Trump(ing) US diplomacy in quest of self-praise
(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun / POOL / AFP)

America has inflicted an empty-headed showman on the world stage. Never before has the most powerful, and prosperous, country in the world had a president who set so little store by intellect and precedent, action and reaction, as has Donald Trump. This is not to say that all others who occupied the White House were geniuses. Certainly not. But they were aware of their limitations and allowed the vast army of aides and advisers to hold their hand while they steered through the thicket of domestic and foreign policy landmines. But Trump is not inhibited by any such constraints. Despite his appalling lack of basic general knowledge, Trump behaves like a know-all, driving a coach and four in well-established formats of American domestic and foreign policy at a time when its power is diminishing and a rival center of global power is rising on the horizon. Yet, he is not ashamed of being called out daily for his childishness, his lack of acquaintance of school-level grammar and plain spelling, and, above all, for his white lies and false claims. Like a typical bull in a china shop, he has riled America’s allies and sucked up to its bitter enemies. Smarting under the notion that running a country as important and as powerful as America is like doing another real estate deal —- though, it must be remembered, he was not such a successful businessman, having thrice declared bankruptcy —- he has resorted to rather unconventional foreign policy forays. Most notable being his North Korean and Iranian initiatives. Despite the photo ops the former produced for Trump to bask in the limelight, it has gone nowhere. While the Iranian missteps might yet plunge the Middle East into an armed conflict in the coming weeks and months unless better sense prevails. Trump in an ill-considered and wholly arbitrary decision nixed the nuclear deal the western powers, along with Russia and China, had signed to prevent Iran from acquiring full nuclear capability in return for easing of the economic sanctions. Now, Iran has already gone beyond the agreed limit of uranium enrichment and threatens to cross the threshold which can trigger a wild competition in the entire region for acquiring the deadly nuclear arsenal. As for North Korea, after trading abuse with its tyrannical ruler Kim Jong-un, calling him Rocketman, and threatening to wipe out his nation with ‘fire and fury’ of the American military might, Trump went weak in the legs. Now he called him a ‘great friend’ with whom he arranged a ‘beautiful meeting’ in Singapore last year. Despite his big talk that North Korea had agreed to full and verifiable denuclearisation, the actual outcome was zero, with Kim soon dazzling Trump with fresh missile tests. Since economic sanctions were biting his people, Kim wanted these eased, though he was not ready to shed weapons of mass destruction since these offered guarantees against his going the way of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.

But the man in the White House for whom the objective of the US diplomacy is only to boost his self-image, boasted that Kim was a ‘great friend’ and he had agreed to destroy his nuclear arsenal. In pursuing his self-centered foreign policy, Trump shocked the US diplomatic establishment by bestowing legitimacy on the evil regime when he walked across the demilitarised zone on Sunday which separates North from South Korea, and stepped into the North Korean territory. And then he patted himself for having achieved a historic first, ‘big moment, a great honour, a lot of progress has been made, a lot of friendships have been made …’ No doubt, Kim is making rings around Trump, the pea-brained showman whose craving for flattery trumps all established canons of diplomacy, nay, national interest. Notably, his national security adviser, John Bolton, a hardliner on North Korea, was nowhere to be seen while daughter Ivanka Trump was all over the place, often a step ahead of the US President. Again, just as in case of the Singapore optics, Trump announced that the talks between the diplomats of the two countries would follow, while he extended an invitation to his ‘beautiful friend Kim’ to visit him in the White House. Of course, not a word was said about Kim denuclearising, or easing the killer clamps on human rights, or arranging food for his starving subjects. It was all about Trump and how he makes ‘beautiful and great friendships,’ and issues certificates to tyrants for being ‘great leaders and good friends.’ What has America come to! Hope they will undo the wrong next year.

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