Continued from yesterday
Trump’s strong support for Britain’s exit from the EU without a deal, has been described by Amanda Sloat of the Brookings Institution as a move that “could have could have potentially disastrous consequences” for the Northern Ireland peace process which was put together with strong support from the U.S. under President Clinton. The recent spat with Denmark demonstrates foreign policy under Trump.
After Denmark rejected Trump’s attempt to buy Greenland, Trump called off a state visit and called the Danish Prime Minister a “nasty” woman and then highlighted the fact that Denmark was spending much less (1.3%) than the2% of Gross National Product (GNP) on defence that NATO members had agreed to spend under Obama.
At about the same time he called for Russia to be invited back to the G7 (reduced from G8 when Russia was excluded) forum that she had been excluded from for invading Crimea. Much of Trump’s discourse was done on Tweeter. These actions, the language and juxtaposed with a friendly approach to a hostile power are hallmarks of a President who does not act like a statesman and wants to trade friend for a foe.
In addition to his foreign policy failures, the Trump effect, namely, his nationalism, hostility, and aggression, is catching around the world as Trump wannabes try to emulate him or realise that the U.S. has lost its traditional role as a moral arbiter and promoter of dialogue and democracy. This is the situation with the stance taken by leaders in India, China, Japan, Philippines, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia.
In Europe, Trump’s embrace of increasingly autocratic regimes in Hungary and Poland and their nationalistic allies in Italy, France, and Austria has emboldened them. Putin’s Russia, despite a moribund economy and the U.S. congress’s debilitating sanctions, has increased its world posture. After all, Putin not only helped elect Trump but also shares his nationalistic tendencies and is Trump’s buddy as demonstrated in their meetings, the details of which have been kept a secret from NATO, other traditional allies of America, western (including the U.S.) media, U.S. legislators and even U.S. intelligence agencies. An emboldened Putin declared the demise of liberalism in a recent press conference, saying “the liberal idea… Is obsolete and has outlived its usefulness”.
While Steve Bannon, Trump’s alt-right former strategist has been banished from the White House, he continues to fan the flames of white nationalism and hate against Muslims and people who are not quite like him, obviously with a nod from Trump. The forest fires currently taking place in the Amazon in Brazil, at a much higher rate- over 80% higher than last year’s- has a link to Trump as the Brazilian leader is a wannabe Trump with similar racist, Brazil First ideology, dismissiveness of environmental concerns, strongman tendency and, both leaders have traded friendly messages. His policy of expanding commercial exploitation of the Amazon through expanded logging and ranching, which have caused the fires is an exact copy of the Trump mantra. And not a word has come from Trump on the catastrophe as has from most leaders around the world.
The Trump effect has long-term negative implications for his party, the U.S. and around the world in the medium to long term. The Republican Party is now viewed as the “nasty” party that fails to appeal to independents, suburban women, and non-Whites. This Trump toxicity was the main reason for the drubbing his party received in the last Congressional elections. In the long term, as the inevitable demographic change that Trump is trying to reverse unfolds, America becoming a non-White majority country, this image will resonate strongly among the new majority making it very difficult for the Republican Party to attract non-Whites. Furthermore, the scorch earth policy taken by the Republicans is likely to be repeated by Democrats when they take power.
On the international scene, while there is bipartisan support for China to play fair on trade, Trump’s ham-fisted approach may accelerate that country’s race to dominate high technology, reduce the country’s dependence on America and take the position that might is right.
The country is at a stage, which America was viz a viz Europe in the 19th century and a more subtle and sophisticated approach and building a coalition, is needed as Obama tried to do in his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative.
America and other world leaders could also seek changes in multinational organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to take account of the new reality, notably China’s move into a new status as a result of the successful transformation of its economy. America’s position on Brexit does not only endanger the break-up of the United Kingdom but it also risks a long term schism between the U.S. and Europe that a new administration will find hard to mend. NATO may be damaged beyond repair as Europe takes actions that will inoculate it from the whims of American presidents.
In the Middle East, Trump’s actions have made the peace process in Israel so much harder. While there is universal support for an Israeli state, there is also overwhelming support for a viable Palestinian state in which the right-wing Netanyahu administration has frustrated at every level. Trump’s blind support for him makes the peace process very difficult. Indeed it is Israel’s long-term interest to have a friendly Palestinian state.
Trump may have befriended autocratic Arab leaders but by doing so not only has he emboldened them to avoid making much-needed reforms but his friendship and his policies on Israel are anathema to the Arab masses and maybe stoking simmering resentment which gives rise to the likes of ISIS. A notable case is his action on Jerusalem which is a city that is also viewed as an essential focal point for Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims around the world, hence the decision by his predecessors not to take the position he has taken.
It must be stressed that while Trump’s actions and policies are partly based on his warped mind-set it is also the fact that he is really out of his depth. He came to power knowing very little about government, with a litany of grievances, insecurities, and prejudices. He has shown that he does not care for analysis, is unwilling to acquire knowledge and does not have the strategic focus necessary to even manage a small town much less the world’s only superpower.
After traditional Republican leaders failed to stop him winning the nomination for his party, they, like in the case of Hitler, though they could rein him and make him into a statesman that the office requires. Initially, he was hemmed in by the “adults” in his team. He has since got rid of those “adults” and instead he is relying on his hunches, prejudices and docile loyalists. He is increasingly on the fact-free, impulsive path in domestic and foreign policies, with the connivance of subservient Republicans who have been cowed into submission. Whoever heard of a leading statesman sending out the kind of bogus tweets, which become government policy and being so openly racist, ignorant and petty? Removing the guardrails of the “adults” have emboldened Trump and made him far more dangerous.
The U.S. and the world as a whole have become a dangerous place with increasing racial strife, nationalism and deepening political partisanship fuelled by a president who is constantly feeding them with his statements, tweets, and actions.
Democracy in the U.S. and around the world is under attack by this president directly and through his inspiration. His foreign policies are causing instability and friction around the world. His actions imperil our fragile environment and his trade wars and economic policies are a threat to the US and the world as a whole increasing the likelihood of another recession; it should be noted that the great depression came about largely because of protectionism. This man is obviously a danger to America and the world’s health and lets us hope that the U.S. electorate can take the right decision in 2020 to make America truly great again and the world a better place. Images that should hopefully help the electorate make their decision are: of those “fine people” at Charlottesville; the Christchurch shootings and El Paso mass shootings and; now fires in the Amazon, the lungs of the earth. These are all activities that have been inspired by Trump.
• Rogers is a principal consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO).