opinion

"Mr Trump. When you disrespect our Prime Minister, you disrespect all of us."

By now Australians know that the new US President, Donald Trump, has yelled at our Prime Minister over a “refugee swap” deal, “badgered him”, “bragged” and “hung up on him” 25 minutes into a scheduled one hour phone call.

Trump labelled the deal to accept 1250 refugees, who are currently in Australian off-shore detention centres, “dumb” and told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, during his phone conversation, that he had been talking to various world leaders all day and this call was the “worst so far”.

The refugee relocation deal between Australia and the US was agreed to under the Obama administration, and the timing of it is a PR disaster for Trump as it comes on the heels of the executive order he signed last month suspending all refugees from the US for 120 days and banning citizens of seven Muslim majority countries from entering the US for the next 90 days.

The 1250 refugees in the two Australian processing centres have already been declared genuine.

When The Washington Post broke the story of the heated phone call between two leaders earlier this week it made headlines around the world and led the news in the US.

Trump berates Australian PM over ‘dumb’ refugee deal. – The Times – UK

‘Worst so far’: Trump ‘hangs up’ on Australian PM after heated call, report says. – RT – Russian English language news channel

Trump’s harsh talk with Malcolm Turnbull of Australia strains another alliance. – The New York Times

Trump rips into into Turnbull, calls refugee deal dumb. – Al Jazeera

What life would be like in a kinder post-Trump world. Post continues below. 

Then this morning the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, called Turnbull, ‘Trumbull’ – twice – during a media conference.

Trumbull.

I understand that world leaders have to engage in, often, aggressive and heated exchanges in order to achieve their own country’s goals, but usually that kind of negotiation is done behind closed doors as a sign of respect between two nations.

I know this is politics. I know this is Trump speaking and acting. I know there are Australians who don’t like Turnbull, but this is not about Turnbull’s popularity. On the world stage, Malcolm Turnbull represents all of us.

I know we are a small country compared to yours Mr Trump. But being hostile, mocking and aggressive to the Prime Minister of a country that is one of your staunchest allies means you are being disrespectful to all Australians. A minor blemish compared to Muslims, Latinos, African Americans, women, the disabled et al, but a stinging slap in the face still.

Since 1918 Australians and Americans have fought side by side in wars. World War 1, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. We sent our men and women to the other side of the world to fight and die and then return home never the same because your country asked that of us.

ADVERTISEMENT

Remember the Vietnam war Mr Trump? Australia’s longest war (1962-1972) until Afghanistan surpassed it? Wars that were never ours by the way. You probably remember it because although you were able to be drafted after you graduated from college, a strapping 188cm 22-year-old in 1968, you were diagnosed with “bone spurs” in your heels – a 1-Y medical deferment which prevented you from being conscripted. It’s amazing you could play football, tennis, squash and golf in college.

Trump signing the executive order limiting women's access to abortion.

Just in that war alone we sent more than 60,000 troops. More than 500 were killed and 3000 injured. Not to mention the physical and emotional scars for the soldiers who returned to anything but a heroes welcome.

Then there was the first Iraq Gulf War (1990-1991) and the second (2003-2009) and Afghanistan War which began in 2001 and is still going. We have sent our troops to stand side by side with yours. We have sent them to die or to return and live with the damage and trauma that is transmitted by war.

We are one of only four nations that are included in the “Five Eyes” intelligence gathering arrangement. We share prodigiously information our intelligence agencies gather. You take our intelligence.

It's no surprise Mr Trump you have abused a deep, important alliance.

Like everything you do - interfering with women's reproductive rights, discriminating against people based on their faith and where they were born, mocking the disabled, being an unapologetic sexist, harnessing fear for political gain - your spite feels personal.

Mr Trump, it's clear. We don't need to raise our voices about it either. Truly strong people don't need to do that.

As a country we are smaller than you, but as a country we are better than you.