Tough years ahead

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Amer­ica and the world will not be the same again. Don­ald Trump left no doubt about that with his speech on Fri­day. First of all, he is dif­fer­ent. He rode the anti-es­tab­lish­ment wave that has swept the West; and it ap­pears that he didn’t sim­ply do it “pro­fes­sion­ally” us­ing ex­treme rhetoric and slo­gans as tools. The rage, em­a­nat­ing from his pre­elec­tion ral­lies and his no­to­ri­ous late night tweets, was also on dis­play at the mo­ment of his ul­ti­mate tri­umph. Many be­lieved he would stretch out his hand to ev­ery­one stand­ing op­po­site him. He didn’t. That’s per­haps be­cause he’s not made of the same stuff as other pres­i­dents. The way he sees Amer­ica’s global role, trade, the se­cu­rity grid, US obli­ga­tions, is rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent to what we’ve known since the end of World War II. Europe and the world will go through four dif­fi­cult and ad­ven­tur­ous years. Pro­tec­tion­ism will cast doubts over the sys­tem of glob­al­iza­tion. Amer­ica’s dis­en­tan­gle­ment from its ba­sic obli­ga­tions will cre­ate a new sit­u­a­tion; one which we can’t even be­gin to imag­ine now. For us in Greece it means that there will be no one in the White House who cares about Europe, and who will pick up the phone to speak to An­gela Merkel about the need for Greece to re­main in the euro. He’s not in­ter­ested in a united Europe, which was a fun­da­men­tal pil­lar of Amer­i­can pol­icy. At the same time, we will also have a new war to root out rad­i­cal Is­lam. And this change will im­pact us. Some be­lieve that Amer­ica needed a re­boot; that, in other words, it needed a leader who would lib­er­ate it from the ex­ces­sive con­straints on busi­ness and lay em­pha­sis on pro­duc­tion and the cre­ation of in­fra­struc­ture. Ac­cord­ing to this the­ory, Trump may an­noy us Euro­peans and half of Amer­ica aes­thet­i­cally, ide­o­log­i­cally and in terms of per­cep­tion, but he will serve as a cat­a­lyst for changes that are needed. Maybe they’re right and he is a rougher­round-the-edges ver­sion of Ron­ald Rea­gan. But there’s also an­other the­ory, whereby Amer­ica en­ters a phase of de­cline rem­i­nis­cent of Rome in its twi­light. Trump prom­ises a re­turn to an ideal grandeur but he will be the pres­i­dent that will make Amer­ica small, in­ward-look­ing and iso­lated. Be­sides, he rep­re­sents the “plas­tic” and su­per­fi­cial as­pects of the Mid­dle Amer­ica beyond its two coasts. It’s too early to draw con­clu­sions. Trump may be the an­gry and un­pre­dictable politi­cian but he will gov­ern with ex­ec­u­tives of Gold­man Sachs and Exxon. The deep es­tab­lish­ment in Congress and in the se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus will re­main. Amer­ica is a coun­try that, up un­til now, re­spects its in­sti­tu­tions. What is cer­tain is that the West will en­ter a new phase. And we will all feel the reper­cus­sions, es­pe­cially in Greece, the West’s weak­est link.

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