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“Little knowledge is dangerous”, Mr.Trump

At times, the US has seen strange presidents in its history such as the slave rider Andrew Jackson, the slave owner George Washington and the un-knowledgeable George W. Bush. Beyond a shade of doubt, Donald Trump, the business tycoon-turned president of the US, is indeed the weirdest and most controversial president the US has ever had. One potentially controversial president could have been Barry Goldwater, the republican candidate for US presidency in 1964. In this respect, Goldwater is light weight compared to Trump. Almost at anything that Trump deals with, there seems to be trouble or controversy. Either he is completely wrong about the issue or unknowledgeable about it. Then, how come people in the US elected him as president? That in turn tells you enough about the state of mind of the US electorate.

Michael Moor is perhaps right when he said that in the final analysis there is no substantial difference between republicans and democrats. That might be true as far as ideological and even political orientation goes. After all, it was John Kennedy (and later Lyndon Johnson) who started the war in Vietnam. As opposed to republicans however, democrats have displayed a degree of magnanimity in selected cases of US role as the world policeman. Clinton’s presidency can be an example to this assertion. But much more magnanimity in this respect was displayed under Obama’s presidency: undoing the George W. Bush’s bellicose foreign policy and aggressive interventions abroad.

Obama was not a saint either when it comes to few cases of US foreign intervention. He, however, seems to have adopted a foreign policy that is in the long run viable for the US ruling class to navigate, -without changing it altogether though,-  away from a nasty foreign policy, grossly inhumane at times such as the US support for Israel’s policy of genocide against Palestinians. The policy he opted for would eventually guarantee longevity to the ruling class. Some of the changes he opted to introduce at home such as the Obama-care and later the suspension of the construction of the pipeline in the land of the Sioux in Dakota were in the long run all contributive to the sustenance of the system. But, politics and political discourse in particular in the US is so archaic and the majority of the electorate politically so backward that politicians of the right took Obama’s internal reforms as “socialist” or ‘’communist’’. In actual fact however, Obama’s policy was not even close to that of the policies of the welfare state in Western Europe, which the US racist-right considers as “socialist”. Amazingly, Donald Trump in this respect is more backward and less knowledgeable than the mainstream right in the US.

Now, to Trump’s personality. He reminds me of a childhood friend named Chichi. Chichi’s father was an Italian mechanic and had a good income, well enough, -to our envy-, to buy all sorts of toys to his son. We were dying to play with Chichi’s toys, and we resorted to flattering him all the time. Then he wanted to be the goalkeeper of our football team and it was a difficult decision for us to say no. We let him be the keeper anyway but he seemed to be unaware that our decision was made out of flattery and, in fact, he started to pose as the best player of the team. We let him assume that role while we all knew that he was not even the best goalie in the team. It is indeed pathetic that Trump, a 70 plus old, reminds me of the 8 years old Chichi. (As a matter of coincidence in fact, CNN’s Anderson once told Trump in his face that his argument was that of “a five year old”!!) Indeed, despite his age, Trump is still juvenile in his behaviour and thinking.

Above all, as if being utterly un-presidential is not enough, Trump is downright insolent. He once said that you only have to “grab by the …” to get a woman. He referred to African countries as “shit nations”. He literally insults journalists who ask him questions that are not to his liking. He has no idea of being presidential and polite. He seems not to have been raised in a family milieu ever being told “no”. Being a son of a millionaire, he seems to have got whatever he wanted since childhood. I have no idea about his education, but he seems to speak and act as an illiterate cowboy. It doesn’t take a minute to tell that he is unintelligible and completely unaware of selecting the right words that constitute part of being presidential. It seems that because nobody has ever said “no” to him, he is in the habit of unashamedly playing the role of others including professionals. Even when the world is confronted with the most deadly pandemic, COVID-19, Trump was not serious enough to be careful of what he was saying. Instead of leaving the medical side of the pandemic to health experts, he unintelligibly recommends people to take the malaria drug, chloroquinne and, strangely enough, bleaching agent!!  At a time when more than two million are affected by the virus world-wide and with the death toll of close to 30,000 in his own country alone, Trump was so careless in recommending medical prescriptions which is not his job at all. That should constitute an offense as nobody except health professionals can prescribe medicine. As president, he is expected to deal with issues to be dealt with at the macro level. But, Trump doesn’t know the difference between macro and micro management. That is why he tweets literally on every issue thereby creating confusion even among his staff and entering conflicts and controversy with many including sports personalities.

What is more harmful and dangerous is the policy he followed in the wake of the breakout of the Coronavirus. When the first US case was reported, he went on the media and assured the people of the US that “the Chinese virus” was not any danger to the US at all and that even if it appeared on US soil, his administration is well prepared to control it. Thus, people should not bother but relax instead. That left many US citizens to be unsuspecting on the one hand and, on the other hand, his administration failed to make sufficient preparations to mitigate the crisis. In actual fact, he even denied the danger that the virus poses to the people of the US. He is so subjective that in the face of such devastating virus, what seemed to be in his mind was having a tranquil situation upon which he gallops to a second victory in the presidential elections. What he suggests at each stage of the corona crisis is so unintelligible that he went into controversy with a number of governors. Of course if, for instance, governor Cuomo of New York state rejects his suggestions, it is because “Cuomo is a democrat”. Can you imagine a US president thinking about party politics when two thousand US citizens are dying every day of the pandemic? How can one take this president seriously?

Typical of unruly cowboys of the Wild West when they attempt to play ‘smart’, Trump also thinks he is smart by shifting the blame for his failure in handling the pandemic at the World Health Organization (poor WHO!!). He even stopped US contributions to the WHO at a time when they need money to combat the corona pandemic world-wide. Now, one has to weigh the impact of this particular action. Everybody is fighting to defeat the pandemic and a great many countries particularly in the South need support as they lack the required health facility. There has never been a single issue upon which the entire world is united. Cutting down support at a time when governments and organizations throughout the world are fighting against the odds to save the lives of millions and millions of people is tantamount to a crime against humanity. If this is not a crime against humanity, what is?

Trump has miserably failed in the face of the Corona pandemic. The impact of the pandemic is enormous; close to twenty million US citizens have lost their jobs. Perhaps, the devastation might not have been that serious had the Trump administration been well prepared to combat it in the first place instead of being complacent. It was not the time to think about elections, party politics and so on. It is not just ridiculous to do so but also downright insensitivity. To refer to the virus as the “Chinese virus” is in short childish if not abominably racist.  

Two outstanding issues arise out of Trump’s failure to control the pandemic. First, the US which he promised to make the most prosperous and economically number one in the world (“Make America Great Again”) is most likely to lose that status. The pandemic has caused an economic crisis never seen in the US after the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unemployment has gone up by more than 25 million, the soup lines are back at least in New York for the first time since the 1930s and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to reviving the economy.

Undoubtedly, the US has become a superpower in the first place solely by its economic might. Thanks to the policies of the current president, its economy is in tatters and revival not being in sight, the possibility that the US might lose its superpower position is in the offing. “A single spark starts a prairie fire”, as the saying goes, it is not the corona pandemic as such but Trump’s reluctance to combat it that caused all these disasters to the US.

The insolent and un-presidential president of the US angered millions and millions of Ethiopians with his rudely constructed comments about the Nile dam negotiations between the three countries. Trump was completely wrong in what he said about the negotiation process. Perhaps what the Ethiopian delegation told him in his office did not sink in his head (what can?). Trump was the most un-presidential president that the world is dealing with. It is huge relief that he lost the elections.  

Editor’s Note: The writer can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in the article are not necessarily the views of The Reporter.

Contributed by Mesfin Habtu