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Racism and Trump’s Strong Man politics: Is America Turning on Itself?



From Birmingham Jail some 60 years ago, Martin Luther King prospected his non-violent protests to force those in power to negotiate for racial justice, and that “There is strange illusion that time solve problems … The time is always ripe to do right.” Trump’s inflammatory language and violent response to peaceful protests following George Floyd’s death manifests Trump’s playbook of strong man politics and the fated problem of structural racial injustice in the United States. The longevity of racial discrimination as the prevailing problem and lack of countervailing policies of the successive US administrations raised it to the level of a contemporary socio-political quagmire.

Despite two consecutive terms of Barack Obama as the first black American president, once again thousands of Black Americans from around 140 cities are marching towards the White House to redress their structural racial abuse. The US President commands the world’s strongest military but fails dismally in addressing racial discrimination at home. Perhaps they are helpless in view of the structural nature of the problem where black is filtered in everyday life from police officers, district attorneys and judges to the employees of different firms and even school teachers. However, Presidents from the past have at least used to condemn racial abuse, calm violence, protect the Americans and even express commitment to end the inertial cycle of racial discrimination.

But what to expect of a President who is known to have reached the level of a ‘Mad Emperor’, walled off in a bunker in the White House, quell the protests with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets and threaten to use military on the very people who raised him to the highest executive office in the world. He, like many other occasions, inflamed his own dumpster fire with his violence glorifying tweet, ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ a repeat of the Miami Police Chief Walter Headley’s words in 1967 who was criticized by the rights leaders for holding racial ‘bigotry against the black community’.

Trump’s rash approval for Putin over his ‘very strong control’ over Russia China’s violent dealing of protesters in the Tiananmen Square as ‘the power of strength’ reveals his appreciation for strong man politics. His introduction of unidentified police in Chicago and many other US cities without patches, badges, nameplates and unmarked Humvee to quell George Floyd’s protesters, terming them as ANTIFA terrorists, is his attempt to convert secret service into his version of Hitler’s SS. Moreover, his attempts to control US justice system depict Hitler’s use of social justice to quell political dissent in his policies of exclusion. Moreover, Trump’s appreciation of Henry Fords’ ‘Good Bloodlines’ inspiring Hitler’s Anti-Semitism, evidently explains similar traits in his political attitude. 

His continuous stubbornness to promise compensation and attempt to mislead protesters’ agenda from grievances over racial abuse to market failure with his George Floyd’s ‘Good Day’ comment sparked anger on social media; where a US citizen sarcastically tweeting that, “People protesting while risking health in pandemic, you threatening to use military on US soil, social unrest we haven’t seen in decades, no proposal from you on addressing systemic inequality… its all good Donald.” 

Caught between the deadly pandemic and protests, America is poised even to a serious disease; the President himself. A President who denounce his own advisors, photo op in front of the Church without pray, threaten protesters with ‘vicious dogs’, treat media like an authoritarian thug and downplays war veterans and even his own generals; calling James Mattis, his former Defense Secretary, a ‘Chaos’ and a ‘Mad Dog’. Mattis, a fine Marine, war veteran and a loyal general would hardly take on his commanders in public, but surprisingly in this case, the General endorsed the protesters and termed President Trump, the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, a ‘threat’ to the Constitution of the United States.

Floyd’s death, apart from being an extra-judicial murder and epitome of appalling dilemma of human rights, is the evidence of institutional racism in the US. Racism, which flocks around income inequalities, job opportunities, health facilities, education, mortality rates and other basic life standards, still haunts the American society with stark prejudice against the African Americans. The World Health Organization and National Vital Statistics estimate that the US stands worst among 21 western countries in terms of child mortality rate; where for every death of a white child, 2.1 African American child die. Arguably, mortality rate among African Americans is 20% higher than the rest of racial groups in the US. Similarly, the data from the US Census Bureau in 2018 reveals that the income of Black Americans is less than 60% of the income of White household. The Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances report in the year 2016 that the median net worth held by white families is around staggering 10 times the net worth of the black families. Unemployment, which remained twice among Black Americans than in the White for the previous decades, stood 16.7% in Black against 14.2% in the White Americans as per the statistics of the US Department of Labor for April this year.

These statistics are even pulling the trajectory in negative against black Americans, especially amidst the COVID-19 crisis when the US economy is dwindling overall.

Worldwide outcry over Floyd’s death with slogans as ‘I can’t breathe’, and ‘no justice, no peace’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’, redoubles not only criticism of Trump’s administration but American hypocrisy on human rights.  The outcry is being heard from London, Paris, Berlin, Vancouver, British Columbia and even spills to the Third World states in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. This is also a chilling reminder for hundreds of other such racial killings by police in these countries including Adama in Paris, Reges Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto, London Riots of 2011 and racist murder of Stephan Lawrence and thousands of other such racist executions in custody in the so-called model democracies. More importantly, it not only gives bonus to China, Russia and even Iran to remind the US of its duties to observe ‘democratic standards’, but also help them question US’ moral global leadership and its self-imposed conventional entitlement as the ‘bacon of democracy’.

Conclusively, Trump has failed with a pandemic that killed more Americans than the Vietnam War and is failing to bring prejudice-less rule of law to the American society. America’s decline, not oblivious from multiple geopolitical indicators, is not because China and Russia are getting stronger, but because its president is turning America on itself; pulling down America’s prestige as vibrant democracy to the land of a ‘strong man’. However, shoving away Black Americans neither gives his rhetoric of making America Great Again a life nor complete him his playbook of a strong man. This is because as Martin Luther King once stated, ‘Riots is the voice of unheard’, and resistance to the systemic racial abuse will continue for so long unless heard and compensated systemically by the Madeleine Albright’s ‘indispensible’ America.

Furqan Khan studies International Relations at the National Defence University, Islamabad. He consistently writes journal and news articles with contributions at a number of international conferences.

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The Politics of (In)security in Mexico: Between Narcissism and Political Failure

Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza



Image credit: Wikimedia

Security cannot be that easily separated from the political realm. The need for security is the prime reason why people come together to collectively form a state. Providing security is, therefore, one of the most basic functions of the state as a political and collective entity.

Last Friday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) laughed during his daily morning press briefings over a national newspaper headline about 45 massacres during his presidency. This attitude summarises in a macabre way his approach to insecurity: it is not his top priority. This is not the first time that AMLO has showed some serious and deeply disturbing lack of empathy for victims of crimes. Before taking office, he knew that insecurity was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges, and he has come to realise that curbing it down will not be as simple as he predicted during his presidential campaign.

Since the start of the War on Drugs in 2006, Mexico has sunk into a deep and ever-growing spiral of violence and vigilantism as a result of the erosion of the capacity of the state to provide safety to citizens. Vigilantism is when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands in order to fill the vacuum left by the state, or to pursue their own very particular interests. Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz have over 50 vigilante organisations that pose substantial danger to the power of the state.

Vigilantism is not the only factor exacerbating the security crisis in Mexico: since 2006, young people have also started to join drug cartels and other criminal organisations. There are important sectors of the population who feel that the state has failed to represent them. They also feel betrayed because the state has not been able to provide them with the necessary means to better themselves. These frustrations make them vulnerable to the indoctrination of organised crime gangs who promise to give them some sort of ideological direction and solution to their problems.

As a result, it is not enough to carry out a kingpin arrest strategy and to preach on the moral duties we have as citizens as well as on human dignity. People need to be given enough means to find alternative livelihoods that are attractive enough to take them out of organised crime, Mexico can draw some important lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and resettled ex-combatants after the armed conflict. Vigilantism, recruitment by organised crime, and insecurity have also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. The judicial system is weak and highly ineffective. A large proportion of the population does not trust the police, or the institutions in charge of the rule of law.

A long-term strategy requires linking security with politics. It needs to address not only the consequences but also the roots of unemployment and deep inequality. However, doing so requires decisive actions to root out widespread and vicious corruption. Corruption allows concentration of wealth and also prevents people from being held accountable. This perpetuates the circle of insecurity. Mexico has been slowly moving towards a borderline failed state. The current government is starting to lose legitimacy and the fragility of the state is further perpetuated by the undemocratic, and predatory governance of the current administration.

Creating a safer Mexico requires a strong, coherent, and stable leadership, AMLO’s administration is far from it. His popularity has consistently fallen as a result of his ineffective policies to tackle the pandemic, worsening insecurity, and the economic crisis. Mexico has reached over 72,000 Covid-19 deaths; during his initial 20 months as incumbent president, there has been 53,628 murders, among them 1800 children or teenagers, and 5888 women (11 women killed per day) This criminality rate is double than what it was during the same period in the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012); and 55% higher than with the last president, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Mexico is also experiencing its worst economic recession in 90 years.

Insecurity remains as the issue of most concern among Mexicans, seeing the president laughing about it, can only fill citizens with yet more despair and lack of trusts in the government and its institutions. AMLO’s catastrophic performance is not surprising, though. Much of his failures and shortcomings can be explained by both ideology and a narcissistic personality. Having someone with both of those traits ruling a country under normal, peaceful times is already dangerous enough, add an economic crisis and a pandemic to the mix and the result is utter chaos.

AMLO embodies the prototypical narcissist: he has a grandiose self-image; an inflated ego; a constant need for admiration; and intolerance to criticism. He, like many other narcissists, thinks about himself too much and too often, making him incapable of considering the wellbeing of other and unable to pursue the public interest. He has a scapegoat ready to blame for his failures and mistakes: previous administrations, conservatives, neoliberalism, academics, writers, intellectuals, reporters, scientists, you name it, the list is long and keeps getting longer.

AMLO keeps contradicting himself and he does not realise it. He has been claiming for months that the pandemic is under control: it is not. He declares Mexico is ready to face the pandemic and we have enough tests and medical equipment: we do not. He says Mexico is on its way to economic recovery: it is not. He states corruption is a thing of the past: it is not. He says Mexico is now safer than ever before: it is not. When told the opposite he shrugs criticism off and laughs, the behaviour of a typical narcissist.

AMLO, alike narcissists, due to his inability to face criticism, has never cared about surrounding himself by the best and brightest. He chose a bunch of flunkies as members of his cabinet who try to please and not humiliate their leader. A further trait of narcissistic personalities is that they love conflict and division as this keeps them under control. The more destabilisation and antagonism, the better. AMLO since the start of his presidency has been setting states against states for resources and for pandemic responses, instead of coordinating a national response. He is also vindictive: playing favourites with those governors who follow him and punishing those that oppose him.

Deep down, narcissistic leaders are weak. AMLO is genuinely afraid to lead. He simply cannot bring himself to make decisions that are solely his. This is why he has relied on public referendums and consultations to cancel projects or advance legislation. He will not take any responsibility if something goes wrong: It was not him who decided, it was the people, blame them. He inherited a broken system that cannot be fixed during his term, blame the previous administrations, not him.

AMLO is a prime example of a textbook narcissist, unfortunately he is not the only one: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte are only a few more examples of what seems to be a normalised behaviour in contemporary politics. Every aspect of AMLO’s and other leaders presidencies have been heavily marked by their psychopathology. Narcissism, however, does not allow proper and realistic self-assessment, self-criticism, and self-appreciation therefore such leaders will simply ignore the red flags in their administration and have no clue how despicably and disgracefully they will be remembered.

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Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan



That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption.  And the stones certainly bruise.

Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers.  Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January.  It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago.  It gets worse for Trump. 

In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent.  Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent.  Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.

Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.

If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other.  Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico.  President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump,   Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel.  In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank.  Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime.  However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait.  Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.

If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof.  As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel.  Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace.  When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion.  Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.

How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?

There things stand.  As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early.  Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money.  The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage.  Time it seems is on Trump’s side.  

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U.S. Elections: Trump’s Strategy of “Peace” might help

Sojla Sahar



Presidential elections in the United States are around the corner and campaigns by the presidential candidates are in full swing in whole of the United States. The Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their presidential candidate whereas the Democrats have chosen the seasoned politician Joe Biden who has also served as the vice president under the Obama administrations. Over here, a fact shouldn’t be forgotten that the so-called Democrats have also imposed an unnecessary war and burden of foreign intervention on the people of America. Let it US intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria this has imposed huge financial burden on the American people that is being pay by their taxes. United States has around 200,000 troops scattered in the world. There are around 38,000 in Japan, 34,000 in Germany, 24,000 in Korea, 5,000 Bahrain, 5,000 in Iraq, 3,000 in Spain and 12,000 in Afghanistan. Under the Trump administration, much needed decision was taken by the administration for pulling out of troops from all the unwanted and unwelcomed foreign interventions. This has cost huge monetary burden and heavy taxes on the people of US. These interventions were a gift by Democrats to its people that led American to nothing.

Under Trump administration, US decided to withdrawal its troops from Northern Syria. US have around 1,000 troops positioned in the Northern Syria for deterring Iranian influence and countering ISIS expansion in the country. They have decided only to leave special operations force in Syria and will pull out the rest from the conflict zone. It is not the task that will come to an end in days it will take years and huge budget to relocate the troops. This decision might be a breath of fresh air for the Americans but it might weaken the US military positions in front of the Russian military on the globe. United States also has American military troop’s presence in Germany as well. Trump administration is willing to reduce the troops in Germany by around 25%. There is around 11,900 troop’s present in Germany for securing Europe’s security. The Trump administration is focused on relocation and strategic repositioning of the US troops in the world. For this, the Trump administration has decided to pull out its 6,400 troops from Germany as they whole burden is on the US shoulders for costs maintaining alliance and Germany is not paying its share in the defense budget of NATO putting all the burden on the US citizens. Trump administration also slammed the European countries of not paying their due share in NATO defense budget. Italy spends about 1.22% from its budget and Belgium spends around 0.93% from its GDP on the NATO defense budget.

In addition, the Trump administration has shown that they do not want war and conflict. They have also retreated themselves from the foreign intervention drama that has led to damage to the peace of the world. Trump has given an impression that he aims to bring peace in the world not by arms but through negotiations with the conflict actors. Its example is US negotiations with Taliban’s for ending the endless war fruitless war that brought destruction for Afghanistan and brutally damaged the standing of US in the world.

There are around 12,000 American troops in Afghanistan that are now reduced to 8,600 troops. The rest are sent home and some are being settled in Italy and Belgium. The Trump administration has declared to reduce the number of troop in Afghanistan by 5,000 by November and will reach 4,000 by June 2021. They are aiming to completely withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months if a concrete peace deal is signed between Taliban’s and United States.

There were more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan that went there to fight war on terror but are coming back empty handed. But still in even in these circumstances it will benefit the American people and their issues will be addressed in a better way. Not just this, Trump administration has also decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq that has been there for more than 19 years now putting a burden on American shoulders.

 All of this decision by the Trump administration shows that under Trump USA will go for the isolationist impulses that will help them to rebuild domestically and resolve the problem of its people who are indulged in unemployment, poverty, crumbling health system particularly after the outbreak of COVID-19. The health system of United States has proven to be fragile. Despite of being the wealthiest country, its health system crumbled within days leaving thousands of people to die in waiting for their appointment. Many of the people had severe financial crisis that refrained them to go to the hospital and get them treated.

According to some sources many hospitals in New York were running out of financial and had to send people on leave because they were unable to pay them. This led to massive unemployment during such desperate times of the year. Developing countries like Pakistan coped with the virus in a better way despite of having poor health facilities.

Under Trump, USA is moving towards “American First” strategy that will lead towards massive shrinkage in the defense budget of US military. The strategy of retrenchment and aversion of foreign intervention might help Trump in winning the next elections because right now United States has more domestic issues than international problems. The flag of truce in the hand of Trump and aim of brining peace in the world might bring him back in the oval office. It seems like Trump will make USA resign from its self-proclaimed post of “world policemen” that will benefit the world and the people of USA.

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