Trump’s victory


The people of the world’s largest superpower have voted for a candidate who is profoundly ignorant of the rest of the world and delights in his isolationism and prejudice. Throughout the campaign, he has made wildly contradictory statements, so the new certainty in global affairs is that the rest of the world cannot rely on Washington to be consistent or calmly analytical. Trump’s State Department will be emotional and vindictive, while keeping a close eye on what their president perceives to be America’s immediate economic interests. The flash points of the world have just become a lot more dangerous. Places like the Korean border, east Ukraine and the South China Sea have become a lot more dangerous. On the world stage, Trump will be firmly isolationist. He will trample on any multilateral institution in his eagerness to support what he sees as American interests. The United Nations will become even more irrelevant, Nato will suffer and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be sidelined. Trump wants to end the trade agreements that have been so painfully cobbled together, regardless that the greatest driver for prosperity in the last 70 years has been the huge growth in international trade sponsored by General Agreement on Trade and Tariff and then the World Trade Organisation, before it was forced aside by the current patchwork of regional deals. It is a real danger that Trump’s Republican Party will also control the Senate and the House of Representatives, so he will have no restraint on his whims. Even the Republicans who were so profoundly sceptical of Trump as a candidate will now have to back off. Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, to name only two of the mainstream Republicans who have lost control of their party, will have to concede that their approach failed and they will need to make peace with the ignorant bigot who now sits in the White House. It will be particularly damaging for the American Body Politic that Trump will not reach out to heal the wounds that he has caused. He may carry out his threat to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who will take the opportunity of trading insult for insult as she yet again goes through a legal investigation in the sure knowledge that she has not been found guilty of any crime despite many attempts to do so. Trump’s disrespect for diplomatic norms has alarmed many countries. His fiery and even racist rhetoric caused worries among US allies about the future direction of US foreign policy and presence in East Asia. Trump sent highly negative signals to Japan and South Korea while his stance towards China was exceedingly aggressive. The establishment in the US discourages radical views. One hopes that the detailed briefings the President-elect would soon receive from important institutions would soften some of his rough edges. Despite all of the uncertainty regarding what lies ahead, it must be remembered that the system that is in place in the United States ensures that the president’s powers are kept in check by the legislature.