Trump, rhetoric and America’s moral authority

Donald Trump's words have extraordinary power

Words have power. And words that come out of the mouth of the most powerful person in the world have even more power, right?

So argues Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Convenor for MSc Conflict, Rights and Justice at SOAS.

“All eyes are on Donald Trump. He’s gotten more coverage than any other President, so the words that he is using are meaningful, powerful – they send a very specific and very clear message not only to other leaders and peoples around the world, but also to those within the United States. And his words have a very important influence to what happens inside of the countries that he’s speaking to.”

Political leaders have a myriad of ways to exert influence and pressure over opponents, be these individuals, opposition parties, organisations or foreign nations.

So what affect is Trump’s rhetoric having on America’s ability to influence the trajectory of global politics?

“So when he turns to Erdoğan and congratulates him on the back of a referendum that was specifically designed to take democracy down another peg, the people of Turkey hear this, it delegitimises the role of America.

“You can’t do everything with hard power. Diplomacy is essential. And one source of leverage in any diplomatic game is soft power, human rights, and moral authority. There’s nothing to be gained from taking that off the table.”

Listen to the full podcast on KCRW. (Leslie begins at 19:30.)

Follow Leslie on Twitter.

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