Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event in Hershey, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 15, 2016.
Lucas Jackson / Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump believes that America makes terrible deals—from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Why, according to Trump, do other countries take such advantage of the United States? Because our leaders and officials are stupid and incompetent and are terrible negotiators.  “Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have people that are stupid,” said Trump when he announced his decision to run for president. On immigration, he was similarly blunt: “the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning.” And during the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal, he claimed that “we are making a terrible deal” because “we have the wrong people negotiating for us.” He added that “the Persians are great negotiators” and that “they are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear."

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  • ​DANI K. NEDAL is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at Georgetown University and a Smith Richardson Fellow at Yale University.
  • DANIEL H. NEXON is Associate Professor in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
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