Donald Trump and a world of disorder

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12 Oct 2018, 8:09 am

Donald Trump and a world of disorder

At a moment when America has been focussed myopically on the highest court in the land, the Trump administration stands accused of being a bystander to lawlessness around the world.

The forced disappearance of the Interpol chief, Meng Hongwei, who it turns out is being held by the Chinese authorities.

Mounting evidence underscoring the Kremlin's involvement in the chemical poisonings in Salisbury.

The seemingly gruesome case of Jamal Khashoggi, the missing journalist who Turkish authorities suspect was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.

All point to a world of disorder: of a slide towards unruliness; of a new era of strongman authoritarianism and a waning of international law...

Presently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is organising a second summit with Kim Jong-un. And even though the dictator has been accused among other brutalities of carrying out executions with anti-aircraft guns and of detaining up to 130,000 North Koreans in gulags, the president told a rally in West Virginia last week he "fell in love" with the North Korean at the Singapore summit.

Donald Trump has praised Egypt's autocratic president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, describing him as "a fantastic guy."

He has commended Rodrigo Dutertes, the president of the Philippines, for an "unbelievable job on the drug problem," even though the crackdown has led to the killing of 12,000 suspected drug dealers and users, according to Human Rights Watch.

He has given Recep Erdogan of Turkey "very high marks", despite widespread criticism of the president's increasingly authoritarian rule. Then there is his well-documented averseness to criticising Vladimir Putin...

It does not help that Donald Trump has so been aggressively critical of journalists, routinely describing them as "enemies of the people." The Washington Post, along with the New York Times, is a bête noire. Again, how are these attacks against the free press interpreted around the world by despots who want to silence their critics?

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has also been fiercely critical of the International Criminal Court, a body successive administrations have been wary of.

John Bolton warned that if the ICC came after the US or Israel, the Trump administration would ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, sanction their funds and prosecute them in the US criminal system...

This week, the president spoke of "evil" people, a word in the presidential lexicon deployed by his predecessors against the Soviet empire (Ronald Reagan) and Iraq, Iran and North Korea (George W. Bush).

But he was not talking about the Khashoggi disappearance or international maleficence more broadly, but rather the accusers of his Supreme Court nominee.

These days the US president's strongest language is directed at political enemies at home.