Donald Trump "would probably be a dictator by now" if the checks and balances in the American political system didn't exist, a conservative foreign-policy expert says.
"Trump as a personality type is probably no different from a Mussolini, a Peron, a Chavez. And if you were operating in Argentina or Italy, he would probably be a dictator by now. But luckily, he’s not operating in those countries," Max Boot, the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations told Politico on Monday.
"The good news story of the first year of the Trump presidency is that there are checks and balances," he added.
Since the beginning of his term, Trump has been criticized for displaying authoritarian tendencies. He has called the American news media "the enemy of the people" and turned "fake news" into shorthand for any stories that are unfavorable to his administration, a vocabulary that has been adopted by authoritarian leaders around the world. During the first year of his term, Trump has been openly expressed admiration for authoritarian leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan, while swapping the diplomatic language typical of American presidents for bellicose rhetoric. Infamously, he threatened North Korea with "fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen" and warned the country would be "totally destroyed" if it continued its nuclear testing.
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"It’s impossible to imagine any other president going before the U.N. General Assembly and referring to the dictator of North Korea as 'Rocket Man,' or issuing this series of blustery threats, which, frankly, are terrifying, and are raising the risk of a needless war," Boot said.
But Boot says Trump has been even more destructive domestically than in foreign policy. "[Trump is] undermining the rule of law," he says. "He’s obstructing justice. He’s lending the support of the presidency to monsters like Roy Moore. He is exacerbating race relations. He is engaging in the most blatant xenophobia, racism and general bigotry that we have seen from the White House."