The president of the world’s largest authoritarian state, by contrast, walks with swagger abroad. His grip on China is tighter than any leader’s since Mao. And whereas Mao’s China was chaotic and miserably poor, Mr Xi’s is a dominant engine of global growth. His clout will soon be on full display.
Although the evidence for Russia’s interference appears convincing, it is too easy to allow such an account to become the master narrative of Trump’s ascent—a way to explain the presence of a man who is so alien and discomforting to so much of the population by rendering him in some way foreign. In truth, he is a phenomenon of America’s own making.
At the same time, Trump’s management style as President has been so chaotic, so improvisational, that the daily bonfire sometimes obscures what has been put in place.
It’s clear that we’re on the threshold of a new nuclear era: a time when the actual use of atomic weapons is being accorded greater plausibility by military and political leaders globally, while war plans are being revised to allow the use of such weapons at an earlier stage in future armed clashes.
As a result, the next president will have to grapple with nuclear weapons issues—and possible nuclear crises—in a way unknown since the Cold War era. Above all else, this will require both a cool head and a sufficient command of nuclear matters to navigate competing pressures from allies, the military, politicians, pundits, and the foreign policy establishment without precipitating a nuclear conflagration. On the face of it, that should disqualify Donald Trump.