As America gears for the 2020 elections the country and the world must be bracing to see if we are going to be subjected to another four years of somebody who is not only unfit to hold its highest office but a man who is a danger to his country and the world. In the years since he announced his candidacy and his election Trump has demonstrated that he is, as Obama and many other pointed out, a danger to the health of America and the world. Recent statements and actions have highlighted this fact. Trump’s recent statements and policies have severely damaged race relations and encouraged and emboldened racist attacks. America’s democracy, the Republican Party, the environment, the economy and the country’s image in the world have been severely impaired.
Only a few weeks ago he was basking to a cheering baying crowd chanting “send them back” referring to four members of congress, three of whom were born in the U.S., an event eerily reminiscent of Nazi German almost a century ago. In the case of Hitler, the angry crowd had also been whipped into frenzy about Jews, who had being in the country for centuries. The statement about the four congresswomen was followed by Trump’s tweet about how the constituency of an African American congressman was infested with rodents, a common theme used by Hitler when referring to Jews as an article Politico noted. The shooter in the recent mass murders in El Paso according to many analysts, including the city’s Democratic Presidential candidate, Bet O’Rourke, was inspired by Trump’s attack against non-whites and immigrants. The “manifesto” published by the shooter clearly show that his racism echoed that espoused in many of Trump’s statements and tweets. Trump’s recent statement that Jewish American who vote for the Democratic Party are “disloyal” to Israel, a statement many Jewish leaders view as anti-Semitic, questioning their American citizenship and legal right to choose which party they can support.
Trump came to power as the Mueller report shows with significant support from Russia, whose help he publicly called for while campaigning. This interference from a foreign power was and as Mueller stated still on-going, an assault on America’s democratic process a fact that rankles Trump. Trump has continued to deny this support and despite warnings from intelligence agencies, his administration has not taken action to prevent a similar attack, which means the 2020 election could be a repeat of 2016, with a foreign adversary playing a significant role in who runs America. He has recently dismissed the Director of Intelligence and is looking for a malleable person for that role who will obviously ignore such interference.
Trump is constantly assaulting the democratic process, ignoring and attacking the Democratic Party controlled House of Representatives’ decisions relating to that body’s oversight functions. He attacks the mainstream media almost on a daily basis and with the active support of the Republican controlled Senate has appointed a record number of judges, many of whom are party hacks and unqualified for positions that they will hold long after Trump’s term in office; some of them have even been rejected by his own party. Lincoln’s Republican Party has become Trump’s rowdy angry White crowd, bereft of its traditional ideologies and instead focussed on anti-immigrant, racist and conspiracy theories and policies. Make America Great Again is a misnomer and the Trump party slogan is really Make America White Again, slam the door on non-White immigrants; he wants more White immigrants from countries like Norway. Trump has convinced Republicans that the whole world is ganging up against America and only he the messiah can save the country, on his own, through his whims, tweets and America’s military might. This attitude has resonated in his economic and foreign policies to the alarm of analysts and political leaders around the world.
While the economy is growing and unemployment is low, a process started under Obama’s watch, the U.S. government is raking high and increasing budget deficits and income inequality is rising, but it is his trade wars and general chaotic foreign policies that are most alarming for the world as a whole. The trade wars that Trump has embarked on with the rest of the world, raising tariffs on imports from China and even America’s allies are likely to reduce trade and economic output in America and around the world according to the IMF and most analysts. Although Trump has given a huge boost to the rich in huge income and business tax cuts and reduction in inheritance taxes, low and middle income Americans have not fared so well, chipping away at Obama care, the reforms that gave millions of Americans healthcare for the first time. His administration has joined conservative states in a lawsuit that will dismantle Obama care. He has taken measures to significantly reduce food subsidies and other measures targeted at the poorest households.
In the last few weeks there are indications that even this Trump economic “success” is at risk with recent declines and gyrations in stock markets in America and around the world and significant reductions in economic growth and recession in manufacturing sector in the U.S. in the last few quarters. A similar trend has been recorded in other major economies including Europe’s largest economy, Germany. In the last few days a market indicator, the yield curve inversion, has been at levels which suggest impending recession. The ballooning deficits that Trump has created means that the country is less prepared for such a scenario.
Trumps fixation with tariffs, trade wars and tax cuts ignores the crux of the matter and indeed compounds the problem, namely, the country’s (lack of) competitiveness viz a viz its major trading partners. Investment in the infrastructure, education and research and development are the key drivers in the country’s competitive position and hence its trade balance. Trump has however failed to make investment in these areas or frankly cannot afford to do so because of the debt he is raking as a result of his tax cuts and ballooning military budget. His backing for coal and recent policies regarding net neutrality hamper America in areas where it has a competitive edge, namely, clean energy and digital sectors. In short, because of his adherence to wealthy Americans like himself, myopic views, focus on the short term and lack of strategic focus he is damaging America’s competitive position, the real issue, particularly for the country’s long term position.
Trump’s foreign policies have been hugely destabilising and in general an utter failure as chronicled by Politico and CNN. The Politico report noted that the China trade wars are likely to have a significant cost to the U.S. economy; the diplomatic overtures to North Korea and actions on Iran have failed to yield desired outcomes; Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan is going nowhere; the U.S. retreat from Syria has allowed ISIS to regenerate according to a recent Pentagon Inspector General report; Trumps move to withdraw from Afghanistan has been criticised by military experts. In a related CNN report it was noted Trump has had a destabilising effect on the world in a move from America’s traditional stabilising influence to that of instigator of instability or merely an ineffectual bystander. Frictions around the world that America has either instigated or allowed to fester include: the standoff between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan; the breakdown in the post-Cold War arms control regime; the reviving of age-old South Korea/Japan animosity and; concern about a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown by Beijing in Hong Kong.
The analysis by both news outlets missed out the most significant Trump foreign policy fiasco, namely, the disarray in the North Atlantic Organisation (NATO), probably the most ambitious and successful military alliance in history. This organisation is moribund because of Trump’s statements and actions. He started off with criticism of NATO and individual members, bickering about contributions and initially failing to commit to defending all members of the alliance. NATO allies have not been consulted on the recent American military build-up and policies and negotiations with the Taliban and then there is his secret dialogue with NATO’s major opposition, Russia. His anti-EU stance is also a major factor as most European countries belong to both organisations.
There have been several manifestations of this breakdown in the organisation. Trump has not been able to garner support from NATO members in his recent “blockade” of Iran; Angela Merkle has openly suggested that Europe should consider standing on its own, a move supported by France. Turkey recently decided to purchase Russian anti-missile systems from Russia. NATO in the Trump era appears to have lost its cohesion and the president of its leading member is unwilling and unable to lead and appears to be in cahoots with the leader of NATO’s nemesis, Russia, because of whatever holds the latter may have over the US president.
According to Thomas Wright, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Trump “is trying to pivot from being a militarist to being a deal maker and delivering on diplomacy… decisions and choices that are getting him into trouble. “
To be continued tomorrow.
•Rogers is principal consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO).