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The conflicting signals, sent by Mr Trump in a series of incoherent tweets, have confused everyone. But they should surprise no one. This is what American diplomacy looks like in the Trump era. When the president’s closest advisers are not chasing up conspiracy theories in Ukraine (see Briefing), or defying the constitution by refusing to testify to Congress (see article), they are coping with a commander-in-chief who, according to his own former secretary of state, “is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says: ‘This is what I believe.’” That is no way to make policy anywhere in the world, least of all the Middle East.