Print
Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article

It is difficult to remember a more heated race to the White House on both sides, Republican and Democratic. While Hillary Clinton has been embarrassingly defeated by Bernie Sanders in 13 states, Donald Trump has so far gained 739 delegates, a significant lead over Ted Cruz (465) and John Kasich (143). Important candidates such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who were favoured by the establishment, have left the race. Will The Donald make it to the Republican nomination? Who is going to support him? Who are his men (and women)? Who is going to work with him on foreign policy?

 

After the time of gaffes, embarrassing jokes, and blunders, The Donald now has to show gravitas. He has to prove he can be a reliable Commander-in-Chief and a good statesman. This is no easy task for somebody with little political experience. Yet he will at least try, also because the White House race is open; in a different sense, Hillary is in fact a controversial candidate, too. Can the Republican Party stop him? There are rumours that traps may be awaiting for Trump, if he does not reach the required threshold for the nomination (1,237 delegates). Having said that, it is difficult to imagine the Party would not nominate him if he came first; that would tarnish the image of a party which has already lost credibility after promoting candidates such as Jeb Bush or Rubio. It would be too much for an already criticised US democracy. The only way to avoid Mr Trump’s nomination would be Mr Cruz’s fight back; but the latter seems to be even more eccentric and idiosyncratic than the tycoon from New York.

 

Apart from gravitas, now The Donald needs a team. He often boasts about his smart brain, but…probably it would work better with a serious team. His victory chances would probably be higher if he included African Americans, Hispanics, and women; all of them would otherwise likely turn to Hillary. One Black former candidate who has endorsed Trump and might be a potential collaborator is for instance the controversial neurosurgeon, Ben Carson. Among the billionaires and businesspeople that have official endorsed The Donald, two deserve a mention: the octogenarian New York-based investor, Carl Icahn, and Robert Kraft, another real estate and finance mogul. Trump is rather popular in his own industry, particularly in the North-East, but what about other sectors and issues? More specifically: who would support him on foreign policy?

 

After a long wait, Trump released five names of his possible foreign policy team in a 21 March meeting with the Board of The Washington Post (link). Many commentators feel disappointed; after all, none of the five is particularly famous; yet the choices reveal some key directions. Two of them come from the energy sector: George Papadopoulos, a London-based analyst, and Carter Page, who has experience in Moscow and is considered an expert on the Caspian Sea resources (link). Together with energy, Trump has selected two experts on military affairs (Mr Kellogg, who played a role in Iraq’s administration in 2003/04, and Joseph E. Schmitz, a controversial member of Bush Jr’s administration: link) and one on terrorism, Walid Phares, a rather hawkish Lebanese Christian. What is the common denominator of this otherwise diverse group of people?

 

They share a quite unusual (in recent US traditions) approach to foreign affairs; an approach which is realist more than ‘isolationist’, as is often repeated, and seems to be gradually taking shape in Mr Trump’s speeches and declarations. When Trump says ‘America First’, he does not really mean ‘exit’ or ‘withdrawal’ from world affairs. After all, ascetic isolation is not really one of his best-known virtues. The Donald wants to return to a pragmatic, old-style realism, getting rid of expensive (and useless) wars and pricey allies. These themes have sometimes surfaced during his campaign and have been amply clarified in a recent interview with The New York Times (link). After all, why should US taxpayers be burdened by massive expenditures to protect Japan, support the Al-Saud dynasty, or…help Europeans against terrorism? The EU will have to learn how to protect itself, which will not be an easy task, if we consider the mistakes countries like France and Belgium have made in fighting it. Trump’s America will have to be smarter in conducting foreign affairs, and focus only on a few priorities. The author of ‘The Art of the Deal’ promises to be a tough negotiator with China, and to stop subsidising unreliable or expensive partners such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Japan or the EU countries. It has been noticed that his approach has something in common with that of Nixon/Kissinger or even Ted Roosevelt, all figures whose cynical realism shared little with the American traditions of spreading democracy and other special missions.

 

Whoever will enter the White House, it is clear that the Americans want more politics. Decades of market hangover are taking a toll. Trump’s recipes might be populist and unsophisticated, and Hillary has been in the establishment for too much time. Yet these are the candidates America’s main parties have proposed, and other ‘big names’ – in the Republican camp – have miserably failed. It is time US institutions ‘wake up’ and give answers to voters’ needs. Otherwise, it will be late, for America and the world as a whole.

Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article
 
For business
For researchers
For students