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NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: Trump making Obama look like a genius


PATRICK HOYOS

NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: Trump making Obama look like a genius

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I HAVE A FRIEND in Britain who is a retired newspaper sub-editor, and for years, long before the Brexit vote, he would rail against the evils of Brussels sending all its legislation up the Thames to Westminster, forcing Great Britain to do its bidding.

From him I got the impression that Brussels is very good at regulations, and also that the Brits hate to be told what to do by foreigners.

Well, as you know, people like my friend got their wish and now Britain is on a historic journey out of the European Union. As a Barbadian, as I told him many years ago, it doesn’t matter whether I like it or not as I didn’t have a say on it. But as a journalist, I find the policy options facing Britain, and the rhetoric on both sides, compelling.

I have taken the same position with all other countries – anybody remember Grexit? – and so I remain journalistically neutral with regard to the methods used by Donald Trump to gain the presidency, even though I found them to be abhorrent, and still hold him accountable for them.

I had no vote in that election either.

But when it comes to Trump’s impact thus far on world affairs, that is open season. It directly affects you and me. And everybody else in the world – especially immigrants and refugees.

It is right for any incoming administration to try to act as quickly as possible on its election promises, but the Trump arrival has resembled more of a hostile corporate takeover than a fresh political wind blowing through the White House.

No one can deny the conservative backlash that grew during the presidency of Barack Obama. But Trump’s first two weeks at the helm have been so divisive and so full of anger that there seems no joy left in public life in the United States; only a thirst for revenge.

The groundswell of opposition to his policies in his own country and around the world, and the investigations and court cases that have already begun and will likely ensnare the presidency as time goes on also make it clear we are in for a rough ride, no matter which country we live in. 

It seems Trump is always looking for confrontation, so that he can score points and win “bigly”. But on Israel, Russia and Iran, despite his protests and criticisms during the election campaign about Obama’s policies, he has begun to sound more like his predecessor, and the world has paused to see if this will allow at least some respite to the chaos that Trump has created in the few days since January 20.

Trump still has not yet publicly admitted, however, that the goal of the Trans Pacific Partnership made a lot of sense for the United States, as it was opening its market to countries which currently depend on China for most of their exports, thus giving China a big stick with which to beat them over their heads. In return, the US would have got copyright law enshrined in those countries, eventually bringing home billions of dollars in royalties on everything from software to movies. And there were environmental benefits as well.

Perhaps he is now learning that Obama was not just making it up as he went along and hopefully this revelation is coming in time for Trump to find enough excuses not to renege on the Paris Agreement on climate change. That would be the signature mistake of his presidency, as it would take some of the brakes off a global effort to save the planet from climate extremes. The world waits on sanity to return to US foreign policy.

Here’s the upside: while Obama was a brilliant president, Trump is making him look like a genius.

Patrick Hoyos is a journalist and publisher specialising in business. Email [email protected]

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