Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

drew43_JabinBotsfordTheWashingtonPostviaGettyImages_trumpangryhandsup Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sitting-Duck America

America may no longer be open to desperate refugees, but, as former US special counsel Robert Mueller's recent congressional testimony showed, it is wide open to anyone who wants to hijack its democracy. The country's own president has removed the guardrails.

WASHINGTON, DC – Events of the past few weeks have highlighted the current vulnerability of the United States, not militarily – that is a subject for another day – but in other dangerous ways. Unlike some commentators, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that America’s democracy is on its last legs, but it is encountering threats that few ever expected it to face.

US President Donald Trump’s autocratic tendencies have recently become more pronounced than ever. True, he has lost several court cases testing the scope of his powers. But he and the Republican-controlled Senate are busy stacking the federal courts with conservative judges, and the effects of his appointment of two ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices are already visible, for example in the recent decision to allow Trump to use Pentagon funds to pay for a wall along the US border with Mexico. Should Trump win reelection, he is likely to have the Supreme Court by the throat.

The latest phase of presidential self-aggrandizement began with Trump’s coopting the secular celebration of Independence Day in Washington, DC. Traditionally, families gather on the Mall or at various sites around the capital to watch the fireworks. But ever since he saw France’s military parade on Bastille Day in 2017, Trump wanted his own extravaganza. The Pentagon stalled him as long as it could, but this year he got a parade of sorts: a military flyover and tanks parked in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where he spoke.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/oclYR5B;
  1. bildt71_HOW HWEE YOUNGAFP via Getty Images_vonderleyenchinaarmy How Hwee Young/AFP via Getty Images

    Which Way for Europe on China?

    Carl Bildt

    Under its new leadership, the European Union has promised to step up its engagement on the world stage to ensure that it does not become a pawn in an escalating Sino-American great-power rivalry. To succeed, it will have to strike a careful balance between economic priorities and its own security.

    8
  2. wei22_FABRICE COFFRINIAFP via Getty Images_WTOredlight Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

    How to Revive the WTO

    Shang-Jin Wei & Xinding Yu

    The World Trade Organization’s appellate body is under threat not from China, but from the United States, which is blocking the appointment of new judges to the panel. Reviving the WTO will require changes to the organization's rules – but killing its dispute-settlement system is not the solution.

    1