Trump brings back ‘The Ugly American’

Monday January 1 2018

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks to first responders at West Palm beach Fire rescue in West Palm Beach, Florida on December 27, 2017. AFP PHOTO | NICHOLAS KAMM 

By CHEGE MBITIRU
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A year of US President Donald Trump administration seems to indicate the era of “The Ugly American” is creeping back.

For the moment, Trump and his representative at the United Nations, which as presidential candidate the year before derisively dismissed as a talking shop, Nikki Haley, are at the forefront.

Preceding modesty examples, an explanation of “The Ugly American” origin fits. It’s a title of a 1958 bestseller two male Americans with naval background authored.

In the political novel, the authors depicted how American officials and citizens were failing to make substantial differences in Southeast Asia.

With the Cold War raging between the capitalist West and communist East, respectively led by the United States and the Soviet Union, the region, and elsewhere, was for grab. The “Commies,” were winning.

That’s because, the story went, “The Ugly American” disdained local languages, customs and even regional military tactics.

LOCALS

To the “The Ugly American”, the American way and interests were all that mattered and the “locals” had better toe the line.

In 2016, presidential candidate Trump resurrected the mental jacket: America First! As president, a luta continua, victoria e’ certa. So far, internationally the response has been, as Russians would say, Nyet!

For example! At various times, which includes moments awake and plausibly dreams, Mr Trump has insulted practically every nation and person he deems not in step with his America First.

That includes Great Britain, France, Germany, ad infinitum. How nations behave and negotiate remains alien to him.

Take North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme, an immediate concern to neighbours and potentially the world. Initially, Trump said that’s China’s problem, but if not, the United States will, alone. Now he’s whining China isn’t doing enough. Political lungs in Beijing must be busting.

SANCTIONS

That’s because Trump’s going alone amounted to exchanging high-school-type name callings with North Korea’s ruler, a kid considering his age.

Trump and Ms Haley can gloat about Security Council resolutions on sanctions against North Korea the US has sponsored, forgetting nations survive by stealthily behaving and negotiating, not by proclaiming FIRST, which invites ganging-ups.

Ms Haley should have seen that when she took the “Ugly American” attitude to the UN General Assembly last month.  The US had threatened nations opposed to its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal capital.”

The US ended like a general who, without shame, describes a withdrawal as “a tactical retreat. How nations behave and negotiate won: Message! “The Ugly American” stay home.

LEADERSHIP

In a different context, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had, without citing “The Ugly American” mentality in Trump administration, said, according to the June edition of The Atlantic magazine;

“The fact that our ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership [by adopting The Ugly America mentality] puts into sharper focus for the need of the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course.”

PS: The Washington Post reported as of November 13, Trump had made 1,628 misleading or false claims, a 5.5 daily average. Think of, Inshallah, seven more years.