Unrest in the US: what is Trump's role?

Tens of thousands of people in the United States demonstrated against racism and police brutality for the second weekend in a row after George Floyd's killing. President Trump threatened to send in the army, and referred to the riots as "acts of domestic terror". Commentators discuss how much responsibility he bears for the current tensions.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

US facing a USSR-style ending

The US President is dragging his country into a dangerous cold war, historian Nicolas Baverez comments in Le Figaro:

“Just over thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States now threatens to break up too. This confirms [Historian Alexis de] Tocqueville's claim that democracies perish less from military defeats than from the corruption of their institutions by demagogues and the loss of a sense of citizenship. ... [Trump] has dragged the US into a suicidal strategy by embarking on a new cold war with a nation torn apart and isolated from its European and Asian allies. Exactly the opposite of the choices made by Harry Truman against Stalin, which culminated in the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Inflammatory statements instead of compassion

Trump is unable to convey sympathetic messages, Die Presse comments:

“After the violent death of African-American George Floyd it would have taken a statesman to use the power of words wisely and show compassion. ... But Trump failed to strike a well-tempered, conciliatory tone. He preferred to play the president of law and order, threatening to send in the army and basically adding fuel to the fire. ... Would the wildfire have spread as fast and far under another US president? Hardly! Trump does nothing but fan the blaze of strong emotions.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Fuelling division to win the elections

The US president is relying on divisiveness to mobilise his base, the Times of Malta explains:

“Mr Trump knows that a hard-line approach plays well with his core supporters and could prove decisive in next November's election in the country. Trump has not sought to do what is expected of a president: to calm and unify the nation. Nor has he promised to seek answers to the racism in America's police forces. Rather than pouring oil on troubled waters, he has opted for petrol. Many fear he will seek to make white supremacy his re-election rallying cry. ”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Democrats need to clean up their own act

Blaming Donald Trump and the Republicans for the situation is an oversimplification, says The Irish Independent:

“The Democrats hold all but seven of progressive California's 53 congressional districts, and every single statewide elected official is a Democrat. In fact, no Republican has been elected statewide to any office since 2006, but California continues to have one of the worst records for police violence, as well as one of the largest disparities in minority representation among law enforcement officers. He may be an awful human being, but how is that Trump's fault? Of the 50 biggest cities in the United States, 35 are similarly run by Democrats, and just 13 by Republicans.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The division began long before Trump

More consensus between the two main political parties in the US is what is really needed, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung urges:

“Trump is just part of the problem. Inequality in the US can only be tackled seriously with far-reaching reforms requiring a broad political alliance. The much needed change in mentality in the fight against crime requires an act of strength that encompasses large parts of society. However, the essential basic consensus of the two major parties which made civil rights laws possible in the 1960s has disappeared - and that happened long before Trump came along.”

Le Monde (FR) /

A liberal alliance beyond skin colour

A new political alliance could emerge from the US demonstrations, historian Pap Ndiaye writes in Le Monde:

“In view of the striking diversity of those demonstrating, a new coalition of liberal blacks and whites seems possible - a good half century after the civil rights coalition that dissolved in the late 1960s when Nixon was elected. By coalition I do not mean simply a pooling of electoral forces, but the development of a political programme which gives a significant place to black demands. If there were a new coalition, it would form not only to avoid the worst - Trump's re-election - due to a lack of alternatives, but also to take account of the poignant cries of African-Americans.”