Did Trump just Paint a target on backs of US Diplomats & Businessmen?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The United States as a superpower is in competition with global and regional competitors for influence in the world. Its rivals and enemies will take advantage of Trump’s insult of Africa, the Caribbean and Central America to reduce US leverage there and to increase their own. Radical terrorist and criminal cartels groups may feel emboldened to attack US diplomatic staff and US businesses, knowing that the public has turned unsympathetic to the United States. Russia’s and Iran’s anti-American media in Arabic are trumpeting Trump’s remarks throughout the global South. The US keeps saying it is worried about Iranian influence in Muslim Africa; what bigger gift could Trump have given Tehran?

China has already stolen a march on the US with regard to trade with Africa. Beijing does $200 bn a year in trade with the continent, while the US does only $100 bn. The next time an American firm is competing with a Chinese one for a contract and the offers are similar, you could well see a tilt away from the US on the basis of Trump’s filthy language.

Trump’s foul-mouthed remarks about immigrants from Haiti, Africa and El Salvador have been widely reported in the Arab world, as well, which in part overlaps with Africa. (The Arab world is made up of Arabic-speaking countries, marked by language rather than geography. North Africa is largely Arabic-speaking, along with Sudan and some of the Sahel countries.) The slur thus was read to apply to them, as well, in many instances.

China’s CGTN reported anger from the Egyptian street about the insult (see below), with Egyptians warning that Trump is in danger of losing Africa and Asia.

The Algerian “Biladuna” (Our Country) put its identification in the title of its article, “Trump describes our African countries as ‘Dirty Nations.'” A lot of Arabic language newspapers could not bear to use the word “shit” as Trump did in his term “shithole,” and preferred euphemisms such as “dirty.”

Algeria is an oil country and influential in the Arab League and in the African Union, and they took it personally.

In other cases, diplomatic rivals of the US saw an opportunity to hive off the Christian African states from the US-Israeli axis. The Egypt-based al-Yawm al-Jadid (New Day) gloated that the African countries that had not voted against Trump’s Jerusalem decision at the UN General Assembly had now been called “shitholes” by the American president.

Senegalese president Macky Sall, head of one of the more democratic African states, said on twitter that he was shocked at Trump’s discourse:

Senegal summoned the US ambassador in Dakar for an explanation.

Senegalese poet and statesman Leopold Senghor had pioneered a postcolonial pride in Negritude or Blackness in his path-breaking poetry, which encompassed pride not only in Africa but in the Afro-Caribbean cultures.


Related video:

China’s CGTN Africa: “trump insults anger africa”

9 Responses

  1. It may well be more difficult for American businesses to do business in countries Trump has been so rude towards. However, business people being business people they will still go with the best deal. However, politicians in these countries will have different attitudes and may choose other countries to do business with or ally themselves with.

    Trump is rather ignorant and doesn’t understand world diplomacy and doesn’t care either. He barely understands his own country and that is only those of his own class. It is doubtful Trump truly understands the damage he has done to his country. Whether Americans understand what he has done, well we may see that at the up coming elections.

  2. And I thought it was the reelection of G.W. Bush et al. that destroyed our reputation, Trump is just continuing the “good” work.

    • The global rich keep rewarding America’s anti-egalitarian policies, and their populations just express anger in useless ways, like our population. We now live in a world dictatorship of money, and the money in our pockets – or our willingness to sacrifice future earnings to damage the fascists – are all the power we now have.

  3. A good observation to be made Professor Cole.

    It is good you bring up the hurt and disappointment felt by these many nations who Trump insulted, and even better you speak to the dark consequences that the President’s ignorant words may bring forward. A responsible leader would think twice, and have concern for all of our nation’s personnel, no matter what the message was to be announced. Trump just doesn’t think that far into the matter, and with this, as you Professor so rightly put forward is a crucial problem he creates with his awful word smithing.

    So great observation, and one we Americans ought to think more about….words have consequences.

  4. Diplomacy is a cerebral activity like chess or poker. A necessary attribute is always to avoid showing any genuine emotion. Trump does not have that ability but just says what he feels at the moment. There is no filter between his feelings and their expression. Since emotions are changeable, his utterances follow that pattern. What he said about immigrants is what he was feeling at the time. Many of those who voted for him probably instinctively feel the same, may even say it. But they are not in the public eye so what they say passes undocumented. Trump’s main problem is less that he has such thoughts but that he can’t police them. Someone who cannot police their thoughts and emotions may go down well in small community politics with issues that are local and immediate but is totally unsuited for foreign policy where it’s like competing in a world poker game with your hand laid out on the table for all to see.

  5. if I understand Team Trump correctly,
    the problem isn’t Trump’s attitude.
    the problem is the disloyal media reporting the truth about that attitude.

  6. Harmony and balance in the universe at last, Trump chest thumping exposes the underbelly of the empire where imperial goons have assembled and supported the shittiest of shithole countries citizens to formulate a more palatable blend. Like Handing out cookies in Ukraine and having upset stomach in Libya and much of Africa and the world.

  7. The remarks about Norway should be getting far more attention, for they pinpoint the extent to which Trump is an unwashed Nordic supremacist, no matter the claim that he just prefers Norwegians as wealth-producers. Norway produces wealth because it just happens to be sitting near oil and gas and has enough of an egalitarian culture to force the earnings from same to be used to improve the entire population – hardly Trump’s ideology. No, what he loves about Norwegians is exactly what Hitler and Himmler loved about them and the Danes, how much they all looked like SS recruiting poster models. Hitler thus conscripted their lands into his crusade against freedom, but found the people not generally cooperative or useful.

  8. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

    America, think about this. Whatever Trump says and does will be forever associated with the USA. He is shaming all of us.

    Can we please fire Trump now before he does even worse damage?

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