Trump vic­tory up­ends the in­ter­na­tional or­der

Lesotho Times - - International -

JERUSALEM — Don­ald J. Trump’s stun­ning election vic­tory on Tues­day night rip­pled way be­yond the na­tion’s bound­aries, up­end­ing an in­ter­na­tional or­der that pre­vailed for decades and rais­ing pro­found ques­tions about Amer­ica’s place in the world.

For the first time since be­fore World War II, Amer­i­cans chose a pres­i­dent who promised to re­verse the in­ter­na­tion­al­ism prac­ticed by pre­de­ces­sors of both par­ties and to build walls both phys­i­cal and metaphor­i­cal. Mr Trump’s win fore­shad­owed an Amer­ica more fo­cused on its own af­fairs while leav­ing the world to take care of it­self.

The out­sider rev­o­lu­tion that pro­pelled him to power over the Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment of both po­lit­i­cal par­ties also re­flected a fun­da­men­tal shift in in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics ev­i­denced al­ready this year by events like Britain’s ref­er­en­dum vote to leave the Euro­pean Union. Mr Trump’s suc­cess could fuel the pop­ulist, na­tivist, na­tion­al­ist, closed-bor­der move­ments al­ready so ev­i­dent in Europe and spread­ing to other parts of the world.

Global mar­kets fell af­ter Tues­day’s election and many around the world scram­bled to fig­ure out what it might mean in parochial terms. For Mex­ico, it seemed to presage a new era of con­fronta­tion with its north­ern neigh­bor. For Europe and Asia, it could re­write the rules of mod­ern al­liances, trade deals, and for­eign aid. For the Mid­dle East, it fore­shad­owed a pos­si­ble align­ment with Rus­sia and fresh con­flict with Iran.

“All bets are off,” said Agustín Bar­rios Gómez, a for­mer con­gress­man in Mex­ico and pres­i­dent of the Mex­ico Im­age Foun­da­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing its rep­u­ta­tion abroad.

Crispin Blunt, chair­man of the for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee in Britain’s House of Com­mons, said, “We are plunged into un­cer­tainty and the un­known.”

Many linked Mr Trump’s vic­tory to the Bri­tish vote to exit the Euro­pean Union and saw a broader un­rav­el­ing of the mod­ern in­ter­na­tional sys­tem. “Af­ter Brexit and this election, ev­ery­thing is now pos­si­ble,” Gérard Araud, the French am­bas­sador to the United States, wrote on Twit­ter. “A world is col­laps­ing be­fore our eyes.”

The election en­thralled peo­ple around the world on Tues­day night: night owls watch­ing tele­vi­sion in a youth hos­tel in Tel Aviv; com­puter tech­ni­cians mon­i­tor­ing re­sults on their lap­tops in Hong Kong; and even one­time oil pipe­line ter­ror­ists in Nige­ria’s re­mote Delta creeks, who ex­pressed con­cern about how Mr Trump’s election would af­fect their coun­try.

It is hardly sur­pris­ing that much of the world was root­ing for Hil­lary Clin­ton over Mr Trump, who char­ac­ter­ized his for­eign pol­icy as “Amer­ica First.”

He promised to build a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der and tem­po­rar­ily bar Mus­lim im­mi­grants from en­ter­ing the United States. He ques­tioned Wash­ing­ton’s long­stand­ing com­mit­ment to NATO al­lies, called for cut­ting for­eign aid, praised Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia, vowed to rip up in­ter­na­tional trade deals, as­sailed China and sug­gested Asian al­lies de­velop nu­clear weapons.

Polls in­di­cated that Mrs. Clin­ton was fa­vored in many coun­tries, with the ex­cep­tion of Rus­sia. Last sum­mer, the Pew Re­search Cen­ter found that peo­ple in all 15 coun­tries it sur­veyed trusted Mrs. Clin­ton to do the right thing in for­eign af­fairs more than Mr Trump by ra­tios as high as 10 to one.

Mr Trump’s prom­ise to pull back mil­i­tar­ily and eco­nom­i­cally left many over­seas con­tem­plat­ing a road ahead with­out an Amer­i­can ally.

“The ques­tion is whether you will con­tinue to be in­volved in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs as a de­pend­able ally to your friends and al­lies,” said Ku­ni­hiko Miyake, a for­mer Ja­panese diplo­mat now teach­ing at Rit­sumeikan Univer­sity in Ky­oto. “If you stop do­ing that, then all the Euro-

pean, Mid­dle East­ern and Asian al­lies to the United States will re­con­sider how they se­cure them­selves.”

In Ger­many, where Amer­i­can troops have been sta­tioned for more than seven decades, the prospect of a pull­back seemed be­wil­der­ing. “It would be the end of an era,” Hen­rik Müller, a jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sor at the Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity of Dort­mund, wrote in Der Spiegel. “The post­war era in which Amer­i­cans’ atomic weapons and its mil­i­tary pres­ence in Europe shielded first the west and later the cen­tral Euro­pean states would be over. Europe would have to take care of its own se­cu­rity.”

Nor­bert Röttgen, chair­man of the Ger­man par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee for for­eign pol­icy and a mem­ber of the rul­ing party, said Mr Trump was “com­pletely in­ad­e­quate” to his

of­fice. “That Trump’s election could lead to the worst es­trange­ment be­tween Amer­ica and Europe since the Viet­nam War would be the least of the dam­age,” he said.

Per­haps nowhere was Mr Trump’s win more alarm­ing than in Mex­ico, which has ob­jected to his prom­ises to build a wall and bill Amer­ica’s south­ern neigh­bor for it.

“I see a clear and present dan­ger,” said Ros­sana Fuentes-be­rain, direc­tor of the Mex­ico Me­dia Lab, a think tank, and a founder of the Latin Amer­i­can edi­tion of For­eign Af­fairs. “Ev­ery mo­ment will be a chal­lenge. Ev­ery move or dec­la­ra­tion will be some­thing that will not make us com­fort­able in the neigh­bor­hood — and that is to ev­ery­one’s detri­ment.”

With about $531 bil­lion in trade in goods last year, Mex­ico is Amer-

ica’s third-largest part­ner af­ter Canada and China. Sup­ply chains in both coun­tries are in­ter­de­pen­dent, with Amer­i­can goods and parts shipped to Mex­i­can fac­to­ries to build prod­ucts that are shipped back into the United States for sale. Five mil­lion Amer­i­can jobs di­rectly de­pend on trade with Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to the Mex­ico In­sti­tute.

The Mex­i­can peso im­me­di­ately fell 13 per­cent af­ter the election, its big­gest drop in decades. Mr Bar­rios Gómez, the for­mer con­gress­man, pre­dicted a short-term peso de­val­u­a­tion of 20 per­cent and a Mex­i­can re­ces­sion “as sup­ply chains across the con­ti­nent be­come scle­rotic and in­vest­ments dry up.” The busi­ness com­mu­nity, he said, was “freak­ing out.”

The eco­nomic fall­out will prob­a­bly re­ver­ber­ate far­ther. Izumi Ko- bayashi, vice chair­woman of Keizai Doyukai, a Ja­panese busi­ness group, pre­dicted a drop in for­eign in­vest­ment in the United States as ex­ec­u­tives skep­ti­cal of Mr Trump wait to see what he does.

“He has been fo­cus­ing on the neg­a­tive side of the global mar­kets and glob­al­iza­tion,” Ms. Kobayashi said. “But at the same time it is re­ally dif­fi­cult to go back to the old busi­ness world. So how will he ex­plain to the peo­ple that ben­e­fit and also the fact that there is no op­tion to go back to the old model of busi­ness?”

The un­easi­ness with Mr Trump’s vic­tory over­seas ranged far be­yond the coun­try’s tra­di­tional part­ners. Abubakar Kari, a po­lit­i­cal-sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Abuja, said most Nige­ri­ans be­lieved a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would not bother with is­sues out­side the United States.

“If Trump wins, God for­bid,” Macharia Gaitho, one of Kenya’s most pop­u­lar colum­nists, wrote on Tues­day be­fore the votes came in, “then we will have to re­assess our re­la­tions with the United States.”

One of the few places where Mr Trump’s vic­tory was greeted en­thu­si­as­ti­cally was Rus­sia, where state­con­trolled tele­vi­sion has been feast­ing on the cir­cus­like el­e­ments of the Amer­i­can election. Not since the Cold War has Rus­sia played such a big role in a pres­i­den­tial election, with Mr Trump prais­ing Mr Putin and Amer­i­can in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­clud­ing that Rus­sians had hacked Demo­cratic email mes­sages.

“Trump’s pres­i­dency will make the U.S. sink into a full-blown cri­sis, in­clud­ing an eco­nomic one,” said Vladimir Frolov, a Rus­sian columnist and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs an­a­lyst. “The U.S. will be oc­cu­pied with its own is­sues and will not bother Putin with ques­tions.”

“As a con­se­quence,” he added, “Moscow will have a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity in geopo­lit­i­cal terms. For in­stance, it can claim con­trol over the for­mer Soviet Union and a part of the Mid­dle East. What is there not to like?”

Oth­ers tried to find the up­side. Mr Blunt, the Bri­tish law­maker, said he was heart­ened by Mr Trump’s se­lec­tion of Gov. Mike Pence of In­di­ana as his run­ning mate and thought that Britain might be the ex­cep­tion to the new pres­i­dent’s hos­til­ity to­ward trade deals.

Is­rael was an­other place where Mr Trump en­joyed some sup­port, mainly be­cause of the per­cep­tion that he would give the coun­try a freer hand in its han­dling of the long­stand­ing con­flict with the Pales­tini­ans. But Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and other Is­raeli lead­ers and com­men­ta­tors wor­ried about a broader dis­en­gage­ment from a Mid­dle East awash in war, ter­ror­ism and up­heaval.

“De­ci­sions can­not be postponed,” said Yo­hanan Plesner, a for­mer mem­ber of the Is­raeli Par­lia­ment now serv­ing as pres­i­dent of the Is­rael Democ­racy In­sti­tute.

“The sit­u­a­tion in Syria is very chaotic. The un­rest in the re­gion is con­tin­u­ing. Amer­ica has to de­cide whether it wants to play an ac­tive role in shap­ing the de­vel­op­ments of the re­gion.”

And even some coun­tries that might ex­pect to see some ben­e­fits from an Amer­i­can re­treat wor­ried about the im­pli­ca­tions. Coun­ter­in­tu­itive as it might seem, China was con­cerned about Mr Trump’s prom­ise to pull Amer­i­can troops back from Asia.

“If he in­deed with­draws the troops from Ja­pan, the Ja­panese may de­velop their own nu­clear weapons,” said Shen Dingli, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai.

“South Korea may also go nu­clear if Trump can­cels the mis­sile de­ploy­ment and leaves the coun­try alone fac­ing the North’s threats. How is that good for China?”

For Amer­i­can vot­ers, that was not the point. Af­ter decades of wor­ry­ing about what was good for other coun­tries, they de­cided it was time to worry about what was good for Amer­ica. And Mr Trump promised to do just that, even if the rest of the world might not like it.

Don­ald J. Trump’s win fore­shad­owed an amer­ica more fo­cused on its own af­fairs while leav­ing the world to take care of it­self.

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