Defending Russia and an unflinching outspokenness. Donald Trump’s frankness has the world divided and wondering whether America gained a saviour or a demolition man.
Donald Trump’s administration has faced a lot of criticism, and rightly so. This criticism has appeared around his desire to cosy up to Russia for the benefit of world peace. Many have taken against this due to Russia’s questionable approach on certain issues. Besides rigging elections, and the prohibition of gay marriage, Putin’s Russia is also accused consistently of murder in parts of Ukraine. Casualty numbers in eastern Ukraine are rising as Russian proxy forces carry out attacks; on the 29th of January there were 2,300 explosions recorded in Donbas. When quizzed on this, Trump responded in typically peculiar fashion, ‘we’ve got killers, a lot of killers. What? You think our country is so innocent?’
Allowing for the poor quality of English, this is an intriguing way of arguing. Trump is essentially saying, against everything we have ever been told, that two wrongs really do make a right. We cannot criticise somebody else’s behaviour whilst we ourself suffer from the same misgivings. Such an attitude is terrifying though, as it allows for Trump to justify any form of behaviour since, whilst there is murder in the US, America itself cannot strive to campaign for peace.
To criticise and complain about Trump for not making sense or being outright awful is too commonplace, and besides, in this case it is too predictable. However, a fascinating and unique element in his sentiments is the un-American attitude Trump promotes. By criticising the deficiencies of America itself he is mirroring common global attitudes that many already have of America: a powerful nation, yet rife with crime, corruption and discrimination. Trump has somehow managed to place himself in the thinking of the anti-American left-wing, which criticises America’s terrible history.
Such a position of self-deprecation we are certainly accustomed to in Europe, but in the case of Trump it adds another bizarre chapter to his unique politics. On his radio show, Bill O’reilly went as far as to say that Trump is in fact mimicking the narrative of one of our very own interesting public speakers, stating that: ‘He sounds like Jeremy Corbyn’. This might be a bit far but I can see the point he is trying to make. The global political narrative at this moment has arguably become just that bit more confusing.
To hear the American president criticise America’s own history is astonishing and totally unheard of. It goes against the very framework of what ‘American exceptionalism’ is built upon. In fact, the ‘Making America Great Again’ caps, now seem as a total hoax. It’s a fairly phenomenal moment, since never before has any US President admitted to America’s somewhat dirty past. George W. Bush once said, ‘There is no limit to the greatness of America’ and it’s this attitude that has become the proponent for all US foreign policy.
Trump’s view is simplistic and for some it might make sense. The need to be cosy with Russia in the war on ISIS is greater than the wrongs of Russia itself. Trump is practically taking a dirty hands view of politics but making it public. There has always been a realist understanding of politics that recognises the need to get one’s hands dirty to reach the perfect end goal, that’s just how politics is. However, never has this been confirmed so honestly by those involved and that is what Trump is doing. He is facing the dirty hands paradox head on and telling the American people very honestly what he believes. For one, this deserves some form of recognition — a politician is being honest.
However, I believe in this case honesty must be trumped (mind the pun). The great cry and demand for more honesty within the beltway has gone too far and Trump has now helped to legitimise unlawful killing. He speaks about politics like any right-wing person would do when tipsy with a friend in the pub. It is this pub politics that is so scary and quite frankly disappointing. For heads of state and leaders of millions of people to be advocating such lowbrow dialogue says little for the quality of US democracy. So, whilst this most recent Trumpism is astonishing and somewhat commendable in its honesty, it is also shockingly disappointing. Trump is using honesty as the smokescreen for downright childish politics. In advocating a violence-with-violence attitude, he has arguably made his most heartbreaking and distressing move.