Trump’s Towering Triumph

Spearhead Analysis – 10.11.2016

trumpOn January 20, 2017 Donald Trump will take oath as the 45th President of the United States. He will be the first ever US President to hold office without any military, government, political or electoral experience. He is a New York real estate businessman — a very successful businessman — with a full understanding of the corporate world and the media in which he has also worked. He must have a good grasp of human resource management and the importance of having a first rate team working for him. During the election campaign despite never having been taken seriously by the ‘establishment’ he has displayed an uncanny ability to correctly appraise the environment in terms of the segment of the population that he needed to target, what they wanted to hear and what he needed to promise them. His formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton, not only dismissed Trump but also contemptuously dubbed his followers as ‘the deplorable’ thereby displaying a total lack of political insight. She alienated the white middle and lower middle class blue collar workers who are the backbone of America — indeed of any country. Trump relied on this class and they delivered not because they wanted Trump but because they wanted someone who promised to deliver them from the establishment and the elites who supported it and were part of it. This US election, already dubbed 11/9 to mark it as important as 9/11, will be remembered as a revolt against the establishment and the elite.

This revolt against the establishment and its policies is not unique to America — it is a worldwide trend. This is evident from the long drawn out transitions taking place and the nationalistic forces emerging. As a sequel to the Arab Spring the Middle East is and is likely to remain in transition that may become more complex post IS. Russia is in transition as its democracy changes and it asserts itself, Brexit is happening and new forces are emerging in the EU in the face of immigration. North Korea is transiting to full-fledged nuclear power status. Turkey is in transition as is India from a secular to a radical Hindu dominated culture. Venezuela may implode. Afghanistan faces instability and conflict and in Pakistan democracy is fighting to survive and thrive as it faces down terrorist threats. Economy, trade, finances and cooperative alliances are more important than ever before. This is the world that the Trump presidency will face as he tries to live up to his promise of ‘making America great again’.

As the US election results rolled in there was surprise, there was astonishment, there was disbelief and above all total uncertainty. Stocks took a dive, the dollar plunged and oil futures declined but in his very first speech as President Elect Mr. Trump sent out a wave of reassurance when he said that he would be a President of all Americans and that it was time to unite. The markets are already rallying as reality sinks in and the uncertainty begins to dissipate but not disappear — that will take time as events unfold. The realization is there that those who voted for Trump do not want interventions in far-off places, they do not want Americans to die in wars that have nothing to do with them, they do not want their young men crippled, or be with PTSD or suicidal. They want someone to take charge and fix things at home so that those in the middle or at the bottom can have prosperity and the chance to live decent lives and educate their children. These aspirations are not unique to Americans. The expectation is that Trump will deliver — that is always the expectation from all who come in as avengers and reformers and transformers. Not all succeed.

An Indonesian body of top clerics has already voiced concern over Trump’s policies towards Islamic countries. Their concern is based on what Mr. Trump has been saying about Muslims during his election speeches. No doubt the Islamic world will be watching and waiting. Pakistan has had a declining and almost dysfunctional relationship with the US because of the US’ tilt towards India that encourages India to threaten Pakistan with destabilization, isolation and aggression while its actions in Kashmir get very little international attention. There may be an opportunity for Pakistan to reset its relations with the US and subsequently with Afghanistan and India. After all Mr. Putin has very quickly stated his desire to improve US-Russia relations after President-Elect Trump takes over. In any case these changes will take time and Pakistan’s priorities must remain a stable secure internal environment under a credible political dispensation. As a state Pakistan’s statehood is not in doubt but its competence and effectiveness as a state does get questioned and this should not be the international image of a nuclear weapons state. Pakistan needs to understand the transitions taking place and act in its own interests. The state is far more important than individuals.

(Spearhead Analyses are collaborative efforts and not attributable to a single individual)