Murari Sharma: Damage that will Take a Long Time to Repair

The American President Donald Trump returned to his country after wrecking havoc to US relations with its closest allies and cozying up with its strategic rival, Russia, who is also viewed by US allies as a threat to their democracy and security. He has created a fine mess, and it may take many years to rectify. You can wreck things up quickly but you require a long time and right policies to repair the damage. 

His first trip was to Brussels, to the NATO summit, where Mr. Trump rubbed other NATO members the wrong way by bullying. While he was right to insist that other NATO members reach the target of 2 percent of their GDP to be spent on defense, Mr. Trump didn’t stop there. He asked them at that last minute to up the spending to four percent, something that had not been discussed, and threatened to pull out of the organization if the allies did not heed his demand. 

From Brussels, Mr. Trump flew to London where he insulted his host and stayed away from London. He undermined the sitting Prime Minister Theresa May, his host, and sang paeans of Boris Johnson who had just resigned his post and who was doing everything to undermine the prime minister. He said Mrs. May was wrecking the negotiations with the European Union and Mr. Johnson would make a fine prime minister.

That was not all. Mr. Trump broke the protocol by walking ahead of Queen Elizabeth. He mostly avoided London where huge protests took place throughout his UK trip against his intemperate remarks and false claims made by him multiple times in the past. 

Mr. Trump had insulted the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, blaming him for the terrorism and spate of knife crimes in London. He had even said mentioned the non-existent bloodbath on different occasions, though so far whatever has happened here in comparison to what happens every now and then in gun crimes in the United States. 

From London, he flew to his golf course in Scotland, where protests became a constant feature. But the worst happened in Helsinki when he met with Mr. Putin.  From there, Mr. Trump walked into his most embarrassing performance in Finland where he met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. 

Mr. Trump’s officials, as well as the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, had warned Mr. Trump to act tough with Mr. Putin with respect to Russian tampering of US elections and role in Syria and other hot spots. But Mr. Trump not only didn’t raise the irritating issues, at least as much as is publicly known, he also put down his own intelligence agencies and sided with Mr. Putin on the election tampering. As he returned to Washington to a barrage of criticism from all sides, Mr. Trump rowed back by saying that it was a slip of tongue. 

That was not all. He branded the European Union, something the previous US administrations had helped build to keep the peace in the perennially warring European states, as the biggest enemy of the United States. Besides, he criticized Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, while he lavished his praise on Mr. Putin on multiple occasions.

It all came on top of the trade war that has started between the USA on one side and the European Union, China, and other countries, on the other. Mr. Trump has also threatened to pull the US out of the World Trade Organization, the successor of GATT, which the US had helped create for rule-based international trade.

Where will this destruction of the existing world order without anything to replace it lead? Chaos.  It will harm not only the United States and its allies, it will also weaken the World Trade Organization, and other mechanisms that have kept the world’s strategic and trading balance largely stable. It will adversely affect the rest of the world and seriously.

Will it make America Great Again, as Mr. Trump has vowed to do? Highly unlikely. 

When will the sun shine on Mr. Trump? He has already silenced his officials by ruthlessly firing those who disagreed with him. Congress, both houses controlled by the Republicans, could bring stop Mr. Trump from all this nonsense by standing up to him. But as the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has said, the Republicans in Congress have proved spineless to prevent Mr. Trump from his madness and shamelessness.      

So the ‘Trump madness’ will go on during Mr. Trump’s term unless Congress changes hands in November this year. It may continue if the American people give Mr. Trump another term. Because of Mr. Trump’s unprincipled and erratic actions, Mr. Putin and other leaders who flout democratic norms are having a great time.

But the United States and the rest of the world will pay dearly for Mr. Trump’s actions. We don’t know what other dangerous ideas Mr. Trump has up his sleeves and how much more damage they will do. But what Mr. Trump destroys as the occupant of the White House will take decades to mend. Building something is always takes more time and resources than destroying it.

 

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