November 24, 2017, 10:29 pm
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What Duterte should know about Trump and Putin

WHAT does President Rodrigo Roa Duterte know about US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin who have, separately, invited him to visit Washington and Moscow?

Nothing much, we assume, just like any other ordinary Filipino, American and Russian citizen. We only know that Trump is a multi-billionaire business tycoon, who was elected to the US presidency, despite his lack of political experience? On the other hand, we only know that Putin has long been in power at the Kremlin, and has defied the US and Western nations.

However, other objective geopolitical experts, like Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, seem to know Trump better. He sees Trump as a “unilateralist” with his “America first” foreign policy. It marks fundamental break with decades of US exemplification and a consensus view in Washington that US international leadership, however flawed and uneven, is indispensable for international stability and that in turn is set to bring to an end the the70-year era of Pax Americana, a period in which US hegemony in security, trade, and the promotion of values provided base-line predictability for the global economy. In 2017, we enter a period of deep geopolitical recession.

Finally, Bremmer pointed out that the US was once the world’s sole superpower, imposing order to force compromise and head off conflict. Now, it’s a wildcard, because instead of creating policies designed to 
bolster global stability. And he thinks President Trump will use US power overwhelmingly to advance US interests, with little concern for the broader impact. Trump is no isolationist. He’s a unilateralist. Expect a more hawkish ---and a much less predictable ---US foreign policy under him! 

In contrast to the mercurial Trump, Putin is animated by “a cocktail of mysticism and capitalist instincts” rather than “a crude-versus-them” mindset”, in the view of Leonid Bershidsky in an article posted by Bloomberg. 

To deal Putin, one has to first know his goals, the analyst wrote. One such goal of Putin is to hold on power and weaken his Western opponents. He sees Russia’s relationship with the US and other Western nations as a “zero-sum game”.

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Most Americans don’t think Donald Trump can handle being US President. They have little confidence in his abilities to handle his presidential duties, with less than half of Americans saying they trust him to prevent major scandals, handle an international crisis, or use military force responsibly.

According to the latest Gallup poll survey, Americans have significantly less faith in Trump than they had in his predecessors. Only 44% said they are confident Trump will avoid major scandals in his administration, 46% said they are confident in Trump’s ability to handle an international crisis, and 47% said they trust him to use military force wisely.

When compared with Gallup’s averages of confidence polling in his predecessors, Trump comes up short: he has a 32-point confidence polling deficit in his ability to avoid scandals in his administration, a 29-point deficit in his ability to use military force well and a 28-point deficit in his ability to manage the Executive Branch.

Most Americans (60%) believe Trump will be able to get things done with Congress, but even there he comes up far behind his predecessors --- the average number of Americans with confidence in them to work with Congress was 82%.The data also reflect a more polarized America than Obama and Bush faced when they came to office. On average, only 21% of Democrats have confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the various responsibilities of the presidency. By contrast, roughly two-thirds of Republicans had some confidence in Obama and the same was true for Bush and Democrats. But Trump even has a confidence deficit among members of his own party: only 84% of Republicans have confidence in his abilities as President, compared with 94% of Democrats who trusted Obama and 95% of Republicans who had faith in Bush.

The Gallup poll’s sample included 1,028 adults and had a margin of error of +/-4%.

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Quote of the Day: “Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill!” – Anon.
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