Trumpphobia: If the GOP’s establishment is terrified, so is the world’s

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While Donald Trump has the Republican establishment running scared, world leaders are said to be in full-blown panic mode.

“However much people recoiled from George W. Bush or have been disappointed by Obama, they see Trump as off the Richter scale,” Peter Mandelson, a member of the British Cabinet under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown said. “The reason for that is not that he must be stupid — nobody thinks that — but that he’s disdainful, unscrupulous, prepared to say anything to harvest the populist vote. And that makes people frightened.”

"What is this Trump phenomenon," world leaders are asking. /Getty Images
“What is this Trump phenomenon?” world leaders are asking. /Getty Images

In interactions with their foreign counterparts, U.S. officials more often than not find Trump to be the main topic of conversation.

“They’re scared and they’re trying to understand how real this is,” said one American official in touch with foreign leaders. “They all ask. They follow our politics with excruciating detail. They ask: ‘What is this Trump phenomenon? Can he really win? What would it mean for U.S. policy going forward or U.S. engagement in the world?’ They’re all sort of incredulous.”

In an April 21 piece for Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere and Bryan Bender wrote that “Obama hears world leaders’ fears about the Republican front-runner so often that he has developed a speech meant to ease their nerves.

“First, he walks them through the Republican primary process: Trump has had success, but there are big states yet to vote and the front-runner could still stumble. Then he explains the complications of the GOP convention and how weak rules and convoluted balloting could leave Trump a loser. And finally, Obama assures America’s allies that Hillary Clinton can defeat the Manhattan billionaire.”

World leaders who once brushed off Trump’s run for the White House as a publicity stunt now are running scared at the thought of a “vengeful President Trump going after them personally next year.”

“Most people said that he didn’t have the wit, wisdom or wealth to get very far in the primaries,” said Mandelson. “And they’ve been wrong.”
Many officials of foreign governments and their aides are so spooked they will not go on the record to comment on Trump.

“As we’re on the record, I’m rather hesitant to give you big headlines on this,” said Olli Rehn, the Finnish minister of economic affairs. “In Europe, we are concerned about the U.S. possibly turning toward a more isolationist orientation. That would not be good for United States, good for Europe, good for the world. We need the U.S. engaged in global affairs in a constructive, positive way.”

Dovere and Bender write that “Trump anxiety overseas has translated to a surprising eagerness on the part of foreign governments to ink new agreements.

“There’s always some interest in closing up negotiations with an outgoing administration rather than waiting for a new one to get on its feet. The prospect of Trump has heightened that,” said the American official who’s in touch with foreign leaders.