Trump vs. Darroch: Whose Government Is 'Inept' and 'Dysfunctional?'

Graham Allison

Graham Allison

Politics,

In this week’s brouhaha over the leaked cables from Britain’s Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, to his government in London describing the Trump Administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional,” Trump’s explosive reaction, and the Ambassador’s resignation, one central question has been assiduously avoided: what does Sir Kim mean by “inept” and “dysfunctional?”

Trump vs. Darroch: Whose Government Is 'Inept' and 'Dysfunctional?'

In this week’s brouhaha over the leaked cables from Britain’s Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, to his government in London describing the Trump Administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional,” Trump’s explosive reaction, and the Ambassador’s resignation, one central question has been assiduously avoided: what does Sir Kim mean by “inept” and “dysfunctional?”

While that is a good question in general, it becomes even more poignant in the case of a British Ambassador from Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration describing another government. To be blunt, the question for the ambassador is: compared to whom?

During the past 30 months of the Trump Administration during which Ambassador Darroch has served in Washington, his government in London has done what? Negotiated, renegotiated, and then re-renegotiated deals for Britain’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, each time unable to mobilize a majority in its own party to ratify those agreements. Suggested and then withdrawn, and then suggested and finally drifted on the issue of a second referendum on Brexit. Threatened to hold new elections, withdrawn the threat, and repeated it as it became ever less credible. Seen the Prime Minister humiliate herself, offering members of her own party her resignation in exchange for their voting for her last and final negotiated Brexit option—only to be refused. And finally, as she resigns in impotence, staggered as it faces the near certainty that her successor as Prime Minister will be the closest analog Britain has ever seen to Donald Trump.

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