President Elect Donald Trump Has Conflicts of Interest In At Least 20 Countries. How Dangerous Can That Be?

Donald Trump’s global business interests, which he refuses to abandon or place in a legitimate blind trust, not only raise the possibility of influence peddling and graft unseen in past administrations, but also threaten to make U.S. foreign policy subservient to the investment portfolio of a fraud.

From the New York Times:

The globe is dotted with such potential conflicts. Mr. Trump’s companies have business operations in at least 20 countries, with a particular focus on the developing world, including outposts in nations like India, Indonesia and Uruguay, according to a New York Times analysis of his presidential campaign financial disclosures. What’s more, the true extent of Mr. Trump’s global financial entanglements is unclear, since he has refused to release his tax returns and has not made public a list of his lenders.

The potential for graft and influence peddling here is obvious. Already, foreign diplomats are booking suites in Trump’s D.C. hotel in hope that doing so will improve their standing with the incoming administration. Once inaugurated, Trump can make foreign aid, military assistance, or trade policy contingent on favorable treatment for Trump properties.

How dangerous can these conflicts of interest become? Consider the case of the Dulles brothers, John Foster and Allen. Before joining the Eisenhower administration as Secretary of State and CIA director, respectively, Allen had been President of the United Fruit Company; John Foster, its lawyer. In 1954, United Fruit was at odds with the newly elected socialist leader of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz because Arbenz had promised to redistribute some of United Fruit’s land to Guatemala’s peasants. United Fruit easily convinced John Foster and Allen to foment a coup, which overthrew Arbenz, helped United Fruit keep its land, and plunged Guatemala into decades of civil war and genocide.

That 30-year nightmare was the result of one conflict of interest in one country. Imagine what President Donald Trump might do with more than twenty.

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