Home / Opinion / Trump and the world

Trump and the world

S P Seth

Donald Trump’s victory is raising all sorts of questions about where we go from here. Trump prides himself on being a shrewd and successful businessman, though his self-image is controversial. The governing principle of his business strategy is that all dealings are transactional. This means that the US can’t and won’t underwrite the security of its friends and allies with its own chequebook. In other words, like in any transactional dealing, U.S allies must pay the US to do their job. It would mean that all security arrangements and alliances, like NATO, and alliances with countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia and others, might have to be renegotiated if Trump stands by what he said during the election. Or else, these allies and Middle Eastern potentates, like Saudi Arabia, might have to fend for themselves. There is an element of myth in Trump’s formulation of transactional relationships. Because, even if the U.S is bearing much of the financial burden of its security alliances, it has been doing so for reasons of maintaining its global power. But, as with most other things, Trump is not bothered by the complexity of international relations. As well as shaking up US’ traditional relationships, Trump has indicated a radical review of U.S’ ties with Putin’s Russia. He praised Putin during his election campaign as a strong leader and was helped by alleged Russian hacking of the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which WikiLeaks revealed. In his post-election interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump clearly indicated his preference for cooperation with Russia to destroy ISIS. He reportedly said, “I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria. My attitude was that you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting [ISIS], and you have to get rid of [ISIS].” He added, “Russia is now totally aligned with Syria…Now we’re backing rebels in Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.” If this projected new policy were to be translated into practice, it will signal a reversal of the old U.S-led western policy of innate hostility towards Russia with prospects of re-evaluating the NATO alliance, which is now encircling Russia in the east with a string of new members that were earlier either part of the Soviet Union or its Warsaw Pact allies. The continuing crisis in Ukraine is an offshoot of the Western policy to hem in Russia. Russian occupation of Crimea and its support of the separatist cause in eastern Ukraine has put it under Western economic sanctions. If Trump were to go ahead with overhauling US-Russia relations, even insisting that NATO members should adequately contribute to their defence, he would create a seismic change in the old western alliance system that has underpinned post-war strategic order. And Putin is all for it. In a telephonic conversation with Trump, Putin expressed his “willingness to build a partnership dialogue with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.” Trump’s response was equally enthusiastic, and he said he was looking forward to “a strong and enduring relationship with Russia.”However, a new US-Russian era of the kind envisaged by the two leaders will not be easy to bring about because of the old thinking and institutional strait-jacket in which their mutual relations have been stuck after WWII. Imagine the Pentagon and the State Department rewriting the strategy book to co-opt Russia as a virtual ally, and turning the western world upside down! It will arouse powerful opposition from the Congress, notwithstanding the fact that the Republican Party will be controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Already, there are moves to further sanction Russia for its role in Syria.There are other problems too. For instance, Trump would like to cancel the U.S-Iran nuclear deal. However, Russia is unlikely to go along with this. Moscow is reportedly in talks with Iran for $10 billion arms deal to provide advanced weapons — tanks, artillery systems, planes and helicopters. Iran, like Russia, is helping the Assad regime in Syria against the rebels and ISIS. This is broadly also Trump’s goal, but how can he achieve it by ripping US’s nuclear deal with Iran? At the same time, Trump’s stated hostility to China as a currency ‘manipulator’ and his threat to impose 45 per cent tariffs on Chinese exports to the US might create difficulties with Russia, as the two countries are virtual strategic partners against the backdrop of China’s problems in the South China Sea and Russia’s Ukrainian intervention. Trump’s election has bolstered up extreme right forces in Europe opposed to regional and global integration. And some of them are supportive of Putin’s leadership. Take the case of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front that gained more than a quarter of the vote in last year’s regional elections, and hopes to be France’s Donald Trump in the next year’s presidential election. Interestingly, France’s National Front borrowed money from a Russian-owned bank as Marie Le Pen admitted in 2014. Russia has also reportedly lent money to a number of European extreme right-wing parties, such as Golden Dawn in Greece, Italy’s Northern League, Hungary’s Jobbik, and the Freedom Party of Austria. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, has said that her presidency, if she won next year’s election, would feature a new friendship with Vladimir Putin, hinting an end to sanctions against Russia after it occupied Crimea and started supporting separatism in Ukraine. She reportedly said on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that her party’s borrowing money from a Russian bank had been necessary as “French banks won’t lend to the National Front, [and] it’s a way they have found to stifle democracy.” She made a strong plea that, “If we want a powerful Europe, we had better negotiate with Russia and cooperate with them, have commercial agreements with them.”
And she added, “The model defended by Vladimir Putin, which is reasoned protectionism, looking after the interests of his country, is one that I like.”

Donald Trump’s successful election campaign rhetoric, based on populism of all sorts, is tending to make it mainstream thinking in a number of European countries, where Brexit had given it respectability. And here in Australia, both the governing conservative coalition and the opposition Labour Party are selectively seeking to appeal to the right wing nutters. As one letter writer wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, “There has never been a more exciting time to be a right-wing nutter.”

Check Also

The tears of blood

Written by: Sahibzadi Mardiya Sultana Faizpuri, Email: [email protected] In today’s world its more likely to …