One week on: What kind of President will Donald Trump be?
In a multitude of ways, last week’s US Presidential election has turned the world on its head, or at least shot down in flames many of the sacred tenets of the so-called liberal world order. But will will Trump’s actions in office match his rhetoric on the campaign trail? He’s putting together his team, and there have already been some controversial appointments…
President-Elect of the United States Donald Trump ran, and won, the election on an economically left of centre platform. To the left of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to the left of any US President. He threatened corporations that if they closed their factories and moved production outside the US, he would place tariffs on them to price them out of the US market; he promised the so-called Rust Belt, the post-industrial states which won him the election, that he would bring back their industry, he promised a massive public spending infrastructure programme whilst cutting taxes – a devastating blow to right wingers for whom the deficit is the be all and end all.
However, according to much of the US media, some Trump supporters have been on something of a rampage against minorities inside the US. But even on this point, it won’t do to look at the last eight years through rose coloured glasses. Black people have been gunned down almost daily under Obama’s Presidency, just as they were incarcerated en mass under Bill Clinton. Could this get even worse with Donald Trump in the White House? This is certainly something of which we must be vigilant. But the biggest issue for those of us not in the US is the foreign policy one.
So what can we expect? Trump ran on a policy of restoring relations with Russia, of halting US support for the head-chopping, throat cutting, heart-eating maniacs running rampage in Syria and Iraq. Yet the people in the frame for the Secretary of State Position, all have a long track record of absolute hostility to Russia and Iran, and effusive relations not just with the Israel lobby in the US, but with Israel itself. The worst of these would be John Bolton, the fanatical neocon ideologue, and not much better is Newt Gingrich, who is unspeakable in other ways. The best of the frontrunners would probably be Rudy Giuliani, who is generally an ideological lightweight and will do what the bottom line tells him. If Trump runs the government like he runs his businesses, he’ll be making the decisions, not his advisors, and I’d rather have Trump making Foreign Policy decisions than Bolton or Gingrich.
On the issue of Israel, while Trump’s connections to hard-line Zionists from the Breitbart school are concerning, it should be noted the Israel-lobby overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton, and Trump owes them very little. While I expect him to be worse than Obama on this issue, I do not believe he will be as bad as Clinton would have been. And we must be brutally honest: as long as no Arab government, no Muslim country (except Iran) lifts a finger to help the Palestinians, as long as they maintain intimate covert (such as in the case of Saudi Arabia) or overt (such as in the case of Turkey) relations with Israel, why should we expect a US President to care? The Arab and Muslim countries must put their own house in order first and then bring pressure to bear on the US on this issue, until that happens we will not see any change of direction whoever is in the White House.
So, what kind of President will Donald Trump be? If he keeps his promises to bring back jobs, industry and dignity to the benighted states of the post-industrial Rust Belt, end “free trade” deals such as TTIP, TPP and others, which are anything but free trade, if he ends the confrontation with Russia and stops US support for ISIS and Al Qaeda, he will make a lot of people very happy. And if he doesn’t, it will be a better opportunity than ever before to mobilise opposition around the world to US foreign policy, which has been laid bare by this election campaign as a result, it must be acknowledged, of his candidacy, which blew the traditional bipartisan consensus on these issues out of the water.
Finally, one thing which we must hope will dawn on the rest of the world after this election: the US is not our “leader”, much less our “father”. It is a sovereign country with its own interests and its own borders. It has a right to protect them just as we have a right to protect ours. We have no right to enter or leave the US as we please, and the US has no right to enter or leave other countries as it pleases, to place its military bases around the world, to “intervene” wherever and whenever it likes, invariably creating chaos or worsening existing crises to the benefit of its own establishment interests, and to the detriment of working class people everywhere including its own.
So let the Americans build a wall, let them put up tariffs to protect their own economy, let them ban whoever they want from their own country. That’s entirely up to them, it’s their own country and I don’t care. But the lesson we must draw is to protect our own national interests, whatever country we are in, rather than hoping some illusory “Pax Americana” will take care of everything for us. I’m building a wall here, and I’m saying US, stay on the other side of it. Do what you like in your own country, just don’t interfere in ours.