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How Donald Trump Will Change the World ─ Part 1

12/10/2016 Anant Goel & Alan Kyle Goel

A staggering restructuring of power around the world is coming… especially to the volatile Asian region. On November 8, Donald Trump shocked much of the world by winning the United States presidential election. In a little over one month, a man with little-to-no political experience will take the helm of the world’s mightiest nation. In the wake of this unexpected event, nations around the world are beginning to ask: What does this mean for me?

Why does it Matter

Presidential race in the United States was clearly the most important election anywhere in the world since the two German elections of 1932… with reference to the parliamentary elections that ultimately resulted in Adolf Hitler coming to power.

“No other election has had the capacity to completely overturn the international order─ the global economy, geopolitics, etc.”

I’m not saying that Trump is equivalent to Nazis in Germany─ to their rise. But since those elections, I think there’s never been an election where so much is riding on how a major power would behave in the world. What’s unique about this election is that Trump has a very, very different notion of American foreign policy and [America’s] global role, and would dramatically change U.S. foreign policy when sworn-in as President. Since the world is essentially organized around American power and American intentions, that would have an enormously disruptive effect. I think you need to go back, in terms of elections just totally unraveling the status quo, to the ’30s. Obviously that was a much more severe case of disruption.

Throughout this campaign, as others have dismissed Donald Trump’s foreign-policy views as incoherent and ill-informed, we take those views [and core beliefs] seriously and sought to place them in an ideological and historical context. Sifting through Trump’s public statements about international affairs since the 1980s, it can be concluded that Donald Trump actually has a consistent worldview unlike anything expressed by a major-party U.S. presidential nominee since America became a superpower.

Trump’s isolationist ideology has three components: 1) opposition to U.S. alliances; 2) opposition to free trade; and 3) support for authoritarianism. These three beliefs, if translated into policy in a Trump administration, could do away with the liberal international order that the United States helped design after World War II and has led ever since. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, was a more conventional U.S. presidential candidate committed to preserving that order.

But are the stakes really that high? Defining the “stakes” of an election is, to some extent, a political exercise. Plus, what specifically is the “U.S.-led international order”─ or is it really worth preserving?”

What about Other US Presidents from Mid 20th Century

The elections of America’s most influential presidents, like Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower, who shaped [today’s international] system? Or Russia’s first free election, after the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1991! Or even the year 2000 U.S. election, which resulted in a President George W. Bush, who launched the Iraq War? Those are just some examples from two of the world’s great powers.

Set aside the Russian example; with the other U.S. elections, it was all within a general framework of U.S. strategy and U.S. foreign policy─ bipartisan agreement. Certainly from Truman on, they all agreed on the importance of a global role for the United States, the alliance system, institutional order, and containment of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There were differences about how to execute the strategy, but there were agreements on the core principles.

Trump Chosen by the Majority of US Electorate

This U.S. election had a choice that’s never been offered before, where Hillary Clinton offered continuity of that old strategy and Donald Trump, by his own admission, is looking to completely overturn it and to bring in something very, very different. You have to go back to before the [Second World] War to find any major [U.S.] politician, or any major nominee making the foreign-policy argument that Trump is making, which is, essentially, an isolationist foreign policy.

Trump Foreign Policy

Characterized as loose cannon, Donald Trump has left many nations unsure of what his foreign policy will look like. Two policies in particular caught the world’s attention. Throughout his campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly remarked that it was time for America to stop policing the world. Too much money and blood has been spent, with little gained in return, in his view. Added to that, he made it clear that he would only support America’s allies if they agreed to pay their share. He feels that America should not have to foot the bill for other nations’ security.

As a man who has spent his entire life in business, Mr. Trump’s view of the world seems to be limited to cost and benefit. To “Make America Great Again,” he intends to retreat from the world stage as a means of cutting costs, bring jobs back to America to increase profits, and keep foreign military bases open only if the return is good. However, Trump knows foreign policy is more than a business transaction.

There are a lot of areas in which Trump has no fixed view and in which he contradicts himself, but there [is] a core set of visceral beliefs that he’s had for many years and he’s not deviated from. The first is that he is opposed to America’s alliance arrangements with other countries. The second is that he opposes free trade and favors a more mercantilist international economic system. And the third is that he has this fondness for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia. Those three things─ there’s evidence for them going back to the mid-1980s, and he’s persisted with them at often high political cost.

The question is whether or not Trump would moderate or abandon those views. We have no way of knowing. But at his age, at 70 years old, having held these beliefs for the better part of 30 years, he’s unlikely to change his mind on his policy when he hasn’t so far.

Trump Foreign Policy: Opposition to America’s Alliance with other Countries

You have opinions, but what evidence are you relying on to draw that conclusion?

The first is this famous letter he wrote in a full-page ad in The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post in 1987, which detailed his views on American foreign policy and defense policy. It’s all about his frustration at Japan, Saudi Arabia, and others─ that the U.S. had to defend them and that they were taking advantage of the United States and that they should pay for their own security. He’s made that point in interviews over the years and [it’s been] a feature of the Trump campaign.

The question is whether that means he wants others to pay a little more, or whether he opposes the alliances overall. I’m of the view that he opposes them overall for a few reasons:
  • The first is that he has said that the U.S. has no strategic interest in being in Asia militarily.
  • He said NATO’s original mission is obsolete─ so he doesn’t seem to see any need for the U.S. [military] to be forwardly present—and he’s said that the U.S. should only do that if others pay. When he talks about payment, we often think he means [other countries spending at least] 2 percent of their GDP [on defense]. But actually what he seems to mean is that he judges the cost [as] the cost of the U.S. presence in those regions. So it’s the cost of having [U.S. Pacific Command] and the Seventh Fleet [in Japan and South Korea], or having the U.S. Army in Europe.
  • He said at the Center for the National Interest speech that the cost to the United States of these alliances was in the trillions of dollars. You only get to trillions of dollars if you’re counting in hundreds of billions per year.
  • If he was to go to the Germans or the Japanese and demand hundreds of billions of dollars a year, they would not be able or willing to do that. And that would give him a pretext to unilaterally suspend [America’s security] guarantees or simply say he wouldn’t uphold them.
  • Even to Oprah in the late ’80s, he said that the U.S. should only defend Kuwait if Kuwait paid 25 percent of its oil profits to the U.S., [since Kuwait] only existed because of U.S. protection. It’s a much more imperial version of U.S. hegemony. It’s nothing like Barack] Obama’s burden-sharing comments [about U.S. allies].

How it Effects Regions and Countries of the World

One region of the world in particular is taking special interest in Trump, now that he’s the president-elect: Asia. With many smaller nations in the region depending on America as a deterrent to Chinese expansion, their security hangs on whether Mr. Trump follows through on his campaign promises. Following are just a few of the nations taking note.

Japan

The land of the rising sun has been an integral part of America’s foreign policy. In a desire to curtail Japanese expansionism shown in World War II, America introduced Article 9 into the Japanese Constitution, revoking Japan’s right to a conventional military. Officially, Japan has only a self-defense force with strict limits. America promised to provide military force in the event of a foreign invasion.

Following the Communist takeover of China in 1949, Japan proved to be a strategic buffer for America. From Japan, America could limit China’s expansion throughout Southeast Asia.

In the 70 years since the end of World War II, America has slowly loosened its grip on Japan’s military restrictions, but always recognized its strategic importance in projecting power to the region. With Donald Trump, that could all change.

During the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump singled out Japan as a nation that the U.S. would stop defending if it didn’t pay up: “Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia… we defend countries. They do not pay us. But they should be paying us because we are providing tremendous service, and we’re losing a fortune. … We can’t defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million[s].”

Comments like these are making many in Japan nervous. Japan is currently locked in a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands. Should America abandon the region, Japan would be unable to defend itself against China.

But what is more troubling is President-elect Trump’s solution to the situation. Not wanting to leave Japan high and dry, Mr. Trump believes allowing Japan access to nuclear power would be a sufficient deterrent to cover America’s retreat from the nation. In a town hall meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, earlier this year, Mr. Trump commented, “You have so many countries already—China, Pakistan, … Russia— … right now that have [nuclear weapons]. Now, wouldn’t you rather, in a certain sense, have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?”

Though the Japanese government followed up Mr. Trump’s remarks by affirming its commitment to never own or make nuclear weapons, these are startling statements. Rather than risk American lives and money, Mr. Trump wants to risk the security of Southeast Asia by turning it into a nuclear powder keg. Its little wonder that many in Japan are concerned about what a Trump administration will mean for their future. If Mr. Trump were to withdraw America’s presence from the region, it could incite a nuclear arms race.

South Korea

In a similar vein to Japan, South Korea relies heavily on American power and influence in maintaining its security and independence. Having experienced the effects of a Communist-empowered invasion, South Korea is all too aware of what would happen should Mr. Trump decide it’s no longer worth investing America’s military there.

Already South Korea faces the threat of an American exit if it doesn’t increase its share of the bill for the American military presence. Next year, the cost-sharing agreement on maintaining military bases is up for renegotiation. In 2014, South Korea paid $850 million for base maintenance, according to its budget. However, according to Mr. Trump’s foreign-policy adviser Pete Hoesktra, this may not be enough: “The threats that they face—if they’re not willing to pay for it or if they just go into it saying, ‘We don’t have to worry about it, the United States is going to pay for it,’ that is not a healthy relationship.”

Following his election, Mr. Trump did call South Korea’s president to affirm his commitment to protect the nation. However, this did not stop the president from calling an emergency meeting with her national security council to plan for what the future may be without the United States there to protect them.

If America did retreat, South Korea would have to secure its own nuclear weapons. Already, “some members of the South Korean parliament have suggested that the country has little choice but to consider nuclear armament if U.S. forces are withdrawn,” according to Reuters. Arming South Korea with nuclear weapons, right next door to an already unstable and nuclear-armed North Korea, could lead the entire region into nuclear war.

Another troubling implication of an American retreat from the nation is the security concern to America itself. Currently America and South Korea have an agreement to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system in the nation to counter missile threats from North Korea. While the system has not yet been deployed, it would prove an added layer of defense against North Korea. Should North Korea ever decide to launch a nuclear missile at the United States, it could be shot out of the sky long before it got near American soil. However, if the United States pulls out of South Korea, it loses a powerful defense against such attacks.

The Philippines

Since the election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year, relations between the U.S. and the Philippines have eroded. The newly elected president has repeatedly railed against America and openly cursed President Barack Obama.

In the past few months, the Philippine president has made repeated moves to end dependence on American power. He announced that the joint military exercise between the Philippines and the U.S. in October was the last one between the two countries; he canceled an arms deal with the U.S.; and he announced that he wants all U.S. troops out of his country in two years. He has voiced his desire to instead strengthen and improve relations with China and Russia.

After Mr. Trump’s election victory, President Duterte was quick to congratulate Mr. Trump. Many have said the two men are very similar, but that won’t stop Duterte’s pivot to China. Bloomberg reported last week that “at an early morning briefing in Davao, Duterte said that while the U.S. would remain a friend and ally, the Philippines’ foreign policy was now geared toward China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.”

Despite Mr. Trump’s victory, the Philippines is already on a trajectory away from the United States. It has already committed to strengthening its relationship with China, much to America’s chagrin.

Russia

Trump’s election elated Russia’s parliament and President Vladimir Putin. When the election results were broadcast, the State Duma reportedly broke out into applause, and President Putin sent Mr. Trump a congratulatory telegram.

The Kremlin announced shortly after the election victory that Mr. Putin hoped “to work together for removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state.” Examining what Mr. Trump has said about Russia makes it clear why Russia would celebrate his victory.

While campaigning for the presidency, Mr. Trump made numerous statements supporting Russian actions in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. On multiple occasions, he expressed his desire to lessen the U.S. commitment to NATO. Russia has viewed NATO as the restraining force that has stifled its ambitions in Eastern Europe. American cutbacks could effectively cripple NATO. Trump also stated that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia in connection to its annexation of Crimea and recognize the area as Russian territory. This would make him the first Western leader to recognize that territory and legitimize the Kremlin’s conquest of Ukraine.

All these moves would embolden and empower Russia, seriously tipping the balance of power in its favor in Europe and the Middle East. The probability of such empowerment is making those in Europe nervous and has its own serious implications for the world.

China

As a businessman, Donald Trump focused much of his attacks on China during the campaign season. In his “Seven Point Plan to Rebuild the American Economy,” he states his plan to “use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes if China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets.” Many commentators are warning that if he does implement his trade policies toward China, it could lead to an all-out trade war.

Already this rhetoric has caught the attention of the Chinese government. President Xi Jinping told Mr. Trump in a phone call earlier this week that cooperation was the only choice for the world’s two largest economies.

China has already begun pushing back at Mr. Trump’s trade plan. As Reuters reported, a nationalist tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party called the Global Times said if Trump imposed tariffs on China, there would be consequences: “When the time comes, large orders for Boeing planes would switch to Europe, U.S. auto sales in China would face setbacks, Apple phones would essentially be crowded out, and U.S. soybeans and corn would be eradicated from China.”

While it remains to be seen what Mr. Trump will do when he takes office, the Chinese are not taking his statements lightly. A clash between the world’s two largest economies would send ripples throughout the entire global economy.

What is U.S. Led International Order?

In this election, we’ve heard the phrase “U.S.-led international order” a lot. Usually it’s in a context like, “Donald Trump may well undo the post-World War II U.S.-led international order that has underwritten global peace and prosperity for decades.”

What does the term mean to you?

What is generally meant by it, is the system that was created in the late 1940s that includes the U.S. alliance system, forward military basing around the world, originally the open Western economy and now the open global economy, and a set of institutions and rules that are imperfect but generally govern state behavior.

Collectively, that order operated in the West until 1991, and then went more global─ not completely global─ and really is the organizing principle for world politics today. And that order rests primarily on American power and American foreign policy, in that others want it and like it, but it’s hard to see it persisting if the U.S. decided to pull out of it. It’s unlikely that NATO would exist in anything like its current form without America.

Trump would jeopardize that by liquidating some of the key aspects of that order. The security order in Europe and Asia would be transformed. The global economy would be transformed. Now if he totally reverses himself [highly unlikely] and appoints all sorts of mainstream Republican foreign-policy leaders to be in his cabinet, then maybe that doesn’t apply. But if one takes him at his word, then that could happen.

These views, I think, have existed for a long time. What happened though is that politicians exercised restraint in not tapping into them. Everyone operated, even when they were seen as radical, within limits. Trump is the first one to really try to tap into it. And I think, in doing so, he’s awakened something that maybe always had the potential to be awakened, but the major politicians had chosen not to do so because they felt like it was an undesirable or irresponsible position.

That’s where we get into the analogies of the ’30s, because this order has existed since the late ’40s, and obviously the period between the ’30s and ’40s was one of great conflict. So the last time that an order really fell apart and was replaced by something else was in the ’30s—not counting the Eastern order, which fell apart in 1989/91. The last time that the Western world was fundamentally changed was [in the ’30s].

What’s Next?

Right now, the world is waiting─ waiting to see how much of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises will be implemented. Any number of those policies could change the balance of power in Asia and the world. The possibilities are dire.

America’s Asian allies face abandonment. Nations like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and others rely on the U.S. for protection. Without that protection, they cannot stand up to an increasingly belligerent China. America would also lose its ability to control Chinese expansionism in the region.

America’s Asian enemies face empowerment and legitimization. Russia is poised to receive sanctions relief and international recognition for its actions in Ukraine. It also stands to gain from a weakened NATO. China is preparing to take control of the entire South China Sea if America pulls out. Already it is pushing hard to gain control of this crucial region through its island-building policy. Without an American presence, China could gain a stranglehold on trillions of dollars of trade through that region.

While it does not yet appear what Mr. Trump will do, a major reshaping of power in Asia was coming. At the head of this alliance will be Russia and China, but there are many smaller nations in Asia that will join as well. Could Donald Trump’s policies of disengagement from the region lead to this reshaping? It is important to watch events in this crucial region of the world. Events soon to happen in Asia will have a devastating effect on the entire world.

Trump: “We’re going to start saying Merry Christmas again

The “war on Christmas” has been a fear among many in America for some time. For instance the ACLU has claimed that nativity scenes in public places is a violation of the Constitution, and thus has attempted in the past to force places like courthouses to remove these displays. Even Google, which recognizes the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, has been known to not recognize Christmas as the religious holiday it is, choosing instead to post pictures of toys.

Now that Trump is assuming office, Christians and Christmas lovers everywhere, are likely pleased to hear that the holiday will be venerated as they see fit.

During his “Thank You Tour” stop in Michigan, President-elect Donald Trump didn’t skimp out on the little details in his plan to “make America great again.”

Along with the many things Trump has promised, he has added that saying “Merry Christmas” is going to be the greeting you hear most during the holiday season.

In the end, there is great hope for America, Asia and the world. All these events are leading directly to the greatest event in the history of mankind: the return of Jesus Christ to rule in righteousness over the entire world. 

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[Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]

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