Home/Daniel Larison/Trump Berates Australian PM in Pointless Quarrel

Trump Berates Australian PM in Pointless Quarrel

You can add Australia to the growing list of the countries Trump has picked fights with:

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At least one Australian news report claims that the president was “yelling” at Turnbull over the phone before hanging up on him. It is not necessarily wrong to have strong and even heated disagreements with other world leaders, but to quarrel so angrily with the leader of a major ally over a minor disagreement is an embarrassment. This has probably already soured an important relationship, and it gained and will gain the U.S. nothing. It likely makes it more difficult to obtain that government’s cooperation in the future when it may be needed. The episode shows that Trump has no idea how to relate to foreign leaders that don’t agree with him, and that will be a recurring problem since most leaders he speaks with in the coming years are likely to disagree with him quite often.

The report continues:

U.S. officials said that Trump has behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. But his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the reason for this behavior–an agreement to accept a mere 1,250 refugees–can’t possibly justify melting down and shouting at the head of a friendly government.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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