Kim Darroch learned the hard way what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Donald Trump’s grim Twitter feed. He should take solace in the fact that he lost his job for telling the truth.

Darroch, who quit Wednesday as Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., found himself embroiled in a transatlantic spat after British newspapers reported on leaked cables he had sent back to the prime minister’s office. Among other things, he wrote that Trump is an “insecure” and “incompetent” leader who oversees a “uniquely dysfunctional” White House.

The leaks were in themselves grossly irresponsible; they’ll make it harder for governments around the world to communicate candidly. And Darroch’s word choice was perhaps indelicate. But that’s part of the diplomat’s job: to give his bosses honest advice and unvarnished assessments of foreign politics. Trump has no doubt heard worse from America’s foreign-service officers. More to the point, could anyone honestly dispute Darroch’s characterizations of this White House? Trump’s own advisers concede as much.

The president reacted characteristically. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool,” Trump tweeted. “Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World” and so on.

Things got worse from there. Trump announced that the U.S. would “no longer deal with” Darroch and pettily disinvited him from an official dinner. Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s foreign secretary, was reduced to remonstrating with Trump over (you guessed it) Twitter: “Allies need to treat each other with respect,” he noted.

Trump simply fails to grasp this self-evident point. As with Canada and Mexico, Germany and Japan, the EU and NATO, the pattern keeps repeating. The president is blind to the fact that alliances aren’t merely obligations; they serve America’s interests, whether constraining China or resolving conflicts in the Middle East.

The friendship between the U.K. and the U.S. will no doubt endure. It’s based not on the fixations of any one leader but on decades of shared values and interests. This rupture is hugely damaging nonetheless: Trump has managed to alienate America’s closest friend over a trifling spat, and gained nothing for it. “Uniquely dysfunctional” sums it up pretty well.

— Bloomberg

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