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Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the USA. If we leave aside gossip and personalisations, and try to focus on the forces that are supporting his presidency, what can we say about Trump Administration’s real programme? In particular, what will change in US foreign affairs?

 

In domestic politics, Trump’s aims appear rather clear. ‘Great America’ means first of all ‘industrial America’. In the Presidential Address (20 January), Mr Trump used many times words such as ‘jobs’, ‘factories’, ‘industry’, and references to a range of infrastructures – highways, harbours, railways, airports, and so on. Jobs have to come back from China and other world regions, and after all the new President has to accommodate the interests of the white working class who surprisingly voted for him (would they have voted Mr Sanders if the latter had been chosen by the Democrats in Hillary’s place?).

 

That said, Trump is not only the candidate of ‘industrial America’, which in several sectors (the ‘Silicon Valley’ for example) has remained quite wary of him. ‘Wall Street’ is represented by Steven Mnuchin, former Chief Information Officer of Goldman Sachs, and Gary Cohn, Director of the National Economic Council and former top executive with the same investment bank. The energy sector can count on Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil (2006-16) and now Secretary of State – a highly coveted position. Generals Mattis (a hawk with strong intellectual credentials) and Kelly have taken over Defense and Homeland Security, while the controversial, Mike Flynn, will be National Security Advisor. These choices already suggest what kind of foreign policy the Trump Administration will likely pursue.

 

China will become Mr Trump’s main foreign focus. After all, its economy is already larger than the USA’s in PPP terms, and keeps growing at a 6-7% annual rate. China’s military is far behind America’s, but is growing very fast, too. And of course lots of US corporations have de-localised to China, which however is a major holder of US debt. Will China become the world’s next hegemon? A lot depends on this presidency. While Mr Obama and Hillary talked about the ‘Asia pivot’ but did little, Mr Trump seems resolved to face these issues head-on. This does not mean that the USA will necessarily be more confrontational – Trump is after all a pragmatic businessman. Yet trade and currency wars might become more common and the logic of international affairs, more assertive. Mr Trump will likely try to insulate China from its current partners (e.g., Russia) and potential opponents (Japan and perhaps India, both important trade partners of Beijing), according to a logic of ‘divide and rule’ (so to speak) by which ‘my enemy’s enemy’ becomes ‘my friend’. Will ‘The Donald’ try to dig a trench (or…’build a wall’) between India and China? Or between Russia and China? Or between Indonesia (where the economy is in fact controlled by a wealthy Chinese community) and China?

 

A rapprochement between America and Russia is very likely. Mr Tillerson has strong ties with Russia and, as an experienced oil executive, can help co-operation in that crucial sector. Yet co-operation with Russia can also be a way to drag Moscow away from Beijing and collaborate in the fight against terror. Together with Turkey and Iran, Russia is currently attempting to stabilise the Middle East (see the current talks in Astana: http://www.globalresearch.ca/astana-peace-talks-west-losing-its-influence-in-middle-east/5571471), where the USA has lost clout since the misguided operations in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Of course better relations with Russia mean Washington should stop pushing for NATO’s (and EU’s) further Eastern enlargement.

 

Trump’s remarks on NATO’s ‘obsolescence’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38635181) have somehow shocked European capitals, but they should not really come as a surprise. After all, the NATO is obsolete. What is its purpose after the Cold War’s end? Maybe it could really become more helpful by switching to an alliance fighting terror or globally organised crime. Unfortunately, similar observations are valid for the EU, at least in its current form. Bruxelles has forced millions of Southern and Eastern Europeans (and not only) into poverty and mainly served Germany’s economic interests, with the rather unpleasant result that Berlin itself has to now face the rise of right-wing authoritarianism. In 2017 there will be polls in The Netherlands, France, and Germany, and populist, nationalist, right-wing parties are on the rise in all countries. Yet a further divided Europe will become even weaker among larger neighbours. Would Germany’s industry – also shaken by scandals such as Volkswagen’s – be able to compete with re-industrialising US, China, Russia, Japan, and soon India as well?

 

The EU will also have to better deal with its Eastern neighbours, starting with the Middle East. The USA, after burning its fingers in the ‘Arab Spring’, will likely stay away, and Russia, with the help of Turkey and Iran, can provide help in the region. Where is the EU, which after all is desperately attempting to accommodate millions of refugees (mainly and sadly called in by Mrs Merkel for her own electoral purposes???)?

 

Times of difficult choices are approaching. How will relations between the USA, China, and Russia unfold? What will happen to the EU and the Euro, once Mr Draghi’s QE Programme will subside? Will terrorism be defeated, at least in Syria and Iraq? Will emerging countries (the BRICS) keep rising? Now Mr Trump and his crew have the floor – it is time to wait and see.

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