Holding fast to the belief that most Americans remain very proud of our nation’s long-standing reputation as “the leader of the free world,” one cannot help feeling very distressed that our current president, as well as many of his most ardent supporters, seem now to care very little about maintaining the United States of America’s leadership position in world affairs.
On countless occasions since Donald Trump took office, friends and acquaintances living in American-allied countries such as England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and many Western nations of continental Europe, have asked me, in tones ranging from grave concern to serious alarm, “What is happening to your country?” While many Americans are rightly worried about the harm being done to our country’s domestic fabric by President Trump’s hateful and divisive rhetoric during his campaign and now in his presidency – as most recently illustrated by his morally bereft response to the events of Charlottesville – patriotic Americans need to remain equally concerned about the harm being done to our country’s standing in the eyes of the world, due to the words and actions of the man now occupying America’s presidency.
So many examples abound, in just seven short months, of how badly Trump’s approach to foreign policy and foreign relations harms America’s reputation and international interests. The list begins with Trump’s litany of statements expressing his very bizarre admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet KGB agent now serving as the repressive strongman ruler of Russia – a country that remains America’s greatest international adversary. Next we witnessed Trump, shortly after taking office, going to Europe and publicly disparaging the importance of NATO and calling into question America’s commitment to it, in the process kicking aside sixty-plus years of America’s traditional leadership role in our country’s very vital trans-Atlantic alliance.
Quickly following his “dissing” of NATO was Trump’s unilateral, and ideologically-driven, decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord agreements, leaving our country as the world’s only major nation refusing to support international efforts to address the man-made effects of climate change on the health of our planet. Is it any wonder our international friends and allies ask us, “What is happening to your country?”
With each passing day of this current administration, America’s standing in the eyes of the free world takes more and more hits. Recent polling by the Pew Research Center reveals that at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, of over 40,000 respondents in 37 countries, 64 percent of foreign respondents viewed the United States favorably. Now, under Donald Trump, that has dropped to 49 percent. In Germany, one of America’s foremost allies and international partners, only 11 percent of respondents currently have “confidence” that the American president “would do the right thing in in world affairs,” as opposed to 85 percent expressing such confidence when Barack Obama was president. Of all the developed world’s nations, only in Russia and Israel does Trump currently inspire more confidence than did Obama, as the leader of the United States and the free world.
Columnist Dana Milbank sums it up best, in a recent column in the Washington Post, stating “The United States has utterly lost its moral authority in the space of just a few months.” Again, is it any wonder our international friends and allies ask us, “What is happening to your country?”
Elevating the concern over Donald Trump’s erratic stewardship of United States foreign relations is this most troubling reality: as president of the United States, he now has his finger on the controls of our country’s nuclear arsenal. While one could go on at length about the risks of someone with his lack of control and personal volatility having his hands on the nuclear button, let’s just put it in this context. Americans worry, and rightly so, about an unpredictable “mad man” like North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un having the ability to ignite nuclear conflict. How exactly does the equally erratic Donald Trump fare any better in such a comparison?
In Trump’s recent response to Kim’s well-worn threats about attacking America, our president reduced himself to Kim’ pathetic level, issuing threats that the US would unleash “fire and fury … the likes of which the world has never seen.” By spouting such idiotic bluster, our president not only occasioned grave concern to our friends and allies in that region of Asia, but also, for the first time, reduced the American presidency to the same low level as that of the ridiculous leader of North Korea. President Theodore Roosevelt famously said that in international dealings, the American president should always “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” What patriotic American wouldn’t prefer that Trump, in representing America to the world, follow this sage advice of the iconic former Republican president?
Key Republican political leaders such as Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, and others have now begun publicly calling into question Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as America’s commander in chief. And most recently, a former Director of National Intelligence, General James Clapper, issued this most dire assessment following Trump’s recent “Make America Great Again” political rally in Phoenix: “Downright scary and disturbing. I really question his ability to be – his fitness to be – in this office. How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phase, endure this nightmare?”
That about sums it up. And again let’s ask ourselves, is it any surprise that America’s international friends and allies continue to wonder, “What is happening to your country?”