The Fourth of July — Independence Day — was last week and all America celebrated the heroic history of our nation as well as its fundamental principles of liberty, fairness, and inclusiveness.
In recent weeks, however, our current sitting president has participated in policies and actions that I can only describe as embarrassing. Right off, while traveling to a summit of 32 world leaders he used his tweets to disparage some of them. Including the Prime Minister of Japan, the host of the summit.
During the trip he demonstrated his lack of understanding of how most of the democratic world leaders see him as dangerous and unpredictable. His focus, after all, was demonstrably upon the world’s most dangerous despotic leaders.
The president’s CIA and other intelligence agencies have stated flatly that the Russians carried out a highly planned attack upon our elections in 2016 trying to help Trump. They, and others, have no doubts about the attempt by Russia to undermine our democracy — and that of our European democratic friends.
Yet, the president clearly joked with President Putin about the Russian interference in our elections. They acted like fraternity brothers kidding each other and laughing at the joke. Funny. Our intelligence agencies note that Russia continues its campaign aimed at the 2020 elections. Trump does nothing about it.
Dictators are Trump’s thing. His interactions with Chinese President Xi Jinping was supposed to be confrontational over China’s cheating trade policies. He threatened more tariffs. But that all disappeared when they met, and Trump gave up his pressure just because of a vague statement by Xi that China would buy more U.S. goods.
Trump failed to corral China when he pulled out of the Asian-Pacific treaty aimed at forming a trade bloc in order to challenge China’s expansion into Asian markets with aggressive acts both economic and military.
Worst of all, China is persecuting millions of its Muslim people by detaining them in infamous “re-education” camps trying to eliminate Islam from the state. It is a horrendous dictatorship.
At a meeting with the Saudi Arabian absolute leader Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salam, the president had nothing but praise for the Prince. This is the same man that our intelligence agencies insist ordered the killing, maiming. and dismantling of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an anti-Salam journalist working in America for American news outlets.
The Prince gets military support from the U.S. which it uses to aid a faction of the Yemen civil war by bombing (with U.S. bombs) innocent women and children. And he has closed the only port available to provide humanitarian aid to Yemen. Aid agencies say it is the worst humanitarian disaster in the world with tens, even hundreds of thousands expected to die.
As for North Korea, by walking into North Korea (all 20 steps) he gave dictator Kim Jong-un the international credibility he craves. And the president got nothing in return for this free gesture but vague promises that have not been kept in the past. A huge victory for Kim.
Trump insults our NATO allies, belittles their leaders, then hob-knobs with the worst dictators in the world and then wonders why the world sees him as a disaster. This is something to worry about this 4th of July. America has maintained its high credibility with the world since World War II, even through the dark days of the wars in the middle east and Vietnam.
All that is gone thanks to the wrong-headed diplomacy of the Trump administration. When asked at the conference about Western-style democratic liberalism (the defining political ideology of the post-WWII western nations), Trump talked about Democrats in California.
See what I mean by embarrassing?
Richard Fulton is an emeritus professor of political science.