Trump's trampling of political norms spurs strongman comparisons | Touch Latest Local,World,Tech,Entertainment,Health,Sport News
21 April 2018 00:00:00 AM Breaking News

• WORLD

Trump's trampling of political norms spurs strongman comparisons

As Trump meets Turkey's Erdogan, critics say he gives ammunition to repressive leaders worldwide.

On a recent visit to Washington, members of an official Chinese delegation told their congressional hosts that Jared Kushner, with his murky mix of business and political interests, reminded them of a wealthy young communist “princeling” in their own country.

When Capitol Hill aides warned officials from another repressive foreign government that they could pay a political price for human rights abuses, their visitors scoffed: President Donald Trump had just called their leader, they said, and told him he was doing a great job.

In addition to those interactions, recounted by people who were present, in the days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, one diplomat from an undemocratic nation told POLITICO he was taking a guilty pleasure in the spectacle. “Now you guys can’t lecture everyone else anymore,” he said.

Trump has delighted in trampling political norms — from attacks on the judiciary and the media to groundless accusations about his political opponents — in ways that critics say resemble the behavior of foreign autocrats whom the United States has long condemned.

Now congressional officials, human rights activists and U.S. diplomats say they worry Trump may be setting a dangerous example overseas.

“There’s a credibility issue when it comes to the rule of law, particularly with the firing of Comey,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch.

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The concerns will take on special resonance today when Trump sits down with Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish leader recently presided over a sweeping political crackdown—jailing opponents, shuttering media outlets and eroding the independence of Turkey’s judiciary.

At the same time, top Trump officials have downgraded the role of democratic values in U.S. foreign policy. In a recent speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said human rights concerns are often “an obstacle” to other U.S. interests. Trump has also taken forgiving stances toward other authoritarian rulers, including Egypt’s dictator, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who visited the White House last month.

But Trump’s governing style at home also causes concern for critics who fear foreign governments will cite his actions as justification for their own repressive behavior.

In addition to firing Comey, a top law enforcement official who was overseeing an investigation into Trump’s associates, the examples cited by critics include: Trump’s scathing criticisms of federal judges who have ruled against his policies; his family’s entanglement of business and political interests; his baseless charges of massive voter fraud; his accusation that President Barack Obama wiretapped him; and his routine branding of negative media stories as “fake news.”

Democracy and human rights activists at home and abroad say the combined effect risks making a nation they have long held up as a model, however flawed, look no better than any other. Last week, for instance, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) met with a demoralized group of human rights activists from a repressive country.

“They were petrified that they couldn’t argue for the rule of law in their country if they didn’t know the rule of law was being held up in the United States,” Murphy said.

Several foreign nations have already picked up on that phrase. In February, Russia’s foreign ministry set up a web page to debunk what it called fake news stories—which it has used to criticize U.S. reports about Russian bad behavior without giving any evidence of their inaccuracy.

Last month, a spokesman for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed detailed New York Times reporting on his infamously brutal anti-drug campaign as fake.

And after Cambodia threatened to expel reporters from the U.S.-funded outlets Radio Free Asia and Voice of America in late March, a Cambodian government spokesman said that Trump’s criticism of the media “sends a clear message” that “news published by those media institutions does not reflect the real situation.”

Sources say Chinese officials take particular pleasure from criticism of Trump’s leadership. U.S. officials have complained for years about corruption in China, where relatives of party officials often use their political connections to acquire vast wealth.

News outlets in Russia—perhaps the world’s most oligarchic nation—have taken aim at the Trump family’s business interests, too. “For Confluence of Money and Power in the US, Look No Farther Than Ivanka Trump,” declared an April headline in the Kremlin-backed news outlet Sputnik.

In Africa, where many countries are plagued by dictatorship and corruption, political elites are “openly question[ing]” the value of western democracy,” according to Reuben Brigety, U.S. ambassador to the African Union from 2013 to 2015. “[T]he failure to adhere to our democratic values at home comes at tangible cost to our ability to advance our interests abroad,” Brigety wrote for Foreign Policy on May 11.

The U.S. has long struggled to live up to its own ideals. During the Iraq War, foreign governments cited the CIA’s secret detentions and torture practices as damning proof that America has no special moral virtue. Even the recent wave of global ransomware attacks—based on computer code stolen from the National Security Agency—is a reminder that the United States practices aggressive cyber espionage.

And when it comes to Turkey, Trump himself has said the United States has little standing to preach about political rights given its failings at home. After Turkey’s military staged an aborted coup against Erdogan in July 2016, Trump praised Erdogan for his severe crackdown in response.

“I don’t know that we have a right to lecture. Just look about what’s happening with our country. How are we going to lecture … you see the riots and the horror going on in our own country?” Trump said. “When the world sees how bad the United States is and we start talking about civil liberties, I don’t think we are a very good messenger.”

Turkish and Russian media outlets prominently covered the remarks.

Trump officials have noted that Turkey is a NATO ally which assists the fight against the Islamic State.

Still, asked whether Obama would have hosted Erdogan amid the many concerns about his political crackdown at home, Colin Kahl, a former Obama White House national security aide who worked extensively on Turkey replied: “No chance.”

Recommended

Loading...

Related Posts

Back in Time...History Speaks- May 9

1/12 SLIDES Â© Print Collector/Heritage-Images/Hulton Archive/Getty

Read More

Trump Warns North Korea Against More Provocations

U.S. President Donald Trump has renewed threats to take "care of" the North

Read More

7 things Donald Trump shouldn't talk about in Arizona tonight (but probably will)

Less than 24 hours after delivering a call for national unity, President Donald

Read More

The biodegradable burial pod that turns your body into a tree

Your carbon footprint doesn't end in the grave. While you rest in peace, the w

Read More

From Sheryl Sandberg To Beyonce: The 60 Richest, Most Successful Self-Made Women In America

orbes’ second annual definitive tally of America’s wealthiest, mos

Read More

Burkina Faso: Australian woman kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Burkina Faso released in neighbouring Niger

An elderly Australian woman has been released by an al-Qaeda-linked terror gr

Read More

US to honour dumb Australia migrant deal

US to honour dumb Australia migrant dealImage copyrightEPAImage captionVice-Pres

Read More

American OSCE monitor killed in rebel east Ukraine

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said Sunday that one of

Read More

Central Railway's commuter count per coach dips 28% in a decade

MUMBAI: Augmentation of all rakes to 12-car affairs across the three Central Rai

Read More

Also Read

EFCC Arrest 5 Yahoo Yahoo Boys In Lautech (Photos)

The Ibadan Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, M

Read More

World must aid famine-threatened Nigeria to avoid mass exodus

The devastation wrought by Boko Haram, which has left millions of people in no

Read More

Nigeria Customs Service Donates 300 Bags of Rice to IDPs in Abuja

Suzzy Tolofari: Abuja, May 19, 2017 (NAN): The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has

Read More

Tambuwal commends Sokoto Assembly for passing education law

Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal has commended the state House of Assembly f

Read More

IG model puts Drake on blast, says she got pregnant for him and he disappeared..(screenshots)

Last night popular Instagram model and video vixen Layla Lace put rapper Drake o

Read More

It Is Dangerous Marrying One Wife As A Muslim, You Need Two & Above – Muslim Scholar

Well known for his tough lectures, popular Islamic scholar and cleric, Sheik Muy

Read More

Nigeria’s ‘lost’ generation: Our children no longer know history

the June 12, 1993 Election, despite having taken place over two decades ago, sti

Read More

See responses Twitter user got for saying any man attracted to Serena Williams is gay

So, this black American Twitter user, Ashley-Chan'te thinks any man attracted

Read More

Trump ready to work with Macron

President of the United States of America, Donald Trump has expressed his willin

Read More

Terrifying AI learns to mimic your voice in under 60 seconds

When it comes to personal privacy and overall security, we often think of passwo

Read More