Great nations are created by great leaders. Great movements are created by great ideas. Donald Trump is just a great folly. The man is a trust-deficit in a fancy suit. During his election campaign, he lampooned Indian call centre workers with a fake accent like a standup comic who also loved ‘Hindus’.
After withdrawing from the Paris agreement ahead of Narendra Modi’s first US visit since the real estate tycoon moved into the White House, Trump called India one of “the world’s leading polluters”. Now, India is his construction business empire’s second-largest market outside of the USA. Construction is one of the biggest polluting industries—in Delhi alone, there are 7,350–16,200 construction-related premature deaths and six million asthma attacks a year.
However, Modi decided to take Trump’s rant in his stride, stating India’s commitment to future generations. The Prime Minister nationalised the international debate summing up India’s Vedic eco-heritage—an ancient pastoral vision considered the source of wisdom. Modi’s international colleagues were not so kind: Trump got eco-bashed by US allies Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Putin thinks Trump is crazy anyway. If there is one global leader who can piss off both allies and foes alike, it is Trump. Boorish, he shoved aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro at the NATO summit; like a school bully, he took on Macron in a handshake contest which he didn’t even win.
How does a man with a Wharton degree in Finance say a reason the US was pulling out was that the Green Climate Fund to which the US contributes handsomely is $100 billion when in reality its just $10 billion—one zero missing as if an IQ calculator had smoked up. He accused India of asking for billions in American aid while in reality we take only $100 million annually. In contrast, we are America’s second largest arms buyer. This year, the US is eyeing bilateral trade worth $500 billion with India. So much for Trump’s Ivy League education.
The Donald is also an unapologetic public liar—he claimed to be the president who won the most Electoral College votes since Ronald Reagan: many, including Obama, had won more. He lied about the size of his inauguration crowd to the CIA. To discredit the hated media, he claimed terrorist attacks across Europe are “not even being reported”. He lied about being in Scotland the day before the ‘Brexit’ vote.
The illusion of historical perception sometimes leads us to believe that all great empires had wise leaders such as Chandragupta and Justinian; that the exalted echelons of power hold only visionaries such as Kamal Ataturk and Gorbachev to redeem the souls of lost nations. Yet, the stories of empires also show madness and whimsy in their genealogies of stewardship: Nero burned down Rome, Caligula made his horse a consul to throw parties for senators; Muhammad bin Tughluq had a capital obsession.
America is the world’s most powerful modern empire. It has had great presidents such as George Washington, Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. It had crooked presidents like Richard Nixon. It had ignoramuses like George Bush II. But it has never had a national embarrassment until Trump came along.