By Tafi Mhaka
What did Donald Trump do after he won the US Presidential election? Did he make arrangements to see the most important leader in the world after the US President: German Chancellor Angela?
Far from it: The property tycoon turned politician made it a point not to see her or the German envoy to the US. One of the first things Donald Trump did after his surprise triumph in the US presidential poll was to have a much publicised hour-long meeting with British far right-wing leader Nigel Farage.
Yes: Trump held the meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan and promptly posted a tweet after his sit down with the man named ‘Briton of the Year’ by The Times newspaper in 2014. Farage also earned the dubious distinction of being named the second most influential right-wing leader after David Cameron by the Daily Telegraph in 2013. And as leader of the fringe UK Independence Party (UKIP) Mr. Farage successfully campaigned for Britain to exit the EU alongside a host of Conservative Party leaders.
Mr. Farage has also raised a number of spine-chilling policy proposals you should find rather facetious as well like blowing up all wind farms in Britain because they supposedly destroy the landscape. When pressed by the media to say if he would really blow up wind farms in Britain if his party won power he said: “I will do it personally.”
Like the UKIP leader Mr. Trump has also voiced his displeasure at the construction of wind farms in Scotland.
Wind farms in Scotland are big on the Donald Trump agenda. So much so Mr. Trump brought them up in his meeting with Mr. Farage.
Mr. Trump said he was“dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become overrun with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape”. Is this because his late mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was born and raised on the remote and beautiful Scottish Isle of Lewis, before leaving as a 17-year-old for the United States to work as a domestic servant in 1930?
No: It is simply because Mr. Trump feels that wind farms spoil the landscape around the golf courses he built in Scotland. So Mr. Farage had to let the world know about this.
But other matters Mr. Farage is not shy to support continue to clog Scotland and Britain apparently. Like the small matter of the different languages people speak in Britain. Mr. Farage has made it clear he loves to hear people speaking English in Britain. Hearing people speak a language other than English on trains makes him feel uncomfortable.
Mr Farage said: “It was a stopper going out and we stopped at London Bridge, New Cross, Hither Green, it was not till we got past Grove Park that I could hear English being audibly spoken in the carriage. Does that make me feel slightly awkward? Yes it does.”
“I wonder what’s really going on. And I’m sure that’s a view that will be reflected by three quarters of the population, perhaps even more.”
Mr. Farage would also like to monitor the ‘quantity and quality’ of migrants who settle in Britain.
Mr. Farage also has plans to ban HIV Positive people from migrating to Britain and deport unskilled migrants from European countries like Romania and Hungary.
So, who then, is welcome to live in Britain according to Mr. Farage you might be wondering?
“People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill,” Mr. Farage said.
Mr. Farage has also made it clear he does not for one minute trust migrants from Romania.
“I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be,” he said during an interview.
But he would not mind living next to a German because “you know the difference” he said.
Personal safety from marauding Romanian robbers is not the only thing on his nutty mind: After Mr. Farage failed to make it on time to a public appearance in Port Talbot, Wales in December 2014 he blamed his tardiness on high volumes of traffic, which, in turn, he blamed on migrants as well.
“That has nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a country in which the population is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be.”
But it is not just the poor migrants who have incurred the ire of Mr. Farage. He has vehemently criticised mothers who breastfeed in public by suggesting they should do it ‘in a corner’ or something.
“I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious,” Mr. Farage said.
He added: “Or perhaps sit in the corner, or whatever it might be”.
Mr. Farage has in the past dismissed the reality of a gender pay gap and suggested female employees are less valuable than men do because they go on maternity leave.
“A woman who has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off – she is worth far less to her employer when she comes back than when she went away because that client base won’t be stuck as rigidly to her portfolio,” he said.
This new axis of diplomacy – or idiocy, is taking shape rather nicely for far right movements in the USA and Europe. Had Donald Trump adhered to diplomatic protocols after his win he should have met Theresa May, as she is the Prime Minister of Britain or the minister in charge of British foreign affairs, Secretary Boris Johnson. Short of doing that he might have met the leader of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn. Or he could have met with Sir Kim Darroch who is the UK Ambassador to America.
Instead he chose to openly call on Theresa May to appoint Nigel Farage as UK ambassador to the USA via this tweeted message: “Many people would like to see [@Nigel Farage] represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!”
While a Downing Street spokesman later said: “There is no vacancy. We already have an excellent ambassador to the US” and Mr. Johnson said “We have already settled that question, there is no vacancy” Prime Minister May and Ambassador Darroch are going to find the special relationship that exists between Mr. Trump and Mr. Farage tricky and difficult to navigate as they attempt to do great business with President Trump.
Mr. Trump has time and again demonstrated that he abhors political etiquette and prefers to employ a more debonair brand of leadership that is steeped in the glaring absence of adherence to established traditions or reasoning. And as Mr. Farage put it to the media there has been a shift to the extreme far right in the world of politics and some leaders in Britain might have missed the memo.
He said: “The world has changed and it’s time that Downing Street did too.”
It has changed indeed: Ivanka Trump sat in on a meeting her father had with President Mauricio Macri of Argentina at Trump Tower. She also attended a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on 18 November. As did her husband Jared Kushner. The first family-to-be has been busy at work. Ivanka, along with her siblings Donald Jr. and Eric are members of the Trump-Pence Presidential Transition Team. There have been cries of nepotism and unethical practices dogging the Trump-Pence Presidential Transition Team but they have predictably fallen on deaf ears.
Another right-leaning and highly unconventional leader is President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. The man who called President Barrack Obama a “son of a whore” while speaking to the press corps in the Philippines appointed Jose E. B. Antonio as an envoy to Washington for trade, investment and economic affairs just before the November 8 poll. Mr. Antonio is chairman of Century Properties Group and a business associate of Mr. Trump. His company is building the Trump Tower at Century City, a $150 million, 57-story apartment building in metropolitan Manila. Whether Mr. Duterte reckoned Trump would win the presidency or it would just make good business sense to nominate Mr. Antonio; he surely hit the jackpot here.
Mr. Duterte has been most eager to let it be known that he and Mr. Trump are similar.
“Long live Mr Trump! We both curse at the slightest reason. We are alike,” he said.
The former mayor of Davao City ran a campaign much like that of Mr. Trump that culminated in his inauguration as the 16th President of the Philippines on June 30 this year.
His fiery anti-establishment rhetoric and profanity laced populist speeches proved popular with the 16.6 million voters who voted for him. He beat the next candidate, Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas of the Liberal Party (LP), by over 6 million votes. Mr. Duterte, who pledged to wage a war on drugs and deal with high crime rates in the Philippines, had a solid track record in governance to back his campaign promises: He served as Mayor of Davao City for 22 years.
“People prefer him because he tackles the issues the common people deal with everyday… Others’ platforms are far from their experiences like national economy and globalisation,” said Dennis Coronacion, Political Science professor at the University of Santo Tomas.
But his war on drugs has come at a tragic cost: Police and vigilante groups have killed more than 3,800 people in a period of less than five months. Some of the civilian casualties in this war have been children. But Mr. Duterte has described any unintended fatalities as collateral damage comparable to deaths caused by US military actions in Afghanistan and Vietnam.
“When you bomb a village you intend to kill the militants but you kill the children there … Why do you say it is collateral damage to the west and to us it is murder?”
As Mr. Duterte goes about delivering on his campaign pledges Mr. Trump is busy refining and shaping his election promises in anticipation of his inauguration on Friday, January 20.
Mr. Trump has promised to pull the USA out of the Paris Climate Agreement President Obama signed last year along with 200 other countries.
The President-elect is a climate change denier and a huge proponent of coal mining and fracking; fracking is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock. Whatever progress climate change campaigners made in Paris is set to be reversed if Mr. Trump pushes ahead with reforms of environmental laws and business procedures in the USA.
According to the Presidential Transition website Mr. Trump says: “We will streamline the permitting process for all energy projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama, and rescind the job-destroying executive actions under his Administration. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium … and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration.”
Mr. Trump has also said the Iran Nuclear Peace deal is “disastrous” and promised to rescind it or renegotiate it.
“They are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear,” Trump said of the Iranians, in an interview last summer with CNN. “We should double up and triple up the sanctions and have them come to us. They are making an amazing deal.”
Mr. Trump forgets Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are party to the deal as well. And if ISIS is to be defeated in Syria and Iraq, the US and its allies must be at peace with Iran, which supports Hezbollah; another big player in Middle-East politics. Tearing up the peace deal with Iran might ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East region and threaten hopes of a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians as well.
Mr. Trump has also promised to terminate the “worst trade deal in history”: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Mr. Trump blames NAFTA for a spate of industrial shutdowns in the heart of Middle America and job losses to Mexico as companies choose to relocate there for economic reasons. One such company is Air conditioner company Carrier. It plans to move about 1,400 jobs from Indiana to Mexico this year. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that about 800,000 jobs were lost to Mexico between 1997 and 2013. But at the same time the US Chamber of Commerce says that about 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico. So doing away with NAFTA is certainly harder than it seems to be.
Mr. Trump has also signalled his intention to renegotiate the terms of the North Atlantic Trade Organisation (NATO)and see the US reimbursed for the costs it incurs protecting its supposedly rich allies. 70% of the NATO budget comes from US coffers.
But this not just about the money: Mr. Trump described NATO as ‘obsolete’ and threatened to abandon US allies if need be: “With massive wealth. Massive wealth. We’re talking about countries that are doing very well. Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
So he is not promising to come to the rescue of Nato allies should they come under attack from Russia. His utterances have sent shockwaves across European capitals.
Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte, whose human rights record has come under heavy criticism, has threatened to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations after two UN experts called his directive to Filipino police to shoot and kill drug traffickers an “incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law”.
But Mr. Duterte hit back at the experts almost immediately. He called them ‘stupid’ and said the UN is a toothless body.
“You know, United Nations, if you can say one bad thing about me, I can give 10 [about you]. I tell you, you are [useless]. Because if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killings.”
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