The people of the USA have the right to elect a lying, misogynist bully in their democracy but they should not inflict him on the rest of the World!!
I want to talk about Donald Trump and America but before doing I want to make two caveats:
Firstly, my criticisms are of Trump and not the USA. I have many friends in the USA and this was brought home to me when I was in Africa in December. Everyone in the gathering was eagerly awaiting the result of a special election in Alabama. Every single American there was delighted that the Republicans had lost. So was everyone else. The very fact that everyone there from more than 25 Countries knew about the election was itself significant. When I was chatting about this to one of the Americans I ruminated on the fact that I had never met an American who had voted for Trump. That did not surprise him. “The Americans that come to international gatherings like this would never vote for Trump although in the past some of them might have voted Republican”.
Secondly, it might appear from this that I am assuming that everything in the UK is fine and that we are far superior to the Yanks! Not so. Any regular reader of my blogs know that I have many reservations about our systems of governance and the fact that our current government is wholly incapable of acting rationally on the most important issue of the day – BREXIT.
Having said that I, and many others, think that Trump’s only value is making our tacky Government look good!
Americans have, of course, the right to elect a misogynistic, cheating, bullying liar. That’s democracy. Democracy in our Countries means that those who can be elected and those that stand alongside them can in time be unelected. The World hopes that this will be seen in full in the mid-term elections later this year.
What they do not have the right to do is to inflict that man on the rest of the World. This blog has been inspired by two things that have taken place this week. Firstly, the suggestion that he could “take away credentials” of media organisations over negative stories about him.
“The Fake News is working overtime.” the US president tweeted. “Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”
Of course, having a free press in the States is of most concern to the citizens of that Country. But the attempt to stifle a free press because it criticises him for the many stupid things he says and does must worry us all. First of all, it means that Americans will be blinded to the realities of life both inside and outside their Country. That can only encourage Trump to make poor decisions fed as he is by the virulent sounds of the right-wing echo chambers of Breitbart and Fox News.
But it also means that the rest of the World will find it hard to get information out of the Country. The USA claims that the US President is the Leader of the Free World. I’ve never actually believed that but the US President is an important player in the World. If they wish to play a leading rule they just have to play by the rules of a normal society that is practiced within their allies.
Even more important than that though is his decision to move out of the agreement with the majority of his allies regarding Iraq and the none-proliferation treaty. Every Western European Country and most others supported AND continue to support the agreement with Iraq. The Leaders of the UK; France and Germany personally pleaded with him not to pull out. He treated them; their knowledge and their opinions with contempt.
This is not a minor decision about a small Country far away. This is a decision which will inflame already existing tensions in the Middle East. A carefully prepared compromise that was working has been torn apart and there will be a huge exacerbation of the Sunni/Shia split and that is before Israel uses the difficulties to its own advantage.
We know from the problems of Syria that Western powers and Eastern European powers are using Syria as a proxy game board in which to fight out global power and economic conflicts. The Middle East is a tinder box and whilst Trump has not yet thrown in the match he has certainly lit it and it is close to igniting the Middle East.
So where does this leave the UK and especially our Prime Minister. It may seem a long time ago but our PM was the first World Leader meet Trump after his inauguration. She wanted to build on a ‘special relationship’ between our Countries to ensure that we would be in a favourable position after we leave the EU. Please make us top of the queue for trade deals pleaded May whilst still in the sticky embrace of Trump. The response has been a dramatic cold shoulder.
The only reason that we have not been affected by the new trade tariffs which are being imposed by the Trump administration is because our case was pleaded for us by the EU alongside the interests of every other European State. Unlike many Americans Trump has no concept of a special relationship with the UK based on common cultures and common positions on many major issues over the years including the seminal wars of the last Century. He believes he can bully us as he bullies others.
Trump is coming to the UK soon. We don’t know the details but I suspect that he won’t be doing much in public. When he comes a huge tide of anti-Trump sentiment will be released. There will be demonstrations and protests. There will be editorials and comments by a wide variety of people. Little of it will be positive for America. Those of us who do respect our long ties must be alert to the possibility that anti-Trump sentiment does not become anti-USA sentiment.
Our job is to build bridges with the many, many Americans who are as appalled as we area. Our job is to keep the communications going with these people and plan and build for the era which will eb post-Trump. I always remember that a synonym for Trump is fart. Even the worst farts eventually clear! All that is left is a bad memory but no lasting damage. Let’s hope that the same can be said in a few years of the Trump era.
In the meantime, let us prepare for Trump’s visit with our banners and protests and our indignation. It is our right in a democracy to do this and it is our duty to let the world know what we think of this odious little man.