Donald Trump, What Is There Not To Like?
It is probably verging on blasphemy in some circles to say anything positive about American President Donald Trump. Portrayed as narcissist, misogynist, racist, climate change denier and unpredictable on international relations, Trump continues to walk the tight rope on a possible impeachment by the Democratic led Congress.
Trump may not be to the liking of many liberals and social democrats but some facts cannot be ignored. He is an American president who has not started a war on hapless people somewhere around the world for American ‘machismo’. He has also used a tool of weapon that hits the decision makers and the rich more than the ordinary people.
And importantly, his actions have led to real debates on equality, immigration, climate change etc which have usually been camouflaged under a veneer of ‘liberal’ policies.
Most of the attacks on him are domestic to USA. They are of little relevance to people around the world. Whether he is a racist, misogynist or even nepotistic does not affect the average person in Syria, Iran, North Korea or anywhere around the world. In fact, it has stopped irrelevant moral lectures from US officials to the world. He has not drained the swamp but he has blocked its hypocrisy for now.
But even in these domestic matters, is Trump the demagogue – as he is presented to be – when compared to his predecessors? These are aspects of America that have always been covered under the gloss of liberalism and pretentious progressive policies.
Take immigration, for instance. If anything, it is Obama who holds the prize for ‘Deporter in Chief’. In 2012, Obama administration kicked out a whopping 419,384 illegal immigrants in comparison to Trump’s 256,000, a record no one has beaten. Even the family units and the children’s detention centres were started under Obama. The policy of empowering ICE, immigration and Customs Enforcement, to snoop and arrest people without warrants, or even giving them time to get their clothes let alone lawyers or say goodbye to family, was started under Bush and reached an ugly peak under Obama.
It was President Obama who proudly boasted, ‘We have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.’ And it was also during Obama that one of his chief immigration advisors callously declared, “At the end of the day, when you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen. Even if the law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children. They don’t have to like it, but it is a result of having a broken system of laws.”
Racism too remained unchanged, if not increased, during Obama. Many a black American has been scathing of his approach. Paniel Joseph writing in Washingtonpost (2 April 2016) says, ‘Blacks have, critics suggested, traded away substantive policy demands for the largely symbolic psychological and emotional victory of having a Black president and first family in the White House for eight years’.
Obama has been accused of skirting around issues of racism during his presidency because he wanted to be seen as ‘one of them’. Towards the end of his presidency when racism became uglier with blatant police killings of blacks, he could only bring himself to make a statement. The same white Middle America that voted him in probably abandoned Democrats for being impotent on realistic change.
Racism and anti-immigration are ugly facts of America no one wanted to talk about at the highest level, except in superlatives. What Trump has done is taken away the mirage and the pretence. He has spoken aloud what white America talks behind locked doors.
Now both issues are there in the public glare as they really are for America to debate in earnest on these camouflaged fissures. That Democratic hopeful, Joe Biden, was taken to task for his racial hypocrisy in a recent debate shows that America is ready to talk the untalked as an electoral issue.
As for misogyny, one would be forgiven to believe from the media attacks that Trump is the first philanderer at the Oval office. Wasn’t there someone called JFK and more recently Bill Clinton? In fact why not look at the difference!
The #metoo campaign that shook the male western world was not about ‘affairs’ or philandering. It was about abuse of power when powerful men exploited their office to force women (in some cases men) into sex or sexual abuse making the workplace uncomfortable.
So far, as we know, Trump has not cornered any woman in the white house and lured her or forced her into a compromising situation or used his new power to sleep around with other men’s wives. We can’t tell, skeletons may come out later, but to date no one has gone public. He exploited his business and seems to have indulged in philandering and prostitutes rather than exploit staff. He has not exploited the most powerful State office of trust to intimidate women into sexual favours as both Clinton and JFK did. No #metoo campaigns against them?
However, it is the international sphere that concerns us lesser mortals around the world. It was considered almost a certainty that had Hilary Clinton become President, the USA would have gone to war with Syria, as Obama had already set the atmosphere. Another half a million people would have been killed in the madness that liberals call, maintaining ‘rule based world order’ a convenient term for hegemony or new evangelism.
Clinton’s victory would also have raised tensions in South China Sea and with North Korea. More importantly, the possibility of war with China as a result would have been high.
Trump has a unique approach to international relations, probably defying every international relations theory. Generally the State machinery or rather bureaucracy along with the political leadership, works as a unidirectional slow train with allegedly clear aims in international policy. Not with Trump. It works at tweet speed.
In US foreign policy, maintaining superpower status has been prominent in international relations and a sort of etiquette had developed on how US dealt with both challengers and friends. Commercial interests have also been instrumental as well as idealism of sustaining and promoting democracy around the world, sometimes used as a PR slogan to conceal commercial interests such as the Iraq war.
But asserting its might and a gung ho readiness to go to war when challenged or overthrow unfriendly governments has been key aspects of US foreign policy approach that can explain many of the US international actions in the last four decades if not more.
Here Trump has simply thrown the ‘instructions’ book out. Meeting North Korea in the middle, a piddling small poverty ridden country, and making it a major international event is something that would have been unheard of. Pride would not have allowed that. But pride is not something Trump bothers about. He has avoided war.
This single action has diffused tensions and there is the possibility that by wooing Kim Jong-Un, North Korea may start to reverse the nuclear programme. More importantly the shrill paranoia of US ‘pundit’ community has been silenced and they can put their pens to some other mythical danger facing US hegemony.
In Syria, Trump ignored close friends, the Sunni Gulf States, and allowed Russia to deal with the situation, albeit with some cosmetic help from US forces. Assad remains in power to the horror of many liberals who wanted to see his downfall, introduction of democracy and another country in the image of western democratic state regardless of the cost to human life. Crusades do not bother with headcounts.
Trump’s control of US foreign policy is extraordinary as shown in the recent U turn to possible attacks on Iran. Cleverly he has placed the hawks, like John Bolton, at the centre of foreign policy, letting them pump up the rhetoric, then frustrate them with his famous tweets.
Using a Fox news host to outwit Bolton and others, including ‘best friend’ Israel, was a move only Trump could have deployed. The war machine that is used to killing hundreds of thousands as necessary collateral damage must have been gob smacked when he said, ‘I don’t want to kill 150 innocent people’. It warrants a sketch. The comedians are focusing on the wrong bits of Trump’s world.
No other US president has had so much control over US wars and foreign policy than Trump. Almost every President became victim to the echoes and war drums that beat around him. George Bush was hopelessly pushed around by the hawks into needless, expensive and destructive wars. Obama, the one person who never deserved a Noble Prize for peace, went to more wars than even his predecessor. According to a LA times 2017 article, U.S. military forces had been at war for all eight years of Obama’s tenure, the first two-term president with that distinction. In fact he started a number of covert operations around the world including the Syria war where US financed the uprising along with its friends in the first place, which Russia had to clean up.
Trump has not been a push over at all. He has found a way of dismissing the US war machine with ease and creativity. Trump has made the world safer from US hawks, at least for now. People around the world, especially in vulnerable countries, can go to sleep without fear of US missiles blowing their children in the name of peace and democracy.
As for his trade wars, they hit the decisions makers and the middle classes more than ordinary people. The poor will not miss items they can hardly buy in the first place. The manufacturers, the businesses and Middle class luxury is hit by these sanctions. They are usually the ones berating for ‘thump them’ wars around the world. They might start thinking twice before bellowing for ‘conflicts’ as Trump instead starts ‘trade wars’.
It is climate change where Trump is a problem. It is quite possible that sooner or later, Trump is going to become the greatest Climate campaigner. Wait for this space. For the world outside America, Trump is yet the first US president to let the world be in peace.