Warning: Trump is a danger to America and the world’s health
As America gears for the 2020 elections the country and the world must be bracing to see if we are going to be subjected to another four years of somebody who is not only unfit to hold its highest office but a man who is a danger to his country and the world. In the years since he announced his candidacy and his election Trump has demonstrated that he is, as Obama and many other pointed out, a danger to the health of America and the world. Recent statements and actions have highlighted this fact. Trump’s recent statements and policies have severely damaged race relations and encouraged and emboldened racist attacks. America’s democracy, the Republican Party, the environment, the economy and the country’s image in the world have been severely impaired.
Only a few weeks ago he was basking to a cheering baying crowd chanting “send them back” referring to four members of congress, three of whom were born in the US, an event eerily reminiscent of Nazi German almost a century ago. In the case of Hitler, the angry crowd had also been whipped into frenzy about Jews, who had being in the country for centuries. The statement about the four congresswomen was followed by Trump’s tweet about how the constituency of an African American congressman was infested with rodents, a common theme used by Hitler when referring to Jews as an article Politico noted. The shooter in the recent mass murders in El Paso according to many analysts, including the city’s Democratic Presidential candidate, Bet O’Rourke, was inspired by Trump’s attack against non-whites and immigrants. The “manifesto” published by the shooter clearly show that his racism echoed that espoused in many of Trump’s statements and tweets. Trump’s recent statement that Jewish American who vote for the Democratic Party are “disloyal” to Israel, a statement many Jewish leaders view as anti-Semitic, questioning their American citizenship and legal right to choose which party they can support.
Trump came to power as the Mueller report shows with significant support from Russia, whose help he publicly called for while campaigning. This interference from a foreign power was and as Mueller stated still on-going, an assault on America’s democratic process a fact that rankles Trump. Trump has continued to deny this support and despite warnings from intelligence agencies, his administration has not taken action to prevent a similar attack, which means the 2020 election could be a repeat of 2016, with a foreign adversary playing a significant role in who runs America. He has recently dismissed the Director of Intelligence and is looking for a malleable person for that role who will obviously ignore such interference.
Trump is constantly assaulting the democratic process, ignoring and attacking the Democratic Party controlled house of representative’s decisions relating to that body’s oversight functions. He attacks the mainstream media almost on a daily basis and with the active support of the Republican controlled senate has appointed a record number of judges, many of whom are party hacks and unqualified for positions that they will hold long after Trump’s term in office; some of them have even been rejected by his own party. Lincoln’s Republican Party has become Trump’s rowdy angry White crowd, bereft of its traditional ideologies and instead focussed on anti-immigrant, racist and conspiracy theories and policies. Make America Great Again is a misnomer and the Trump party slogan is really Make America White Again, slam the door on non-White immigrants; he wants more White immigrants from countries like Norway. Trump has convinced Republicans that the whole world is ganging up against America and only he the messiah can save the country, on his own, through his whims, tweets and America’s military might. This attitude has resonated in his economic and foreign policies to the alarm of analysts and political leaders around the world.
While the economy is growing and unemployment is low, a process started under Obama’s watch, the US government is raking high and increasing budget deficits and income inequality is rising, but it is his trade wars and general chaotic foreign policies that are most alarming for the world as a whole The trade wars that Trump has embarked on with the rest of the world, raising tariffs on imports from China and even America’s allies are likely to reduce trade and economic output in America and around the world according to the IMF and most analysts. Although Trump has given a huge boost to the rich in huge income and business tax cuts and reduction in inheritance taxes, low and middle income Americans have not fared so well, chipping away at Obamacare, the reforms that gave millions of Americans healthcare for the first time. His administration has joined conservative states in a lawsuit that will dismantle Obamacare. He has taken measures to significantly reduce food subsidies and other measures targeted at the poorest households.
In the last few weeks there are indications are that even this Trump economic “success” is at risk with recent declines and gyrations in stock markets in America and around the world and significant reductions in economic growth and recession in manufacturing sector in the US in the last few quarters. A similar trend has been recorded in other major economies including Europe’s largest economy, Germany. In the last few days a market indicator, the yield curve inversion, has been at levels which suggest impending recession. The ballooning deficits that Trump has created means that the country is less prepared for such a scenario.
Trumps fixation with tariffs, trade wars and tax cuts ignores the crux of the matter and indeed compounds the problem, namely, the country’s (lack of) competitiveness viz a viz its major trading partners. Investment in the infrastructure, education and research and development are the key drivers in the country’s competitive position and hence its trade balance. Trump has however failed to make investment in these areas or frankly cannot afford to do so because of the debt he is raking as a result of his tax cuts and ballooning military budget. His backing for coal and recent policies regarding net neutrality hamper America in areas where it has a competitive edge, namely, clean energy and digital sectors. In short, because of his adherence to wealthy Americans like himself, myopic views, focus on the short term and lack of strategic focus he is damaging America’s competitive position, the real issue, particularly for the country’s long term position.
Trump’s foreign policies have been hugely destabilizing and in general an utter failure as chronicled by Politico and CNN. The Politico report noted that the China trade wars are likely to have a significant cost to the US economy; the diplomatic overtures to North Korea and actions on Iran have failed to yield desired outcomes; Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan is going nowhere; the US retreat from Syria has allowed ISIS to regenerate according to a recent Pentagon Inspector General report; Trumps move to withdraw from Afghanistan has been criticised by military experts. In a related CNN report it was noted Trump has had a destabilizing effect on the world in a move from America’s traditional stabilizing influence to that of instigator of instability or merely an ineffectual bystander. Frictions around the world that America has either instigated or allowed to fester include: the standoff between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan; the breakdown in the post-Cold War arms control regime; the reviving of age-old South Korea/Japan animosity and; concern about a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown by Beijing in Hong Kong.
The analysis by both news outlets missed out the most significant Trump foreign policy fiasco, namely, the disarray in the North Atlantic Organisation (NATO), probably the most ambitious and successful military alliance in history. This organisation is moribund because of Trump’s statements and actions. He started off with criticism of NATO and individual members, bickering about contributions and initially failing to commit to defending all members of the alliance. NATO allies have not been consulted on the recent American military build-up and policies and negotiations with the Taliban and then there is his secret dialogue with NATO’s major opposition, Russia. His anti-EU stance is also a major factor as most European countries belong to both organisations. There have been several manifestations of this breakdown in the organisation. Trump has not been able to garner support from NATO members in his recent “blockade” of Iran; Angela Merkle has openly suggested that Europe should consider standing on its own, a move supported by France. Turkey recently decided to purchase Russian anti-missile systems from Russia. NATO in the Trump era appears to have lost its cohesion and the president of its leading member is unwilling and unable to lead and appears to be in cahoots with the leader of NATO’s nemesis, Russia, because of whatever holds the latter may have over the US president.
According to Thomas Wright, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Trump “is trying to pivot from being a militarist to being a deal maker and delivering on diplomacy… decisions and choices that are getting him into trouble. “ 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 US 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 Goss 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 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 US 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 US 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 secret from NATO, other traditional allies of America, western (including US) media, US legislators and even US 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 US 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 in 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 US 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 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 may be stoking simmering resentment which give 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, thought 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. Who ever 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” has emboldened Trump and made him far more dangerous.
The US 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 US 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 let us hope that the US 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.
J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO) www.oxfordmemo.co.uk