In a class on the Cold War we discussed the habit of Presidents of the United States to mingle foreign policy with domestic policy. An example is President Eisenhower. Through the Suez Canal kerfuffle the theme was that the U.S. didn't want to mix with Egypt if they were going to work with the Soviets; that was one theory. Another thought was that in trying to rebuild the Republican Party, Eisenhower let the needs of the Southern states influence his foreign policy. Certainly one of the outcomes was that the South was placed in a better position to sell cotton – their cotton, which was arguably not as high a quality as Egypt's. Egyptian cotton is a longer bulb and can be made into a longer, finer thread for a superior woven fabric. Giving the cotton growers in the U.S. a boost went a long way to rebuilding the Republican party after the Second World War.
Then, there's now. Our current president has declined to divest himself of his business dealings, instead letting his children run the day-to-day operations. He assured the American public that he would keep the income from the official foreign visitors to his hotels separate from the rest, then he later said that would be too complicated and going to sort of do his best, without offending his clients. (NY Times Story)
Today, the Washington Post reported that his oldest son will be going to India to do some of these day-to-day business dealings. He's going to India and people can pay to have dinner and a conversation with Trump Jr. Also, buyers of the condominiums have been told that the first 100 buyers will be invited personally by Trump Jr. to the United States to visit with him. As Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, put it, "Trump’s company is literally selling access to the president’s son overseas."
I long for the days when allowing domestic policy to influence foreign policy was considered problematic. That wouldn't even register in today's political environment. We have personal business influencing foreign policy, which comes close to breaking the Emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. It's certainly unethical as all get-go and sleazy as hell. I don't like feeling like I'm being sold; I wish they wouldn't do it quite so blatantly.