“Mr Trump’s attempts to clean up the Augean Stables of Washington DC, as in his tax reforms, and the Pentagon have just begun. His clear warning to Pakistan, in particular, and the Islamic world, in general, may fall in the same category. ……………. The world is still threatened by ISIS; but we should also know that the Statue of Liberty, built in 1886, was actually inspired by the Queen of Heaven, the pre-Islamic Egyptian-Syrian goddess, also named Isis!”, says the author.
“If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he has to say, and make fun of it,” said Thomas Carlyle in the 19th century. So, making fun of any leader and his efforts has turned into an industry; it provides jobs to idlers, ‘visions’ to ‘visionaries’ and messiahnic dreams to the media!
President Donald Trump is no exception. We must not forget that he has been democratically elected by the Americans and could lose his current job in 2021 if they found him wanting. Simple. But to create an-obstacle-for-the-day and deny him the opportunity to focus on work or fire those he sees as non-performers is not what his critics’ mission should be. Being a journalist myself for 35 years—and watching my tribespersons doing much the same everyday in India—I can only say: our job is to educate the people and let them decide what to do and when. We are part of the society, not above it; it is not the media’s job to don the role of the accuser-prosecutor-defender-judge and even the judgment—all rolled into one.
The problem is that the media, in most democratic nations, is rather comfortable with glib-talking ‘liberal’ leaders who quench their daily thirst for headlines in fluent, flowery language. Reporters always look for proof-readers who can correct their grammatical mistakes! In the US, for instance, the Clintons and Barak Obama were such sweet-talking, headline-making and politically-correct lawyers-turned-leaders. Once the media won over by such leaders, their political misconduct would often be glossed over: for instance, few noticed the contradiction in Obama’s war efforts and his getting the Nobel Peace Prize! The media is not the Masters of the Democratic Universe. If we lose our most valued asset, objectivity, and allow our personal likes and dislikes and brainwaves to guide us, we turn partisans. But this is exactly what is happening in many democracies where journalists have turned into cynics and activists. No wonder, many leaders now shun the conventional media they suspect as ‘anti-social’ and connect directly with their supporters via social media.
From the very beginning, Mr Trump has been projected and pilloried as a coarse, unconventional, media-unfriendly leader. Ironically, these are exactly the qualities of a game-changer! A game-changer is one carrying no baggage from the past and is rather impervious to criticism; s/he not only takes her/his supporters along, but also creates and leads the circumstances that force the reluctant opponents to follow or disappear. From Moses to Gandhi to Mao, we have had such game-changing leaders in many nations. Despite advice to the contrary, Gandhi once agreed to be interviewed by a known critic British journalist; after publication, when the interviewee sought his reaction, the Mahatma simply said the interview appeared to be a sanitary inspector’s report! ‘If you look for dirt, you end up digging it’. We must remember that even the media has feet of clay and skeletons to hide as do other pillars of democracy, which is imperfect but the only option we have so far.
So, let us not waste any more space on Trump’s unending media trial and, probably, wait for the same media to turn into embedded one as it did during the Gulf War! Let us focus on the larger issues, wider horizons, macro-politics and restructuring of the world order.
Is Trump, then, a game-changer America was waiting for long? He may turn out to be the best thing to have happened to the USA after Ronald Reagan. During the Reagan Presidency (1981-89), the world saw the then dysfunctional Soviet Union turn into a fossilized basket case—the stagnant behemoth called the USSR finally crumbled in 1991—and the subsequent emergence of some rudimentary democratic nations in Central Asia. In other words, Reagan’s strong-arm policies, that came as catalysts and stimuli, actually forced a reluctant Moscow to conceive democracies! An end to the bipolar world power game made the world safer for democracy and dismantled, to some extent, war machines.
Mr Trump’s attempts to clean up the Augean Stables of Washington DC, as in his tax reforms, and the Pentagon have just begun. His clear warning to Pakistan, in particular, and the Islamic world, in general, may fall in the same category: the Islamic world currently has some 1,500 militant groups, all anti-democratic, and their dismantling could pave way for democracies across the Muslim world, beginning with terror nursery of Islamabad. While the two Bush Presidencies ‘softened’ the Middle East for democracy—the Arab Spring of 2011 was its trial balloon—the Trump era could well see the democratic aspirations of the Muslim world evolve into a Renaissance. Already, the Kurds are crying for democracy and independence denied to them since the seventh century BC. If Mr Trump supports them, Kurdistan could emerge as a democratic island in the Middle East and inspire other nations nearby. The world is still threatened by ISIS; but we should also know that the Statue of Liberty, built in 1886, was actually inspired by the Queen of Heaven, the pre-Islamic Egyptian-Syrian goddess, also named Isis!
The second game Mr Trump could change is in respect of the United Nations. The UN has gradually fossilized over the last seven decades and has virtually turned into the political version of World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Lacking in fresh ideas and innovations, the UN needs to be overhauled and revivified. Mr Trump could force the UN to adopt a ‘doctrine of coercive course correction’, envisaging forcible delivery of democracy in an unwilling nation that tries to push the baby back into the womb. And these unwilling nations include ‘rogue’ ones, too, irrespective of their religious, ideological or other affiliations. In other words, Mr Trump should promote democracy as the New Religion across the world.
The third game the 45th US President could change in the 21st century is in respect of creating level-playing fields for emerging economies like the BRICS nations by democratic dissemination of technology, itself a great game-changer, leveler and enabler. This could free the nations of their irrelevant past and make them ready for the irreverent future.
We are now well into not only a post-ideology era but also entering a post-Christian, post-Islam and post-Hinduism world. The media has, for long, been parroting half-truths; condemning Mr Trump’s universe as a post-truth world won’t cut any ice. The media should not try to be an emperor, or it could lose its clothes.
Mr Trump could actually turn out as a trump card for the New World. This could be his lasting legacy to a better world.
(The author is a senior journalist)