involving Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.