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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/13/19

Choosing Weird, Uncompromising Leaders -- Why?

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Message Arshad M Khan

Why is it that the US and Britain have chosen weird uncompromising leaders when the essence of statesmanship is calculated compromise? Worse, if not shocking, is that 43 percent of India's new parliament members elected in May are facing criminal charges, including rape and murder. Out of the 303 lawmakers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, 116 face charges. He himself was not considered suitable for a US visa because of the organized 2002 killings/pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat while he was leader; he was given a visa only after he became prime minister.

Trump has just fired John Bolton, his third National Security Adviser in two-and-a-half years. Ever since taking office, this president has been abrogating agreements unilaterally. Iran now refuses to talk to him and announced that the removal of Bolton, a notorious Iran hawk, makes no difference. This lack of trust after Trump walked out of the previous agreement, one with the imprimatur of the Security Council and major world powers, is to be expected, but there is also the matter of dignity. No self-respecting nation can tie itself to the whims of an erratic leader.

Boris Johnson meanwhile is flouting the norms and traditions of parliament. He has prorogued the current session not for two or three days as sometimes happens but for nearly five weeks until October 14. Uproar and an appeal to the courts against this upending of democracy followed. A Scottish judge has now ruled the prorogation illegal. Tellingly, the 21 Tory members, who were turned out of the Tory party in parliament, joined the opposition in passing a law requiring Boris to seek an extension to prevent the no-deal Brexit on October 31 if he has no agreement by October 19. Boris' hands have been tied, his government has lost control of the parliamentary agenda, and his scheme to end debate on the issue by proroguing parliament has backfired badly. It leaves commentators wondering if Boris has been the worst prime minister this century.

One of the persons Boris threw out of his party was Nicolas Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill and a 37-year member of parliament. Another was its longest-serving member. No grace in the graceless as they say.

Trump on the other hand is fixated on golf. Until July this year, he had spent over $105 million of taxpayers' money on his golfing trips. Extrapolated over his entire tenure including re-election, he could cost the taxpayer $340 million according to Forbes, which can hardly be called a left-wing magazine.

So why do people elect such leaders? Perhaps the underlying cause is income stagnation for the majority (adjusted for inflation) since the late 1970s. Yes, GDP has grown but the benefits have been skewed to the upper 20-percent quintile. When the voters have not found an answer from mainstream Democrats and Republicans, they have resorted to mavericks like Obama and now Trump. In the UK it is Johnson -- heaven help them if his no-deal Brexit prevails, for that is expected to be an economic disaster.

When blame is focused on immigration, as in Britain, Hungary, Poland and now the US, extreme right-wingers take center stage with crude but appealing rhetoric, and often get elected. So there we have it ... while Trump, denied funding by Congress, is drawing funds from the defense budget to build his wall on the Mexican border.

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
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