Team of Vipers
Cliff Sims
Contributed by Shemika Thormahlen
Chapter 8

There are values and virtues for which the United States has been recognized for over the years; it has always been on the forefront in the fight for the protection of the fundamental rights of the people. However, Sims describes Trump as not paying critical attention to the humanitarian interests of other countries whenever he is engaged with some of his foreign counterparts: “Trump was determined to prioritize America’s strategic interests over such humanitarian concerns. His intentions were never stated in quite those terms, but the shift was clear. This was a departure from recent iterations of U.S. foreign policy, which Trump believed focused too much on lecturing other countries about how they should conduct themselves. Trump’s approach to geopolitics was still developing but was actually pretty well summed up by one of his campaign slogans: America First.” While the United States is in an advantageous position with regards to the promotion of human rights across the world, Trump has clearly departed from this policy.

However, Sims appears to understand Trump’s background, who grew up believing that it is the people with the killer instinct who succeed in life: ““I think that the world is made up of people with either killer instincts or without killer instincts,” Trump told her. “The people that seem to emerge all the time—it doesn’t mean they’re the best … are the people that are competitive and driven and with a certain instinct to win.” In short, killers. And this was a mind-set that had been instilled in Trump since childhood”. Therefore, when other people are highly concerned about the humanitarian needs of other people across the world, it is apparent that Trump did not feel this needed any urgent attention. In Egypt, the government, through the military, was tramping upon the individuals who showed dissent. Even in a meeting with the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Trump did not care to remind him about the human rights abuses in his country.

The Trumpian killer mentality was further manifested when there was an escalation of conflict between the United States and North Korea: “For instance, Trump would at one point publicly declare that if North Korea did not stop threatening the United States, they would be “met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before.” The entire planet—including many of us in the West Wing—were taken aback, uncertain of whether we were now lurching toward a potential nuclear conflict.” While the United States has always been cautious of declaring war on any country, Trump demonstrated that he was more than prepared to take North Korea head-on, regardless of the massive repercussions that could be realized in such a confrontation. The statement indicates that even if lives would be lost, the United States was ready to wage war on her enemies.

The killer instinct, with which President Trump clothed himself, soon rubbed-off on the White House staff. It was not long before it became a battlefield with staff members fighting against each other: “In any event, while the President enjoyed surrounding himself with killers —whether they were military generals or titans of industry—the White House staff seemed to subconsciously adopt a certain killer instinct as well. But instead of focusing it on accomplishing policy goals or desired political outcomes, we far too often focused on devouring one another.” Such an approach by Trump was already having adverse effects on his staff, with most of them wanting to prove who was more influential — and those who had the president’s ear. In this kind of environment, it is incredibly difficult to achieve the goals of the administration.


The killer instinct of Trump is doing whatever it takes to achieve results, even if it meant eliminating other people. The United States has always been concerned about the humanitarian aspects of society, as well as an advocate for the respect for the fundamental rights of all humans. Unfortunately, Trump decided to deviate from this long-held approach to international affairs by the United States. An anonymous White House official told The Washington Post that “The problem is not an incompetent communications shop, as the President sometimes gripes, or an ineffectual Chief of Staff, as friends and outside operatives repeatedly warn, but the man in the Oval Office.” As a result of his numerous mistakes, Trump was slowly losing the support of his White House staffers. When a person discusses his boss with the media and laying bare the incompetence, it is evident that there is a massive problem. Trump is losing the support not because they do not like him, but because he has failed to offer leadership to the team.

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