Tag Archives: putin

Five reasons Donald Trump will be a terrible President

On the 20th of January Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President, bringing to an end a bizarre and vicious campaign, and an embarrassing and messy transition period. It is no longer possible to blissfully forget that this man has been elected 45th President of the United States. But in the deluge of constant media coverage, it’s almost easy to forget just how bad this is. So without looking at any of his actual policies, any of the people he has appointed to his cabinet, just to who he is and what he does, here are five reasons it really is that bad.

Conflicts of interest

As numerous legal experts have pointed out, Trump is completely compromised by his business interests. Running the country while owning a massive business is an impossible conflict of interest. Is a man clearly obsessed with wealth really going to make decisions on behalf of the country that hurt his own wallet?

Trump knows this perfectly well, but all his efforts to avoid having such a conflict are a joke. His whole plan essentially boils down to “trust me”. His children are going to run his business, while somehow not telling him about what they’re doing. “Trust me.” The profits (and just the profits, he wouldn’t want to make a loss) from foreign diplomats and leaders staying in his hotels will be donated to the government. “Trust me.” He won’t make any foreign deals or let his interests abroad affect his foreign policy. “Trust me”.

The fact that his attempt to deal with these conflicts of interests is so lazy indicates that he knows very well his business will influence his decisions – but just doesn’t care.

Government is not a business

This business past is also another problem – the government is by no means a business. Trump runs his own business along authoritarian lines. What he says, goes, and if you don’t like it…The government is not that sort of swift, efficient, money-making (or losing) machine. There is an entire bureaucracy of millions of civil servants and experts who need to be listened to and consulted. There are numerous parts of the government that do not make money because they aren’t designed to make money. The system does not work to benefit the man in charge, but the people who rely on it. It is impossible to micromanage and cannot be driven by profit. Yet Trump has given no inclination of having any idea of just how complex it is, and just how different from everything he’s ever known. At least if he tries to execute terrible policies he won’t do so effectively.

The Russia connection

Whether or not Russia actually has blackmail material or leverage over Trump is putin_with_flag_of_russia
impossible to say
at this point – but he’s certainly acting like they do. It is an absolutely bizarre sight to see a President-elect taking the side of a foreign autocrat above his own intelligence services, his own party members, and his nation’s allies. Putin seemingly can do no wrong in his eyes.

donald_trump_august_192c_2015_28cropped29There are two potential motives for this, both of which do not bode well. The first is simply that when Trump looks at Putin he sees a man he’d like to be – a powerful, ruthless ruler who lets nothing stand in his way. If this is his model of good governance, it doesn’t exactly suggest that Trump will cope well running a democracy.

The second possibility is that Russia indeed has something on Trump. The ‘golden showers’ story (which the media have consistently politely described as ‘salacious’) isn’t even the worst potential scandal. If Trump survived admitting sexual assault on tape, he can survive anything. But if Russia could potentially demonstrate that Trump’s team coordinated with a foreign power to undermine the elections – that’s treason, and cause for impeachment. What Russia could do with that sort of leverage is terrifying.

Foreign policy

Whether you like it or not, the US is an indispensable part of the world system. Scores of countries rely on it for security, scores more for economic prosperity, and even their adversaries rely on them to at least be fairly predictable in their stances. Again, this is not something that works for profit –  international relations is a complex web of dependencies and alliances.

It is also a web that Trump is swinging a big stick through. The only consistency has been his love affair with Putin. First off, he seems to have nothing but contempt for allies like the NATO states. The fact that alliances like NATO strengthen the US escapes him, the fact that small countries in Europe rely on the US for their security does not bother him. How are countries that the US in turn relies on for cooperation supposed to feel when Trump consistently belittles and attacks them?

Secondly though, Trump also does not understand how vital norms, clarity and tact are in creating a stable world. He doesn’t care of course, because he has always enjoying breaking the rules, but this isn’t New York real estate anymore. Sending a threatening tweet could lead North Korea to panic and launch missiles at Seoul. Failing to make very clear that the US stands behind NATO could lead to the invasion of Estonia. Insulting a foreign leader could sink not only political, but also economic relations.

Interesting times lie ahead – which is probably not a good thing.


Finally, despite his claim to have “the best temperament”, Trump manifestly does not. His public personal at least meets all 9 symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder to a scarily accurate degree – not exactly a character trait you want a public servant to have. Just about everyone who comes into close contact with him has said that he is obsessed with himself and his image, and compelled to lash out at anything he perceives as an insult. He has no regard for the truth, and seemingly feels no shame or regret when caught in a direct lie. He consistently belittles and humiliates others, especially women, and seems to be motivated by revenge and destroying his enemies. And, of course, if we are to believe what he himself and 11 women have said, he has repeatedly sexually assaulted women.

This is the man who is taking on a job requiring more patience, more self-control, more dignity, and more of a cool head than perhaps any other.

So let’s not despair or panic, give up on the US and the world watching this inauguration. But let’s not kid ourselves into forgetting just how bad this can get.


Destruction in Syria to the missing man in the Kremlin

It’s been a chaotic week for me, with numerous meetings, parties, and now preparation for teaching Model United Nations and Public Speaking to high school students. I’m now a trainer for United Netherlands’s High School Program, so on Tuesday I’ll be in front of a class for the first time. This has all left very little time for Your World Explained. So today it’s again a few stories from around the world that interested me this week

Continue reading

Why I’m starting to hope the Ukrainian ceasefire falls apart

This is a terrible thing to say, but three weeks after a ceasefire was declared in Donbass it’s the way I’m feeling. While the ceasefire has ended the large scale fighting, there has been a slow trickle of casualties ever since, with seven Ukrainian soldiers killed on Monday. With the two sides as far apart as ever, I’m starting to think that the current situation is the worst possible one for the region. I know this needs some explaining, so here goes. Continue reading

Peace for our time – Putin twisting arms

On Friday a ceasefire was announced between the separatists and the Ukrainian government, meant to pave the way to talks between the two parties. While both sides indicated they would hold their fire, at the time of writing there had still been shelling near Mariupol and Donetsk Airport. However, more is going on behind the scenes, and this ceasefire shows just how much influence Vladimir Putin has over the war in the east. It also comes just as NATO announced serious changes in its relationship with Russia. So why has a ceasefire been reached now, and what was Putin’s role? Will it last? And how will relations change between Europe and its neighbour to the east? Continue reading

War in Eastern Ukraine – Russia rolls up its sleeves

This week Russia stepped up its involvement in Ukraine, apparently sending in Russian troops to open a new front in the war. The town of Novoazovsk, close to the Russian border, was smashed by Russian troops and the Ukrainian army sent fleeing towards Mariupol. The new and more open involvement in the conflict was accompanied today by President Putin calling for “talks on statehood for Eastern Ukraine”, a sign that he is not backing down. So is it certain that Russian forces are operating in Ukraine? What’s so new about this latest turn in the conflict? And why now?

Ukrainian paratroopers before the pro-Russian counter offensive

Continue reading

Ukraine – Fighting to the death for the DPR

While Sunday’s elections saw a big step in Ukraine’s path to a better future, one day later the violence in the East was worse than ever. The Ukrainian army, now under new president Petro Poroshenko, appears to have smashed a separatist offensive at Donetsk International Airport, cementing the government’s control of the city’s main link to the outside world. The separatists lost at least 30 men, against no casualties for the army. So how did this happen? Is this a reversal of fortune for the Ukrainian army? And what will change under Ukraine’s new president, the ‘Chocolate King’?

Embed from Getty Images

The Ukraine government remembers all too well the loss of Crimea, and how that started with Russian soldiers taking over the airport in Simferopol. So when armed separatists showed up at Donetsk Airport on Monday and stormed the main terminal building, there was no hesitation on the part of the government. There has been a small force of Ukrainian soldiers there since the beginning of the crisis in the city, and instead of surrendering they called in reinforcements.

The Ukrainian army then struck back hard, using helicopters and even airstrikes. One piece of separatist anti-aircraft weaponry was destroyed, and they were forced out of the airport. The army then continued to move towards the city centre, accompanied by paratroopers according to media sources. The street fighting raged for hours in the district between the airport and central train station. The day ended with the government firmly in control of the airport, but with separatists still armed and ready to fight in the area heading towards the station.

There’s no doubt however that this was a heavy blow for the separatists’ militias. Journalists found literal piles of bodies in the local morgue, and a destroyed truck surrounded by blood. The truck, full of militiamen, had apparently been struck by artillery or explosive rounds from a helicopter. The way the Ukrainians went on the attack instead of fading away will also worry the Donetsk People’s Republic. In comparison to the more than a dozen Ukrainian soldiers killed last week, these forces appeared to be much better trained and ready for a fight.

This new aggressiveness will come as good news to the country’s newly elected President, Petro Poroshenko. With over 50% of the vote (excluding Donetsk and Luhansk province, which didn’t vote), the former confectionary oligarch certainly has a mandate to lead. And he has already indicated he will not hesitate to confront the separatists, saying that he will not let Eastern Ukraine “become Somalia” and that the crisis will be tackled “within hours”. With the election behind them, the Ukrainian government has nothing to wait for. A new president has been chosen, and before he can get anything done on the economic quagmire, there is a conflict to be solved.

The question is however, even if the army can defeat the separatists, can they regain the East? With every artillery shell that is fired at Slavyansk and every fighter jet that roars over Donetsk, the people of the region feel more and more under attack by their own government. There were civilian casualties as well on Monday; a woman was caught in crossfire near the train station. On Tuesday the city was quiet, with shops boarded up and people remaining indoors. Rightly or wrongly, if the army comes it too hard it will only drive the people away, alienating those that might otherwise want to remain in Ukraine.

In the end though, there is no other good option. There is no future for the Donetsk People’s Republic. At the moment it’s a city running on inertia, with the police, firefighters and all the rest just doing their jobs. But the so-called government is a disaster of bureaucracy, inefficiency and aggression. Looting and random violence has become an issue, with the new ice hockey stadium being burnt down Tuesday for no apparent reason. Worst of all, the men with guns who now rule are often drunk and prone to attacking anyone who doesn’t support them. I recently heard of a prayer tent a few blocks away from our old home there. It had been staffed throughout this whole crisis by a local pastor who together with many others prayed for peace and for the people who came there every night, as well as cleaning the streets. Last week armed men who had taken offence at the Ukrainian flag on the tent came by, threw the tent into the river, then stole all the equipment the pastors had there. When one of them went to the administration building to ask for it back, he was severely beaten.

With the government offensive likely to step up in the coming days, it remains to be seen how many more separatists are willing to fight to the death to defend this republic.

If you’re interested in reading more about the situation in Donetsk, or keeping up to date with the big stories of the week, just click the ‘Follow’ button to the right, or follow @YW_Explained on Twitter.