The leader of the most powerful nation in the world seems bent on causing upheaval, be it home or abroad. His early morning tweets, couched in poor English and awful grammar, often stun the world. His utterances are contemptuous of polite manners and settled diplomatic niceties. Behaving like a typical bull in the china shop, he offends the traditional allies of his country while issuing certificates of good conduct and friendship to its long-term enemies.
Yes, Donald Trump is incorrigible. But the world has to live with him, at least for the remainder of his four-year term — and, God forbid, if the American voter was to grant him another four in the White House. His on-going foreign sojourn yet again confirms his unpredictability, his penchant to pander to the lowest common denominator among his core supporters at home, and his readiness to anger and annoy his hosts and leave own diplomats squirming in embarrassment. The recent NATO and European Union summitry in Brussels saw him launch into an abusive tirade against its leaders. Rebuking them publicly for not raising their defence budget, openly soliciting compliments when they agreed to do so by 2024, as agrees earlier, tearing into Germany for relying on Russia for its energy needs, and giving an interview to a popular British tabloid wherein he praised the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and ticked off Prime Minister Theresa May for messing up Brexit and muffing the chances of a trade deal with the US. In short, Trump is a bully who has little or no use for civility and orderly conduct of business between America’s friends and foes.
As for foes, while ranking leaders of his own Republican Party have no hesitation in categorising the Russian autocrat Vladmir Putin as an evil man who is determined to sow disunity in NATO, EU, and undermine the free world in general, Trump shows no compunction in calling him a friend, a good man whom America and the G-7 should embrace rather than spurn. Of course, the reason why the leaders of the EU, NATO and G-7 put up with the insults and inanities of Trump is because he is the President of the USA without which all of those groupings, the western security and trade alliances, the entire edifice put carefully in place during the Cold War would come crumbling down. Trump knows this and exploits his exalted position as the embodiment of US economic and military might to bully and embarrass widely respected European leaders. Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron et al might be leaders in their own right but before Trump’s profanities, they all seem helpless. However, the people who are not helpless and can pay back in the same coin are the ordinary people in the European street.
The protests seen in London and other places against Trump’s UK visit, working, not, mind you, State, have been some of the biggest in recent years. With placards reading, ‘Reject Trump, reject racism’, ‘Trump go back’ or simply ‘Idiot’, tens of thousands congregated in the main squares, forcing Trump to take the aerial route to traverse from various places in the British capital. Trump did not help his own cause when after running down May a day prior to his arrival in London, he felt obliged to shower profuse praise on his host, saying that the US-UK relationship was “the biggest level of special”. His crazy conduct might find some takers among his core constituency of blue-collar Americans but all others are left shocked and lost for words. Otherwise, how could any US President be so insensitive that after causing a flutter in the western camp, he would go and meet his ‘friend and good man’ Putin at a summit in Helsinki. It oozes of bad diplomatic odour.
Powwow with Putin literally within hours of 12 Russian intelligence agents being indicted by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential poll could not have come at a more awkward time. But from all we know, Trump may not even raise the issue with his ‘friend’ Putin when the two meet on Monday, July 16th, since he is insistent that there was no Russian interference and that the investigation was a ‘witch hunt’. The sad thing is that the world will have to live with Trump until he is no more the US President. But during this time, he would have emasculated the free world and virtually eased the way for China and Russia to emerge as the new superintendents of a new global order. The free world was losing out before Trump came to the White House. Trump has hastened the decline. A sad development, indeed.