VERBAL DUEL ESCALATE TENSION BETWEEN US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND GERMANY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

First it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who gave indications that all was not well between Germany and its traditional allies Britain and America. She slammed the two countries saying Germany could no longer trust its “traditional allies”. According to a report in The Guardian, while speaking at an election rally in Munich, German Chancellor said “the times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over”. Elections in Germany are due in September 2017.

The recently concluded NATO and G7 Summits between the world’s most industrialized nations saw differences between the world’s most powerful and influential leaders coming out in open. The Guardian described the summits as “bruising meetings” while The Telegraph wrote that the impression after the G7 Summit was, “that, for the first time in decades, more divides industrialised Western powers than unites them”. Without naming Trump, Merkel described the Sicily G7 Summit as “six against one” saying as “the result of the talks was very difficult, if not to say very unsatisfactory”, The Guardian report said.

But Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel didn’t mince his words while taking on Trump. Following Merkel’s harsh words, he blamed Trump for “weakening the west”. “The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union (EU). The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker”, a CNN report quoted him saying. And the charge of “standing against the interests of the European Union” is not baseless. Donald Trump has been vocally anti-EU. Trump has also termed ‘Brexit a great development for the UK’.

How Donald Trump is becoming a controversial figure in Germany also becomes clear from the reaction of Martin Schulz, Merkel’s main political rival and a former president of the European Parliament. According to a report in The Hill, Schulz has slammed Trump, “The chancellor represent all of us at summits like these. And I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government. That is unacceptable.”

This was enough for Trump to react it seems. And he expressed his displeasure and anger through a tweet again reminding Germany of the “massive trade deficit” that the country has with the US and its “far less” NATO contribution than required and added that he was going to change it.

On May 25, Donald Trump had charged Germans for cornering business and jobs in the US. While blasting Germans, Trump had said, “The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this.” In response to Trump’s criticism, Sigmar Gabriel had quipped that the US automakers needed to come up with better cars. He termed products of American automakers “worse, weaker and more expensive”, an Associated Press report said.

And during the G7 Summit also, he behaved like he was acting unilaterally. While six G7 members, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Canada reiterated their commitment for the 2015 Paris climate deal, Trump remained non-committal saying he needed more time to think over it. Merkel was blunt in her criticism over Trump’s stand saying the developments say the US will not stay with the climate deal.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President. And according to a Daily Mail report, Trump has “made up his mind to withdraw US from Paris climate deal”. The G7 Summit said it would fight against protectionism while protectionism has been a cornerstone of Trump administration.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY DONALD TRUMP IS TAKING ON US JUDICIARY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

US President is disgusted and he letting the world known the root-cause of his anger, the US Judiciary, that has stayed the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban order on people from seven Muslim countries, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days. His order also suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days and put an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Trump said he was doing so to prevent entry of terrorists in the US but it seems no one is buying that.

First, the New York District Judge on January 28 had partially stayed Trump’s executive order barring deportations already arrived on the US soil with a valid visa. Then on January 3, the Seattle District Judge, though temporary, put a complete, nationwide stay on the executive order.

How desperate is the Trump administration about its travel ban plans becomes evident from the fact that the US Justice Department approached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late in the night, after midnight, against the Seattle District Judge order. But even that court refused to grant Trump administration any immediate respite till the next hearing that is scheduled for today.

Meanwhile, protests again Trump’s executive order spreading nationwide and in many other countries and the number of protesters is swelling, including the corporate America, information-technology companies and some Republican senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and more importantly Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the US Senate, who said that in case of an adverse court ruling, the Congress would not help Trump with his travel ban plans.

It has left Trump fuming and he has chosen his favourite platform Twitter to let the world know his anger and he began his onslaught with a ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ tweet on February 4 that followed five more tweets on the issue on February 5 and two on February 6. He has continued with his agenda and today tweeted to say that ‘courts must act fast’ on his travel ban order and the day is not over yet. Also, Trump added today that he was ready to go to the Supreme Court to get his travel ban order implemented.

THE HIDDEN AGENDA?

According to a Washington Post report, the Trump administration has inherited 103 judicial vacancies in the federal and district courts from the Obama administration. It is almost double to what Barack Obama had got, 54 vacancies to fill judges of his choice.

What Barack Obama had inherited from his predecessor George Bush was a Republic legacy with majority of Republican nominated judges in 10 of 13 circuit courts as per a USA Today report. It took Barack Obama eight years to replace the Republican choices with Democratic nominees but his progress was halted midway in 2015 when the Republicans took the US Senate control. The Obama administration blamed the Senate Republicans for deliberately obstructing the process.

Nominating judges in the US courts has always been the prerogative of the US President and his party and so being majority of Democrat nominees or Republican nominees is a natural things and we should not look beyond that.

But the perception about Donald Trump changes that normal. The Washington Post report writes that ‘Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon — a prospect that has activists on the right giddy’. Antonin Scalia, a Ronald Reagan appointee to the US Supreme Court, was seen as a legal luminary but with a conservative mindset who vocally opposed gay rights and abortion.

Scalia’s death last year had given Obama an opportunity to tilt the 5-4 conservative majority in the US Supreme Court in favour of a 5-4 liberal majority but the Senate Republicans didn’t allow Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

And it seems Trump has started giving shape to his plans to reshape the US judiciary. On January 31, Trump nominated appellate judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s vacancy. If confirmed, Gorsuch will again tilt the 5-4 majority in favour of the conservatives.

TRAVEL BAN A CHANCE?

The way Trump is criticising the US Judiciary on putting a stay on his travel ban executive order, it seems it can be the beginning of the process to rapidly fill the US Judiciary with more conservative judges who are likely to have a favourable view of Trump’s administration conservative policies like travel ban or stopping funds to the NGOs working for abortion.

Trump thinks the present US Judicial System is like ‘that of a third-world country’ and rigged, a CNN report says, “Folks, we’re living in a third-world country. This has never happened before. This is the lowest point in terms of our judicial system. This is the lowest point in the history of our country. Remember that. And when I talk about a rigged system, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.”

His tweets say it all, his disdain for the US Judiciary. He finds the judges’ decision to put a stay on his executive order ridiculous. He is blaming them to make the US unsafe by allowing terrorists and dangerous people to pour in. It is as if denouncing all the systems that existed in the US before Trump who want to change it all. Probably, this is his way to initiate ‘making America great again’!

And a more ‘likeminded and amenable judiciary’ can be a great help here, especially when the US under Trump is going to see a flurry of lawsuits against Trump’s decisions that his rivals see as controversial. That is bound to happen as Trump’s victory has bitterly divided America and he took oath with historically low approval ratings amid nationwide protests.

Barring few, Republicans who control both Houses of the US Congress, have backed Trump’s travel ban and judges’ adverse views on it may propel them to have more likeminded, conservative judges in the judicial circuits. True that will take some time but then Trump is ready to move to the Supreme Court and he may expect a respite there with a 5-4 conservative majority once Neil Gorsuch is approved.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP VS JUDICIARY

US President is disgusted and he letting the world known the root-cause of his anger, the US Judiciary, that has stayed the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban order on people from seven Muslim countries, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days. His order also suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days and put an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Trump said he was doing so to prevent entry of terrorists in the US but it seems no one is buying that.

First, the New York District Judge on January 28 had partially stayed Trump’s executive order barring deportations already arrived on the US soil with a valid visa. Then on January 3, the Seattle District Judge, though temporary, put a complete, nationwide stay on the executive order.

How desperate is the Trump administration about its travel ban plans becomes evident from the fact that the US Justice Department approached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late in the night, after midnight, against the Seattle District Judge order. But even that court refused to grant Trump administration any immediate respite.

So, now the law will take its own course. Both sides will be asked to present their sides and then the court will arrive at a decision, a decision, that again, can be challenged in higher courts. Meanwhile, protests again Trump’s executive order spreading nationwide and in many other countries and the number of protesters is swelling, including the corporate America and the Republican senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and more importantly Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the US Senate, who said that in case of an adverse court ruling, the Congress would not help Trump with his travel ban plans.

It has left Trump fuming and he has chosen his favourite platform Twitter to let the world know his anger and he began his onslaught with a ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ tweet on February 4 that followed five more tweets on the issue the next day and two more today and the day is not over yet.

‏@realDonaldTrump
I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!
2:12 AM – 6 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!
2:09 AM – 6 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!
6:18 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?
2:14 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
Why aren’t the lawyers looking at and using the Federal Court decision in Boston, which is at conflict with ridiculous lift ban decision?
5:07 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision
3:14 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?
2:14 AM – 5 Feb 2017

‏@realDonaldTrump
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
7:56 PM – 4 Feb 2017

His tweets say it all, his disdain for the US Judiciary. He finds the judges’ decision to put a stay on his executive order ridiculous. He is blaming them to make the US unsafe by allowing terrorists and dangerous people to pour in. It is as if denouncing all the systems that existed in the US before Trump who want to change it all.  Probably, this is his way to initiate ‘making America great again’!

©SantoshChaubey

#THETRUMPDUMP FEB 4, 2017: TRAVEL BAN BOOMERANGS

THE TRUMP DUMP

45th US President Donald Trump has begun on a wrong note now we can safely say that. And it seems his days ahead in the White House are going to be quite tumultuous for the US policymaking apparatus.

His predecessor Barack Obama had his fare share of controversies but he was widely loved and appreciated and now he looks a taller figure than he was before January 20, the day Donald Trump officially took over the US Presidency.

Much before the campaigning for this round of US Presidential Polls began, Donald Trump had established himself as some sort of ‘sworn enemy’ of Barack Obama with many controversies to his credit including the ‘birthir’ row that questioned Barack Obama’s US birth credentials.

Hillary Clinton was his rival candidate but his campaign also themed around Barack Obama with a high pitched anti-Obama rhetoric being an integral part of it.

In his typical Trump manners, Trump never felt shy in expressing his mind how he intended to undo most of the policies and initiatives taken by Barack Obama – be it Obamacare (US public healthcare policy under Obama) or Obama’s diplomatic initiatives or Obama tax policies or Obama’s refugee preferences or Obama’s stand on immigrants.

And on January 20, he began with a loud thud. So, all of Obama’s initiatives are going to see tough times, and with that, the systems in the US – with their checks and balances. Going by the US Presidential history, it’s been a long time since the last time when these checks and balances had a chance to prove their mettle.

And they proved their mettle. We all know what happened with Richard Nixon. Hope history will repeat itself. And signs look encouraging.

Like what is happening with the so-called travel ban imposed by Donald Trump that has been suspended by US courts!

Trump administration has issued a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim nations – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – on the pretext of making the US homeland safer – when these countries form the maximum count of refugees in urgent need of humanitarian help – when there is no evidence that people from these countries have carried out any terror activity on the US soil.

So it is an outrageous decision. And people are rightly outraged at it, holding protests, marches, demonstrations, filing lawsuits. And the system is also responding to it. A judge had earlier barred deportation of people under this order and today another judge put a nationwide temporary stay on Trump’s bizarre diktat forcing the US State Department to revoke its cancellation of visas or restraining the Homeland Security Department to inflict harassing measures on innocent people.

And it seems just the beginning and ‘The Trump Dump’ is expected to swell in the days to come.

©SantoshChaubey

THE TRUMP QUESTIONS

SO FAR.. 

As @realDonaldTrump is being inaugurated, the world looks even more volatile now. He may prove disastrous, for the US foreign policy and for the world.

Immediate @realDonaldTrump threats:
Nuclear proliferation
South China Sea dispute
Israel-Palestine and the prospects of two state solution
Protectionism and trade wars
Xenophobia, bias against immigrants and racial minorities, the Mexico prejudice
Taiwan and One China policy

As @realDonaldTrump is being inaugurated, people are obviously asking when he is going to be impeached?

What is the main problem with @realDonaldTrump?
Too straight?
Foul mouthed?
Too casual?
Too shallow?

Is @realDonaldTrump really real? How real he is? His time begins now. Soon we will know.

Going by the state of affairs, in the US and the world, @realDonaldTrump has an extremely narrow window.
80% he is going to fail.
He has just 20% to make it.

Repealing Obamacare will unravel @realDonaldTrump. He simply can’t give what he has promised – universal healthcare!
Beginning of the end?

Which US President before @realDonaldTrump had seen so much protests? Probably none.

Will @realDonaldTrump make the US another island nation in isolation? Is that what people cheering him have in mind?
This @POTUS is going to be ‘make or break’ for the US.

Will @realDonaldTrump as the @POTUS will be the beginning of the end for Trump and American global prominence/dominance as we know it?

If @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS become synonymous, what would be the long term communication and branding consequences?

Does @realDonaldTrump/@POTUS have time, liberty and scope to go ‘trial and error’ in running the US and handling geopolitics?

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP ERA BEGINS NOW: WORLD WILL CLOSELY WATCH HOW HE HANDLES THESE FIVE ISSUES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

US President-elect Donald J. Trump is now the US President Donald Trump. He was sworn in this afternoon as the 45th US President, taking over from his predecessor Barack Obama. He is one of the most controversial people in the US history to move the White House because of his background and the values that he looks to espouse.

He looks comfortable in his skin, a flamboyant but controversial businessman, be it his divisive and derogatory campaign rhetoric or his days since November 8, 2016 when he stunned not just America but the whole world by registering an impressive victory over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and the US Secretary of State.

His campaign rhetoric and post-election remarks have stirred the whole world and people the world over are waiting to see how he is going to handle his Presidency once he settles in the White House, because creating a mess around any of the issues that he has so casually talked or tweeted about can turn the whole world or a large section of it upside down.

NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

Donald Trump has ratcheted up war and nuclear rhetoric to newer heights. US is considered the big daddy when it comes to enforcing international non-proliferation and disarmament measures but Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his post election words have instilled a fear that the world could see a renewed race for arms among the most powerful nuclear nations of the world, especially the US and Russia.

The world cannot easily forget the ominous tweet by Donald Trump post his victory in the US presidential polls where he asserted that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”.

TAIWAN AND ONE CHINA POLICY

Like his victory, this signature Trump decision made the global headlines when he chose to talk to the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen post his election victory. It was a first for any US President or President-elect to speak to the Taiwanese President since 1979 when the US had closed its embassy in Taipei and severed its diplomatic ties recognizing the Mainland China as the sole Chinese voice.

After a growing global debate and Chinese displeasure, Trump’s transition team issued clarification that it was just a courtesy call. But nothing is seen as casual or ‘by-chance’ in geopolitics. The rift has deepened further with Trump’s recent statement that the One China Policy is open for negotiation.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

Jerusalem is contentious. Both Israelis and Palestinians consider in their capital. Though it is where Israel’s power corridors are, no embassies are here but in Tel Aviv because doing so would compromise the peace process and would damage the prospects of the ‘two state’ solution beyond repair. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem has been a campaign rhetoric in the US Presidential polls. It never went beyond that.

Now, like his Taiwan move, Trump says he doesn’t break promises and will move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Protests have begun against it and if Trump’s designs materialize, it will force an entire region in flames again, something that even many Israelis are not in favour of, even if the Israeli leadership is encouraging it. A New York Times report writes, “It would only set off new fighting with the Palestinians as well as the rest of the Arab world, a big price tag for a symbolic change that would hardly move the ball on the broader conflict”.

ETHNIC DIVIDE

Trump’s campaign and his transition team have been harsh on immigrants and minorities. He has not desisted from issuing offensive statements against immigrants including Muslims, Black Americans and racial minorities. They talked of creating a Muslim Registry to humiliate them even further. His election saw protests not just in America but in many other parts of the world. Before and after his election, Trump has made clear his intention to build a wall along the Mexican border using choicest of words for Mexican immigrants.

The world had never seen society in the US so divided, at least in decades, since the days of segregation and counterculture. Okay, there is always this division, a group chooses this, the other one goes for that, but this all is at an electoral level. What happened in the US after Donald Trump’s victory is suggestive of deep fissures in the US society that Trump likes to flare up even if he talked of a united US society today – of Black, Brown and White Americans. After Trump, people are fearful of rising White supremacist tendencies in the US society.

If things really go out of control as the scenario looks now, its repercussions would be seen across the world because US has been a cosmos of ethnicities from across the world.

TRADE WARS

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting was held in Davos from January 17 to 20. China tried to make a big presence there this time but the whole Chinese focus revolved around sending Trump a message that protectionist approach would lead to trade wars which would hurt everyone. Targetting increasing anti-globalisation, Chinese President Xi Jinping reminded Donald Trump and the world that “no one will emerge as a winner from fighting a trade war” and that China would pitch in to counter Trump’s moves.

Donald Trump has threatened to create protective barriers to stop businesses and jobs moving out of the US. He has been a harsh critic of outsourcing and the US under him would potentially see a much declined numbers of professionals heading towards the US. He has vowed to impose tariff barriers to check inflow and outflow of goods in the US.

Trump’s plans to go ahead with his promises took a large part of his inaugural address today. He said, “We have spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down”.

The Trump era begins now. He is officially now the most powerful person on the Earth. Let’s see where his domestic and geopolitical priorities take us. Trump says “the time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action”. Indeed!

trumpinaugural-whyoutube

©SantoshChaubey

Featured Image Courtesy: Donald Trump delivering his inaugural speech – The White House’s YouTube screen-grab

WHAT DONALD TRUMP’S FIRST TWEETS SINCE NOV 9 TELL US!

Since November 9, when Republican Donald Trump started tweeting (@realDonaldTrump) again after his landslide (and stunning) victory in the US Presidential polls defeating the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with a wide margin of the electoral college vote (even if Hillary Clinton emerged as the winner of the popular vote), he has tweeted 14 times.

And if we see into these tweets – they tell us how the next phase is going to be in the life of the US President Elect Donald Trump – till January 20 next year when Donald Trump will be sworn in.

And it doesn’t look good.

His first and second tweets (since November 9) were normal – saying ‘happy 241st birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps!’ and – and how his first meeting with Obamas was fantastic.

But his third and fourth tweets were aimed at media and the protests raging against him.

In one tweet, he says them professional protesters and blames media of inciting them. And he doesn’t look to do some course correction in the next tweet when he refers to them as a ‘small group of protesters’. Yes, he says that they (the protesters) have passion for their great country and they (including Trump) will come together but he clearly tries to show them as marginal players while we all know the protesters are not just a ‘small group’. Spontaneous anti-Trump protests have broken out in many US states and even in other countries.

His fifth and sixth tweet since November 9 (November 10 is a no tweet day) are again normal business like – about his team in the government and expressing gratitude on the Veterans Day.

His only tweet on November 12 is again aimed at normalizing an abnormal situation – a divided US society – saying ‘we will unite and we will win, win, win!’ That attitude is a must for him and he needs to practice it honestly if he, indeed, has to see a united America – because the truth is – his election has bitterly divided the US.

And today it looks like about visiting the old foes (and old values again).

Three of his seven tweets today (so far) are about NY Times – that how the publication ‘is losing thousands of subscribers because of its very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the “Trump phenomena”- that ‘NY Times sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me. I wonder if it will change – doubt it?’ – and that ‘NY Times states today that DJT believes “more countries should acquire nuclear weapons.” How dishonest are they. I never said this!’

These three tweets and the earlier one blaming media for inciting anti-Trump protests show we should rule out a near future thaw – given the way Trump’s campaign has been – he didn’t believe in climate crisis; he believed in racial domination; he despised immigrants; he liked dictators like Vladimir Putin; he spoke against Muslims; he promoted populism at the cost of logic like his liberal nuclear doctrine or his anti-outsourcing rant and many more – all ingredients to make any media anti-Trump if Trump doesn’t work to change that.

The signals so far have been mixed.

Though before this hour, he had not said anything outrageous after winning the polls – like he used to do every other day during the campaign phase – and has indicated a ‘softened’ approach to Obamacare, something that he had said he would disband – he just sounded absurd again when he said in an interview that he would soon ‘deport 3 million immigrants’ and the US-Mexican border will be ‘partly fenced’.

These tweets indicate, together with his policy decisions like these, tell us that the days ahead are going to be tumultuous in the US.

If Trump would continue with his absurd but populist ultra-nationalist agenda of expelling immigrants (and fencing borders and so on), he will rightly be questioned by media and it will certainly propel the anti-Trump protesters who are quite a sizeable chunk (and are growing) to do more against the Republican President.

His other four tweets of the day are about thanking people and announcing his upcoming TV interaction.

©SantoshChaubey