Trump presidency testing the world
It has been only two weeks since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the president of the United States, but he has managed to create division and distrust not only among Americans, but also across the world. With his first few acts as president, he already disproved those who thought that leadership might change him and make him become more considerate and calculating rather than impetuous and eccentric. He also showed that he would not shy away from his campaign promises.
Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25, suspending the U.S.’ refugee programs and banning the admission of citizens from seven Muslim countries for three months, supposedly to prevent domestic terrorist attacks. The fact that citizens of the affected countries, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, have not been involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil did not matter. The detentions and restrictions started at the airports, apparently without much preparation, wreaked havoc and provoked protests across the U.S. and from the world at large.
He also ordered the construction of a wall along the southern border of the U.S. with Mexico, prompting the cancellation of a state visit by the Mexican president. What’s more, as there is no money to finance the project in the budget, he needs approval of the Congress, which is not certain at the moment. It is true that the Mexico border has been the main route for unauthorized migration into the U.S., though the numbers have been steadily declining since 2007. Regardless of its usability and success, physical barriers between states are an obnoxious idea and are reminiscent of the days just before World War II. Like the Maginot Line, they rarely work and eventually crumble, like the Berlin Wall.
Another executive order signed by Trump on Jan. 26 directed the Pentagon to draft a strategy within 30 days to “knock the hell out of” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The language and implied intention obviously signal a much more aggressive policy line rather than less, let alone isolationist as some thought he would become. While its contours are not yet clear, the new counter-terrorism strategy of the Trump administration will be a game changer in Syria and will undoubtedly force all involved parties to rethink their policies as well.
The signs of an early thaw with Russia abounded during a 45-minute telephone call between the leaders of the two countries, as they agreed to cooperate on several issues, including the fight against ISIL, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Ukraine and other areas. The way the relationship between Russia and the U.S. evolve will be the most critical issue to watch for both the global political system and the many countries and actors that will be affected by it.
Trump has also reorganized the National Security Council (NSC), the principal forum in shaping country’s national and security policy, while adding his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to the Principals Committee as a regular member. In this role, Mr. Bannon will play an important role in directing Trump’s foreign and security policies, areas over which he has no previous experience, like his boss.
Though it is still too early to make ironclad predictions on the effects of the Trump administration on international politics, it is already clear after two weeks that the world will be facing a rollercoaster of a ride over the next few years. It is anybody’s guess as to whether the international system will be able to survive, but it is certain that anti-American sentiments, which were stimulated by the Bush administration and mollified somewhat during the Obama period, will reach unprecedented levels around the world.