By Earl Bousquet
President Donald Trump started and ended his third week in office leaving the whole world in absolutely no doubt about his impulsive eagerness to threaten and bully his way, anytime, anywhere – and through anyone.
Earl Bousquet is Editor-at-Large of The Diplomatic Courier and Chairman of the Saint Lucia National Reparations Committee (NRC)
On Day I of Week 3, his Justice Department was back in court seeking to appeal a temporary ban on implementation of his discriminatory and restrictive anti-immigrant executive order. But by then too, he had also earned himself the first constitutional check on his authority as the chief executive.
The messy legal battle continued into Day 2 of Week 3 with New York and Minnesota state lawyers continuing to challenge the President legally in court, more Republicans publicly distancing themselves from him, Democrats from previous administrations joining the fray -- and mounting pressure from over 100 top tech companies, including giants like Facebook, Apple and Google, who complain his order will make it very hard for them to recruit overseas staff.
Week 3 also started with Trump angering the top echelons of the US judiciary by continuing to show utter disdain for judges’ rulings. The judicial arm of the state is revolting against his denigration, with the possibility that his appeal against the Appeals Court’s ruling could go all the way to the equally-split Supreme Court.
But the president is showing no sign of backing down, insisting on restrictive treatment and close monitoring of those afforded the opportunity to enter the US during the temporary ban.
During Trump’s second week in Washington, he fired an acting US attorney general for refusing to implement a presidential order she found to be illegal; and attacked the judge who ruled against his travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority nations. The president promised to overturn the “ridiculous” ruling by the “so-called judge”.
Also during Week Two, the president: lunched a bitter war of telephone words with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced new sanctions against Iran and dispatched his new defense secretary to Japan and South Korea, from where General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis pointed at North Korea and threatened to block China’s access to the South China Sea.
In his first full fortnight at the White House, President Trump took more steps to anger American citizens than any of his predecessors – period. ordered the dismantling of a health system depended on by tens of millions of Americans, revived the prospect of an oil pipeline being forced through sacred Native American lands and rivers, decreed the building of his “big, fat, strong and long” Mexican border wall (and promised a border tax to force Mexico to pay for it), appointed a climate change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and nominated a conservative judge to tilt the balance in the US Supreme Court.
Indeed, from Day One after the billionaire property tycoon became president, Americans have been hitting the pavements and streets to protest his presence, with women on January 21 leading the largest mass protest since the Vietnam War in 1967.
Three short weeks later: US states and cities, governors and mayors -- and some leading Republicans too – are publicly and loudly disagreeing with their president on points of law and justice, right and wrong. And the US judiciary has trumped the president over his aversion to charges that he abuses his constitutional authority.
The protests against Trump have also multiplied abroad -- especially in the countries affected by his immigration ban, but also in the UK, where there are strong calls on Prime Minister Theresa May to rescind her invitation to him to visit London. (On January 21, millions more in 60 other countries also took to the streets to protest Trump’s arrival at the White House.)
New protests start almost daily across the USA today, with no sign of abating: a non-partisan ‘March for Science’ is also planned soon to drum-up support for recognition of the science behind climate change.
Less than a month in office, Trump has singlehandedly inspired a revival of the culture of mass protests across the USA.
No other US president has been greeted at home with such protest and hostility, become the subject of such pubic sarcasm and parody, the butt of so many serious jokes and caused so much panic and concern abroad about his policy implications for other nations.
And no other has been openly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
As president, Trump has shown no sign of observing any boundary between his private interests and his public responsibilities, refusing to declare his assets or to fully and verifiably divest himself from his multinational business empire.
Meanwhile, the media-savvy president continues to use his tongue and his Twitter account as his two main weapons of mass distraction, to mask the reality of the growing opposition to him at home and abroad.
He accuses “every country in the world” of “taking advantage of the United States”, describes every bilateral foreign policy commitments he inherited from Barack Obama as “dumb deals” -- and even accuses the Australia PM of wanting to export “the next Boston bombers” to the US.
But the US president’s continuing and relentless assault on universal rights has not escaped everyone.
A week ahead of his inauguration, Human Rights Watch (on January 12) released its ‘Annual Report on Threats to Human Rights around the World’ – and for the first time in the report’s 27-year history, the USA was named as one of the biggest threats.
Citing Trump’s path to power, the report declared his campaign was marked by “misogynistic, xenophobic and racist rhetoric.” It also said his promises, if implemented, “could cause tremendous harm to vulnerable communities, contravene the United States’ core human rights obligations, or both”.
But neither this report, nor facts from studies have deterred Trump from pursuing his declared path. He’s building the Mexican border wall despite being advised by his Homeland Security Secretary, John F. Kelly, that “A physical barrier, in and of itself, will not do the job.”
He proceeded with his promised entry ban on Muslims’ despite his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly saying: “I do not support a blanket type rejection of any particular group of people.”
And despite being advised by Defense Secretary Mattis that ‘waterboarding’ is an “ineffective” torture tactic, he insists he will still consider ordering its use “if that’s what the American people want.”
Meanwhile, Trump sticking his middle finger to the US judiciary has sent a strong warning signal, not only to the lawyers, judges and US businesses, but to all at home and across the world as well.
On home ground meanwhile, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and other African American civil rights protest movements, national coalitions for women’s rights, Native American advocates, US Muslims, defenders of Hispanic and other immigrants’ rights, students -- including American-born sons and daughters of immigrants -- have all started bracing for long and hard fights for as long as Trump remains president.
As minorities -- and with the newly-appointed US attorney general having his own dark spots in the history of US race relations -- they all have good reason to fear.
From all they have seen and heard from their new president in his first three weeks, far from ‘Making America Great Again’ as promised, he seems instead hell bent on making America hate again!