Edition: January 1st 2019, Written By: Emma Coon
According to NBC News, “Trump’s embrace of dictators [creates] a climate that emboldens all despots.” As such, we might think that gone are the days when third-world country dictators were emboldened by other third-world dictators. Presently, the Trump brand is more than an extravagant symbol atop a skyscraper. According to the New York Times, it is a “greenlight” given to dictators around the world.
In those “gone” days, African figures such as Gaddafi were a beacon of hope for other African dictatorships like Kenya, Tunisia, Egypt, and even miniscule nation the Gambia sitting by the western parts of the African mainland. Many Muslim African dictators even looked up to Saudi Arabia – an opportunity cost of adopting pro-human rights Western ideals. Since the fall of the titan of dictators (Gaddafi), smaller dictatorships began to fall like dominos (i.e. Kenya, the Gambia), as the public grew cognizant of the possibility of freedom. Today, many reporters see the U.S. White House as that beacon of hope that's emboldening what is left of the world’s dictators.
According to a NBC News report by International Human Rights Lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar, Donald Trump’s acceptance of strongmen in countries such as the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea coincides with a clear upsurge in violence inspired by such overseas dictators, including public assassinations and the disappearing of oppositions – clear observations that highlight the dangerous relationship.
The high-profile disappearance of Interpol President Meng Hongwei who was allegedly held by Chinese authorities on corruption charges, and the vanishing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Saudi Istanbul consulate are only two of the most notable attempts by powerful dictatorships to strike fear into the hearts of dissidents, while expecting less serious consequences than might have been imposed by previous U.S. administrations.
According to Arsalan Iftikhar, these [acts of violence] show “many not-so-democratic leaders might be increasingly emboldened by Trump’s embrace to silence opposition voices with impunity.”