Monday, August 21, 2017

Presidential Constraints

By George Friedman Aug 21, 2017

I’ve written before on the manner in which nations are constrained by their geography, their resources and the behavior of other countries. Embedded in this view is the idea that political leaders themselves are not free actors. They exist in a matrix of foreign and domestic pressures that force them to behave in certain ways to rise to a leadership post, and then force them to behave in other ways to keep their post. The nation and its place in the world last. Leaders come and go.

In the United States, what constrains a president is public opinion and the institutional and bureaucratic means for managing and maximizing power. As in all countries, the precise mechanism is idiosyncratic in nature and origin. The United States doesn’t work like Russia, nor do either work like Canada. The principle of constraints is always there, but the precise constraints differ. The presidency of Donald Trump is instructive.

Trump faces three constraints that have thus far made it difficult to govern. The first is a Congress that has not been inclined to pass any of his signature legislation. The second is a civil service that in all administrations tends to block the initiatives of presidents by a process of overcomplication. Finally, there is the organization of the office of the president, a substantial bureaucracy in its own right. The primary job of the president is to manage these three entities. Trump’s problem is that, for different reasons, he has not managed them effectively – at least in the first 200 days of his presidency............ To Read More......  Geopolitics | Geopolitical Futures.

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