The ‘Manchurian’ President?

it is not exactly unheard-of for presidential candidates to sport intimate ties, personal and financial, to foreign powers whose values are considerably different from our own. Nor is it exactly unheard-of for presidential candidates to imagine that their particular experience of the world, their personal connections and experiences and sympathies, can serve as the basis for a revolution in United States foreign policy.

In the first case I’m thinking of George W. Bush’s distinctive ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,

.. In the second case I’m thinking of Barack Obama’s distinctive links to Islamic cultures, both African and Southeast Asian, which clearly informed his hope (and the hope of some of his supporters) that his mere election might radically change America’s image in the Muslim world

.. But his critics should also recognize that all those leaks and all that institutional resistance are also precisely the reasons a neophyte like Jared Kushner might have imagined that the bureaucracy should simply be bypassed, and his father-in-law allowed to hammer out his imagined bargain with Putin man to man.

.. But keep in mind that the evidence we have is still perfectly compatible with a presidential candidate and his advisers who made a foreign policy promise in the clear light of democratic debate and set out to keep it with all the wisdom, imagination and experience at their disposal — which is to say, alas, not much.