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  • Keith T. Bishop

The American Brand - Trashed Again

Originally published on February 20, 2018 by

Do the Right Thing

For years Pew Research has asked respondents around the world if they had “confidence in the U.S. President to do the right thing in world affairs.” Nearly unanimous across the globe, the spread between Obama in the initial months of his Presidency compared to the confidence in George W. Bush as he was leaving office was striking. The same poll that rates Trump after his first several months as President versus faith in Obama as he exited the White House indicates the American Brand has been trashed again. It is deeply troubling.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain

Cherry pick the numbers and statistics. Slice and dice data however one sees fit. Individuals must decipher signal from noise. Like it or not, politics is business, business is politics. Worldview, in the context of the poll question below, significantly rebounded under President Obama’s tenure. Now that opinion has plummeted again, two questions must be asked. Will the U.S. leadership ever regain the same confidence levels reached under President Obama? And does it matter if the American Brand has been obliterated?

Trump’s Policies and Bluster

From inception, one of President Trump’s central tenets was to “drain the swamp.” To date, the only thing that has slithered out of “Swamp Trump” is an alarming number of White House staff, Russians, possible traitors, convicted felons, wife beaters, a reality television diva, and a porn star. As evangelicals ignore the moral hazards of Bank Trump, to the delight of conservatives, the President continues his true mission, the destruction of the administrative state. In the process, Trump has trashed the American Brand at home and abroad.

Public opinion originally favoured President Bush 43 – until lies about WMDs in Iraq, torture, recession, and more took their toll. This time, the lack of faith in the United States President was immediate, and it’s not hard to understand why.

At home, President Trump has relentlessly attacked immigrants, the media, political opponents, the justice department and intelligence agencies. He’s smeared agencies as “oppressive,” and swiftly defanged them. The seeds of doubt Trump flippantly peddles germinated long ago in his supporter’s minds. To keep them fruitful, he’s played Johnny Appleseed. He nourishes the kernels daily with new controversies while flinging new seeds in every direction. What takes root is harvested to feed Trump’s ego.

Trump Has Abused the World, and They’re Not Happy

Abroad, multiple countries have been Trump’s whipping boy. If not ridiculed, they’re threatened, usually both. Actions speak louder than words.

• After years of leading TPP trade negotiations – formulating standards, environmental rules, worker’s rights conditions, intellectual property protections and more that benefit American workers – Trump blew up America’s TPP commitment; with GOP consent. Withdrawal from TPP has tarnished America’s reputation for global economic management and unlocked the door for China. The opportunity costs will sting, possibly for decades.

• Reneging on the Paris Climate Accord was the height of American arrogance. It angered the world. Rightfully so, and few nations will ever forget.

•The United Nations General Assembly, in a non-binding vote of 128-9, wrathfully rejected Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. While Israel ruthlessly kicks floored Palestinians, Trump puts his foot on their necks. Now he expects a feckless son-in-law to broker the most hair-raising peace deal in generations. With little left to lose, expect Palestinian resistance to turn more violent while the U.S. cedes credibility.

• Trump’s big brother bullying tactics have garrisoned Canada and Mexico to employ more aggressive tactics to protect their interests. Tit for tat rarely ends in anyone’s benefit.

• Viewing the Iran Nuclear Deal, President Trump has gone beyond mockery of former President Barack Obama and the P-5+1 nations of the UK, Russia, France, China plus Germany and the EU. His nullification threats have slapped the face of each signatory and eroded U.S. goodwill across the globe.

Trump’s controversial statements are grave. He floated the idea to invade Venezuela while expressing indifference to America’s Article 5 NATO commitment. The President’s taunts of Kim Jong-un and causal remarks about nuclear strikes are downright irresponsible. His actions are cold-blooded. Trump has increased support for Saudi Arabia’s violent war with Yemen. He’s tripled the number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan and escalated activities in Syria – a territory where more than a dozen factions are fighting for legitimacy. Just this past week Americans killed dozens of Russian backed fighters. His military operations have resulted in more civilian deaths in his first year than the entirety of the Obama administration. Meanwhile, with his name brashly emblazoned across the globe, Trump has disparaged numerous cultures and ethnocentrics. He has declared everything a disaster – and that only he is smart enough to fix the world’s problems.

This Statistic Doesn’t Lie

In only months, President Trump’s America First agenda and bellicose rhetoric has stoked worldwide American animosity and obliterated the American Brand. The long-term damage is incalculable.

The most troubling aspect of the poor poll results is Trump has yet to cause extreme widespread harm. Granted, in the long run, his policies and words will have long-lasting, hugely negative consequences for America and the World. But he hasn’t destabilized the Middle East with conflict that resulted in the death and displacement of millions – then lied to the world about the rationale for going to war – like Bush 43 did that prompted his putrid survey results.

The question is, what will world opinion be when Trump really goes rogue? Only a handful of years ago no one believed interest rates could go below zero. They did. Can polls?

The evidence is clear. Trump’s America First agenda and despicable rhetoric has trashed the American Brand. This time it is beyond repair. And it does matter. World GDP growth significantly outstrips American GDP development. In 2018, approximately $4.5trn in new world GDP will be up for grabs. Expect America’s future share to dwindle – except of course in Israel and Russia. That is not good for the American worker. It is not good for America.

The American Brand has been obliterated.

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