Back in 2005, I read the sage underline that; argument is one thing you will never win. If you win, you lose; if you lose, you lose. If you win an argument but lose a good job, customer, friend, position or marriage, what kind of victory is it? Argument is like fighting a foolish battle. Even if one wins, the cost may be more than the victory is worth. Emotional battles leave a residual ill will even if you win. The best way to win an argument is to avoid it.
Indeed, an admirable position, but, today, it is instructive to look at the difference as emphasis seems shifted.
To review a particular example of a personality in this new but strange class, Donald Trump, a man that succeeded Barack Obama on January 20, 2017, as the 45th president of the United States, fittingly comes to mind. Like Robert Greene admonished in his famous book; the 48 Laws of Power, Trump has in the last three years of his administration demonstrated that everything is judged by its appearance; that what is unseen counts for nothing and one must never get lost in the crowd or buried in oblivion. But be conspicuous at all cost by assuming a magnate of attention; appearing larger, more colorful, and more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.
To add context to the discourse,, aside from the recent controversial rejection of plans for a virtual debate initially scheduled for Oct. 15, 2020, with Democratic rival Joe Biden, which he(Trump) described as unnecessary, those that are familiar with his antecedents know that controversy and transformation trains are not alien to him.
Infact, he is controversy/transformation personified; a financial expert turned businessman, a businessman turned politician, and a politician turned president of the most powerful country in the world. While his sojourn in the business world earned him a mixture of failures/failings, moral burden and very little dosage of success, the same fate of high voltage controversy heralded his election/ administration in the last three years.
His foreign relation policies were never devoid of controversy. Even the global community particularly the G-7 members do not think that what he is doing is the best way to solve global problems. This partly explains the stiff challenge the United States faced during the COVID-19 pandemic period when the G-7 foreign ministers failed to reach agreement on a joint statement because the U.S. delegation insisted on calling the novel coronavirus the “Wuhan virus,”,
This, and related concerns have brought about a divided opinion about his victory or otherwise in the forthcoming election.
To many, Trump’s erratic behaviour notwithstanding, he will validly win his arch rival Joe Biden, in the November 3, 2020, election. As he is not the first US president to make foreign-policy statements and decisions damaging to American interests. The information in the public domain reveals that George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq weakened America.
Within this space,they argued, he has greatly affected Americans through his actions and arguments, creating over 4 million jobs; More Americans are now employed than ever recorded before in history, created more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since election, Manufacturing jobs growing at the fastest rate in more than three decades, Economic growth last quarter hit 4.2 percent, Women’s unemployment recently reached the lowest rate in 65 years, almost 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps since the election, helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
But contrary to this position, others are of view that he should go as his extreme and chaotic personality has lowered American prestige and global influence by a notch or two, while deepening US domestic political divisions. To this group, great doubt exists about president Trump’s inner motivations. There are doubts also about his capabilities to distinguish between right and wrong, and the capability to judiciously consider the strategic consequences of actions.
With the above highlighted, this piece will focus detailedly on his litany of controversies.
First is the reported account of Russian government interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with the goals of harming the campaign of Hillary Clinton, boosting the candidacy of Donald Trump, and increasing political and social discord in the United States. Dana H. Allin, Editor of Survival and IISS Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs, while commenting on this issue recently noted that one way the Russians sought to damage America is by helping to elect a president who is incapable of conducting a coherent foreign policy. They may not have expected him to be elected, but they could have expected that the campaign’s damage to political civility would also impair a President Hillary Clinton’s capacity to govern.
From this point flows another. The lengthy debate, sparked by a whistleblower complaint about Mr Trump’s 25 July phone call with Ukraine, in which the president was accused of demanding political investigations into one of his 2020 political rivals, Joe Biden. During the investigation by the U.S House Committee, Fiona Hill – the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs while testifying noted thus; some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign – and that perhaps somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves … Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016.
Before the dust raised by this Committee investigation could settle, came another form the Wall Street Journal, one of the most respected Journals in the United States (USA). It among other concerns reported that the president told associates that killing soleimani was useful for solidifying support in the Senate trial among Senate Iran hawks.
Notedly, the most serious and most surprising failures were signposted in his economic misjudgement.
Fresh is reported global concern about Trump’s decision to draw battle lines without ‘provocateur from any quarter, and his going into ‘pointless renegotiation’ of the global trading system-a development that made foreign governments to believe that the United States was willing to abandon the established norms of trade policy, supports this claim. It was in the news that his administration was recently blamed for featuring a pitched battle between the so-called globalists (represented by Gary Cohn, the then Director of the National Economic Council), and the nationalists (represented by the Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro). And in the mid 2018, the leading globalists left the administration.
Besides, he was fundamentally described by a notable organization as a leader with a highly distorted view of international trade and international negotiation. Viewing trade as a zero-sum, win-lose game, he stresses one time deals over ongoing relationships, enjoys the leverage created by tariffs and release on brink man ships, and public threat over diplomacy. The President had said that he likes tariffs (‘trade wars are good and easy to win) and that he wants more of them (I am a tariff man). Trump also went so far as to impose tariffs on steel aluminum imports from Canada, something that even the domestic industry and labour unions opposed. Over the last 30 years, the US steel and aluminum industry has transformed to become North American industries with raw steel and aluminum flowing freely back and front between Canadians and the US plants.
Very recently, Chad P. Bown and Douglas A. Irwin, reported how Trump threatened to leave the WTO, something previous administrations did not do. He says the agreement is rigid against the United States. The administration denounces the WTO when the organization finds US practice in violation of trade rules but largely ignores the equally many cases that it wins. Although the WTO’s dispute settlement system needs reforms; it has worked well to defuse trade conflicts since it was established over two decades ago.
His attack on the WTO, they argued, goes beyond rhetoric. The administration blocked appointments to the WTO appellate body which issue judgement on trade disputes. The dispute settlement system is not perfect. But rather than make constructive proposals for how to improve it, something Canada and others are doing, The United States is disengaged. The Trump administration may end up destroying the old system without having drafted a blueprint for its successor.
▪︎Utomi contributed this piece from Lagos, Nigeria.