Indonesian President Joko Widodo spoke at the World Economic Forum ASEAN 2018 meeting in Hanoi today to discuss the growing economic threats facing the globe caused by mounting trade wars, but vowed to work with his fellow “Avengers” to defeat the supervillain behind it.
Similar to a speech he gave at an ASEAN meeting in May in which he referenced House of Cards, the Indonesian leader once again used pop culture to capture the interest of an international audience, this time by comparing the trade wars spurred by US President Donald Trump’s tariff policies to the summer blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War.
“Trade wars have not erupted with this intensity since the great depression in the 1930s, but rest assured, my colleagues and ‘Avenger’ are ready to prevent Thanos from destroying half of the population,” Jokowi told the crowd before drawing big laughs by asking, “You might be wondering, who is Thanos?”
However, the Indonesian president did not go so far as to call Trump the real-world equivalent of Marvel’s genocidal supervillain.
“Thanos is not an individual. Sorry to disappoint you. Thanos is in all of us. It’s the misguided belief that in order for us to succeed, others must surrender. It is the misperception that the rise of some must mean the decline of others,” said Captain Indonesia… er, we mean President Jokowi.
Jokowi then went on to say that that the best way to prevent the trade war from becoming an “infinity war” was to study history and realize that through building up collaborations and partnerships between nations we can put an end to boundless war and have access to unlimited resources.
Although his remarks provided a rare bit of levity during the proceedings at the WEF ASEAN meeting, Jokowi’s speech echoed the themes of many other Asian leaders at the conference who warned that protectionist moves by America to limit trade threatened the world economy.
Indonesia is currently weathering a major slide in the value of the rupiah, which some analysts attribute to instability in the currency market caused in large part by the growing US-China trade war. The rupiah’s weakness is already being used by Jokowi’s political opponents to attack him ahead of the 2019 presidential election.