Trump's promises and Obama's legacy

Hassan Abou Taleb
Monday 28 Nov 2016

As much as the US presidential elections was about the future of America, it was also an evaluation of Obama's legacy

Using tough and shocking language, both in vocabulary and content, used many times against broad sections of Americans themselves and against symbols of the ruling establishment, Donald Trump has presented himself as offering a different vision.

Trump pledged to regain America's lost greatness, a result of Obama's legacy, promising economic, financial and social policies that would rebuild the country, purifying it of different sections of immigrants living on American soil, some illegally, others not. These sections are looked upon as a reason for the deterioration of the condition of the middle classes, threatening the country's security and safety.

Trump stoked the fears of wide sections of Americans, especially white workers of medium and low education, on two things in particular, namely: the economy and security. This in turn influenced broad sections to vote in favour of change and experiment with new policies manufactured outside the ruling establishment. Trump has repeatedly described this establishment as corrupt.

Such a choice reflects the prevalent and current mood within US society. It also reflects a number of constants that exist in American society. The most important of these constants is a racist legacy: differentiating between American whites and those of different ethnic minorities; a conservative legacy towards women; an isolationist legacy that seeks to lighten the burden of world leadership and follow American interests outside its borders; an arrogant legacy that thinks that America should remain the first power in the world and that it must have the best of everything, in Trump’s words; and finally, a pragmatic legacy based on self-interest and not being committed to principles that Trump described in one of his speeches as suiting losers. 

The reality of the situation is that this underlying legacy within American society, that expressed itself strongly in voting for Trump, rightly described as a populist candidate, exists also in several European countries where immigrants come to live from all parts of the world, such as France, Germany, Belgium and other EU countries.

These countries face almost the same problematic Trump expressed in his election campaign. If we put into consideration what’s known as the "domino effect," it is natural that a development in a certain country or a certain region due to circumstances and factors present in other regions would cause the same results. So it seems right-wing currents in France, Germany, Belgium and Denmark will do better in coming elections within the next two years in comparison to previous elections.

Definitely Trump’s success relies on fulfilling some of his promises, especially reducing immigration, creating jobs through returning industries that left the country due to free trade treaties, cutting down military adventures abroad and besieging border-crossing terrorist organisations, starting with the Islamic State (IS) group and passing through its branches in other countries in cooperation with trustworthy regional allies. This will result in gradually enhancing the standing of the right-wing in different European countries.

At this point, the European-American relationship will be refounded on new rules. New fields of cooperation may be witnessed between right-wingers on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, mechanisms and institutions established after World War II will be reviewed, on the top of which comes NATO.

What’s important in this scene is that Trump succeeds in America. This in turn won’t be easy. Some inside America has already started to talk about the way to overthrow Trump, making his policies fail and setting obstacles before him. It is expected that there will be huge media monitoring of every step Trump takes, starting with his choices for his administration and passing through legal amendments he aims to pass and ending with the foreign relations he intends to undertake.     

One of the most prominent matters will be reviewing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, adjusting US policy from political and economic “tit for tat” and imposing sanctions on Russia to cooperating with it in different fields and issues. The most salient of issue is fighting IS and the terrorist Al-Qaeda-inspired organisations, whatever their names, in Syria and ceasing the policy of changing regimes. This policy has caused catastrophes in more than one country. We Arabs have seen the greater share of this in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya, and some of its effects in Egypt’s Sinai.

The writer is a political analyst. 

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