The world is laughing at Donald Trump. That isn’t to say that they aren’t afraid of the global damage he can do, but in the moment his buffoonery sometimes supersedes that. A month ago, a president of the United States spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, repeated one of his usual hyperbolic lies, and the response was open laughter. The world was laughing at Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has been a bully his entire life. He takes advantage of the weak and the vulnerable. He uses his positions of power to harass and molest women, and laughs about it. Having inherited massive wealth and status, he uses it to stiff creditors, tying them up in court or in endless negotiations. As a public figure and politician he gleefully mocks and punishes the historically and structurally dispossessed, including racial, religious, sexual and gender minorities, desperate refugees, and even the disabled.
Donald Trump apparently enjoys inflicting pain. It’s transparent proof that he is conscious of his own weakness. He is a little man who tries to act big, but he is too small to understand wherein greatness lies. He kicks those who are down while sniveling to avoid being kicked by those who aren’t. He is afraid of being exposed because he is incapable of comprehending how completely he already is.
Donald Trump pays obeisance to Saudi Arabia’s despotic crown prince. Donald Trump gets his ass kicked by North Korea’s bloodthirsty dictator. Donald Trump is subservient to Russia’s authoritarian despot. Donald Trump was a laughingstock at the United Nations. To Trump’s fan base, this is called making America great again.
In a wide-ranging exposition at the annual Valdai forum, Mr Putin continually returned to the idea that US hegemony was the cause of many global ills — but that its twilight offered opportunities for Russia and its friends….
“A country can get the sense from impunity that you can do anything,” he told an audience at a ski resort close to the southern city of Sochi. “This is the result of the monopoly from a unipolar world… Luckily this monopoly is disappearing. It’s almost done.”
Mr Putin said president Donald Trump had listened to his arguments and was not impervious to advice as suggested by some US media, adding that he still thought the US leader was working to restore a good US-Russian relationship.
Yes. Trump takes Putin’s advice. And he is trying to restore what Putin would consider a good US-Russian relationship. Which means a United States that is fully compliant and obedient. Even this week’s news that China and Russia are listening in on Trump’s unsecured phone , and using it for political advantage, included this buried lede:
Russia is not believed to be running as sophisticated an influence effort as China because of Mr. Trump’s apparent affinity for President Vladimir V. Putin, a former official said.
China is taking advantage of what they glean from tapping Trump’s phone, but Russia doesn’t need to bother. Because Trump is their man. The lights are blinking red.
Trump alienates traditional allies, creates trade wars that will cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs and hurt American businesses, undermines America’s most important mutual defense alliance, excuses Putin’s destructive behavior by implying the the United States is effectively as bad, not only shrugs off Russian attacks on American democracy itself but actually blames the United States for deteriorating relations with Russia, makes the nation reviled from without and tears it apart from within. He explicitly plays on and exacerbates the exact same internal American divisions specifically exploited by a recently charged Russian troll farmer:
The Justice Department announced Friday it had charged a Russian woman who prosecutors say conspired to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case that accuses a foreign national of interfering in the upcoming midterms.
Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of “Project Lakhta,” a foreign influence operation they said was designed “to sow discord in the U.S. political system” by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and National Football League protests during the national anthem.
The charges against Khusyaynova came just as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that it was concerned about “ongoing campaigns” by Russia, China and Iran to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections and the 2020 race — an ominous message just weeks before voters head to the polls.
But it isn’t only Russia and its interests that Trump is undermining the United States in order to serve. When a Saudi exile who lives legally in the United States is savagely butchered by Saudi agents in Turkey, Trump wavers, hesitates, fumbles to respond, then proves yet again that he is incapable of standing up for any principle other than his own self-interest. And his self-interest is extensive. He even clumsily showed his hand:
President Trump on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia has “been a great ally to me” amid an international diplomatic crisis over allegations that Saudi agents killed a U.S.-based Saudi journalist in Istanbul.
Trump told Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan that the U.S. response to Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance will depend on “whether or not they knew about it.”
“Saudi Arabia’s our partner, our ally against Iran,” he said. “They’ve been a great ally to me.”
“To me.” To him. The national interest is what’s best for him, not for the nation. Little wonder that he prevented even Republican senators from finding out what was going on. He had to protect his personal interests, which he may have taken particularly personally. It was almost as if he was conspiring in a coverup. Indeed, when growing pressure forced him to pretend to care, Trump seemed more concerned that the coverup was botched than that there was a coverup, or that what was being covered up was a grisly murder.
But even when confronted with a foreign dictator with whom he has no apparent business or personal ties, Trump’s ignorance and fecklessness makes him an easy mark. In Trump’s first year in office, while he engaged in juvenile bluster, North Korea embarked on an unprecedented series of missile tests, which it believes to have been conclusively successful. At which point Trump shattered precedent by fulfilling what had been for three decades a Kim dynasty dream.
Trump seemed to think that meeting directly with Kim Jong Un made him look bold or strong because he didn’t seem to understand that such a meeting only served to make Kim look bold and strong to his people, legitimizing and strengthening his tyrannous rule. Which is why no previous president of either political party had met with a Kim or his father or grandfather. Trump even cancelled military exercises with South Korea before giving Kim exactly what Kim wanted, getting nothing in return.
Typically oblivious to his own humiliation, Trump declared that North Korea’s nuclear threat had ended. Upon which North Korea immediately proceeded to make a mockery of him by resuming work at a nuclear site. Kim even used ongoing negotiations with Trump’s surrogates as a means of further thumbing his nose at Trump. But apparently Trump hadn’t made enough of a fool of himself, because he has proceeded to cancel more military exercises with South Korea, bizarrely declare his love for Kim, and even begin planning a second photo op triumph meeting for Kim. So much winning.
The United States has had weak presidents, and every president of the past century has made serious foreign policy mistakes. But never before has an American president been openly laughed at by the world’s diplomatic corps. Never before has an American president so humiliated himself before foreign dictators. And never before has an American president undermined every facet of American international relations in service to a foreign despot who is openly attacking America’s very system of governance.
Americans voters don’t pay much attention to foreign policy, because most don’t understand how critical it is to every aspect of American life, from national security to economic justice to human and civil rights to personal health and well-being. It’s only in the face of internationally triggered domestic traumas that Americans are roused from their torpor. And the fecklessness, incompetence, narcissism, and simple weakness of Donald Trump are leaving Americans exposed to an unprecedented host of international dangers. Americans need to ask themselves why, and to what purpose, when there is a purpose. Who benefits? Patriotic poses don’t just ring hollow when they’re enabling such an undermining of American strength, they mock themselves.