Donald Trump, the man who was selected to represent us all, is an embarrassment. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the way this “man” treats the people of this nation, but even more ashamed and embarrassed by the way he treats our friends and allies. I would like to sincerely apologize today to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the bad behaviour of our elected representative.
Australia is not an enemy of the U.S., but is, in fact, one of our staunchest allies. Historically the U.S. and Australia have shared intelligence, supported one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, when Trump called P.M. Turnbull last Saturday, he was rude and obnoxious. Some details of the call leaked to the press this morning, and a senior administration official later acknowledged that the conversation with Turnbull had been “hostile and charged”, although the ‘official’ White House record shows a more toned-down version.
It seems the main source of conflict was a previously negotiated agreement that the U.S. would accept approximately 1,200 refugees from two detainment facilities off the coast of Australia, subject to passing security screening. Trump’s immigration ban, signed last Friday, included a special provision allowing for exceptions to honor “a preexisting international agreement,” a line that was inserted to cover the Australia deal. Nonetheless, it appears that he now does not want to honour the agreement and made his displeasure known in ways consistent with his venomous personality.
“I don’t want these people,” Trump said. He called it “the worst deal ever”, and told P.M. Turnbull that he was seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.” Then yesterday he tweeted, “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” There are approximately 2,000 people in the two detention centers, and the agreement calls for the U.S. to accept half of that number. And they are refugees, asylum seekers, not illegal immigrants.
This morning, Republican Senator John McCain tried to smooth things over with the Australian government, calling Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, “to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance.” At least somebody in the administration has a sense of propriety.
“I asked Ambassador Hockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote.”
When the news of his call to P.M. Turnbull, as well as another contentious call with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto became public knowledge this morning, Trump responded with this:
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. The world is in trouble, but we’re gonna straighten it out, OK? That’s what I do, I fix things.”
Prime Minister Turnbull has been gracious about the call, refusing to criticize or condemn Trump. That is what is called ‘diplomacy’, something about which Trump knows nothing. The refugee crisis is ongoing. We are talking about people living on two islands, in detention centers that are, in the words of one aid worker, “inherently toxic … akin to torture”. These are families with children whose only crime was being born in a country that has been at war and being Muslims. The conditions in these centers are so bad, and the plight of these people so hopeless that many are suicidal. “I felt like my job was just convincing people to stay alive,” said another aid worker.
Even putting the humanitarian issue of the refugees aside, whether Trump likes it or not, we, the United States, signed an agreement with an ally, to which we are legally and morally bound. It is unacceptable for Trump to be rude and berate the leader of another nation, one who is our friend and has done nothing to deserve such treatment. This, in and of itself is bad enough, but consider for a moment … what happens when he throws diplomacy to the wind when speaking to a leader who is not so tolerant as Turnbull? How will he negotiate with Kim Jong Un of North Korea or President Xi Jinping of China? If he cannot even communicate civilly with our friends, how will he ever manage to communicate with our enemies? Think about that one for a minute …
This is our new leader. And I am ashamed and embarrassed.