Sir Kim Darrouch has been the British Ambassador to Washington D.C. since 2016. it goes without saying that he has seen quite a few contrasts between the last administration and the current one. Darrouch has described Donald Trump in a number of secret cables and briefing notes, which were leaked and written about by the Daily Mail:
And while the President would deride media stories about such chaos as ‘fake news’, Sir Kim privately advised his bosses in London to believe what they were reading in the newspapers. ‘The stories about White House knife fights are, we judge, mostly true: multiple sources and confirmed by our own White House contacts. This is a uniquely dysfunctional environment.’ He warned Whitehall to be braced for more presidential outbursts including the use of ‘immoderate, sometimes offensive, language’, like his attacks on London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
‘There is no filter,’ Darroch advised. ‘And we could also be at the beginning of a downward spiral, rather than just a rollercoaster: something could emerge that leads to disgrace and downfall.’
But while warning Whitehall that Trump’s White House could collapse under the weight of scandal, he also urged the British Government not to write Trump off.
The President, he noted, has been mired in scandal most of his life but has always survived.
Sir Kim drew a parallel with The Terminator, a 1984 science fiction film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg that is almost impossible to destroy.
‘Trump may emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator.’
Trump as the Terminator. Jesus. That aside, Darrouch sounds like a realist. He doesn’t want to completely tank the American/UK alliance, but he knows that things will not be easy going forward, either.
Looking to the future, Sir Kim warned ‘there are real risks on the horizon’ and that Trump ‘will do or say things we oppose’.
‘This ‘America First’ Administration could do some profoundly damaging things to the world trade system: such as denounce the WTO, tear up existing trade details, launch protectionist action, even against allies. It could further undermine international action on climate change, or further cut UN funding.’ He said that Trump’s ‘spontaneous’ missile strike on a Syrian airbase in April 2017 had won him ‘the best headlines of his brief time in the Oval Office’ but warned that ‘a less well judged military intervention is not inconceivable.’
In the face of the chaos, Sir Kim highlighted how German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron, were busy distancing themselves from Trump. But Sir Kim warned London: ‘I don’t think we should follow them.’
It’s not surprising that Germany and France have written the United States off — at least while Trump is in office. It’s nice to know that the Brits are ready to sit it out and presumably wait for better things. One hopes that they don’t have to wait too long.