The many faces of Donald

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Image: Gage Skidmore

DONALD TRUMP’S staggering election victory on 8 November shocked the world. Commentators from evey country have questioned whether the President-Elect will make good on the many radical policy proposals which coloured his controversial campaign. Of particular concern is his promise to “rip up” the Paris Climate Change Agreement; to build a great wall along the southern border with Mexico and to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US.

Nonetheless, it is clear that numerous high profile policies may not come to fruition. The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, stated in the aftermath of Trump’s victory that a wall was “not part of [Mexico’s] vision” and that Mexico will not, therefore, pay for the wall. In addition, the policy of halting Muslim immigration into the US disappeared from Trump’s programme within hours of being elected; he has seemingly done a U-turn and abandoned one of his flagship election pledges. In light of this change in direction on such key policies, commentators are beginning to question whether Trump will indeed “rip up the Paris Peace Agreement”.

As the US produces more carbon dioxide in metric tonnes than the EU, its part in the international agreement to reduce CO2 levels is in dire need of safeguarding. Europe’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete, described the agreement as “the last chance” to save the planet. This begs the question: will other primary polluters such as Russia drop out of the Paris Agreement, or will they affirm their commitment to the policy? Currently, only speculation can answer this question.

The Kremlin could soon no longer have an enemy to unify its public against.

Nevertheless, there are greater questions on whether the arch-rival dynamic of Russia and the US is likely to change. Senior officials have largely treated Trump’s victory with caution, especially Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who urged the Russian people to wait for the new President to act before indulging his rhetoric. Yet, the maverick billionaire does seem to show a greater desire to forge an alliance and make peace with the Kremlin to end the conflict in Syria and defeat ISIS, especially as Russian and American relations are as hot as they have been since Stalin and Truman.

Trump’s desire to mend relations between the old Cold War rivals could perhaps show his indifference towards Putin’s alleged war crimes in the Middle East. Russia is accused of murdering thousands of civilians in Syria since it began its intervention in the country to support President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015.

The thought of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin ‘getting cosy’ is worrying to many of the US’ allies, including the UK and France, as they fear the direction NATO will follow and whether this new relationship could undermine the Russian political system. The Kremlin could soon no longer have an enemy to unify its public against, which has served as a useful distraction from sluggish economic growth in recent years. Russian foreign policy revolves greatly around notions of the big American ‘bogeyman’, hence the relief of tensions with the west could cause a significant shift in Russian domestic politics.

Donald Trump’s election victory presents numerous questions, creating an atmosphere of unpredictability which permeates a multitude of social, economic and political areas. Whether Trump will continue with the manifesto that he proclaimed during the campaign trail, or if his approach will become more moderate, is a question that will only be answered with time. The stakes are high: the decisions taken during the coming years will have a lasting impact on our planet and will continue to mould the state of global affairs. One thing is for sure: as the first President of the US voted in with no prior military or political experience, the President-Elect is going to have a gruelling few months learning about how to be a successful President from a man 15 years his minor.

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