IT was the New York Times in one of its editorials this week that perhaps best caught the craziness of it all. “Trump, Greenland, Denmark: Is this Real Life … or a Peter Sellers movie?,” the paper asked.

Admittedly, when it comes to the current US president, it’s often difficult to distinguish between the real and the surreal. The absolute absurdity of Trump’s behaviour at times makes a Sellers comedic character look positively pedestrian.

But behind the mirth and mocking of Trump’s proposal to buy Greenland and his subsequent puerile snubbing of the Danes and Greenlanders after they said no, lies a more discomfiting insight into Trump’s mindset and political dangers he poses.

I’m talking about his near congenital compulsion to betray and the insidious way such behaviour seems to have become contagious to the point of political normalcy.

In the Trump sphere there is no such thing as an ally. For a man who has a near obsessive demand for loyalty, he himself recognises no such thing.

Denmark is only the latest point in case. Amidst the hilarity and astonishment of this latest farce conducted by the US president, certain crucial details might have escaped most people’s notice.

Far from being the “nasty” little country Trump insisted it was in a fit of petty pique, Denmark has been a remarkably good ally to the United States. You only have to check the website of the US Embassy in the Scandinavian country to see that, in the main, Washington thinks so too.

“Around the world Denmark is a steadfast partner of the United States,” it proclaims on the website, and for good reason.

On more than one occasion when Washington has gone to war, Denmark has done its bit alongside the US. Think of the Cold War and Denmark’s crucial strategic location and, in the decade after that period, how Danish forces served in Bosnia under US command as part of the Nato air campaign against Serbia in 1999.

A few months ago while in Afghanistan I was again reminded of Denmark’s contribution and sacrifice there in fighting against Islamist-inspired terrorism. The small country lost 43 soldiers in Afghanistan before withdrawing its troops in 2013. Such a casualty rate is one of the highest per capita of any coalition nation and even today a small contingent of Danes remain in Kabul nearly 18 years after 9/11.

Denmark also provides more than $100 million on average annually to build Afghanistan’s security forces, through the Danish Defence Ministry.

Right now the Danes are also considering whether to join the US-led coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has seized oil tankers and has been accused of firing on others.

Given all of this it’s hardly surprising then that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was left with the unenviable task of trying to pick up the pieces of the shattered diplomatic relations with Denmark after Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop politics.

Loyalty to and alienating an ally means nothing to Trump and his snub to a close US friend is hardly unprecedented. Betrayal is Trump’s stock in trade. As the Washington Post righty pointed out earlier this year: “Trump rose to celebrity and to power by forming close alliances with renegades and rogues, with lawyers who were willing to

push people around, with union bosses and construction executives who had close ties to organised crime.”

In such circles treachery is the norm and as president of the United States his capacity for betrayal now knows no bounds.

In terms of American foreign policy, just ask the Syrian Kurds. Despite their considerable sacrifices in helping eliminate the Daesh

group there is still the real possibility of Trump leaving them hung out to dry at the mercy of Turkey.

All this is so Trump can conduct one of his many “deals” even though in doing so he has no idea of the profound implications for the region.

Time and again he has betrayed those he deems expendable to mollify his tender ego or advance himself.

Throughout his career the only people he seems willing to trust in terms of providing total loyalty are blood relatives and a tiny inner circle of long-time employees. But even those are not above being betrayed.

Opportunism equals a willingness and need to betray when it comes to Trump, whether in terms of international allies or right in his own backyard.

The whole issue of his election campaign and what amounted to a presidential candidate aiding and abetting an assault on the United States by Russian hackers was in itself a profound act of betrayal. But as the online US political magazine Slate observed earlier this year, a president can also betray his country without engaging in a secret conspiracy … “he can do it out in the open, just by being pathologically disloyal”.

EVEN many of those who bought into the Trump “Make America Great Again” myth have largely been sold out by him. The release of his 2020 budget made that all too clear just few months ago, revealing the extent of Trump’s betrayal of the working men and women who voted him into office.

As the Washington Post observed, this is not “a Budget for a Better America”, as its title read, it is a budget for a bitter betrayal. One where the working poor, the most vulnerable, would find their daily burdens far greater as food stamps, which help lift more than 4 million American kids out of poverty, would be slashed by 30% over 10 years.

For Donald Trump deceit has almost become a perverse form of recreation. Perhaps the most worrying thing about all of this, however, is the willingness of so many other leaders to follow where Trump leads.

Some, who took up his mantra of “fake news” for their own ends, now embrace political betrayal as a near mainstream political means to an end. The Danes are not the first and certainly won’t be the last to experience the betrayal contagion Trump uses to infect almost everything he touches.