All the bad guys in the world are THRILLED at prospect of a diminished United States under Trump

On a previous post, our own Phillip Bush said he’s concerned about the Trump administration being “Bush/Cheney redux.”

We’re not going to be so lucky. There’s little chance of having an administration that is anything like Bush’s — or Obama’s, or Clinton’s, or Reagan’s, or Carter’s, or Nixon’s, or Johnson’s, or Kennedy’s, or Eisenhower’s, or Truman’s.

Yeah, I get why Phillip said that — John Bolton is a hard case, and some call him a “neocon,” although he really doesn’t fit the description. Neocons are liberals who deserted the left after Vietnam. Bolton has always been a conservative — he backed Goldwater in 1964.

But forget Bolton — in fact, I am little interested in who will hold this or that position. None of these appointments are as bad, or as consequential, as what has already happened — the election of Donald Trump, a man who just by being president will diminish the influence of the United States in the world.

You’ve probably read that most world leaders — particularly our friends — are deeply dismayed by what happened last week, and very worried about what happens next. They’re perhaps as upset as I am, and for some of the same reasons — my greatest worry about a Trump victory was its effect on international relations. You probably also know that this is exactly what Russia and China wanted — a clueless goofball at the helm of the United States, leaving the vacuum that they are eager to fill.

But others were cheering last week, too. And still are. The Guardian bothered to chronicle some of the reactions from a rogue’s gallery of extremists — mostly right-wing, populist nationalists: Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National in France; Viktor Orbán, the hardline nationalist leader of Hungary; Frauke Petry, the lead of Germany’s rightwing populist Alternative für Deutschland; Greece’s Golden Dawn, the party seen as Europe’s most virulent far-right force; Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of Austria’s rightwing populist Freedom party; the Dutch far-right leader and MP Geert Wilders; Beppe Grillo, the former comedian and the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement in Italy; and of course Nigel Farage in Britain.

Fareed Zakaria looked beyond Europe, at some of the other bullies, tyrants and loonies who are happy that a man who neither understands or believes in America’s role in the postwar order will be in charge:



Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad called Trump a “natural ally.” Rodrigo Duterte, the authoritarian leader of the Philippines, said of him, “We both like to swear . . . we’re the same.” Duterte has been hostile to the United States because Washington has criticized the extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses that have marked his tenure. Robert Mugabe, who has clung to power in Zimbabwe for 36 years while destroying that nation’s economy and liberties, has been similarly hopeful. A full-page editorial in a state-run paper there hailed the election of “the mighty Trump,” and the 92-year-old dictator has reportedly described Trump as a “friend.” No doubt Duterte and Mugabe hope that a Trump administration will go easy on them….

All over the world, separatists and nationalists, thugs and bullies of all stripes are ecstatic over Trump’s victory. Why? Because they see this as the end of the internationalist consensus that we’ve had since Truman, an unprecedented era of peace among major powers, largely led and guaranteed by an engaged United States.

Zakaria explains what’s at stake, in a simple, Geopolitics 101 manner:

But what is this globalism to which these people are so opposed? After 1945, after the Great Depression and two world wars, Western nations established an international system characterized by rules that honored national sovereignty, allowed for the flourishing of global commerce, and encouraged respect for human rights and liberties. This order resulted in the longest period of peace among the world’s major powers, marked by broad-based economic growth that created large middle classes in the West, the revival of Europe, growth in poor countries that lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and the spread of freedom across the globe.

The U.S. role in all this was pivotal. It set the agenda and provided security, which was about more than just deterring the Soviet Union and other aggressive powers. Radek Sikorski, Poland’s former foreign minister, said, “America’s influence and its commitments have been our security blanket. They have allowed Europe’s national rivalries to stay dormant. If you take away those guarantees, Europe could get very unstable.” And remember, the European Union is the world’s biggest market and the United States’ largest trading partner.

For the United States, “globalism” has produced enormous advantages. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States dominates the global economy, in technology, education, finance and clean energy. One in five U.S. jobsis a result of trade, and that number is growing fast. The United States maintains the world’s reserve currency, giving it a huge economic advantage.

The benefits of growth and globalization have not been shared equally, and the pace of change causes anxiety everywhere. But these are reasons to invest in people, upgrade their skills and better integrate communities. They are not reasons to destroy the most peaceful and productive international system ever devised in human history….

Of course, some of my friends — Doug and others — would like to see the United States be a smaller, humbler country confined to its own borders. But my libertarian and my post-Vietnam liberal friends will find themselves in some ugly company in cheering a diminished United States.

This is a very bad moment for liberal democracy around the world.

16 thoughts on “All the bad guys in the world are THRILLED at prospect of a diminished United States under Trump

  1. Phillip

    Well, how about if I say Trump is bringing back all of the worst aspects of Bush/Cheney without any of the (few) redeeming qualities?

    I think they are looking to resurrect Torquemada and add him to the Cabinet. Would fit nicely with Pompeo, Sessions, Flynn.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Torquemada? You say that like it’s a bad thing… I’ll not have anti-Catholic propaganda on my blog! 🙂

      But seriously, nobody expects Torquemada!

  2. Doug Ross

    His rumored choices for cabinet offices would be a good reason to regret voting for him. Glad I didn’t.
    He’s making choices that are likely to gain back Republican support.

    1. bud

      I was hoping that at least maybe Trump would reduce our foreign misadventure footprint. That too is starting to look like just another reason to regret his electoral college victory. (From here on I refuse to acknowledge he won the election)

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Mind you, it’s not that I don’t CARE who is in the Trump administration. As I Tweeted last night in response to the news about Gen. Flynn:

    But the thing is, these are tiny shocks compared to the big one last week.

    We KNOW going in that Trump will choose from among the people who supported him in his campaign, and those people are for me by definition beyond the pale, so it’s hard for me to get excited about them getting appointments and nominations. It’s not really news; it’s just the dog that keeps on biting.

    The NEWS is when he reaches out beyond that circle of problem children. For that reason, while I was a bit shocked at the news initially, I think it’s an encouraging thing that he wanted to talk to Nikki Haley.

    Of course, if he wants her to be secretary of STATE… well, we’re back to the original topic of this post. Which is where I’d rather be because it’s our relationship with the rest of the world that most concerns me when we’re talking executive branch…

  4. Juan Caruso

    ” — the election of Donald Trump, a man who just by being president will diminish the influence of the United States in the world.” – Brad W.

    One thing is for certain, time will tell if this fear of yours ever comes to pass. Most Trump supporters think not. The bar for foreign states judging U.S. leadership has already been set so low by Barack Obama that except for Germany (will Merkel be around much longer?) and the scandal-ridden U.N. (more scandals to come) few world leaders are going to question a renewed strength of U.S. leadership under Trump.

  5. Bart

    If Tom Hanks can have a hopeful approach, then it is far from me to dispute anything Hanks has to say. He didn’t say he was planning to leave the country if Trump won like so many others threatened to do but won’t. They will do exactly what my new favorite saying says they will do, “run to the end of their chain and bark” (credit to Jeff Dunham and Walter). The only difference is that they will get some press coverage here so they can keep their names in front of the public. Otherwise, if they left the country and come back in 4 or 8 years, they would be irrelevant at best.

    However, David Brock, one of Hillary Clinton’s most vocal supporters wants to set up a Koch type network along with another 200 ultra/mega/filthy rich like-minded supporters including Soros and Steyer to name a couple and meet in Palm Springs to “assess” what Democrats did wrong that caused Clinton to lose.

    Now think about this for a moment. 200 mega-rich individuals who have no freaking idea about how the lower classes feel want to get together in one of the most exclusive retreats in the US and maybe the world to figure out how to appeal to the voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but in 2008 and 2010 voted for Obama by a large percentage. If they don’t understand as individuals, how can a group-think assembly of 200 mega-wealthy go outside their exclusive boxes and come up with a solution? If anything, they will screw things up even worse than before by announcing that they “feel your pain” (Bill Clinton). Clinton was believable, these guys simply are not.

    Trump by a long shot was not my choice and neither was Clinton. But like it or not, Trump tapped into an underlying anger that only the people on Main Street understood and Clinton did not. There have been too many articles written on the why and most come up with a different conclusion but most will have racism and loss of white privilege at the top of the list. To that I say “BS”, actually double “BS”.

    It was simple as possible, Main Street America has been ignored for decades and it finally caught up with both parties this election. Personally, I liked Obama and still do. I don’t like Hillary Clinton any more or less than I do Trump but given the tone-deaf campaign she ran, almost anyone with an “R” as their party affiliation could have defeated her. She campaigned with an entitlement attitude from the beginning and never let up. Every speech was totally canned and presented without any passion or conviction of belief in her own words. Main Street America had enough of legacy elections and to a large degree, Clinton was a legacy candidate and believed she was entitled and it was her turn.

  6. bud

    Trump’s first meeting with a foreign leader showed what moron this orange goon is. He disrespected the Japanese prime minister by refusing to reciprocate a bow. This man has zero common courtesy and is a total embarrassment to the US.

    1. clark surratt

      I think you have symbolically hit on the very attitude of Trump’s theme and what his voters wanted to hear: Make America great again,
      and that means don’t bow down to any foreign country.

    1. Juan Caruso

      “Why complain now, when no decision has been made? It delegitimizes the future protests and exposes the bias of the opposition.” – Luigi Zingales (author of NYT article linked by Scout)

      In case you are yet unaware, many of those complaining now have been protestors paid by some of George Soros’s below board 504(c)3s. But Zingales’s assertion about the premature timing of anti-Trump complaining omits one very relevant point.

      Delaying public protests only affords Trump’s supporters the time necessary to successfully rebut the current theory that Hillary actually received more of the popular votes than Trump. Coming scrutiny of North Carolina and Michigan voters (before even all absentee and military ballots have even been counted) suggests much of Hillary’s supposed support was illegitimate, illegal or fraudulent.

      Yes, some of Hillary’s votes in N.C. were by non citizens (I assume you think it is wrong for us to vote in French elections, right?). Then there are the provisional ballots witnessed and signed by a mysterious “Franklin Graham”.

      Should Hillary’s slim lead in the popular vote count be delegitimized by diligent scrutiny, a whining chorus of complainers later will be as moot as what Democrats have heard from fiscal conservatives, Tea Partiers, etc. for the past 8 years. The pendulum has really swung.

      If not in effigy, Hillary, unfit to be commander in chief of a kindergarten, will be swung in ignomy. How dare the Democratich Party have nominated such a disgrace to be POTUS!

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      The Berlusconi analogy seemed to hit a lot of people at the same time, on election night.

      I Tweeted about it at one point during the evening, and an hour or two later, as it became apparent Trump was going to win, the people on PBS — I want to say David Brooks and Mark Shields — were talking about Berlusconi, too.

      I doubt I thought of it on my own. Seems like I had read something a day or two before that drew the comparison. But by election night, it was occurring to everybody…

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Something else I want to say about this, which I was thinking about over the weekend…

    All of the friends of this country around the world were shocked and appalled by Trump’s election.

    Seemingly,every kind of bad guy out out there that wants to see a weakened, traumatized United States was cheering his election….

    This was entirely predictable, right? Because we were all looking at the same Donald Trump, and he was so OBVIOUSLY unfit to lead.

    So, someone please explain to me again how anyone — I mean, even one person, one voter — could POSSIBLY have voted for Trump. When people all around the globe could see how awful he was for this country, how could THEY not see it? I mean, it’s not like it was subtle. This man behaved, day in and day out and in public, in ways civilized people make sure their children know NOT to behave, before they’re old enough for kindergarten.

    So how could anyone — ANYONE — think for even a single second that this man should be POTUS?

    I don’t think I will ever, EVER understand that…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      The temptation, of course, is to oversimplify, to say: Well, obviously all the people who could look at Trump and think he should be president either hate the country, or they’re stupid.

      And some people — those who are comfortable with there being an us vs. them dynamic in the country — will be satisfied with that, and move on.

      But I can’t accept it, because people are more complicated than that. And because the country will never accomplish anything with half the citizens thinking a President Trump is a good idea, and the other half dismissing them as idiots, or just evil.

      Some sort of understanding must come out of this. But I frankly have no idea where even to start….

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