Is President Trump emotionally intelligent

The corona crisis and the US President : "Trump urgently needs tutoring"

Joseph Nye is professor emeritus at Harvard Kennedy School. He is considered one of the greatest foreign policy thinkers in the United States. He became known primarily because he coined the term “soft power” and the thesis that states can exercise “soft”, moral power in addition to military, “hard” power, above all by being moral role models.

His new book, Do Morals Matter, was published by Oxford University Press in January. It evaluates the moral attitude and foreign policy of US presidents. Anna Sauerbrey conducted the interview on Tuesday on the phone. Joseph Nye was at his summer home in New Hampshire (where it was snowing) at the time.

He had just returned from California. “We got out just in time,” he says. Because of the corona epidemic, curfews have been imposed in seven communities in California.

Mister Nye, in your new book you developed a kind of “ethical point system” and then evaluate the foreign policy of all American presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945). What are your criteria?
First, I assess the motives and intentions, second, the means that have been used in the foreign policy of the respective president, and third, the consequences.

At the end of each chapter you summarize again in the form of a kind of certificate card whether the respective president scored “good”, “average” or “bad”. Isn't that a bit too woodcut?
Of course, there is no simple mathematical formula for a president's ethical behavior. In America, however, one often hears arguments in public debate that are even simpler.

For example: "We are the good guys - so what we do is good." With my model, I want to create an awareness of the fact that one has to weigh different dimensions against one another in order to arrive at moral judgments.

Based on your three categories, who does particularly well among the 14 - and who rather badly?
The presidents who land in the top quarter of my ranking are Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. You interpreted the position of power that the USA gained after the First World War very broadly and wanted to use this power not only for the good of your own country, but also for the good of other countries. I also include the elder Bush in this top category.

With the end of the Cold War he tried to establish a world order that was in harmony with the values ​​of responsibility for others. Johnson ends up in the bottom quarter - because he escalated the Vietnam War, Nixon, for similar reasons and because he destroyed confidence in politics, and the younger Bush, especially because of the invasion of Iraq.

And Donald Trump?
As for Trump, it's too early to give a final rating, but once you use a teacher's vocabulary, I'd say this student's performance has been inadequate and he is in dire need of tutoring.

What is important to you is whether a president has "contextual intelligence" in foreign policy. What do you mean by that?
In my opinion, contextual intelligence and emotional intelligence are important qualities that a leader should have - and they are important for making moral judgments.

Anyone who morally weighs a decision should hold their intentions against the necessary means and possible consequences. In order to come to a good judgment, one has to have as much information as possible, also in order to be able to assess unintended consequences. I mean this ability by the term “context intelligence”.

Which presidents have this kind of intelligence?
The first Bush, for example. He was educated, especially in international relations. His son, on the other hand, was primarily familiar with domestic politics and lacked a sense of the complexity of international relations.

As a result, he was less able to foresee unintended consequences. His father, the elder Bush, decided in 1991 not to attempt to take Baghdad because he saw the danger of losing the support of allies. The younger Bush, on the other hand, claimed that the invasion of Baghdad would be a "cakewalk", a piece of cake. This is a good example of the absence of “context intelligence”.

In your book you show that the way in which presidents conduct foreign policy depends not only on their moral compass, but also on their “mental map”, the idea they have of the world. What types are there?
The worldview most widespread among American presidents is probably “realism”, the idea that there can be no higher government in international relations, that it is a chaotic system in which everyone has to help himself and in which caution the main virtue and a balance of power is the main goal.

A second worldview is liberalism. Liberal foreign policy makers assume that international anarchy has limits and rules are possible. Cosmopolitans believe in the global validity of human rights and an overall responsibility of all for all and therefore attach less importance to the nation state.

And which world view is the "higher value" from a moral perspective?
In my view, realism is not a bad starting point for a president's foreign policy, but no one can stop there. Otherwise realism becomes an excuse for not acting - and the few rules that we have expire again. A good example is Donald Trump's reaction to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He basically responded with a shrug, suggesting that the incident was not worth jeopardizing arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

How would you categorize Donald Trump's worldview?
Donald Trump is an exception. He is so self-centered that it cannot be classified in any of the traditional categories. He's certainly not a liberal or a cosmopolitan. He may be considered a primitive realist, but he lacks the capacity for careful consideration.

Will the coronavirus affect the willingness of Americans to become more involved internationally?
It's too early to judge. But I think the corona crisis will raise awareness that there are transnational dangers that cannot be fought by any country alone. In the future it will no longer be about having power over other countries, but rather power with other countries. The same is true for climate change.

In the current crisis, Trump has closed the US borders for Europeans from the Schengen area without consulting Europe. I think that in the future we will not be able to do anything without discussing it beforehand.

How do you think the corona crisis will affect the American presidential election?
The corona crisis has severely weakened Donald Trump. He called the crisis a joke, a media hysteria. These statements should reassure the stock exchanges - but just look at where the stock exchanges are now! He will appear as someone who failed as a political leader. We will also slide into a period of recession.

This means that the chances of his re-election are falling sharply. But since 2016 we have also known that politics is full of surprises. One should no longer take a prediction at face value - not even mine.

The title of your book asks the question: “Do Morals Matter?”. How do you answer this question?
A friend once said that the main ingredient in the foreign affairs cake is interests, morality is just the icing that makes him look pretty. But if you don't consider morals, you won't understand history - and neither will you understand the future.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page