Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Trump is "fundamentally unmoored from reality", "alternative facts" debunked and despised by international community

Trump and his embrace of “alternative facts” is eroding America’s international stature. Perhaps Bannon can exact a loyalty pledge by threatening the ax against our (perhaps soon to be former) allied heads of state? Here are snippets and quotes from the NY Times report on Trump’s Falsehoods Make Foreign Leaders Ask: Can We Trust Him?

“America’s enemies feared it for dealing in facts while they offered disinformation and conspiracy theories,” said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington. “All that changes when the White House embraces the notion of ‘alternative facts.’”

“Conspiracy theories and disinformation put out by America’s detractors gain greater currency once the distinction between fact and false claim is eroded at the American end,” Mr. Haqqani said.

Trump rattles allies, emboldens enemies

President Trump’s litany of false statements and spurious claims has opened a national debate on the fragility of a fact-based society. But overseas, where America’s allies and enemies parse a president’s every word for signs of threat or reassurance, Mr. Trump’s falsehoods have prompted a different kind of alarm.

From defense treaties to trade pacts, foreign leaders are struggling to gauge whether they can depend on the United States to honor its commitments. They are sizing up a fickle president whose erroneous remarks on small issues cast doubt on what he might say on the big ones — the future of NATO, say, or the Iran nuclear deal — that involve war and peace.

Mr. Trump spent last weekend in a round-robin series of phone calls with foreign leaders, clearly aimed at settling nerves. But from Tokyo and Beijing to London and Berlin, foreign officials are watching the president’s false assertions with alarm, unsure of whether they can trust him and wondering whether that will undermine their dealings with Washington.

“If he’s telling lies on relatively unimportant things, like the size of the crowd at his inauguration or whether or not it rained on his parade, that’s not of great importance in the overall scheme of things,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States.

“But as I used to say to my staff,” he added, “if I can’t rely on you to get the small things right, how can I count on you to do so on things that really matter?”

In a phone call with Mr. Trump on Saturday, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel objected to the president’s temporary ban on the entry of Muslims from seven countries. To make her case, the chancellor’s spokesman said, Ms. Merkel found herself explaining to him the Geneva Conventions, which oblige countries to protect refugees of war on humanitarian grounds.

“People can understand the tactical lie,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University and a vocal critic of Mr. Trump. “What’s unnerving is the sense that when he lies, he actually believes it — the sense that he is fundamentally unmoored from reality.”

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