Donald Trump bets on division in the face of a spring of crises

Donald Trump returns to the White House after visiting protesters the degraded St. John’s Church the previous day in Washington on June 1.
Donald Trump returns to the White House after visiting protesters the degraded St. John’s Church the previous day in Washington on June 1. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP

While protests over the death of an African-American at the hands of the police in Minneapolis (Minnesota) continued in the United States, Tuesday, June 2, Donald Trump spent the day signing a presidential decree in the morning reaffirming the principle of religious freedom in foreign policy. Then he went with the First Lady to the sanctuary dedicated to Pope John Paul II in the federal capital.

This shift is not new. It is indeed the marker of a spring of crises which Donald Trump is facing, five months before the presidential election.

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The tumult of the first three years of his presidency, marked in particular by an indictment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, has long concealed the essential. Elected narrowly in 2016, the former businessman had inherited a healthy economy, unlike his predecessor Barack Obama who had entered the White House in the midst of the subprime crisis. Relatively spared from the ups and downs of geopolitics, it had also benefited from the undermining work of the international coalition set up to overcome the organization of the Islamic State, then one of Washington's priorities.

At the end of February, the President of the United States was therefore preparing to campaign on a flattering balance sheet: an unemployment rate reached a historic low, the good health of Wall Street, a partial trade agreement with China, and the elimination of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. At the end of an overview, the New york times who is not one of the president’s thurifs, however, was formal. "In cyclical terms, the economy is stronger than it has ever been in an election year (or any year) since 2000", estimated the daily.

"American Carnage"

The real test took a long time, but it suddenly materialized by the chain of a global health crisis, a surge in unemployment with little precedent, following the shutdown of the country for to curb the advancement of Covid-19, and finally the resurgence of America's racial demons. Each of these episodes has carried and still carries its share of cruel images for the United States, obviously exploited by their Chinese or Iranian adversaries.

To date they depict a "American carnage" to use the expression Donald Trump used when he was sworn in on January 20, 2017, to describe the situation he believed his legacy had left him. "This American carnage ends here, and it ends now", he assured under the eyes of Barack Obama, impassive.

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