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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2529

Donald Trump: the unorthodox president

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Judging by the extent of the fireworks broke out, both within the borders and beyond as well as the actions taken by President Trump in the first fifteen days in office, the modus operandi of any other modern American president in the first fifteen months in office, seem to be paling into insignificance.

With the heightened activity on Twitter and a series of executive orders, President Trump made no effort to hide the fact that he was in a hurry to deliver on the promises that he made to the American people, ranging from securing the borders to taking on what he used to call, the ‘currency manipulators’.

During the first two weeks, President Trump started addressing most, if not all, the major issues that formed the core of his unique, one-man campaign. As the days wore on, it became abundantly clear that Mr Trump has very little appetite to make a distinction between a friend and a foe, when it comes to pursuing his dream project – making America Great Again.

The much-talked-about, short-lived telephone conversation that was alleged to have taken place between President Trump and Mr Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minster, is a case in point. Although, Mr Turnbull maintained a diplomatic silence over the issue, Mr Trump took to Twitter in order to vent his fury over an immigrant-exchange deal that was signed between the two governments, when President Obama was in power; the tone and choice of words left very little for interpretation.

In this context, the sense of urgency that the Pentagon showed in putting Iran ‘on notice’ and imposing a new set of sanctions on Tehran are not surprising at all. The missile tests carried out by Tehran, perhaps in anticipation of a hostile attitude from the new US administration, just played into the hands of some elements in the administration, who want to cut Iran down to size.

Mr Trump heavily criticized President Obama during the campaign over the arrest of a few US sailors during a confrontation with the Iranian speedboats in the Persian Gulf, in which the sailors ended up kneeling down before the Iranian counterparts, in a humiliating manner.

At present, USS Cole is heading to the Gulf of Aden, where a Saudi navy ship was subjected to a suicide attack by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who are at war with Saudis in Yemen. So, the potential for a military confrontation between Iran and the US is increasing by the day, especially in the event of US sailors being subjected to a physical attack or one that could evolve into psychological suffering as far as the sailors in question are concerned or a wider national humiliation.

The public reluctance of major Sunni Muslim nations in criticising the new US administration over the ban of certain Muslim visitors, may be a sign that the price the former is prepared to pay for taking on Iran, which is seen as a regional threat to Sunny Arabs – and of course, Israel, the common enemy.

Meanwhile, the chasm between the Trump administration and Europe is widening at a steady pace. The main players in Europe are worried about the agenda that President Trump is going to pursue in the near future, ranging from his attitude to NATO to warming up to President Putin of Russia.

At the moment, European leaders are maintaining a deafening silence over Trump policies in public; that, however, does not mean they are silent in private, because they let their intentions slip out from time to time, which are not entirely accidental.

Despite a series of obstacles, President Trump managed to install his chosen people in the key positions. During the hearings before the Senate committees, these nominees freely spoke their minds, not necessarily in line with President Trump’s campaign rhetoric. When raised the issue as a conflict of opinions, Mr Trump just brushed off it by saying that the men he chose could say what they wanted.

The strange phenomenon took a new turn yet again yesterday, when a Federal Judge blocked Mr Trump’s order to ban immigrants and travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries: President Trump blasted the judge over the order on Twitter, while promising to reverse it; the Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, said they would comply with the order of the judge.

All in all, President Trump is proving that he is his own man and he has very little appetite for orthodoxy. He says what he wants and Twitter – and 140-character messages as well – is fast becoming his only communication channel.

twitter feud

Global leaders are slowly waking up to the reality that falling out with President Trump on the phone in private means nothing; they know that they are going to be blasted in public on Twitter in proportion to the heat of the conversation that they have with the president.

Perhaps, we may have to wait until Mr Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, retires and writes his own memoirs to find out what really happened during his model conversation with Mr Trump. I am sure it was much more politically entertaining than Mr Turnbull wanted us to believe it was, at the height of his shock.

- Asian Tribune -

Donald Trump: the unorthodox president
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