THE WAR OF BUTTONS

Cristiana Era

 

The tweet-show of Mr. Trump over the nuclear red button size, arguing with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is just one of the hilarious – and at the same time scary – performances that have characterized the American President’s policy since taking office in 2017. On January 7, Steven Erlanger, from the columns of the prominent New York Times, wrote about the possibility that the incessant and vexing “social” statements by Donald Trump might undermine US international credibility.

 

Actually, this is not a possibility, it’s a certainty. When a President of a great power, who should be able to control what he says (or “tweet”), repeatedly shows to the world his total disregard of diplomacy or carries out rough statements, which are definitely inappropriate for such a role, then the result cannot be but the domestic and international derision. What a pitiful downfall when a President of the United States, a Commander in Chief, is being mocked by a renowned fast food chain on the same social network Mr. Trump seems to appreciate to a great extent.

 

But besides the comical aspect of the issue, there is indeed a more worrisome side. As Richard Haass pointed out, statements by the leader of a powerful country like the United States matter. And moreover they can have an impact on foreign relations stability. This is why any experienced political leader is carefully weighing every word and, of course, every move, which is usually the result of accurate consultation with a pool of experts. However, this seems not to be the case for Mr. Trump. At this stage, for example, any consideration on the Iranian crisis does not look to be the savviest political move, as well as the announcement of the Presidential decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 

The point is this tweet-mania – which is not backed by a sound and credible foreign policy – is alienating good diplomatic relations with allies, while at the same time it is exacerbating the strained ones with unfriendly countries. Repeated criticism and threats against this or that country have so far brought to unexpected reactions: from PyongYang decision to open talks with Seoul (bypassing the US) to Pakistan getting closer ties with China, and to sound arguments for Teheran to possibly crack down on protesters. Security challenges in the XXI century are growing in size and number: these are times for a stable and responsible leadership to manage the many global frictions. But it is obvious that this time the leadership will not come from the Western hemisphere.

 

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