“If Trump leaves, the great nationalists of the moment will wipe away a small tear”

Donald Trump, in Omaha, Nebraska on October 27.

Ithere will be orphans. If Democrat Joe Biden wins on November 3, the big arms of the international scene will mourn if not a relative, at least a godfather: Donald Trump. For them, autocrats in need of affection, more sentimental than one imagines, the 45e President of the United States has been a blessing. Wherever liberal democracy is a bad word, those four years of Trumpism were a comforting moment. From Moscow to Manila, from Pyongyang to Riyadh, that tender smile from the White House was taken for what it was: an unusual gift.

Even before taking office in January 2016, Trump had warned: he does not believe in “American exceptionalism”. This idea that the United States, because of a birth placed under the sign of the Enlightenment, would be genetically good and, to be faithful to its ideals, would be summoned to propagate and defend democracy, this idea is foreign to Donald Trump – even on days when he’s prone to intellectual speculation. For some, the Trumpist point of view is an admission of frankness, far from the hypocrisies of official language. For the others, it is a renunciation: in spite of all its mistakes and the mistakes it has committed, say these, the most powerful of democracies must hold high the flag of its founding values.

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The defense of human rights is not the only one involved. In this regard, the Trumpist administration has happened to be more demanding than the Europeans – notably in the sanctions decided against Beijing (after the events in Hong Kong and on the question of the Uighurs). Trump has undermined something larger. He never had a word in favor of liberal democracy. He has never advocated public freedoms, both inside and outside his country. He took up, expressly or implicitly, the theme of a moral equivalence between political regimes.

Only the balance of power matters

In the Weltanschauung Trumpian, tyranny is a matter of culture – just like anthropophagy, a matter of taste! In the ideological battle that Moscow and Beijing are waging for international legitimization of autocracy and delegitimization of liberal democracy, Trump has been neutral at best, an ally of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping at worst.

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On the international scene, it has tarnished the image of the United States as a country, even imperfect, of the democratic ideal. He promoted a conception of international relations based exclusively on the balance of power between nations. The outline of a world order based on a few standards – the construction imagined by Washington in 1945 -, the premises laid down for international law, all of this is foreign to him. Only the balance of power count and, saluting nationalism from the UN platform, he urged its members to have only one policy: the fierce defense of their national interests.

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