Wednesday, 23 June, 2021; 8:41 pm
Undeniably, US president Donald Trump and his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte are two of the world’s most controversial, outspoken presidents. They have come into power through manipulating the political systems of their countries and at the same time through cultivating the emotionally highlighted areas of interests of a large section of mass people. America is the only super power so far after the cold war and the Philippine is one of the fast growing economies in Asia. Therefore, the world is waiting to see into which direction they are turning their countries.
Both of them have made tectonic shifts in terms of the departures of the two countries from the traditional standpoints and are adding ridiculous appearance in their state mechanisms. But a pertinent question is: Who is politically better? I will answer it after analyzing their distinct philosophies, political profiles, and strategic foreign policy goals. Although the title of my article, at first glance, looks somewhat absurd and comical, it will deeply penetrate into the political orientation of the two leaders to extract something interesting and reasonable.
Philosophy is crucial to identify a great leader. Trump has no defined political outlook and coherent philosophy. Political analysts find Nixonism, Reganism, Obamaism, etc to examine their political actions respectively. Yet, for them including Ruth Marcus, Trumpism is nothing but a celebration of his self-claimed adroitness to govern America. Trump’s vision “Make America Great Again”, is the way to isolationism. Apart from this slogan, nationalism, populism, racism and so on are his psychological weapons to shield his ill-image in America, the so-called heaven of the free world.
On the other hand, Duterte’s philosophy is immensely dangerous if we look at his campaign “War on Drugs” for societal change. He labels the victims either drug-dealers or drug-users. Dehumanizing the particular group, he is just mistakenly repeating the historical blunders. For instance, during Rwandan genocide, Hutus branded Tutsis as cockroaches, resulting a black chapter in human history. Duterte encourages people to take part into the heinous mission. It is heinous mission because of extrajudicial killings condemned by different international organizations including the UN. Since the campaign, it is estimated that more than 6000 people have been killed.
Let me illustrate their political profiles. Albeit the business carrier of President Trump is praiseworthy, in politics he is just a political pigmy. Unlike a shrewd leader, he is not loved or even feared by many of his surrounding people including majority of American citizens. They just mock and disdain him. The Post-ABC poll found that Trump’s approving rate was 42 per cent while disapproving 53, pushing him underwater ratings ahead of his first 100-day mark.
Nevertheless, Trump’s hiring and firing norm among his administrative members adds his business personality in white house. The departures of Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus have been accomplished by Trump’s hiring and firing practice. Most importantly, when he has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he has sprouted increasing uncertainties in his administration.
In comparison, his counterpart president Duterte’s political carrier was well in Davao city as a Mayor serving 20 years before assuming the presidential position in 2016. He is feared more than revered by majority members of his administration. This is a vital trait of a clever statesman, according to Machiavelli. Furthermore, the Social Weather Station found that the Philippine president has got a more than 64 per cent people’s satisfaction in his 3 months in Office. Despite his thundering and grubby domestic politics and the Philippine’s slumpy economy, a large number of people there show confidential gesture to their president.
The final part of my analysis is their strategic foreign policy goals. The US president is pursuing his isolationist policies to ensure his “Make America Great Again” agenda. In a recent summit held in Finland, Trump has expressed in an interview of CBS News that European Union is the biggest trade foe of the USA. He is willing to abandon US security map in Europe to US allies themselves through pressurizing them to take the burden of military expenditure for their sovereign integrities against Russia. It is observed that Trump is behaving unfairly and unreasonably with almost all of America’s long-standing allies. In addition, The US withdrawals from the NAFTA, the Paris Climate Agreement, and Iran Nuclear Deal have vastly curtailed its credibility to its allies, particularly Western states.
Trump’s re-orientation in the domain of foreign policy seems that America is not at all a superpower country due to its surprisingly changing behaviours in global politics. With Islamic civilization, he has been worsening American relations since his presidential campaign. This has come sharply into his foreign policy when he executed a travel ban on seven Muslim countries. Hence, in some context, the clash of civilizations is getting revived between the West and Islam under the Trump regime.
Nonetheless, while Trump is showing his proud by isolationism, Philippine president is manifesting massive interests to re-establish his country’s economic and strategic ties with US two giant rivals, Russia and China through his independent foreign policy formulation. Duterte seems attempting to widen the national interests of the country with other states. He does not want American influence in the soil of Philippine. America has meanwhile lost its control upon a strategically long-standing ally in Southeast Asia. However, it does not mean that Duterte and Trump are not good friends in verbal appreciation with each other.
The above analysis reveals that, in political line, Duterte performs better than his volatile counterpart Trump. The explained facts point out that Duterte is more concerned regarding the interests of his country in terms of foreign policy, and according to the Machiavellian definition of an astute leader he outperforms Trump on the basis of a stable administration, peoples’ love and fear and his campaign commitments.
Note: The article was first appeared in The Daily Observer.
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