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I started this page in early December 2016 in the assumption that it would be updated relatively seldom. But Donald Trump has exceeded my worst expectations, and now he's on the daily agenda. Currently the page is current up to about 11 February 2017, and from then on you can check my diary.

The rather strange electoral system of the United States of America elected Donald Trump as president, although he came second in the total (“popular”) vote. Why should I care?

Well, the USA is still the most important country in the world, and they have a long tradition of right-leaning government. But in general, what goes on there is none of my business. This time, however, it's different: Trump strikes me as being just plain dangerous. He brings no credentials that indicate he is fit for the job, and his behaviour reinforces the concern. While his powers inside his own country may be limited by the US Constitution, there's relatively little that can stop him doing what he wants in US relations with the rest of the world.

Based on what he has said, and what he (as of 4 December 2016) still appears to be preparing to do, I see the following dangers for the USA and the rest of the world:

I started this page on 4 December 2016, long after the election, as I watched with continuing horror the things that he has done, even before assuming office. This page lists my particular worries. One day we'll see if they were justified or not.

1 December 2016

Trump appoints “Mad Dog” Mattis, one of the most aggressive members of the US Military, as Secretary of Defense. He, too, is against Iran.

2 December 2016

Trump spoke with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, a country that the USA does not recognize. This severely irritated China, a country with which the USA does recognize. This was to be expected.

This may seem like a little thing, and maybe the Chinese leadership is able to see it in perspective; after all, they have been trained to do their jobs, and they'll see that, in all likelihood, they just need to wait 4 years and Trump will be gone again. But wars have been started by smaller things.

It's interesting to note that the biggest international issues facing us today come from the Middle East: the rise of the so-called “Islamic State”, the atrocities in Syria, and much more. The USA blames this on the locals. But the locals blame it on the USA, and their heavy-handed approach to the situation—talking about Crusades, for example—have made the matter worse.

9 December 2016

Who's the new head of the US EPA? A climate change sceptic! Now everybody, myself included, is concerned that the USA will reverse what little progress has been made towards addressing the issue. A Google search for “Trump EPA” brings headlines with almost universal criticism. Only Forbes wrote “Trump's EPA Pick Is Just What This Country Needs: A sensible, law-based approach to the energy business will be a welcome change if Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is confirmed to ...” I think that says more about Forbes than about the issue, but I can't follow up because they want me to log in.

That makes it clear, though, that there are a sizeable number of climate change deniers in the USA. But other actions are more likely to make him unpopular in his own country. He campaigned on decreasing unemployment and increasing income. So he appointed Andy Puzder, a CEO of a fast-food chain and “a vocal critic of substantially increasing the minimum wage and an opponent of rules that would make more workers eligible for overtime pay” to the head of the US Labor Department. That must set a sign for the voters who believed his promises.

And then there's the question of the lies about the job savings at Carrier, which has the additional spice of ad hominem attacks on union officials on Twitter. Whatever the background, that's a completely unstatesmanlike action.

12 December 2016

So now the USA intelligence agencies have discovered Russian activity prior to the election was designed to get Trump elected. What does Donald Trump do? Denies it and accuses the CIA of incompetence:

These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again,’ 

Well, no, Donald, that was 15 years. People at the CIA have gone and come since then. And maybe the agency has learnt caution since then. But what does that kind of claim do for relationships between the president and the agency? According to this article, they're not amused:

“Given his proclivity for revenge combined with his notorious thin skin, this threatens to result in a lasting relationship of distrust and ill will between the president and the intelligence community,” said Paul Pillar, former deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

It seems that, at least theoretically, the choice of president has not yet been made. That happens when the Electoral College meets on on 19 December, and they have been known to go against the numbers. Wouldn't it be funny if Trump were not elected? Sadly, I don't see that happening.

13 December 2016

A few days ago Donald Trump committed a diplomatic blunder—we think—by establishing contact with the President of Taiwan, a country that the USA does not recognize, in breach of its One China Policy. China has so far reacted the way I expected, calling Trump “naive”, probably a gentle term. So what do you do when you're in a hole? Dig, says Trump. This commentary confirms my concerns of last week: “Wars have been started by smaller things”.

Now it may not be a bad idea to show China that they can't do anything they like, but it requires the skills of a seasoned diplomat, not a ruthless businessman. Hopefully the USA will get a good Secretary of State, and Trump will let him do his job without too much interference.

15 December 2016

So it seems that China has decided to install missiles on its artificial islands in the South China Sea. Why? Yes, the islands are not only disputed, they have been declared illegal by the Permanant Court of Arbitration. China has refuted the authority of the court, but until now had done nothing further. Now Donald Trump has annoyed them, and I've mentioned a couple of times that wars can be started inadvertently by stupid actions of people like Trump. I don't see that coming immediately; I think this is just sabre-rattling. But it seems that every day his actions cause new problems.

16 December 2016

One of the few positive things I had hoped for from the Donald Trump disaster was that he appears to be less interested in supporting conflicts outside the USA. In particular, it would be good for the USA to stop propping up Israël's illegal occupation of Palestine. Today he dashed even that hope: he appointed David M. Friedman (a name so well-known that I had to add it to Wikipedia), as ambassador to Israel. In this case, nomen non est omen: to quote the New York Times, he is “a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right”, and he has already signaled confrontation with an intention to move the US Embassy to “Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem”.

And of course, if that were not already obvious, he has no diplomatic experience. Even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz stated “He makes Benjamin Netanyahu seem like a left-wing defeatist.”

Electoral College, are you listening?

19 December 2016

Donald Trump has been relatively quiet in the last couple of days, maybe to avoid fanning the flames of people trying to convince the Electoral College to disendorse him. But he did manage to voice his opinion that China should keep the underwater drone that they captured a couple of days ago. Some claim that this will further antagonize them; somehow I don't see that. Still, he'll find something else.

More cartoons, of course. Someone on Quora asked what the Irish think of him. Pretty much what everybody outside the USA thinks of him. I particularly liked this one:

20 December 2016

So the Electoral College have spoken—the bastards. It seems that only two electors voted against what was expected of him. So for better or (probably) worse, we're lumbered with an idiot in one of the most powerful positions in the world. God help us.

21 December 2016

So now the disaster is complete: Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States of America. And my hopes have been dashed that he would put Israel in its place and convince them to abide by international law. Instead, as the Jerusalem Post reports, Benyamin Netanyahu said:

We will continue to strengthen and develop settlements, and I want to make clear: There is not, nor will there be, a government that gives more support to settling and cares more about settling than this government we in the Likud lead, This will continue.

Netanyahu, this is a breach of international law! And if people complain about the Russians vetoing decisions about Syria in the UN Security Council, they should be equally concerned about the US abuse of its veto power regarding Israel. Then not even a Trump could help them continue in their violations. But under the current circumstances, they're clearly encouraged by him. Another

23 December 2016: Build settlements and nukes!

I've already expressed my concern about Donald Trump's policy towards Israel. But things are getting worse. It seems that there was a draft resolution before the UN Security Council to condemn Israel's building of settlements. But Egypt, who presented the resolution, withdrew it again—according to this report as a result of pressure by Israel and Trump. Others are prepared to carry the torch, but from my perspective the real issue is that Trump is once again aiding international law-breaking.

As if that wasn't enough, the Putin/Trump mutual admiration society (clearly Putin is the senior partner) have both come out in favour of more nuclear weapons. To quote a Trump tweet (as the Germans would say, “Bei ihm piept's”):

The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclean capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.

This sounds like “The bombings will continue until morale improves”. What is this idiot (the latter of the two) going to do right?


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