Trump’s Praise for Dictators Is Rooted in His Own Insecurity

American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20, 2017
American president Donald Trump is seen in Washington DC, January 20, 2017 (DoD/Marianique Santos)

Donald Trump’s flattering comments about Kim Jong-un are shocking but not surprising. They are wholly in line with the American’s authoritarian personality.

In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, who reminded Trump of the appalling human-rights abuses in North Korea, the president praised the young tyrant as a “tough guy”.

When you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have — if you can do that at 27 years old… I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he is a very smart guy. He is a great negotiator.

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Trump to G6: Drop Dead

German chancellor Angela Merkel, American president Donald Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and other G7 leaders meet in Charlevoix, June 8
German chancellor Angela Merkel, American president Donald Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and other G7 leaders meet in Charlevoix, June 8 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

This weekend’s G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada could hardly have gone worse.

Even a boilerplate communiqué, which reiterated the rich nations’ commitment to free and fair trade, was undermined at the last minute, when American president Donald Trump repudiated the text. Read more

Transatlantic Relations Take Another Downturn

German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at American president Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 8, 2017
German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at American president Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 8, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Europe is striking back against Donald Trump’s aluminum and steel tariffs, taxing €2.8 billion worth of American exports to the EU, including Kentucky bourbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles manufactured in Wisconsin, the home states of Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, respectively.

The response is relatively mild. Trump’s tariffs target €6.6 billion in European exports to America. But it marks a new low in transatlantic relations, which started to deteriorate almost on the day Trump took office.

Where do we go from here? Below the views of four experts. Read more

Trump Uses Pardon Power to Keep Friends Out of Jail

The
The “Yankee caudillo” Donald Trump (The Washington Post)

When Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year before the former Arizona sheriff could even be sentenced for criminal contempt of court, I wrote it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”

It has only become worse since then.

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Don’t Believe a Word Trump Says

American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump’s latest allegation is that the FBI planted a “spy” in his presidential campaign and therefore the whole investigation into its ties to Russia is illegitimate.

This is hyperbole. Both Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have dismissed the president’s claim as nonsense.

What appears to have happened is that somebody in the campaign talked to the FBI — far from a spy, at best an informant.

This was when the bureau had already started investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, having been warned by foreign intelligence agencies and undoubtedly alarmed by the proliferation of Kremlin-friendly operatives around Trump, from Michael Flynn to Paul Manafort to Carter Page. Read more

Trump’s Erratic Foreign Policy: Speak Loudly and Carry a Small Stick

American president Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1
American president Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1 (USAF/Robert Cloys)

The cancellation of Donald Trump’s planned nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is the latest example of his erratic foreign policy backfiring.

  • Fred Kaplan reports for Slate that Trump frightened aides by refusing to prepare for the summit.
  • Jim Brunsden of the Financial Times reports that the administration is making unreasonable demands of the EU: either a 10-percent cut in steel exports or punitive tariffs above a certain threshold. The bloc’s inevitable refusal to entertain either option — and warning that it will retaliate against tariffs — could lead to a transatlantic trade war.
  • Ilan Goldenberg, a former diplomat now with the Center for a New American Security, tweets that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s economic advisor, Peter Navarro, did everything wrong they possibly could in trade talks with China, from arguing in front of their hosts to leaking to the press, which only caused the Chinese to hunker down. They left Beijing with nothing but vague promises — and yet Trump climbed down from his threat to launch a trade war, which he once said would be “easy to win”. Read more

Trump Further Isolates America by Withdrawing from Iran Deal

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear agreement his predecessor, Barack Obama, negotiated with Iran in 2015.

All the other parties — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia — want to keep the deal in place. Trump’s only allies on the issue are the Arab Gulf states and Israel, which consider Iran a regional threat. Read more