America’s relations with nations around the world are in free fall mode. Donald Trump’s frequent xenophobic and racist outbursts, unprecedented in modern history, have resulted in foreign ministries around the world calling in senior U.S. diplomats for explanations about Trump’s comments. Trump’s actions have had even greater consequences for U.S. foreign policy and global stability.
Trump’s cut-off of $2 billion in U.S. security assistance to Pakistan has doomed Indian-Pakistani diplomatic talks over the issue of Kashmir, a region contested between the two regional nuclear powers. In a tweet having severe repercussions on the Indian sub-continent, Trump accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” over its actions in neighboring Afghanistan.
Not to be outdone by Trump, American neoconservative ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, whose Sikh parents hail from India, declared that Pakistan had played “a double game for years.” Haley’s words were music to New Delhi’s ears. Haley also announced the immediate suspension of $255 million in U.S. assistance to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry called in David Hale, the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad, for an explanation of Trump’s statement, including a reference to U.S. assistance to Pakistan over a 15-year period amounting to $33 billion.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif responded to Trump in his own tweet: “Pres Trump quoted figure of $33 billion given to PAK over last 15 yrs, he can hire a US based Audit firm on our expense to verify this figure & let the world know who is lying & deceiving.”
Pakistan’s National Security Committee issued a statement following Trump’s outburst: “Recent statements and articulation by the American leadership were completely incomprehensible as they contradicted facts manifestly, struck with great insensitivity at the trust between two nations built over generations, and negated the decades of sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation.”
While the right-wing Hindu nationalist government of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi was gleeful over Trump’s tweet about Pakistan, it was confronted with a closer Pakistani-Chinese alliance. China announced that it was building an offshore maritime port off the strategic port city of Gwadar. And in a financial blow back against the U.S. Treasury, Pakistan announced that Pakistani-Chinese trade would be based on the Chinese yuan and no longer in U.S. dollars. In addition, Pakistan was looking at several billions in investments arising from China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, an infrastructure project encompassing the land, sea, and air routes around the globe.
Left picking up the pieces from Trump’s wayward “Twitter fingers” was the commander of the U.S Central Command (CENTCOM), General Joseph L. Votel, responsible for combined U.S.-Pakistani operations against jihadist guerrilla forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s wild Northwest Frontier Province on the Afghan border. Votel placed an emergency phone call from his Tampa headquarters to Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The essence of that call was that Bajwa and the Pakistani military should just ignore Trump and understand that the status quo ante—before Trump became president—still applied to U.S.-Pakistani security links.
As Trump’s outbursts on Twitter and in meetings continued, U.S. diplomats and military commanders were forced to repeat what Hale and Votel faced with Pakistan. After Trump, in a White House meeting with a congressional delegation, referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and 55 African countries as “shitholes,” the U.S. ambassador to Panama John Feeley figured the time to announce his resignation had come. Undoubtedly, Feeley was aware that even the well-heeled owners of condominiums in the Trump Ocean Club Panama hotel-condo complex had decided to remove the Trump brand from what is now known as the Ocean Club Panama Owners Association in a sign of worsening U.S.-Panamanian relations. When Marriott Hotel officials were invited by the Trump hotel’s owners to tour the hotel as prospective new operators, the Trump Organization representatives “ran off” the team from the hotel property. What happened in Panama illustrates that it is not merely U.S. foreign policy that is being adversely affected by Trump, but also U.S. economic interests. Around the world, the Trump “brand” is now associated with racism, misogyny, ignorance, and fraud and these malignant elements are increasingly rubbing off on America and its political, economic, and commercial brands.
The Burkina Faso newspaper L’Observateur Paalga ran perhaps the most embarrassing headline for Americans, particularly the few hundred U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency personnel stationed in the West African nation: “Warm kisses from the shithole countries,” adding that Trump is a “cursed clown” and the “president of shit.”
After the Trump administration backed a second term for Honduran right-wing dictator-president Juan Orlando Hernandez, who won re-election as the result of massive fraud over his left-center opponent, Salvador Nasralla, the Honduran opposition announced a boycott of U.S. fast-food restaurants in the country, including Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Denny’s and Pizza Hut. It appears that going down the toilet with the Trump brand globally are other U.S. brands. Trump’s repeated xenophobic comments about Mexico and Mexicans has resulted in a Mexican boycott of Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Walmart, and Coca-Cola. The governor of the Mexican state of Campeche announced that the state government would no longer purchase vehicles from Ford. Governor Alejandro Moreno urged that similar action be taken across Mexico.
From Palestine to Botswana and Haiti to Pakistan, Trump’s actions have made the United States a pariah and outlier. There is little U.S. diplomats can do but be called in by foreign ministries to be lectured on good manners, propriety, and behavior. Today, every American should feel absolute shame in their president and their country.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).