I’m sorry if this post offends some conservatives … I know President Trump has many, many supporters, including in Canada, and, in fact, I will not be shocked if he is reelected in 2020. I will be horrified but not shocked. That being conceded, I remain convinced that Donald Trump is a bad president, a mentally and morally weak man who is guided by instinct, not facts and analyses and whose instincts are, generally, bad … even if they are shared by millions, in America and around the world.
A few days ago I said that President Donald Trump is, in a way, Xi Jinping’s biggest foreign policy asset. He, Trump, I suggested, is splintering Asia and is pushing East Asia out of America’s orbit and into China’s.
A couple of months ago Dr Brian Klaas, who is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics, wrote an opinion piece in USA Today in which he said, “As Trump makes his diplomatic tour of Asia, the West faces a simple and unfortunate reality. There are four powers in the world that are strong enough to meaningfully shape global affairs: the United States, the United Kingdom/European Union, Russia and China … [but] … Europe and Britain are turning inward, battling the self-inflicted wound of Brexit and trying to minimize the damage from illiberal populism in Hungary and Poland. The U.S. under Trump has taken a transactional, short-term view of diplomacy that willfully cedes U.S. influence and leverage — except on a narrow band of issues near and dear to Trump … [therefore] … These simultaneous trends mean that the West is smashing its geopolitical might on the anvil of its own foolishness. The authoritarian regimes in China and Russia are gleefully picking up the pieces.“
His assessment of Xi vs Trump is blunt: “Xi is seasoned, capable, calculating. Trump is inexperienced, incompetent, impulsive. Xi thinks 10 years into the future; Trump thinks about 10 seconds ahead.” That’s a little over the top but, I think, accurate.
I don’t believe that Xi Jinping is any sort of superman ~ he’s a fine political tactician but I really don’t think that he has the breadth or depth of, say, either Zhou Enlai or Deng Xiaoping. That being said, in my opinion, he is, in any and every respect superior to Donal Trump who, it appears, is about to try to “engage” China in a futile trade war that will do far, far more harm to American than it will to China. But it is typical Trump: a hasty, ill-conceived reaction to a problem that he doesn’t understand and about which he is unwilling to learn.
Six months ago The Economist warned that “Donald Trump is no less wowed [by China’s leader]. The Washington Post quotes him as saying that China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is “probably the most powerful” China has had in a century … [and] … Mr Trump may be right. And were it not political suicide for an American president to say so, he might plausibly have added: “Xi Jinping is the world’s most powerful leader.” To be sure, China’s economy is still second in size to America’s and its army, though rapidly gaining muscle, pales in comparison. But economic heft and military hardware are not everything. The leader of the free world has a narrow, transactional approach to foreigners and seems unable to enact his agenda at home. The United States is still the world’s most powerful country, but its leader is weaker at home and less effective abroad than any of his recent predecessors, not least because he scorns the values and alliances that underpin American influence.” Things have gotten worse. Xi has enhanced his power while Trump appears to stumble from one crisis to another, each lowering his and America’s “value” on the global stage.
President Donald Trump is measurably and materially reducing America’s power, hard and soft, because almost no one, not even in America, believes that he actually knows or cares about strategy or policy … he’s very like Prime Minister Trudeau in that, isn’t he? Paramount Leader Xi Jinping, on the other hand, is enhancing China’s power, at home and abroad, by being “trusted” and appearing cooperative and responsible … even though we must know that his goals are inimical to our best interests.
But the world is vulnerable:
- Africa remains in social, economic and political disarray. It is no longer able to blame colonialism. Africa needs to grow up, throw out the “Big Men” and develop real leaders;
- East Asia has grown and prospered under the American security umbrella, but now that umbrella is in Donald Trump’s hands and no one is sure if he plans to keep providing leadership, support and protection;
- Europe is a house divided. Britain is leaving the EU and others may follow. Social unrest and a consequential rise of populism means that making coherent policies and/or playing any sort of leadership role is impossible;
- The Middle East and West Asia, which includes e.g. Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains embroiled in the throes of religious and dynastic wars ~ with a very small handful of notable exceptions the leadership is corrupt, decadent and entirely reliant upon foreign support;
- North America is the USA’s backyard and it is embroiled in a nasty, internecine trade dispute caused, solely, by Donald Trump’s lack of any realistic sense of what matters for America;
- South America was a bright spot, briefly, but it seems to be sinking, again, into its bad old habits;
- South Asia and Oceana are the only brights spot ~ Australia and New Zealand remains bastions of liberal democracy and India is growing into a major power in its own right ~ world leaders are flocking there. Only Canada’s childish prime minister, Justin Trudeau, seems to have managed to totally botch the relationship.
This world needs leadership … traditionally, for thousands of years, actually, the world has almost always had competing or contending leaders …
… but Xi Jinping seems to have a pretty clear run at being THE dominant leader in the first quarter of the 21st century. Putin is tough, crafty and ambitious but he leads a second rate power. India needs another quarter century ~ and a run of good luck ~ to come near to its power potential. And America … President Trump is looking inwards and, by default, giving Xi the room he needs to advance China’s interests in the world.
Xi Jinping has that “clear run” because Donald Trump is a weak minded, wilful buffoon. He is a clear and present danger to the US led West.