How Trump has made a joke of US global influence

Friday, January 10th, 2020 00:00 |
President Donald Trump. Photo/Courtesy

As the United States’ row with Iran unfolds, one cannot help but wonder how times have changed.

We are staring as the mighty America, to whom the world once listened to without question and none dared stand up to, now being answered back!

Not too long-ago the US was the sober voice on the global scene, telling off dictators, bringing wayward tyrants to book, traversing the world stage with a guiding hand.

When America made a move internationally, the rest of the world fell in line. In the 1990s, America led the world to war in the Middle East.

Nearly every country that considered itself to have a significant military stepped forward to contribute to the force.

Whether a Republican or Democratic president was occupying the White House, the world knew there was a global leader to provide a considered voice of reason in moments of distress.

Then came in President Donald Trump three years ago and it seems all that has changed. It did not change overnight; the new tenant at the White House has worked hard through both his character and leadership style to stamp a new impression of the US upon the world.

For long, the word of an American president was as good as any promissory note. But the last three years the obsession has been with uncovering the lies that the US president has told.

At the last count, the Washington Post, highlighted the 15,000 lies that Trump has told in his three years in office. That is an average of 13 lies a day!

During his campaign, Trump framed himself as the greatest deal maker and told campaign rallies that US people were going to be tired of the victories he was going to bring their way. 

Granted, he has delivered to his base some great victories. The supreme court is now packed with conservative judges like never before and who knows, he may add some more before the end of his first term. 

Trump promised to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was a controversial promise that turned the Palestinian people against him, jeopardising the role of the US as a negotiator in the Middle East peace process. But it did not matter for Trump as long as it helped secure his base.

Trump has delivered on massive tax cuts and has essentially kept the evangelical vote together with the right-wing voting block under tight control even if his approval rating seldom gets to 50 per cent.

But beyond the borders of the US all have not been hunky-dory for The Donald. The attempted peace deal with North Korea appears still-born, with Kim Jong-un continuing to do as he pleases in testing nukes.

Under Trump, the US picked a trade war with China, and by some estimations Beijing is happy with the deal being negotiated making it difficult to tell who the winner in the trade war is. The US made a miscalculation in Syria, abandoning its allies.

One of the more spectacular decisions that cast the world into a spin was the pronouncement by the White House to renege on Paris Climate accord. Then the president picked fights left right and centre.

Thanks to Trump, NATO appears a much weaker organisation now too often unable to easily arrive at resolutions. In the meantime, Trump has cosied up to Russia appearing to propel it against NATO. Known dictators in the world have never been happier than under Trump. 

In the midst of all this America is now in a deep quarrel with Iran, a confrontation about which the winner will be hard to tell.

Leadership matters and more importantly what the leader does matters even more.

In electing Trump three years ago, many held their breadth waiting to see what the new team in Washington would do. The unknown is now being unveiled. — The writer is the dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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