To the Editor:
Aside from the possibility that President Trump can be compromised politically, financially and/or morally by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, there is an obvious structural reason for the bromance between him and totalitarian leaders like Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and the Saudi royals.
With these dictatorial figures he can negotiate a person-to-person deal that immediately engages their whole countries, and by this demonstration of their power he magnifies his own.
It is not so easy to do the same with leaders like Emmanuel Macron of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada or Angela Merkel of Germany, since they are subject to a variety of democratic constraints, ranging from parliamentary approval to the public opinion that determines their tenure in office.
President Trump’s transactional style is a stimulus to totalitarian rule and a threat to democracy not only at home but also on a global scale.