Trump and reviving the clash of civilizations

Mohamed Elmenshawy
Thursday 8 Dec 2016

Trump made big promises during his election campaign. However, nothing remains of them except what concerns Islam and Muslims

The political leanings of those who President elect Donald Trump picked for his national security team in the new American administration point out his intention to exploit the state of fear created by the recent election campaign amid the clear and antagonistic discourse towards Islam and Muslims.

This will be a main source of continuing and acquiring renewable legitimacy of President Trump. To start with, Trump’s election agenda relied on several flashy deceptive promises that are difficult or impossible to execute! However, the easiest promise to execute with the least cost concerns the confrontation with Islam, not only confronting the radicals of the extremist groups.

Trump’s discourse and message pumped new blood in the theory of “the Clash of Civilisations” after nearly quarter of a century of presenting it. Of course, any terrorist attack that will take place in the USA will facilitate President Trump’s mission.

Last February, General Michael Flynn, the National Security Adviser nominee, tweeted: “Fear from Muslims is logical.” He asked his followers to disseminate his tweet. Last August, Flynn described Islam as cancer and he kept saying that Islam is a “political ideology definitely hides behind being a religion.”

Steve Bannon one of the most important Trump advisers mentioned that the “West founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs started a bloody conflict with fascist Islam which threatens to exterminate us.”

As for the Central Intelligence Agency director nominee and House of Representatives member Michael Pompeo, he spoke before a research center that thinks that President Barack Obama is a covert agent of the Muslim Brotherhood saying: “The conflict expanded to include not only Muslims involved in act of violence and extremism.”

He added: “We shouldn’t say that all Muslims are bad, but we have to expand the circle of suspicion in order to protect the security and safety of Americans.”

The aforementioned does not differ in essence from what Trump himself said during an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN in last March, when he stated “It’s very hard to separate between radical Islam and Islam. I think that Islam hates us.”

Trump has spoken on several occasions afterwards about Islam and once he went on to call for a temporary ban on Muslims (1.6 billion people) entering the US as a preventive security procedure until measures be taken to protect Americans. He called for the necessity of recording Muslims entering the USA, screening them well and examining the degree of their proximity to extremist ideas.

Trump’s campaign succeeded for a number of reasons, including his flashy, attractive promises. Trump promised to return thousands of jobs and the factories that closed its doors inside America and moved to lower production-cost countries, such as China, India, Mexico and other countries where businessmen get many tempting tax incentives.

Anyone who studied economic principles will perceive the impossibility of executing this election promise, especially in a capitalist country such as the US where politicians don’t show the way to its businessmen but that businessmen are moved by their direct financial interest.

This point is connected with Trump’s promises to abolish free trade treaties which facilitate trade between America and the rest of the world, especially the treaty concerning the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Perhaps Trump may abolish the agreement, but he can’t control the basically booming trade movement between the two sides where there are many uncountable benefits for both parties.

Trump also promised to lower taxes to be 15% only while at the same time pledges flashy promises for renewing the crumbling infrastructure of the US. It is impossible to fulfill both flashy promises simultaneously because the latter needs the former for expenditure.

One of the most important promises Trump has made was building a separating wall on the southern borders with Mexico and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants. Trump may succeed partially in this field. However, this won’t be translated to a prosperous life for millions of angry Americans and it won’t be reflected in creating millions of job opportunities.

The majority of the jobs which illegal immigrants perform most American citizens will not accept and are not attracted to.

Thus, nothing remains of Trump’s big promises except what concerns Islam and Muslims. The promises partially reflect a conviction of the intellectual Samuel Huntington’s (I personally doubt that Trump knows him) theory about the clash of civilisations.

Huntington paid due attention to the Islamic World as a civilisation field that has a strategic location in the world and has burning points of contact with the West. But he didn’t understand how Islam became widespread outside its birthplace in the Arabian Peninsula reaching the heart of Europe and the heart of China on one hand and how the European colonialism affected Islamic countries later and the effects this has left as a direct impact on the contact between the two parties.

On one hand, the twentieth century has complicated the nature of these relations, for the creation of Israel due to efforts of European countries at the beginning before America adopting it and making its security its own objective, had its impact on poisoning the relations with the Islamic peoples with the West.

On the other hand, millions of Arabs and Muslims moved to live in the West, which some estimate their numbers by forty million people. Between this and that the world knew the globalisation and the Information Technology Revolution.

Between this and the acts of violence performed by terrorist groups whose members belong to Islam emerged and became widespread.

Trump recalled the American identity conflict and recalled that America is a White Christian nation only. However, the danger of Trump’s recall transcends other recalls due to America’s brimful track record with military interventions abroad  and specifically in the Middle East, especially that if the expansion of radical groups adopting terrorism is continued.

When the intellectual Samuel Huntington emerged in 1993 with his theory about the clash of civilisations, many poured their anger on him. This man died in 2008 without the controversy concerning his thoughts phasing out for they have ignited universal debates because they touched a sensitive nerve regarding differences and repulsion among great civilisational masses.

Today, Trump has given the kiss of life to Huntington and his controversial and conflict-fueling thoughts.

The writer is a political analyst.





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