Just because Donald Trump is a shoot from the hip president, doesn't mean we should fall into the same trap
As a personality I find nothing attractive about Donald Trump - he is, frankly, a pig of a man. But we need to avoid being overtaken by emotion when unpicking the state of the world, which is why in my previous column I tried to make the case for balance and moderation as we react to events.
So let's have a crack at putting this moderate approach into action. For a start, it seems fair to say that Trump's foreign policy already looks to be in trouble.
The president is such a shoot-from-the-hip unguided missile. The modus operandi in dealing with foreign leaders – and regular citizens for that matter – should include politeness and tact. We've seen hints of this with Shinzo Abe and, overnight, Justin Trudeau. Firm positions are fine, but spoken without rancour and belligerency.
Trump's call with Australia's prime minister was heated, with Trump telling the Malcolm Turnbull that the Manus Island refugee deal he struck up last year with the Obama administration " the worst deal ever" and their conversation was "the worst call by far." Reports on a recent call between Trump and the president of Mexico place it at various levels of tension, with one report saying Trump threatened to send military forces to Mexico to "take care of" crime and drug problems.
Adding to that, Michael Flynn -- the preisdent's hard line hawk national security advisor, whose role is now being 'evaluated' thanks to conflicting reports over whether he discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition - has said that Iran was "on notice" for its "destabilizing behaviour across the entire Middle East."
In the end the Trump administration has added some minor sanctions which aren't such a big deal, but that “putting on notice” language sounds ominous.
Furthermore, the Courts have put a block on his four month block on immigration from seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries and the permanent ban on refugees from Syria alone. The policy has been introduced supposedly to brake what Trump describes as “radical Islamic terrorism”. I cannot see it achieving that; it may even make matters worse.
Anyone who is capable of believing that cutting immigration and refugee flows from those seven countries will end terrorism in America is capable of believing anything – polls taken since the decision show that about half the American population do think that, which is a worry. Terrorism is such a random thing. Reality says that shocking terror events will still occur from time to time, out of the blue, and anywhere, although more likely in the bigger countries and centres than in a smaller under-the-radar country like ours (not impossible of course; witness Sydney).
Many attacks have been by locals living legitimately where the attack happened (witness London and South Carolina). Some are sourced nearby; the Paris bombers were from next door Belgium, again living there legitimately. Some terrorists may, I suppose, come from the Trump selected countries and kill, but they haven't for the past 40 years, according to the CATO institute. Many will not. This will not “make America secure again “.
I mentioned the Court constraining the Trump travel ban. I was pleased to see the UK Supreme Court determine that Parliament must pass specific authorising legislation before the UK Government could trigger Article 50 and begin the formal process of withdrawing from Europe. I just hope the US Supreme Court keeps the present Executive Branch within its constitutional bounds as Executive Orders tumble down like confetti.
The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the long vacant seat on the US Supreme Court has been big news. America being what it is, no doubt there will be an unholy partisan stoush on his confirmation. Yet subject to Senate approval (almost certain) Judge Gorsuch will become Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch. Whether he has any personal foibles that should count against him will come out during the Senate hearings, but according to what I can read now, Gorsuch believes the law should not be interpreted beyond the words used to write it. Known as a "judicial originalist," Gorsuch’s view is that in our legal order it is for the elected representatives of the people (in the US that is the Congress) and not the courts and unelected judges to write new laws. I agree.
Quite right too. I agree with voluntary euthanasia, for example, and supported Lucretia Seales. But Justice Collins got it right last year when he found that “the complex legal, philosophical, moral and clinical issues raised by Ms Seales' proceedings can only be addressed by parliament passing legislation to amend the effect of the Crimes Act."
That puts the responsibility for making the law where it rightly belongs; with the elected representatives of the people.