Disruption, disturbance, eruption, the words crowning the presidency of Donald J. Trump, who has effectively demonstrated an idea made famous by Nazi doodler of law and political theorist Carl Schmitt: politics is defined, not by identifying with friends in cosy harmony but with enemies in constant tension.
There are many ways that Trump might be seen as a creature of Schmittian reaction. Alliances may well be lauded as good (the diplomat’s clichés of “eternal friendship”, “special bonds” and the treacly covering that comes with it), but then again, potential adversaries can also be considered in accommodating fashion. In every enduring friendship between states is a potential enemy in wait, a dormant instinct that, given certain circumstances, might awake. In every alliance, a potential shift might undermine, if not threaten, the national interest.
In short, the current US president likes the bruising, the bullying and the cajoling in the abstract name of US self-interest. Forget the distinctions and the similarities. There are no values in any shared sense. There is only his road.
The press conference concluding the summit with Kim Jong-un on Sentosa Island provided the platform for Trump to round on his supposed allies even as he praised Little Rocket Man as his newly made friend, Chairman Kim, no less. The spectacle was terrifying for groupies of the US empire, those who have praised the virtues of alliances and bonds with Washington as…