On June 5, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they were severing ties with, closing borders and airspace to, and spearheading a regional effort against Qatar, allegedly because of its support for terrorism. The instruments of American foreign policy sprang into action.

The American ambassador in Doha reaffirmed the U.S.-Qatar partnership, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, traveling together in Australia, urged restraint, called for dialogue, and expressed confidence that military operations against the Islamic State would not be impeded. This was a natural concern on their part, given that the Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar serves as the nerve center for U.S. military air operations across the Middle East.

As the crisis entered its second week, the two secretaries continued to coordinate, meeting separately in Washington D.C. with the Saudi and Emirati foreign ministers, the Qatari defense minister, and an advisor to the Qatari emir. They seemed determined to signal that relations with Doha had not been compromised. On June 12, Mattis told Congress that Qatar was “moving in the right direction” in its efforts to constrain terrorist financing. Two days later, the United States and Qatar inked a $12 billion agreement for the purchase of 36 specially configured F-15 fighter aircraft and began a previously planned three-day joint naval exercise.

Thus, faced with a crisis that threatened American interests in the Middle East, the machinery of the Trump administration reacted much as its predecessors would have, seeking a diplomatic formula to allow both sides a face-saving resolution. Except for one small detail: the reaction of president himself, who chose to pour fuel on the fire with a series of tweets the day after the standoff began:

Directly contradicting his underlings, undermining the efforts of his own administration, and encouraging Riyadh and Abu Dhabi toward more strident demands, this epitomized Trump’s early foreign policy in 74 words. The administration’s subsequent decision to sell billions of dollars of advanced weapons systems to Doha suggested that either Trump didn’t believe his own rhetoric or else that he wasn’t, in fact, the decider-in-chief after all. (I have argued elsewhere that the crisis was less about terrorism, in fact, than about Doha’s support for political Islam and Al-Jazeera.)

Effective statecraft has always involved dissimulation, but this is something else altogether. It might be tempting to chalk up Trump’s Qatar blunder as the result of inexperience. But amid reports that Trump wasn’t even aware that Qatar hosts Al-Udeid airbase, this is an example of Trump’s Jekyll-and-Hyde blueprint for foreign policy.

Since even before taking office, Trump administration traditionalists, including Mattis and Tillerson, and even Vice President Mike Pence, had gamely reiterated America’s commitment to its most important allies. Mattis called NATO “the most successful military alliance probably in modern world history, maybe ever,” while Pence declared America’s “unwavering commitment” to NATO and assured Europeans that “we will always keep faith with you.”

Such platitudes are the currency of international diplomacy, but they won’t convince anyone. Before his inauguration, Trump repeated his campaign charge that NATO was “obsolete.” In the Oval Office he did not hide his contempt for Angela Merkel (in contrast to his effusive praise for authoritarian leaders such as Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and, more inexplicably and disconcertingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin). Speaking at NATO headquarters, he declined to explicitly endorse Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which binds members to consider an attack against one as an attack against all.

While there may be a desire to distinguish Trump’s “America First” approach from unforced errors like his reaction to the Gulf crisis, both in fact stem from the same disdain for political norms, for the nuances of traditional statecraft, and especially perhaps for the value of the global commons. Trump’s early policy set pieces—such as his decisions to pull America out of the Paris agreement on climate change and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—will certainly erode Washington’s ability to exercise foreign policy leadership and contribute to the incremental crumbling of what remains of the international order. They are also likely to eventually damage the United States economically.

But these decisions were not completely unexpected, and foreign leaders have already begun to recalibrate. Certainly, the withdrawal of the world’s largest economy is likely to weaken, perhaps significantly, both agreements. But Asian-Pacific countries met in Chile in March to reaffirm their commitment to the TPP, with or without U.S. participation. Meawnhile, not a single country followed Trump’s lead on climate change, suggesting limits to the international impact of Trump’s populist animosities.

There may even conceivably be unintended salutary consequences to Trump’s economic nationalism. Whereas the European Union was spinning out of control in the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote last summer, Trump may be unwittingly contributing to a renewal of European centrists. Since November 2016, the far right has been losing ground—and elections—across Europe. Trump’s pressure on European countries to contribute more to their own protection may lead to a shoring up of defense spending among NATO countries.

However, in some ways, Trump’s blunders on Qatar are more disconcerting, since they highlight his willingness to wade into consequential foreign policy matters without even a basic grasp of the issues. Whether it was ignorance, conviction, an affinity for Saudi Arabia, or an insecurity so immense it seeks credit for events thousands of miles away that drove Trump’s initial reaction to the Gulf crisis does not ultimately matter. For a president with little interest in and only minimal knowledge of the affairs of the world, time invested in climate policy, North Korea, or Gulf politics is time apparently less well spent than watching Fox and Friends.

There is some evidence that the American public is beginning to discount the president’s twitter ramblings. Perhaps, with time, so too will foreign officials. In the meantime, to whom do they listen? The words of the most powerful man on the planet or the contradictory actions of his subordinates?

Trump deserves some credit for assembling (after the forced removal of former national security advisor Mike Flynn) a national security team generally eager to uphold traditional values. To this point, the Trump administration has not faced a first-order global crisis requiring competence, discretion, and sound judgment from its commander-in-chief.

With Russia threatening to intercept any U.S. or U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying in its area of operations over Syria in the wake of the U.S. downing of a Syrian jet on Sunday, Trump may now face one.