Seems like a lot of things. For one, the infamous Republican tax bill was just passed; however, while everyone has been focusing on being “home for the holidays,” they seem to be overlooking what the United States has been doing everywhere else. In the spirit of the holidays, President Trump has worked hard to spread the red, white, and blue Christmas cheer and make us some new friends worldwide. With this conclusion to the year, it’s no doubt that our Commander in Chief has earned a stocking full of coal — I mean, candy — this year.
It Can’t Be That Bad… Right?
Alas, it can — and it is. The United States is the world’s greatest military and economic superpower, so we don’t need anybody else, right? Actually, it turns out we do. While presidents of Christmas past generally try to maintain amicable relations with their neighbors, Trump has a different approach. For instance, former President Barack Obama tried to establish friendly relations between the United States and the international community, earning the United States a 64% favorability rating among the world and a 64% confidence rating. Unfortunately, this quickly went downhill when Trump took office; now, the US president has a 74% no confidence rating worldwide, with the country as a whole only having a 49% favorable rating.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It’s been a long time coming. For example:
China: President Trump has taken every public opportunity to bash China, claiming that the country is “raping” the United States. While his word choice alone is enough for an internationally unanimous eye roll, Trump further angered our friends (and soon to be foes) abroad by accusing China of engaging in “economic aggression” in a speech. After the speech, the Chinese government was left slightly puzzled at what he actually meant and the Spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry even asked President Trump to “stop distorting China’s strategic intentions.” Good thing Santa’s Workshop has not joined the rest of the world’s factories in China, as we’d probably be on the naughty list by now if they did.
Israel and the UN: Recently, President Trump announced his plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This was widely condemned by the international community, given the current state of Middle Eastern politics. The world actually took it a step further by initiating a vote in the UN general assembly which overwhelmingly (128-9) voted to pass a resolution to condemn the President’s actions. Of course, instead of reversing the policy or remaining neutral, the President’s ambassador to the UN basically threatened to not help fund the UN anymore.
Russia and North Korea: Where do we even begin?
In other news…
Trump Commutes Notorious Money Launderer’s Sentence
In his second use of Presidential Commutation powers, President Trump has commuted the 27-year sentence of ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Sholom Rubashkin, who was convicted in 2009 of money laundering. Further, when federal authorities raided Rubashkin’s meatpacking plant, they arrested 389 undocumented immigrants.While not a Presidential Pardon, which would overturn Rubashkin’s conviction, the commutation does mean Rubashkin is now a free man. The commutation received bipartisan support from across the political spectrum.
UN Assembly Rejects US Declaration of Jerusalem
The United Nations General Assembly rejects the United States declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a non-binding condemnatory resolution. Of the 193-member states, 128 voted in favour of the resolution, nine voted against it, 35 abstained, including Canada and Mexico – and 21 countries did not show up to vote. The 128 voting in favour included four permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, France, the United Kingdom and China), as well as key US allies in the Middle East.
Israel Arrests Teenager Ahed Tamimi, and Media Doesn’t Care
On Monday 18th December, Israeli forces arrested 17 year old Ahed Tamimi and she now is in the Israeli prisons awaiting judgement. Tamimi comes from occupied West Bank, which stages weekly demonstrations against their oppression. This comes after her 14 year old brother was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by Israeli forces at a demonstration, and he now is in a medically induced coma. Tamimi’s mother and cousin were arrested thereafter, and her father is now also arrested when he went to release his daughter. Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, a leader of the far-right Jewish Home party Bayit Yehudit, called for Tamimi and her cousin Nour to “finish their lives in prison.” The silence from mainstream media over this family’s arrest and torture is chilling, especially since they were so fixated on Bana Al Abed in 2016 when the seven year old chronicled violence in Syria, and is now on promotional tours and writing books and articles of her experience. It is evident who the media supports, and who it turns a blind eye to when convenient.
Catalonia holds vote for independence
The Spanish region of Catalonia held a vote to form a new government in Catalonia which could potentially lead to their independence. The issue has been ongoing for years, but only recently came to a head in October when a referendum (that wasn’t a referendum) was held in Catalonia for independence. This caused the Spanish government to react (harshly) to block the vote. After the block, the Spanish government decided to dissolve the Catalonian government, and this recent vote was meant to reestablish it.
South Sudan signs ceasefire to stop the fighting
Speaking of political chaos, the government of South Sudan recently went against the trend by signing a ceasefire with rebel groups. South Sudan, which is also the world’s youngest country, has been in the midst of civil war for the past four years. The fighting, which initially started as an ethnic struggle between the Dinka and the Nuer people, has since devolved into a multi-party struggle. Even so, the two major contenders have agreed to a cease-fire and renewed negotiations. In the meantime, humanitarian groups are being allowed into the country to help refugees. Only time will tell if this deal will actually last, or if it will dissolve like the last ceasefire in 2015.