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Leaders By Acting Disgracefully In Conversations With One Other Making World A More Dangerous Place – OpEd


“The moral decline among rulers of all countries in combination with the cult of openness is transforming ‘big politics’ into a bazaar squabble,” Sergey Shelin says, reducing the authority of those in office in the eyes of their own populations and making agreements among them and thus among their countries far more difficult.


He says that the debate about the conversation between Donald Trump and Vladimir Zelensky is an object lesson of what is occurring and why it is so dangerous for international relations regardless of how it plays out in American domestic politics, the Rosbalt commentator says (

Trump’s willingness to trash the US ambassador to Kyiv and Zelensky’s expression of gratitude about being informed of Trump’s views in that regard lower such conversations between two national leaders from their traditional and scripted diplomatic level to something out of people flogging goods in a bazaar.

And it is important to focus on this and not just on whether Trump’s efforts to enlist Ukrainian help against his domestic opponent Joe Biden or Biden’s efforts to prevent a focus on his activities is the more serious problem. What Trump said about the US ambassador is far more dangerous because it undermines loyalty and destroys confidence in normal exchanges.

Consider the possibility that “if Donald Trump decides that it will be profitable for him to publish a complete collection of his conversations with foreign leaders or his domestic enemies force him to do this, then, for example,” Shelin says, “the world image of Vladimir Putin already will never be the same.”                        

That is because, the commentator continues, “stylistically, the heads of the two powers are so close. Both are inclined to speak openly abut their interests” regardless of how it affects others and to make decisions regardless of what are the established rules for doing so. Because that is so, both Trump and Putin want to avoid having their conversations published.


But whether they will be able to control this in the current environment is very much unclear, and the problem this raises is not in them alone: “it is only a symptom of those changes which have taken over today’s world,” changes that make even the conversations of recent leaders like former British Prime Minister David Cameron look completely out of date.

“The time of the Camerons has really passed or at the very least has been interrupted,” Shelin says. “One after the other they have resigned in less than honorable ways. In the yard of the current era are people like Trump, Putin, Johnson, Erdogan, Urban, Maduro, and Bolsonaro,” very different people indeed.

On the one hand, this means that the new group of leaders will want to make secret deals and hide them from the public lest they face problems at home. And on the other, it means that there will be few deals that last because such an approach undermines the foundations of sustainable change.

That, more than the prurient details of Trump’s comments about Biden in his conversation with Zelensky. is what everyone should be worrying about. 

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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