We’re deal­ing with a pack of cow­boys

Life & Style Weekend - - TREND - with Michael Burlace

YOU may have no­ticed some­thing about many cur­rent lead­ers of the so-called Free World – coun­tries that group to­gether like a gang rather than like a union such as the United Na­tions.

Th­ese are all peo­ple with a cow­boy at­ti­tude to the world, to pol­i­tics and to solv­ing prob­lems at home.

Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte liked to style him­self on Dirty Harry and re­joiced in his nick­name Duterte Harry. Drug deal­ers and drug users? Kill them. I’ll even put a bounty on them. And I’ve done it my­self, killed plenty.

Then there’s Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. A coup at­tempt last year was just what he needed to make him­self Pres­i­dent for Life (al­most). Er­do­gan’s kicked thou­sands out of gov­ern­ment jobs be­cause he didn’t like their pol­i­tics. Others are in jail for be­ing jour­nal­ists, judges or teach­ers.

Rus­sia has a won­der­ful sys­tem of ro­tat­ing the roles of the Pres­i­dent and the Prime Min­is­ter so it looks like it’s not a dic­ta­tor­ship and things are chang­ing, but the man in power is al­ways Vladimir Putin. One of the most cun­ning po­lit­i­cal animals about. A back streets boy who made it to the top of the pile.

Iron­i­cally, the one who didn’t get an in­vite to join the group is the calm and ap­par­ently sta­ble Xi Jin­ping. Un­der him, China has qui­etly an­nexed the South China Sea and now owns it. This is de­spite the in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal and all China’s neigh­bours dis­agree­ing. The US sent ships and planes and we even sent a row­ing boat or old bi­plane out to wave the Aussie flag in a small show of fu­til­ity to sup­port the US’s mas­sive show of im­po­tence.

So now we come to the leader of the Free World, the United States. Don­ald Trump, tweet-mas­ter and out­stand­ing deal maker who has trou­ble mak­ing deals when there’s more than one other per­son or in­ter­est in­volved. He’s just told us his job is hard.

Gosh, re­ally? Deal­ing with a di­vided Congress or with NATO and the Euro­pean Union and their many voices is dif­fi­cult? Run­ning a coun­try takes ef­fort? Jug­gling the com­pet­ing egos and agen­das of the mul­ti­ple groups bat­tling that other loose can­non, Bashar al-As­sad in Syria is com­plex? And you don’t like killing peo­ple with your mil­i­tary? Who would have thought it?

Mr Trump said he would be hon­oured to meet with the en­emy of most of the Pa­cific and Asian re­gion, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s despotic leader. So that fills the last spot at the ta­ble.

Take a look at them to­gether and it should be clear that they all suf­fer from one mal­ady – a ma­jor dose of per­sonal in­se­cu­rity. Why else do they need to rat­tle a nu­clear sabre as Mr Kim does and as Mr Trump threat­ens in re­tal­i­a­tion? Or as Mr Duterte does when he en­cour­ages peo­ple to kill without ev­i­dence or trial?

It’s quite different from the ap­proach that has dom­inated US and thus global pol­i­tics since Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt said it a cen­tury ago: “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

That maxim has been re­versed and we now have in­se­cure lead­ers run­ning half the world with knee-jerk re­ac­tions ga­lore.

This calls for the body the UN for­got to set up. I call to or­der the in­au­gu­ral meet­ing of the In­se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Pol­lie Tick­led is a satir­i­cal col­umn

It’s different from the ap­proach that dom­inated US and global pol­i­tics since Roo­sevelt said it 100 years ago: Speak softly and carry a big stick.

PHOTO: ALEX BRAN­DON

Don­ald Trump joins a grow­ing list of in­se­cure lead­ers.

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