Roger Cohen really know what he is talking about. Trump supporters, please take note.
“Tuesday’s election will be seen globally as a referendum on the durability of democracy. If American democracy, long a beacon, cannot self-correct, then all democracies are at risk. European nations have watched with alarm as President Trump has set about undermining American democracy while attacking the very foundations — the European Union and NATO — that allowed war-torn Europe to become whole, democratic and free.
The Oval Office was once the focal point of the respect the United States commanded around the world; no longer. It has become impossible for democracies today to believe it is in their national interest to take Trump’s America seriously. With this president, there are simply too many petulant reversals of course. The presidency and dishonesty have become synonymous. Alliances are founded on trust. When that goes, they begin to dissolve.
Hence the talk in European capitals of the need to “contain” the United States, a verb once reserved for the Soviet Union. America, under Trump, has lost the credibility and legitimacy that were cornerstones of its influence.
Allies believe a second Trump term could lead to the United States’ leaving NATO, following the decision to leave the World Health Organization. Departure from the World Trade Organization is also possible. Trump has yet to encounter a multilateral organization he does not want dead.
The values of liberty, democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law for which the United States has stood, albeit with conspicuous failings, over the postwar decades have been abandoned. Despite the horrors of Vietnam and Abu Ghraib, and Cold War support for dictatorial regimes, America led not just because it had a huge army and nuclear arsenal, but also because it shared beliefs with its allies and worked with them. The United States has become a values-free international actor under a president who has led a values-free life.
This American abdication has allowed President Vladimir Putin of Russia to proclaim liberalism “obsolete.” It has led Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to say Europeans must “take our fate into our own hands.” It has empowered President Xi Jinping of China to offer his country’s one-party system as an alternative model for developing countries. It has turned the phrase “leader of the free world,” as applied to the United States, into a laughable notion.
The Trump administration has unrelentingly undermined proven international relationships. America-first nationalism (even on vaccine development) has replaced the stabilizing commitment of the United States to multilateral institutions, a rules-based order and painstakingly negotiated international accords, like the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times
“Over the past four years, America has come close to exiting the global community of democracies. Trump is far more comfortable with autocrats like Putin and Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia than with a democratic leader like Merkel. (She has, for the president, the added drawback of being a woman.)”