One of the great joys of this job is having an excuse every day to search the internet for interesting and stimulating stories. Over the last 24 hours, I have read about exploding buses in Rome. Apparently, more than 22 caught fire last year and already this year another 7 have self-combusted. It is a rare city where a vehicle catching fire is shrugged off and the first reaction is not to call for an anti-terrorist squad. Thankfully no one has been hurt.
I have also read about Kendall Jenner, model and half-sister to the Kardashians, pushing assistants out of the way on a red-carpet event so that the photographers could get a better shot of her latest dress. Sadly, it wasn’t even the prettiest, most outrageous, or most transparent. It was generally described as a dress made of toilet roll paper. Ah well.
These are fluff and trivia. Of far more seriousness was the Victory Day parade in Red Square, Moscow. If you know me at all well, or better still read my first novel, The Masterful Manipulation of George Cove, you will also know that I have a long lasting and huge admiration for the people of Eastern Europe in all that they did defending us from Hitler.
I have written about this many times so I won’t ramble but just say that the Western allies had losses of 2 million while the combined Eastern Allies of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia lost 10 times that number with more than 20 million deaths. America didn’t win the war. The West didn’t defeat Hitler. It was the bravery and sacrifice of the Eastern allies that gave their lives to defeat tyranny.
Today’s Moscow parade of soldiers and arms may say as much about Putin as it is a reflection of the past. However, it does reflect the patriotism of a country and its people. Patriotism is at the core of the Brexit argument as it gives us the opportunity to control our own laws, or so it is said, but patriotism can be as much a negative influence, particularly in our hyper-interconnected world.
President Trump has used the ‘Put America First’ slogan extensively over the last three years as an excuse for many a bad policy. Trade protectionism was the first issue and that will impact the global economy but now it has become far more dangerous.
President Trump has withdrawn America from the Iran Nuclear deal and that puts the whole world in crisis.
It may not be a great deal. It may not be the best of deals but it was the best that could be done at the time. It was never meant to be a zero-sum deal but a win-win. Both sides had to gain something. Yes, it has deficiencies and doesn’t cover what happens in 15 years when it runs out and maybe it could be stronger on ballistic missile development but it was a deal for the time.
Taking America out of the deal puts us all at greater risk and Trump did it unilaterally.
I remember when I was in Dubai I was deeply impressed by the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The UAE is not a democracy yet President Bush supported the UAE while simultaneously preaching a sermon that democracy was the only way forward. In fact, he used it as a basis for many of the disastrous, war-mongering, Middle East policies.
President Trump may have been properly elected (we can discuss that on another day) but he is now acting as a dictator. We do not know how much support he has in Congress for his actions but from the outside, it does look that he sits in the Oval Office making his own decisions. He is behaving just like the Chairman and CEO of a company where he owns 100% of the shares. In his company, he treats it like a fiefdom. Now he treats the United States of America just the same.
If this had been President Putin the world would have been talking tyrant or autocrat.
In the UK we are now going through Brexit and I am sure that Prime Minister May would like the same freedoms as Trump to decide and commit. She doesn’t. She has the oversight of a Cabinet and Parliament. In a democracy, there are checks and balances on every corner.
We can and will argue about the route that President Trump has taken. I think it is wrong. Many others think it is wrong. In a real democracy, there would be a debate, discussion, and a vote. Not so in America.
Charlie Chaplin’s greatest film was possibly The Great Dictator. It was a satire and comedy. Oh, how I wish it was so now and in 90 minutes the popcorn would be done, the credits have rolled, it has all finished and it was time to go home with a smile.
The problem is that with this action from Trump everything may just finish in 90 minutes.