When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

On Nuclear Threats And Political Decency

Mauricio Macri, politically incorrect
Mauricio Macri, politically incorrect
Benjamin Witte

-Analysis-

From Washington to Tehran to Pyongyang, the world's attention this week has been consumed by nuclear diplomacy (and lack thereof). Talk of bad manners and misbehaving politicians, in light of such high stakes, might seem beside the point. And yet ...

Yesterday, in a closed-door meeting at the White House, special assistant Kelly Sadler reportedly had this to say about Sen. John McCain, who recently announced his opposition to President Trump's nominee for CIA director:

"It doesn't matter, he's dying anyway."

Yes, he is. Of brain cancer — after a more than 30-year career as a dedicated member of the U.S. Senate. Before that he served as a naval aviator in the war in Vietnam, where he was shot down, taken prisoner, tortured and held for several years.

You'd think McCain's illness alone would compel people to treat the veteran lawmaker with a bit more respect. But no. It's doesn't matter, apparently.

Sadler isn't, of course, the only person in the White House who thinks it's okay to besmirch anyone of their choosing. The boss himself has made these kinds of crass insults a basic part of his mojo. Trump's mockery of a disabled reporter comes to mind as a particularly egregious example, but there are countless others.

The disregard for any basic measure of decorum isn't just a Washington thing either. In the UK this morning, at a BBC radio studio station, a pair of politicians got into a heated argument about previous comments allegedly made about the other's "missus."

"I didn't realize there were any strippers in the place," David Moreland, home affairs spokesman for the right-wing home affairs spokesman UK Independence Party (UKIP), is reported to have said about the wife of fellow UKIP member Chris Walch.

Shouldn't spouses, like disabled people and cancer sufferers, be off-limits? What about children? Turns out they're fair game too, as Argentine President Mauricio Macri demonstrated yesterday when he met a young fan of the recently relegated River Plate soccer team.

"You were doing well until you put on that River Plate soccer jersey and dropped to the B league," the president told the boy. Macri is a known supporter of River Plate's traditional rival, Boca Juniors.

Politics is, as they say, a contact sport. But both on questions of domestic decorum and nuclear diplomacy, we are reminded that any political match requires both rules and boundaries.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest