Leadership and accountability
The world today is riding a huge wave of fear over the potential for nuclear warfare that could alter the global atmosphere and plunge the earth into a new period of chaos. Millions would no longer exist within moments of the first explosions. Not a pleasant thought by any means and, although hope for a solution remains on life support, with most world leaders trying to diffuse tensions through diplomacy, time could be running out. America’s commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, is seen by some as a threat to the world through conduct that many feel escalates what is already a nitroglycerin-fuelled political crisis with North Korea.
In a sense, the world is being held hostage by these two nuclear powers, with leaders on both sides described as unstable and unpredictable. What most observers find unacceptable are the consequences of an ill-considered attack that could lead to a nuclear conflict with no winners. But in its wake, there would be millions of victims in a changed world.
Raising concerns internationally is the mindset of the president of the most powerful nation on earth, who since taking office early this year has created a climate in America where serious questions are being asked by politicians on both sides as to whether the country has a crucial leadership problem. In other words, questionable judgment by a leader described as reckless and out of step with reality is causing alarm bells to sound among top political figures along with the media, whom the administration cites as spreading fake news.
Even though Trump has maintained a support base since being elected, recently there are signs of cracks forming, with diehard supporters expressing disappointment over the President’s relentless nasty tweets against anyone he finds disagreement with. One Trump supporter told a reporter that he did not vote for behaviour that runs against the grain of decency and respect. Another said the new president was proving too divisive for any real progress to occur in America. However, the problem runs far deeper. When the President goes before cameras and states that he attended the best schools in America, and is a highly intelligent person, with one of the best memories in the world, one has to wonder what is going on. Most would agree that a person with high intelligence will have no need to inform others of that quality. What they say and do will speak for them.
Those who resent any criticism of the new president have that right, but they should also be aware that truth may be denied, but denial will not change facts that clearly show facing up to truth has not been one of Trump’s greatest attributes. Early signs appeared when the President shouted that his inauguration had the largest attendance ever. This in the face of hard, clear evidence that revealed that was not the case.
The ball was starting to roll that truth would be pushed aside in the quest to have whatever the President said as gospel, not to be challenged. Somehow truth always makes its way to the surface, no matter what. The real truth was that Trump would be in for a rough ride with international media, and even members of his own Republican Party, when he insisted on ignoring facts while waging war against journalism. This was sending the wrong signals to America’s allies, who were also beginning to question the President’s motives.
After claiming on camera that he had one of the best memories in the world, Trump became embroiled in controversy over a condolence call to the widow of a fallen Marine. The widow claimed not only that his tone was insensitive, but that he was unable to remember her husband’s name, which brought her to tears. Once again on camera, Trump disputed the widow’s account, saying he had no problem since aides were holding a card before him with the soldier’s name as he spoke to her.
But what about that great memory? Something not quite right here.
It seems appropriate that the President would gain a little ground if he offered an apology to that widow for any misunderstanding that may have left her with a feeling her husband’s sacrifice for his country was not fully appreciated.
All leaders have a responsibility in democratic jurisdictions to conduct themselves with the highest regard for truth, decency and respect. This was borne out recently when two Republican senators, Bob Corker from Tennessee and Jeff Flake from Arizona, decided that they would openly break ranks and denounce Trump as falling below the standards expected of a president — thus, they will not be seeking re-election.
Flake put it best when he said: “We must be unafraid to stand up and speak out. When we remain silent and fail to act, we dishonour our principles.”
Trump described a recent gathering of Republicans as a lovefest, with Republicans giving him standing ovations in a great show of unity. That reminded some political observers of the adoration Kim Jong Un of North Korea enjoys, with no one there wanting to be seen not clapping for fear of consequences.
There are countless leaders in the world who rule by keeping fear and terror as weapons against truth. America can and must do better and a beginning would be to have the President embrace truth and decency, along with respect for the historic office he holds. Those are qualities that build rather than divide.
Meanwhile, investigations continue into the alleged meddling by the Russians in the 2016 presidential election, and some legal experts have not ruled out a possible recommendation for impeachment of the President, dependent on what is discovered.
The world hopes, whatever the outcome, it will be in the best interests of America and its people.