GEORGE Herbert Walker Bush may have cast his November 2016 ballot with every sinew of his frail, aged body aching. A lifelong Republican and one-time Republican president of his country, it was a matter of personal duty to vote for his party’s candidate despite his great doubts. But then he did not. He cast his vote for Hillary Clinton, then kept the vote to himself.
A new book says the old man Bush considered Mr. Trump just an empty “blowhard” and he could not, in conscience, vote for a man who might tear apart his beloved country. His son and namesake, also a former Republican president, did his party a favor. He did not vote for either Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton.
President Donald Trump is in Asia right now, and, reversing an earlier decision, will attend the Asean summit in Manila. As I file this piece, he had met with Mr. Abe in Japan and the two hardliners and avid golfers clicked on the golf course and in their shared views toward belligerent North Korea. We can only hope he will have the same rapport with the other leaders he is scheduled to meet.
Hope for the best and pray that his Asian trip will not be a disaster.
Mr. Trump, since his ascension to power, has all but abandoned the traditional role of the US as a global leader and influencer. The trade deal painstakingly crafted by the best trade and policy negotiators of Mr. Obama, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was abandoned by Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama saw the TPP as the counterweight to the rising influence of China in the Asian region, especially on trade.
Mr. Trump’s scrapping of the TPP, part of his signature campaign promise to get tough on China, has had the reverse effect. It just prodded China to fast-track its $1 trillion OBOR, “ One road, one belt,” program that would weld much of Asia to China’s trade and infrastructure build-up.
Mr. Trump has also scrapped Mr. Obama’s “pivot to Asia“ policy.
The hawkish, impulsive reflexes of Mr. Trump was laid bare in his approach to the North Korea question. For every provocative act from the last Stalinist regime on earth, from every taunt from the little leader with the bad haircut, Mr. Trump responds with the same belligerence and bellicosity.
The threats coming from Mr. Trump, short of threatening to wipe out Pyongyang with nukes, has raised alarm bells across the Asian region. Guam, a tiny US territory within nuclear range of North Korea, is living in constant fear as a result of the Trump war-mongering .
The Pentagon’s assessment that only an invasion could wipe out the nuclear stockpile of North Korea has raised war jitters anew, an event that was not supposed to be an issue in the 21st century. The assessment from the Pentagon clearly hewed to the first speech of Mr. Trump at the United Nations. In that speech, he threatened to “destroy“ North Korea and every living, moving thing inside it.
North Korea’s Stalinist leaders led by Kim Jong-un, according to foreign policy experts, have just been handed by the Trump administration an excuse to further bolster their authoritarian rule. The young Kim had called Mr. Trump a “dotard.”
Mr. Trump’s domestic policies, skewed toward his white base, have been causing panic among non-whites who had come to the US without the proper papers and tens of thousands of Filipinos are among those threatened by Mr. Trump’s aggressive actions on the deportation front. ICE agents have been empowered to round up those without legal papers and the agents are only too glad to carry out that task that was reined in during the time of Mr. Obama. Because Asia is the region of origin of the deportation targets, Mr. Trump will visit Asia without the generally warm embrace that had been given to Mr. Obama.
In the West, the leaders of Europe, except for the nativists and right-wing zealots whose rise to the mainstream has been abetted by Mr. Trump’s own rise to power, have generally ceded to Angela Merkel the leadership of the Western world .
In his own region, North America, Mr. Trump’s vow to review the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and his baseless accusations that Canada has been engaged in protectionism, have upended the usual amity and cooperation in the three-country region. Workers in Mexico fear the massive loss of jobs once the Trump administration makes good on its promise to rewrite the trade agreement.
As Mr. Trump backs away from the traditional role of global leader , China under President Xi Jinping is filling up the slack.
As Mr. Trump wants to move the US back into the glorious age of the Confederacy, Mr. Xi is fast taking China into the boundless opportunities of the 21st century.
After securing a second term and after being elevated into a leadership role vested first on Mao Zedong, Mr. Xi has a more ambitious mandate—seize the global leadership role from the clueless, and nativist, Mr. Trump.