By Yasmeen Aftab AliThe world stood shocked at the unexpected win of Donald Trump President-elect of USA. The man who, a few days ago, was being asked publically to step down from the race. There can be many reasons to explain the win. Americans have respected his rise in business in spite of taking of a loan from his father. Some do not wish America to go into a full-fledged war with Syria whereas Trump spoke of no-fly zone over Syria. Some felt his policies will help a strong economy and more jobs. Many felt for all his drawbacks, he is a bluntly honest man, a view not held about Clinton. Many others felt that his being a businessman will help in better understanding for policies trickledown effect to the common man. Yet others have been inflamed by his strongly biased comments on certain ethnic and religious groups.
When we see the bigger picture, it needs to be remembered that Clinton won the popular vote albeit by a small margin. It is the form of election process via the Electoral College that Trump became the President. The same thing happened with Al Gore. He too won the popular vote and lost the presidency. According to news report people are setting New Balance shoes on fire after company’s pro-Trump comments. (Newsweek 11/10/2016) If the Americans are dissatisfied, they need some major changes in the election process. This does not include a process via the Electoral College.
Reasons aside, the fact remains that Donald Trump is the forty-fifth President elect. Colossal amounts of American tax payers money has been spent in Iraq war, invading and sustaining Afghanistan and the Syrian war. The cost according to an updated estimate is 4.8 trillion dollars in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The American tax payer has spent approximately $11.5 million a day in Syria. These are astronomical amounts that have weakened the American economy. As it would weaken any economy even as large as the American. “The current wars have been paid for almost entirely by borrowing. This borrowing has raised the US budget deficit, increased the national debt, and had other macroeconomic effects, such as raising consumer interest rates. Spending on the wars has involved opportunity costs for the US economy. Although military spending does produce jobs, spending in other areas such as health care could produce more jobs. Additionally, while investment in military infrastructure grew, investment in other, non-military, public infrastructure such as roads and schools did not grow at the same rate.” (Watson Institute, Brown University)
The thrust will be on repealing Obama-care. The important thing would have been to see will be with what it will be replaced with. Soonafter it was reported that Trump likes a lot of what’s is in Obama-care. His plan to restrict number of terms in Congress drew little enthusiasm from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “It will not be on the agenda in the Senate.” Restoring rule of law and protecting the American worker figure high in the initial 100 days of Trump’s presidency. What he must establish by action from the start is to give confidence to all those Americans he ridiculed during his election campaign. This is crucial. He made a pretty good start in his winning speech on talking about a unified America. He must now walk the talk.
One can expect a dramatic shift in foreign policy under President Trump. For the world reeling with shock over a Trump win, his stand to get jobs to where it belongs (read Americans) its bad news for Asian countries from where America draws a big pool of manpower. America should move towards a better relationship with Russia- which would have been difficult under Clinton. Tensions expected to soar between China and America. If Trump decides to impose punitive tariffs, a step more likely than not, it is going to hurt Chinese exporters. China may retaliate by doing the same. Trump is highly unlikely to renew the TTIP with the EU.
Interestingly, President-elect Trump’s website deleted policy on banning Muslims from entering the United States- a statement oft expressed in his election speeches. This was encouraging. It later however reappeared hen journalists questioned it stating it was deleted due to a glitch. Much needs to be done to down play the schisms created. Will he be able to balance these changes with the hate whipped rhetoric of his election speeches?
An interesting development will be to view President-elect Trump’s placing jurists in the Supreme Court with jurists to conservatives’ tastes as the institution stands poised to look at issues ranging from gun control to abortion to immigration.
What is important to Pakistan is to gauge where Trump will stand not just with Pakistan but also with India owing to the complex nature of relationship between both neighbors. The closeness between China and Pakistan will probably lead to a convergence between US and India. Since the Uri incident, India has built upon a narrative to isolate Pakistan from the comity of nations; this may well gain impetus under Trump presidency who has vowed to come down heavily against Islamic radicalism and about creating alliances to crush ISIS. Also the border disputes between India and China make US and India ‘natural allies’ for the region. Though no clear policy has yet been laid out for South Asia, there is a great unease as this is his first stint in government which makes him an unknown quantity. He has been critical of India and he has been very complimentary of India. How he stands with Pakistan in due course will depend largely upon how Pakistan’s role in stemming terrorism is viewed by the White House. Whereas a realistic approach needs to view the bigger picture ie porous border with Afghanistan and instability within, Indian role in sharing the degree of instability in Pakistan, putting these factors aside, greater focus on cleansing members of banned outfits will be needed. America under President Trump is not going to couch her displeasure in diplomatic language. However, one does not see a drastic policy change immediately upon his stepping up.