When anyone speaks, no matter the subject, intended or not -- he or she draws a personal portrait. Even if some aspects remain concealed to a longer acquaintance, we learn quickly whether the particular person is nice or nasty, smart or stupid, ignorant or informed, boastful or modest, sympathetic or callous and so on. So it is with Donald Trump.
If Trump in suggesting we ingest cleaning fluids betrays a woeful ignorance, and in his lack of empathy for pandemic victims surprises or even shocks the rest of us, then surely his contrast is Barack Obama. This erudite and empathetic president in his sympathy for Libyans and others devastated Libya, expanded the war in Afghanistan and watched ISIS gain a foothold in Iraq.
The wanton destruction in Libya was particularly galling: not only was the intricate water system bringing water to the capital of Tripoli severely damaged but in exploiting tribal differences to bring about regime change it let loose a monster that is as yet untamed. Refugees have poured into Europe, not just Libyans but also Africans who would come to Libya, work a while then return home. But it is difficult to enter Europe as illegals, so once there they tend to stay.
The result is unhappiness for the divided families and a refugee crisis fueling far right regimes (as in Hungary) and strained EU ties. The refugees from U.S. wars also include Iraqis, Afghans, even Pakistanis from the Afghan border areas.
While Trump's thinly-disguised racism in his immigration policies might be odious, there is also a raw economic fact. Poorly educated migrants take a generation or two to become net-positive contributors to a sophisticated economy. And of course he has toned down the wars.
His single-minded focus is the economy. Pursuing advantage for it, he has alienated China, now the other major power, in a battle of giants not boding well for the future world economy.
Trump has sought out India as a countervailing power, emboldening its leader Narendra Modi into a confrontation with China over a disputed border in the thin air of the Tibetan plateau. It has also encouraged Mr. Modi to pursue Hindu nationalist policies at the expense of religious minorities, striking at the roots of India's secular democracy.
Despite the astronomical unemployment from the U.S. lockdown and an economic slow down, future prospects are bright -- the country regained 2.5 million jobs in May. The stock market tends to be a reliable leading indicator, and it is charging back up, looking to the previous new highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average flirting with 30,000 in mid-February sank to 18,000 mid-March but is now above 27,000 and going strong.
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