Since becoming the 45th president of America in January, Donald Trump has kept the political experts busy finding answers to two questions: what will be the long- and short-term effects of his presidency and how the history will judge his tenure?
As far as the Indian experts are concerned, they have expressed three different views. Some of them believe that Trump’s tenure will be beneficial for India, despite the fact that his character is slightly different from other US presidents. They also believe that Trump will take a tough stance on Pakistan. However, this section of political experts has failed to explain why President Trump excluded Pakistan from his contentious move barring US entry to people from six Muslim-majority nations.
Other Indian experts are of the opinion that Trump’s ‘ultra-nationalism’ will have no long-term impact on the American political culture. They argue that the checks and balances between the three branches of federal government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – are protecting the democracy in the US. Also, the existence of a strong media will safeguard the democracy in America.
However, the matter of fact is that President Trump and his administration are not perturbed by the “checks and balances” system. The president did not hesitate to challenge the judiciary by imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six Muslim-majority nations. Trump also attacked big media houses, like New York Times and Cable News Network (CNN), for criticising his policies and even selectively blocked a number of media outlets from an off-camera briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer in the last week of February.
Only a small section of Indian political experts is trying to explain the Trump presidency from the angel of global geopolitics. They express serious concern over Trump’s “idea of nationalism” (or ultra-nationalism), as they believe that there is no difference between Trump’s nationalism and fascism. These experts opine that fascism or “Trumpism” is not a brainchild of any particular leader, but a wave in the history of politics. This “ism” ruled the world before the WWII. Later, liberalism replaced fascism and gave birth to various global institutions, like The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Bank (WB). Liberalism not only triggered a boom in global trade, but also encouraged people of one country to immigrate to other countries (mainly to explore better economic opportunities). In America, the foreign-born population increased from 6.2% in 1980 to 16% in 2015.
The projection that white Americans will become a minority in the US as early as 2042 has helped Trump win the Presidential Election. He tried to address this particular issue in a different way during his campaign. With the entire world experiencing a change in 2016, the trick helped him get dividends. The exit of Britain from the European Union was a fine example of that change, which tried to replace liberal ideas with nationalist ideas (once again after the WWI).
Currently, the fall of liberalism encourages many ultra-nationalist leaders to grab power in different parts of the world. Trump is one of them. Others are Marine Le Pen in France, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and Geert Wilders in The Netherlands.
After becoming the president, Trump decided to crush the axis of world politics and started targeting the foreign trade. He has already abandoned the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), saying that America is no more interested in maintaining close trade ties with the Pacific nations. The president is also ready to renegotiate North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico as he is interested only in bilateral deals (and not in multilateral deals). ‘Deal’ is Trump’s one of the favourite words. Once, he penned a book – ‘Art of the Deal’. Experts have predicted that Trump’s new ‘deals’ can trigger the fall of WTO and other global institutions, and encourage different countries to go to war over ‘trade and business’. The scenario will be worst in pharmaceutical industry. If President Trump plans to amend the patent acts, then no one will invest in pharmaceutical research. And in the absence of WTO, most of the countries will face dire economic consequences, as they will have to bear excess burden of taxation.
Another worrying factor is Trump’s ‘Russia policy’. During the Cold War, western European countries feared a communist invasion from erstwhile Soviet Union. Now, President Putin, the former KGB official, is trying hard to establish Russia as a major world power once again. Media reports suggest that Putin is not only a “close” friend of Trump, but he also has some “secret” information about his American counterpart. In January, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified version of its report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election. The report, prepared on the basis of the FBI, CIA and NSA’s inputs, says that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US Presidential Election”. According to the report, the Russian agents hacked the personal email accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures as “Putin’s aim was to impugn Hillary Clinton’s credibility and boost Trump’s chances of winning the election”.
Currently, nine countries in the world possess a total of 14,900 nuclear weapons and America and Russia account for 93% of them. President Trump wants to abolish NATO, the anti-Soviet military alliance, in order to please Putin. He also wants to replace the “multi-polar” world order with “bi-polar” system. In such a scenario, a strong co-operation between America and Russia will ultimately allow them to enjoy the superiority once again. That is why President Trump has decided to build up military at the expense of foreign aid and environmental programmes. While presenting his first budget, the president outlined priorities, including a big hike in military spending. The Trump administration even asked the US Congress for a 28% or USD 10.9 billion cut in State Department funding and other international programmes to help pay for the 10% or USD 54 billion hike in military spending next fiscal year.