FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is This How the World Sees Us Now?

Donald Trump recently returned from meeting with the other powerful countries of the G20 group — one of his first big performances on the world stage. So how did it go?

Not swell, according to a no-holds-barred account delivered by Chris Uhlmann, an Australian journalist. Uhlmann made four main points about how the rest of the world sees the U.S. president.

First, Uhlmann charged, Trump has “no desire or capacity to lead the world.” He called him “a man who barks out bile in 140 characters” and “wastes his precious days as president at war with the west’s institutions, like the judiciary, independent government agencies, and the free press.”

It’s hard to refute that latter point. How much time has Trump wasted watching cable news, or insisting that he got more votes or had bigger crowds at his inauguration than he really did?

How much time has our entire country wasted focusing on nasty tweets, such as the recent one claiming that TV personality Mika Brzezinski has a low IQ?

Second, Uhlmann concluded, Trump “craves power because it burnishes his celebrity. To be constantly talking and talked about is all that matters.” Worse still, he said, “There’s no value placed on the meaning of words. What’s said one day can be discarded the next.”

That’s a reasonable conclusion about an administration whose lies are flimsy and easily debunked, but delivered forcefully all the same. Moreover, Trump himself has shown little shame in making hateful remarks that would embarrass any other leader, from making fun of a disabled journalist to bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Third, Uhlmann warned, one must not “confuse the speeches written for Trump with the thoughts of the man himself,” because ” it’s the unscripted Trump that’s real.”

Again, he isn’t wrong. This can be said to some degree of all presidents. The words of a speechwriter or the tactics of a clever political strategist may be executed at the White House, but they don’t necessarily represent the thoughts or feelings of the president.

This is less of a problem when written speeches and unscripted remarks are similar. But Trump often reads a well-scripted speech and then turns around right afterward to make entirely contradictory off the cuff remarks.

And last, Uhlmann assessed, as a result of all this, “the G20 became the G19” and “the U.S. was left isolated and friendless.”

You may disagree with parts of this assessment. Perhaps you like Trump. Maybe you think his policy proposals are good ones.

But it’s impossible to refute this last point — that under Trump, the U.S. has forfeited its position of leadership in the world. Note that the other 19 countries had to issue their own statement about addressing climate change, now that Trump has pulled the U.S. out of those discussions.

Leadership can only occur when others recognize the authority of and follow the leader. I could declare myself leader of the free world right now, but nobody would buy into such a claim.

Therefore, whether Americans agree with other nations or not — on trade, on climate change, on anything — Americans have no choice but to earn their respect and cooperation if we wish to be a world leader.

At present, under Trump, our country is not doing that.

You can call German Angela Merkel or Chinese Premier Xi Jinping any names you want. But until our country elects someone who can work constructively with them, our global influence is going to suffer.

And, correspondingly, our ability to achieve any goal that requires international cooperation will suffer as well.

Distributed by OtherWords.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail