True leadership is in large part about communication. Today, we saw President Trump speak to the NATO leaders. Instead of speaking of their collective moral goals and rather than bind them as one in ending terrorism around the world, he scolded them for not paying their bills.
While world leaders waited for the president to endorse Article 5, stating that an attack on any member is an attack on all, he instead jested that he hadn’t asked how much the NATO building addition was costing.
There is a time and place for airing differences, for risking pettiness to make a point, and this president has no sense of that. Attempting to humiliate heads of state from around the world at a public ceremony is the height of ignorance when it comes to communication and persuasion timing.
If his goal was to let people back home know he is insisting that NATO members pay the “massive” amounts they owe, it was the wrong venue for doing so. His demeanor and words drew snickers from some leaders, frowns from others and likely disdain from most.
It’s difficult not to ask, “Who the heck does he think he is?” And, no doubt, the leaders assembled were asking themselves that question. President Trump chose a ceremony aimed, in part, at the dedication of a 9/11 statue to verbally slap leaders from around the world about paying bills. It was wrong. It was cheap. More importantly, it achieved nothing except growing animus.