Trump 1.0 made some world leaders laugh. Trump 2.0 scares them

(Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Trump 1.0 made some world leaders laugh. Trump 2.0 scares them

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Jackie Calmes

April 11, 2024

No joke, as Joe Biden might say.

I’m talking about our country: America is not a joke, no matter how many times Donald Trump says so.

One of his most obnoxious lies at every meeting and in most interviews is his claim that, with Biden as president, a disrespectful world is laughing at us. Trump was at it again last week, at his most recent rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, claiming that the United States is a global laughing stock.

Joe Biden is not respected and Joe Biden is not feared among the nations of the world, he told his fawning crowd. But once he, Trump, is re-elected, America will soon be respected again, very quickly, like never before.

Like almost all Trumpisms, this one is demonstrably false.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the public around the world had low regard for the United States, the Pew Research Center reported shortly after he left office. The 2020 survey found that among 13 allied countries, the share of people who had a positive view of America was the lowest in the 20 years since Pew started asking the question. Good feelings toward the United States recovered after Biden took office and remained favorable by a 2-to-1 margin

margin ratio

last year.

It’s almost laughable, Trump’s projection of his own unpopularity onto Biden. Except too many Americans believe him.

As for foreign leaders, they are not laughing at the United States or Trump. They openly worry that the pro-authoritarian neo-isolationist, whose crude credo is America First, could return to power. Their agita is actually quite amazing.

They don’t respect Trump at all, although they fear him the way you would fear a madman who turns on the nuclear button. President Nixon sought influence by creating foreign counterparts


hey was unstable; Trump actually


unstable. Foreign diplomats and some leaders are not even masking their anxiety. They speak mostly anonymously, in case he actually regains power, but they speak nonetheless, ignoring


norms against expressing opinions about another country’s elections.

Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton has repeatedly said that even the autocrats Trump admires, including Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un, think he is a smiling fool.

The Japanese have an expression for their trepidation about Trump, the Washington Post previously reported

this week

state visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.



According to the Post reporter in Tokyo, this reflects the mild panic brewing here. It’s an abbreviation for: What if Donald Trump wins?

It makes us nervous, former Japanese lawmaker Mieko Nakabayashi told the Post.

We have to start thinking. That is the true purpose of moshi-torah: to alarm ourselves to think about the unthinkable.

Americans know the feeling.

Meanwhile, the Japanese edition of Newsweek featured a cover drawing of Trump as a bloody, terrifying presence, reminiscent of a villain or a vampire.

Friendly countries, including Japan, have relied on a rules-based system of alliances led by the United States for more than seventy years, and are right to worry that a re-elected Trump will succeed in breaking these alliances. They fear a trade war and economic shocks from his promised tariffs. They expect him to abandon Ukraine and demand that the country cede Crimea and the Donbas region to Russia, thus encouraging Putin’s expansionism in Europe. They sweat his strange affinity for Xi in China and Kim in North Korea, while the two men threaten neighbors who are counting on the United States to provide a counterbalance.

On the sidelines at the commemoration of NATO’s 75th anniversary last week


in Brussels, those present commiserated about a possible Trump 2.0, and talked about Trump-proofing the alliance in general and support for Ukraine in particular. After Trump gathered at a MAGA meeting in February, how could they not say he would encourage the Russians to do whatever they want to NATO member states that he believes are not spending enough on their own defense?


Trump’s claim that the world is laughing at us is not unique to the Biden era. He’s been talking about that for years, ever since the Republican administration canonized Ronald Reagan. But he got the aim wrong. If the world laughed at us, then yes What laugh, literally,



Cue the blooper reels. In 2018 thenPresident Trump was the joke at the United Nations General Assembly when he began his speech by boasting that he had accomplished more in two years than any president in American history. The delegates burst out laughing. In 2019, the leaders of Britain, France, Canada and the Netherlands, along with Britain’s Princess Anne, were captured on a hot mic mocking Trump over cocktails at a NATO summit. Trump packed up and flew home in time, if he had wanted to, to see the Saturday Night Live skit ridiculing him as the weirdo shunned by the cool kids in the NATO cafeteria.


yuck yuck

at Trump’s expense, alarm bells from Ukraine and its many former advisers about the danger he poses if he returns to the White House were easier than before January 6. Experience is a teacher: Trump is no longer a joke.



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