FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Donald Trump—From One Tyrant to Another

One thing I discovered long ago about tyrants: they love other tyrants. They’re a mutual admiration/suffering society.  When one succeeds by extinguishing dissent, the others applaud; and when one falls, the others cringe.

Donald Trump is a tyrant in thin disguise.  He’s always talking about the people who have the least interest in supporting him as though they really love him.  Mexicans “love me,” he says; so do Indians, Jews, non-terrorist Muslims, Chinese, Russians, Japanese, Germans. In fact, Trump will unify them all, he promises. Of course they mostly loathe him, just as Trump loathes all of them, as well as many other non-white groups.  What is most revealing, however, are the people Trump admires, such as Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, and Moammar Qaddafi—dictators who, Trump has said, know how to eliminate troublemakers and terrorists.  Sure they kill lots of innocent people, but you have to admire their grit.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 6.05.40 PM-1

What Trump specifically admires about tyrants is their willingness to use their power to stay in power.  Putin, for instance, wins Trump’s applause for dealing decisively with ethnic dissenters, critical journalists, and uncooperative businesspeople—and he evidently sees in Trump his mirror image.  Thus as president Trump thinks he would be able to strike a deal with Putin, since tough guys speak the same language.  Trump must surely have laughed at George W. Bush for believing that he had looked into Putin’s “soul” and found something likeable and trustworthy.

The same goes for China’s leaders, whom Trump otherwise detests and is sure he can outsmart.  They have his admiration for cracking down on protesters at Tiananmen in 1989.  He once told an interviewer: “the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.”

Looking into Trump’s soul, we see a truly authoritarian personality, someone who will bring the same no-nonsense skills he applies in the business world to the White House.  As president, Trump can be expected to keep his own counsel, downgrade expertise, issue orders without consultation, ignore Congress and the law, recklessly conduct foreign affairs, and pay no heed to minorities, women, unions, the press, NGOs, Democrats, and (oh yes) most Republicans.  He will insult people willy-nilly and humiliate anyone who gets in his way. He will attack every criticism as a lie, but have no compunctions about lying to push across his ideas.  His every audacious act will be carried out in the name of restoring American strength after decades of weakness.

The worst of it all is that for perhaps one-third of the American electorate, and perhaps more, this description of Donald Trump is very appealing.  But I remain convinced that, like the tyrants he admires, Trump will fall.

More articles by:

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail