US President Donald Trump listed his administration's achievements during his second State of the Union address. Sputnik has discussed the speech with Meena Bose, Professor of Political Science and Executive Dean of Hofstra University’s Peter S. Kalikow Centre for the Study of the American Presidency.
Sputnik: As an expert in the American presidency, what is your impression now of this particular State of the Union Address? What is your take on Trump's considerate tone? I mean I have spoken to a few of the experts on his speech last night. A lot of the commentators say it was well received. What is your take on that?
Meena Bose: Well, I think the expectations for this speech were so uncertain. It was not clear whether there would be an open conflict with the Speaker of the House sitting right behind him, open verbal conflict whether what kind of what would be said. And so in that sense, the White House had said that the president would adopt the tone of unity and that was certainly there at the outset. I think there were obviously some clear disagreements when it came to his reference to the investigations that were going on and suggesting that that would distract from American politics and policymaking.
That is kind of a conflict of interests obviously for the president but nevertheless, that was raised. But I think the real question now is how do these words translate into a policy agreement to keep the government running beyond February 15. That is the immediate concern in Washington and in the United States. And I don't think the speech made clear how the two branches of government, Congress and the White House, how the two political parties that are governing in the White House and Congress reach an agreement.
Sputnik: Now, Mr Trump confirmed he will be meeting with Kim Jong-un at the end of this month. Could we expect any breakthrough? I mean it has been amazing, there have been so larger strides given the rhetoric of a year or so ago. What is your expectation, what is the expectation in the US with regard to the relationship with Kim Jong-un moving forward now?
Meena Bose: Well, I think that this meeting that will take place in Vietnam between the United States and North Korea, between the President and Kim Jong-un, [February 27 to 28], may certainly beak verbally constructive. I think that the question of substance is a real one and the president said in the speech that North Korea has conducted no testing. There is still I think there was a concern in 2018 about the president moving forward to a summit meeting without the traditional preparation between the two sides. And I think that same concern will apply here, that the verifiable information on what North Korea is doing as far as its nuclear programme is lacking. And so that is where the summit meeting may be more of a verbal discussion than a substantive agreement, in some ways kind of like the State of the Union Address frankly.
Sputnik: This is moving along to the current political event that is causing a lot of comments — Venezuela. This speech comes amid the turmoil in Venezuela and Trump's recent interview, I think it was CNN if I am correct, in which he said he was not ruling out a military option in dealing with the Latin American country. How much of that particular statement and sentiment is supported by both parties in terms of that drastic or radical manoeuvring? What's your take? Is that supported by both parties?
Meena Bose: Well, no, I mean what he said in the CBS interview really raises I think some questions about what the US role in the world will be. And the president did say that sending the military is an option. I suppose you could argue that that is often the case but as a number of strategists have written, including former military commanders for the region in South America — former US military commanders — that there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as well as a political crisis. And the United States needs to work with its allies in the region to assist in this political transition, moving forward for the Venezuelan government. The United States, of course, has a long history of intervention in the Caribbean that has not always been well received and so.
I think again in this, you know [it] dates back into the early 20th century. And I think that a lot of US foreign policy experts are saying this is not in the US interests. So then bringing that into the political world, again you don't really see bipartisan support. And I would say even within the president's party there is some concern, particularly about the mixed message between pulling, trying to pull US Forces out of Syria and Iraq, missions that are underway, and then suggesting a different intervention at this time. There appears to be some inconsistency. So I think it is raising concern among experts as well as politicians in the president's party, and certainly, from his political opponents.
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