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Trump chaos ‘America has changed’, says former US ambassador

LeVine (centre) with a rabbi from Lucerne and former cabinet minister Elisabeth Kopp at an event in Lucerne on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2015. LeVine has warned against growing intolerance and xenophobia

LeVine (centre) with a rabbi from Lucerne and former cabinet minister Elisabeth Kopp at an event in Lucerne on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2015. LeVine has warned against growing intolerance and xenophobia

(Keystone)

Donald Trump is an anti-Obama who peddles the opposite of hope and openness, says former US ambassador to Switzerland Suzi LeVine, adding that democracy should not be taken for granted.

LeVine spoke to swissinfo.ch just before she left office in Bern on January 20, the day Trump was inaugurated as 45th US president. In that conversation she held back from criticising Trump directly, but in an interview with the SonntagsZeitung she clearly supports the crowds across the US and the world who are protesting against Trump’s policies and comments.

“I’m proud of everyone who is peacefully standing up for women’s rights and who is demonstrating at airports against the immigration ban for Muslims,” she told the paper.

“Freedom of opinion and assembly are fundamental rights of our constitution. We should use them to show the president that we don’t agree with his decisions.”

Confusion and protests at airports greeted the executive order Trump signed last weekend to bar for 90 days entry into the United States by travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. On Friday, a federal judge in Seattle lifted the ban, prompting Trump to denounce the “so-called judge” in a series of tweets. On Saturday the US Justice Department filed an appeal to restore the ban.

LeVine has now returned home – coincidentally Seattle – with her family and says the country has changed.

“Obama [who appointed her to Bern in 2014] pursued a policy of hope and openness. Trump propagates the opposite. I can feel this shift.”

Changing voting habits

She also reacts to comments made last week by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, that Trump was a danger for Europe, along with China, Russia and radical Islam.

“Trump criticises the EU and considers NATO obsolete,” she told the SonntagsZeitung. “This is a renunciation of decades-long US policy. He’s undermining the unity that we’ve built up over years.”

However, she added that Trump was just a “symptom of a much larger development”.

“We’re increasingly confronted by intolerance, xenophobia, fake news and growing income inequality. That changes people’s voting habits – in Europe too. This is why it’s so important that we stand up for democracy and vote. Democracy should not be taken for granted.”

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