To the careful observer, the Trump administration’s foreign policy provokes two strong reactions. The first is despair. The Trump White House has succeeded in doing a lot of damage to U.S. national interest. It has withdrawn from a bevy of international agreements without changing the global governance of climate change or nonproliferation. It has prosecuted trade wars at a high cost with little to show in the way of concessions. The administration has pursued a draconian policy on immigration without slowing down flows of migrants. Trump has undercut almost every pillar of the liberal international order and has nothing to show for it. Policies still in the pipeline such as, say, ending the protected status of Syrian refugees and forcing them to return to Syria harm American interests and American values.

The other strong reaction, however, is laughter. The Trump White House has beclowned itself so frequently, across such a wide variety of foreign policy issues, that it is difficult not to chuckle at the buffoonery on display. I still can’t believe that Jared Kushner is in charge of achieving peace in the Middle East. Jared Kushner! Efforts at more positive initiatives routinely fall flat.

Today’s Spoiler Alerts are not about the Trump administration’s malevolence in foreign policy. Let’s focus on its incompetence for a day. Consider the following three anecdotes:

First, President Trump is displeased because the government of French President Emmanuel Macron decided to impose a 3 percent tax on certain revenue that tech companies earn inside France. The Trump administration has protested that this is an unfair trade practice. The administration might have a case, except that its response is to threaten a tax on French wines. According to The Post’s James McAuley, Trump told reporters on Friday, “They shouldn’t have done this. . . . I told them, I said, ‘Don’t do it because if you do it, I’m going to tax your wine.’”

It’s the French response that suggests how much Trump has beclowned the United States in issuing this threat. As McAuley reports, French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume responded on French television by saying, “It’s absurd, in terms of having a political and economic debate, to say that ‘if you tax [Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple], I’ll tax wine.’ It’s completely moronic.” It says something about the state of the Trump administration’s foreign policy that allied ministers can describe it as “moronic” without anyone batting an eyelash.

Second, Trump has dispatched Robert C. O’Brien, his special envoy for hostage affairs, overseas to attend to a very important case. Would this case involve the Americans detained in Russia, Iran or Saudi Arabia? Is O’Brien going to help our close ally Canada after China detained two Canadians in response to Canada’s compliance with a U.S. arrest warrant for Huawei’s chief financial officer?

No, because those possibilities would make sense, and we cannot have any of that in 2019. O’Brien is now in — wait for it — Sweden. To attend to the case of American rapper A$AP Rocky.

My Post colleague Emily Heil tries to explain this situation without laughing in print:

Trump has taken an intense interest in the case, initially at the behest of reality TV star Kim Kardashian and her husband, rapper Kanye West, who appealed to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has worked with Kardashian on prison reform issues (follow that?). In what has become an improbable diplomatic dust-up with a longtime international partner nation, Trump has tweeted several times calling for Rocky’s release. He tweeted that he was “disappointed” in Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and later insulted the relationship between the United States and the Scandinavian country....
Rocky’s trial is expected to wrap up Friday.

So, if I understand this correctly, because of Kim Kardashian, O’Brien has flown to Stockholm to monitor whether the Swedish legal system treats A$AP Rocky unfairly.

President Trump has always prioritized celebrity over the national interest. This episode merely gilds the lily.

Finally, the United States has ratcheted up its sanctions against Iran yet again. This time the United States is placing sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. My Post colleagues Carol Morello and Karen DeYoung have the details, including some rather petty ones:

A Treasury Department statement said Zarif was sanctioned because he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly” Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who was sanctioned in late June. At that time, Mnuchin said measures would also be taken against Zarif, but they were delayed after State Department officials argued that would close the door to diplomacy....
An administration official said Trump remains ready to speak with Iranian leaders — just not Zarif.
Asked whether sanctioning Iran’s chief diplomat would limit U.S. ability to negotiate with Iran, if negotiations ever take place, a senior administration official said, “If we do have an official contact with Iran, we would want to have contact with someone who is a significant decision-maker.”....
When Zarif visited New York earlier this month on official U.N. business, Pompeo complained about all the interviews he granted to American journalists. Pompeo said that out of fairness, he should be allowed to address Iranian citizens directly on state television.

A senior U.S. official briefing reporters described the move as “a highly unusual action.” I would describe it as illogical. I fail to understand why the United States would place sanctions on someone for being a prominent representative of Iran’s regime, the person who negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while simultaneously claiming that he is not a significant decision-maker.

Will Zarif be affected by this move at all? Not according to the taunting response he provided to the administration on Twitter:

Basically, this is a purely symbolic move that does nothing but make any negotiations with Iran harder — not that they were ever going to be easy.

All three examples are fundamentally silly acts of statecraft. Which befits an administration that beclowns itself on a regular basis.