Friday, February 26, 2016

A Simplistic Prediction

Writing opinion for The National, an English-language outlet based in the UAE, Alan Philips tackles the prediction of what a Trump foreign policy would look like. While I make no argument for Philips' ability to guess the future, there is a certain coherence to his projection.
His seemingly empty slogan, “Make America great again”, embodies the sense that the globalised world is a Darwinian place of all against all. The system of alliances that the US leads is, in his view, a costly Cold War leftover.

According to this logic, foreign policy would be all about the art of the deal. President Trump could make his peace with Russian president Vladimir Putin, whom he admires as a strong leader pursing his own interests. The US and Russia would fight ISIL together. Japan would have to pay for protection against a resurgent China, or go it alone. The Europeans would have to pay for US military support against Russia, either in cash or trade concessions. The Mexicans would have to pay for the construction of a great wall across the border, while millions of undocumented immigrants would be forced back south.
It seems too obvious, doesn't it? Too linear. What Philips has written might well be Trump's instincts vis-a-vis foreign policy. I believe he gives too little credence to the ability of events to constrain and frustrate presidential instinct. It has taken Obama 7+ years to propose a way to close the Guantanamo prison, something he promised he'd do in 2009.