How they see us: World spooked by White House tell-all
The “utter craziness and incompetence of the Trump presidency” isn’t just a U.S. matter, said Marwan Bishara in Qatar’s AlJazeera.com. “It’s a global disaster.” The American president might not have total control of domestic issues like health-care policy or the economy, but he wields a superpower’s influence “over issues of international war and peace.” That’s why the revelations in journalist Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury—that Donald Trump is at the same time a foolish child and a senile old man, and above all a shark “who feeds on people and on conflict”—have appalled the world. Those he has empowered to run American foreign policy, such as his vapid son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, are no better. The Trump administration sneers at democratic leaders and sucks up to strongmen such as the autocrats in charge of Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, and Egypt. This American farce offers “a great argument against strong presidential systems and in favor of parliamentary democracy, where leaders are better kept in check.”
What a hysterical overreaction, said Rod Liddle in The Times (U.K.). The world has had fun over the past week reading Wolff’s salacious, gossipy tell-all—excerpted in many languages on newspaper front pages around the globe—and we can all agree that Trump is “pig ignorant.” But if you ignore his idiotic tweets, “his actions have been more good than bad.” He has supported Israel, suspended aid to Pakistan, and threatened to cut funds to the Palestinians, suggesting that the U.S. will no longer “kowtow to a PC view of the world” and hand money to those that snub them and support terrorists. What’s wrong with that?
Trump has done far more bad than good, said Nicolas Baverez in Le Point (France). His retreat from international cooperation on issues such as climate change and his wavering on U.S. security commitments is destroying America’s global influence, already weakened by the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This damage “is irreversible.” Even if the next president re-signs the Paris climate agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, nobody can guarantee that another American demagogue won’t change course again. A fundamental trust is broken. That’s why we in the West “must prepare to live without the U.S.” and shore up our own democracies against similar populist takeovers. America is no longer a source of stability but “a multiplier of risks.”
Right now, South Koreans are more alarmed by a different book about Trump—this one, a novel imagining a dark future, said Shim Jae-yun in The Korea Times (South Korea). In writer Kim Jin-myung’s U.S.-Sino War, the U.S. under Trump seeks to use the North Korean nuclear standoff as an excuse to launch an all-out war with China—a scenario that seems all too plausible given Trump’s fascination with the military and his pathological need to appear strong. A war on the Korean peninsula would “lead to total disaster.” Yet given Trump’s impulsivity and ignorance, “the likelihood is increasing.” ■