Danielle Pletka: What Trump's Tizzy Fit with Oz Tells Us

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on February 1 in Canberra, Australia. Danielle Pletka writes that in a conversation with Turnbull, Donald Trump hung up on our Aussie ally because he was displeased at having to stick with an Obama-struck deal to take in refugees now sitting off the Australian coast. Stefan Postles/Getty

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

It looks like the president has made some new enemies Down Under.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post dropped yet another in the series of blockbuster-ish leaks about the inner goings-on at the Trump White House.

In this particular story, we learn that in a conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump hung up on our Aussie ally because he was displeased at having to stick with an Obama-struck deal to take in refugees now sitting off the Australian coast.

Now, these are leaks, and we don't know whether the president uttered those very words. And much as all of Washington reported he had invited two prospective Supreme Court justices to D.C. in order to reenact The Apprentice, only to discover that was not true, just because it feels like something Trump might do doesn't make it so.

Related: Danielle Pletka: Trump's Mideast policy boosts Iran

That said, the notion that Mr. Trump may well have suggested to Turnbull that he doesn't want a bunch of refugees Barack Obama agreed to take is plausible, indeed consonant with his Executive Order of last week.

And what makes even more sense is that our new president doesn't actually get why taking those refugees could be a good idea. Sounds like a bad deal. Let's not debate the merits of taking refugees Australia doesn't want; that's for another post.

Let's instead talk about the difference between being president of the United States and a real estate mogul. Without pretending to overmuch knowledge of the world of real estate wheeling and dealing, it is true that each deal is sui generis.

Went bankrupt last week? This is this week. Let down your investors last year? This is this year. And weirdly to those of us who haven't figured out that world and run screaming from Washington to the 84th floor of our eponymous building in Manhattan, that's the tempo of the biz.

But, it is not the tempo of government. Each deal is not sui generis. We have complex equities with allies and adversaries alike, and our relationships and the deals we make are part of a complex web of international relations that balance small things (a few refugees) against larger (the PRC Navy in the South China Sea), and ceremonial things (politeness on a call with a head of state) with important national goals (U.S. Marines based in Darwin).

Foreign policy is a little bit transactional, but in a much different way than business.

Can you make a bad deal in foreign policy? Sure, just look at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. Obama and Kerry could have used a little more Trump mojo and a little less of the Pollyanna when negotiating with the savvy Iranians.

But even Obama and Kerry got the fact that they needed to balance the equities of the United States, Israel, our Gulf allies and others when signing away the store to Ayatollah Khamenei.

Similarly, Donald Trump must learn that while each agreement we make may by itself look like a bad deal, it must be measured against the larger strategic environment, as well as the greater equities of the United States.

Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.