Problems on hold
It cannot escape the attention of anyone who follows world news today that concerns are growing vis-à-vis the ‘adventurous, whimsical’ behaviour displayed by US President Donald Trump regarding international politics, also in the wake of his meeting with North Korea’s President Kim Jong-un three weeks ago.
We used to believe that high-level decisions in a country as significant as the US are not taken unilaterally by its president, but with the input of political and strategic think tank institutions that provide necessary data and consultation. Now it has become obvious that President Trump has no qualms about ridding himself of all who oppose him, whose outlooks do not conform to his whims. The original situation has been reversed; the institutions now follow the US President instead of safeguarding American policy.
Whenever I express my shock at Trump’s actions, my American friends reply that they do not regret voting him in, since American democracy is capable of self correction. They argue that if Trump persists in his recklessness he would not be elected for a second term or would be replaced with a new president once the second term is over. Yet a daunting thought haunts me as I recall Egypt’s experience with the Muslim Brother (MB) president Muhammed Mursi who came to office on a very thin margin in the wake of the Arab Spring, and who is touted by western media as a legitimate, democratically elected president of Egypt. Mursi’s catastrophic, democracy-destroying decisions horrified Egyptians who feared that by the end of his term there would be no more democratic margin to allow for not voting in a MB president, meaning that Egypt would have forever remained in the clutches of the MB. On 30 June 2013, exactly one year on Mursi in office, some 30 million Egyptians took to the streets and overthrew him with the support and blessing of the Egyptian Armed Forces. It must be admitted, however, that “30 June” was a singular event in history, difficult to recur or emulate. In Egypt itself, it is now uncalled for and unimaginable, following the constitutional reform and path of development the country is walking.
In America, the media expresses increasing concern over Trump’s policies and reckless words and actions. Trump rode the election on the promise: “America First”, playing on American sentiments. Now, it is obvious that his ideas of fulfilling this motto come at a very high cost to the US and its people, whether in the short or long term. I will here cite examples of Trump’s moves and the cost they entail.
“America first” has turned into a chain of peculiar, hasty moves that translated into “America alone”. Thanks to Trump, the US has succeeded with flying colours in alienating friends and allies, acquiring new enemies by the day. It has upset its allies and provoked them into adopting retaliatory attitudes hostile to the US.
A political analyst aptly described US policy under Trump as: “The US continues to undermine all standards of peace, stability, harmony and mutual benefits established post WWII. It is not acceptable to justify this by persuading the American people that their economy has improved under Trump, because this improvement had started in no small measure before him. And soon enough, Americans will discover that they will have to rectify a lot of the damage done by his policy.”
Another political analyst wondered at Trump’s North Korean venture and its mysterious results, especially given that Trump’s declarations regarding his confidence in North Korea’s leader are supported with no solid evidence. Rather, mutual distrust has long reigned between the two parties; Koreans have a history of breaking promises, and Trump has withdrawn the US from agreements it had signed.
The vicious trade war Trump is waging on the EU, Canada, Mexico and China, through imposing custom tariffs on imports to America from these States, has also had its fair share of retaliation. Germany, Canada and China have announced they would impose custom tariffs on American goods crossing their borders.
An economic analyst commented on Trump’s reckless decisions by recalling the saying that “pretexts do not justify prohibitions”. He said that Trump was taking revenge against China for robbing US technology for over half a century; the President said it was time for retribution. However, the analyst said, Trump appears not to realise that China’s imposition of equal tariffs on US products greatly harms America’s giant firms. Furthermore, he said, Trump has not calculated the outcome of the battles he is waging; he is facing the Chinese tycoon without the support of any friends or allies; these he has already lost. The situation is best described as: “You can’t go to a battle against seven enemies having a six-shooter.”
We observe in bewilderment the world according to Trump. I cannot help wondering, will America witness another Muhammed Mursi?
24 June 2018