The commander in chief of the United States, the 45th President Donald Trump, has launched since his inauguration last week a flurry of executive orders to fulfill some of his campaign promises. However, some of his measures portend to turn him into an isolationist in chief who will push the US into further retreat and loss of prestige and influence on the global arena. This is exactly what the Russian leadership had been dreaming of when it espoused Trump’s candidacy, hoping that he would turn out to be America’s Yeltsin, the former Russian president whom America used to dismantle the Soviet empire, the event Moscow believes happened and wants to avenge. China too is gearing up to benefit from the Trump’s tenure, as he is unwittingly pursuing a course of action that will fuel China’s ascendancy, to the point that it may well replace the US as leader of the world. However, the US establishment may not allow the president, no matter who he is, to precipitate these two radical developments, and perhaps this explains the increasing talk about the possibility of impeaching Trump. However, there is a lot of distrust and confusion over how President Trump intends to fulfill Candidate Trump’s often-fantastic promises. The man had challenged all traditional politics, and captured the US presidency against the will of the political elite and senior Republicans, catching pollsters, pundits, think-tanks, intelligence agencies, and the media off guard with his surreal plans. President Trump has not reneged on the pledges of Candidate Trump as soon as he entered the White House; quite the contrary, he has delivered already on some promises since his inauguration. He has disappointed those who had dreamt the post would change the man, and stuck to his confidence that it will be the other way around, that the man will change the post of the president of the world’s pre-eminent power.
Everything is in flux. Everyone is watching as he signs executive order after order, while seeming to enjoy that unique power. The European allies are splitting to the tune of Trumpism, especially in light of his mockery and dismissal of the European Union and NATO. Trump has also ignored German Chancellor Angela Merkel, currently the most powerful leader in Europe, even though he has already spoken to the leaders of Canada, Mexico, Israel, Egypt, and India, and met with the British prime minister on Friday night.
The US president is also preparing to move against the UN, possibly by blocking US financial contributions, radically impacting things like peacekeeping operations. But first and foremost, he is trying to blow up the world order built on this and other institutions. So what is behind Trump’s coup and who is it directed against? Can he overturn American democracy and institutions? And why does Trump want to turn the US into an isolationist, exclusionist power in the world, and a deeply divided nation at risk of civil war at home?
Completely different questions are on the mind of Donald Trump and his supporters. He wants to be the dealmaker-in-chief, to put America on top of all other countries. Trump and his supporters speak about making America great again, but to them this could mean making others less great, economically, politically, and militarily, and force them to submit to US ‘greatness’.
The most important weapon in Trump’s arsenal to execute his ideology are the men who resemble him, including America’s billionaire businessmen. Wall Street has rallied to his banner, even in the midst of his battle with the media, intelligence community, women, Native Americans, Mexicans, Muslims he needs for his war on ISIS, and China.
Meanwhile, the most potent weapon against trump is America’s women, backed by women around the world. The huge march attended by millions around the world following Trump’s inauguration is testament to the intent to challenge him and not remain silent about his abuses, particularly of basic rights and liberties. Congress will not sit idly by either; some Republicans are angry against the new president’s actions, which will make Democratic opposition in both houses more potent.
The media is also fighting an unprecedented public war with the president, Donald Trump. Civil rights advocates and proponents of international commitments are feeling a sense of panic, as the president speaks of things like the viability of torture of terror suspects.
Meanwhile, the men and women the president has nominated to key cabinet posts, including the State Dept., the Department of Defense, National Security Council, the Justice Department, the UN ambassadorship, and other cabinet and diplomatic posts, are not all on the same page as the president on several issues: From the relationship with Russia, the nuclear deal with Iran, the wall with Mexico, to abolishing trade deals, challenging the One China Policy, and the ban on Muslim immigration.
The restrictions that President Trump has imposed on immigrants from Iraq, Syria, and other countries, have caused concern among US military officials and not just defenders of refugees and immigrants. It is a message to those fighting ISIS and its ilk in Iraq and Syria, in line with Trump’s priority, that the US does not appreciate their sacrifices, has no wish to host them or welcome them, only because they are Muslims in areas affected by the war on terror. This has caused concertation among the top brass, who fear the enthusiasm of Muslim anti-ISIS fighters could take a hit as a result of the ban.
The measures ordered by President Trump on undocumented immigrants in the United States, who number nearly 11 million, threatens to cause huge grudges in the American melting pot. His rush to approve the construction of pipelines that his predecessor had red-lighted, Keystone XL and North Dakota, threatens to antagonize Native Americans through whose territories the pipelines. In addition, Donald Trump is challenging the major cities he accuses of ‘harboring illegal immigrants’, and threatening to send the Feds in. All these issues are causing major concerns and risk setting off sedition and even civil war.
Donald Trump, who has antagonized much of the American public and the world, is nevertheless confident that he is strong with his combination of populism and billionaire-elitism. It is a new combination in the American landscape, and will be surely tested. It is a new language in the American lexicon, based on the «art of the deal» by the «man of the deal». Perhaps this will succeed in restoring America’s absolute power and leadership of the world, and take the globe into a new era. Or perhaps it will end American influence in the world, and pave the way for China’s supreme ascendancy, while Russia consolidates its position in this configuration, finally taking revenge against America.
Donald Trump is not just an unprecedented phenomenon in US history. He is challenging America and the world to reinvent themselves, and gambling the house on this: either build something new and fantastic, or terrifyingly shred the US and the world order without an alternative except chaos, war, and loss.