He believes—against all evidence—that trade is a zero sum gameby George Magnus / November 9, 2016 / Leave a comment
Donald Trump is going to the White House for the next four years. We don’t have a clue what to expect from a man who has no experience of government and a reputation for a volatile and vengeful temper. His campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” seems like Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America,” but where the latter breathed optimism about the future and hope, the former looks backwards, seeks to blame stupid leaders for policy disasters, and others for misfortune. He had his supporters chanting “lock her up” as assured them Hilary Clinton was crooked and should be punished. He exploited, encouraged and represented a populism with strong ethnic and racial overtones, and which was supported by the Ku Klux Klan, and spread via Breitbart and other far-right organisations.
The outcome of this election is likely going to differ from most other change-overs. Trump insisted he was creating a movement and an uprising, and so it has proven to be. And so the inevitable tendency to look back for comparisons and make judgements about what happens next is as irrelevant as when we Brits do, trying to decipher the aftermath of the Brexit vote. In the case of the US, though, the uncertainty is on a vastly more significant scale with major consequences for the US economy, on which we all still depend, and for the stability and order of the global system, which has in any event been creaking since the financial crisis eight years ago.
Trump’s rhetoric speaks to a more isolationist and withdrawn America, as a result of which other authoritarian leaders, such as Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are encouraged to take advantage and press their own nationalist ambitions. At the same time, Trump has said he would increase military spending, and have no truck with US enemies, specifically citing Islamic State, and calling into question the new rapprochement with Iran. What is uncertain is how US foreign policy will evolve, and where and under what circumstances the US might become more engaged if pushed too far. What is certain is that the liberal global order, represented by institutions such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, which have always depended on US leadership, now hangs in the balance. Further, it is probably in some considerable danger if America’s willingness to stand for and engage with an open system goes into retreat.