Donald Trump doesn't mind meeting dictators as long as it helps US interests: 'We want to help our people'

In a speech at the New York Economic Club on November 12, the president said he is never shy of meeting leaders, irrespective of how they rule their own lands.

                            Donald Trump doesn't mind meeting dictators as long as it helps US interests: 'We want to help our people'
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has been accused in the past of cozying up to leaders of countries that are not known for their democratic records. Be it North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping, the American president has never stopped short of greeting them with enthusiasm irrespective of Washington’s official policies vis-a-vis those leaders and their nations. 

And on Tuesday, November 12, the maverick Republican made it clear once again that it doesn’t matter to him whether an international leader is democratically elected one or a dictator as long as his meeting with that person helps America’s own interests.

Quite a display of the “America First” policy even though a number of earlier American administrations did not pursue anything different from what Trump has said. They did not utter it explicitly which is the only difference.

Speaking at the Economic Club of New York, Trump said he is willing to meet any foreign leader if that helps Washington and their method of ruling their own countries has nothing to do with such meetings. 

“When I meet with the leaders of countries as they come in — kings, and queens and prime ministers, and presidents and dictators — I meet them all,” Trump said, earning laughter from the audience.

“Anybody wants to come in. Dictators, it’s OK. Come on in. Whatever's good for the United States. We want to help our people.” Trump has in the past shown that he is comfortable in the company of leaders like Kim, Putin and Jinping, but not when the representatives of the G7 or NATO are around.

Trump's latest remark came a day ahead of Erdogan's US visit

Interestingly, Trump’s remarks came a day ahead of his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is often accused of being an authoritarian leader. Erdogan is under fire for launching a brutal military offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria after they were alienated by the American forces following a telephonic talk between him and Trump. A failed coup to topple him in 2016 saw Erdogan locking him hundreds of critics and expanding his powers, a move that also earned him enough criticism from the West.

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (L) and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein shake hands on December 20, 1983, in Baghdad, Iraq. Rumsfeld met with Hussein during the war between Iran and Iraq as an envoy for former US President Ronald Reagan. Washington had helped Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s but later gone to two wars against Saddam in the 1990s and 2000s, leading to his downfall and death. (Getty Images)

The US has a record of backing dictators in various parts of the world, including in its neighborhood in the Americas to get rid of unfriendly democratically elected governments. It was also found going after dictators that it had helped earlier, to serve its own interests. Late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is an example.

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