Just the other day Donald Trump was likened to Ozymandias, the Greek name for the legendary Egyptian pharaoh, at least in the sense that Mr Trump’s sketchy legacy was obviously crumbling in his last weeks in office.
Until the end, Donald Trump has remained true to himself (as well as the most churlish portrait of him). On his way out of the Oval Office, he’s lit wildfires of various sorts in the foreign policy sphere. It’s obvious that he wants to make life even harder for incoming President Joe Biden. (‘Take that. How dare you occupy my White House?’)
Consider the Trump administration’s bold (un-)diplomatic decisions in its last couple of weeks:
On his last full day in office, Mr Trump announced the lifting of travel restrictions for travellers from Brazil and Europe. …
Can big business help clean up America’s public square? It’s a question that matters enormously in the current context, as the US gets a new president while still wrestling with the insurrectionist impulses and polarisation promoted by the outgoing one.
A fortnight after the rampage at the US Capitol in Washington, at least two dozen American companies declared that they will penalise some Republican politicians for their alleged role in the riot as well as their frenzied legislative attempts to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election.
Well-known international brands — including Amazon, Walmart, Disney, Nike, Airbnb, Morgan Stanley, Dell and American Express — will withhold funding to certain politicians. Dozens of other companies, including Bank of America, Target, Google, Facebook, JPMorgan, Visa, Boston Scientific and Citigroup have announced a more neutral approach, by suspending all political giving — to Republicans and Democrats alike — pending a policy “review”. …
This is the last week that we need to invest Donald Trump’s pronouncements with the solemn weight that comes of where he stands. So here goes.
That may be just fine with sections of the Party, which is in any case, deeply riven over Trumpism and its future.
Even so, Mr Trump seems to be engaged in an unsubtle act of re-branding.
On January 13, exactly one week after he incited a mob to march on the US Capitol, Mr Trump released a five-minute video in which he pretended to be a man of peace and goodwill. The chameleon act was part of his schtick and not particularly new. What was interesting was his repeated references to his MAGA movement. He used the full form of Make America Great Again once and mentioned the “movement” another three times. …
I ask this in light of a fascinating piece I read the other day. Ed Luce, US editor of the Financial Times, quoted former FBI counter-terrorism agent Ali Soufan’s warning that January 6 could be “the beginning” not the end of the domestic terrorist threat and that it should be seen as comparable to Al Qaida’s 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Click here (paywall) for Mr Luce’s article. …
The most trite observation of all, as Germany’s most powerful political party picks its new chairman: the three contenders aren’t like Angela Merkel.
For starters, they’re all men.
Three, middle-aged men — Friedrich Merz, Armin Laschet and Norbert Röttgen — have been duking it out in the long campaign to replace Ms Merkel. The pandemic prevented two previous attempts to elect the new chairman by voting in person so the Christian Democratic Union ‘s (CDU) 1,001 party delegates will now do the deed virtually.
The election, according to the FT’s Guy Chazan (paywall), is “a fierce battle for the soul” of the party, which has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years. …
The nuanced way the world understood Donald Trump’s racially charged call to a mob to march on the US Capitol is best summed up in one headline. It was splashed across the frontpage of The Times of India, my old employer.
“ Coup Klux Klan “, said TOI, in reference to the troubling motivations of the pro-Trump rioters.
Those three words said it all.
At last, there was a pithy way to sum up five years of Mr Trump’s racist remarks (on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016); his “very fine people” comment on the white nationalists who caused trouble (and one death) at the ‘ Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in 2017; his “stand back and stand by” injunction on live television to the far-right, neo-fascist Proud Boys group during last year’s presidential debate. …
It was Morning Brew, the smartest and sassiest business newsletter in the world, that pointed out the difference between America then and now through the actions of one company.
America then? The before times, ie 2009, during Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration.
It was a pivotal moment, says Morning Brew, for Airbnb’s cofounders, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk. That was when they realised they were onto a good thing in terms of a business model. They had “witnessed the flood of people looking for short-term accommodations” and knew they could grow the venture.
America now? That would be 2021, less than a week before Joe Biden’s inauguration as America’s 46th president and eight days after Donald Trump incited an insurrectionist mob to march on the US Capitol. It has created unprecedented tensions and 20,000 National Guard troops are camped in Washington, D.C., turning its downtown into something I remember from Kabul and Baghdad’s Green Zone. …
When Donald Trump incited a mob to lay siege to the US Capitol, WhatsApp users in India started sharing the following gag: “Owing to Covid travel restrictions, this year’s US backed coup will take place at home”.
A few days later, ‘The Daily Nation’, a Kenyan newspaper, carried a photograph of the chaos and debri in the Capitol, with a big headline, “Who’s the banana republic now?”
Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangawga, became one of the highest ranking people to question America’s right to use sanctions against foreign governments for alleged anti-democratic activities and misgovernance. …
Does any of this sound familiar? A president who refuses to leave office and will do just about anything to make it happen. Compliant legislators who coddle the man. A quarrel with big tech, which is trying to rein the administration in.
That’s the situation in Uganda as it moves with some difficulty towards a presidential election on January 14.
Yoweri Museveni, who has led the country for 35 years, is reluctant to give up power.
His challenger, Bobi Wine, leads a precarious and lonely existence, campaigning in a bulletproof vest, having despatched his family to the US for safety. …