America’s dreadful choice

America’s dreadful choice

Turks who wanted Donald Trump to win because they believe he would harm the country they dislike the most, namely the U.S., appear to be having the last laugh. We see once again how unpredictable democracy can be. 

We don’t have to respect the result of the U.S. presidential election, but we have to accept them because we respect the rules of the game. 

But it is clear that voters do not always opt for what is right in terms of the big picture. Sometimes their choice is driven merely by the anger they feel towards others. We saw this in the Brexit vote.

Our own deficient democracy in Turkey has shown this with a vengeance for over a decade. The past sins of dominant classes eventually backfire, though this does not change the basic question. 

Is Trump the right man to be at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation? Is he the right man to have his finger on the ultimate button? Given what we know of him by now, the answer to this is apparent.
To paraphrase – and slightly misquote - our late President Süleyman Demirel, it does not appear possible to get a proper suit out of this material. Those who voted for Trump will have to live with the consequences. 

We should, of course, consider the remark by the late U.S. historian Stephen Ambrose, a biographer of two U.S. presidents. Ambrose said that when it comes to the White House, ultimately it is not the man that makes the office, but the office that make the man. In other words the facts, viewed from the lofty heights of the presidency, appear different to what they were before climbing up there. 

But nevertheless Trump is still a new and potentially dangerous experiment for the world. He promised to “make America great again.” It remains to be seen how he will do this. If he opts for the beating stick, it may make America great in ways that are fit for action-packed Hollywood blockbusters, but it will not be an America that is respected.

Then there are his remarks about Muslims, Latinos and women dangling over his head. It is unlikely that many Muslims voted for him. “Muslims for Trump” sounds like a grotesque aberration, but there were “Latinos for Trump.” That is of course another aberration. 

In a piece for Foreign Policy in Oct. 2009, the late Samuel Huntington summarized the sentiments of “true blue Americans” when he wrote about “The Hispanic Challenge.” This is what he wrote:  

“Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves - from Los Angeles to Miami - and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.”

These remarks are clearly not far from Trump’s heart, and they point to what Latinos may have to deal with now.

When it comes to Trump’s ties with Turkey, daily Hürriyet carried some cursory past quotes in which he declared sympathy for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and suggested that the U.S. should first look at itself before criticizing the democratic deficiencies of others.

These remarks may be pleasing to Erdoğan’s supporters, but they are hollow. 

The real question is whether he will extradite Fethullah Gülen, the alleged mastermind of the July 15 coup, as Erdoğan wants? Will he stop supporting the Syrian Kurds, who Ankara says are terrorists? Will he let Turkey have its way in Iraq and Syria?

These issues have been poisoning Turkish-U.S. ties, and they will most likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Trump is unlikely to pander unduly to an increasingly Islamist Turkey, which tops the list of anti-American countries. 

In addition to this, what is Trump’s “vision” for the Middle East – given his apparent love for Israel and antipathy for Muslims - and how will this stand with Turkey? 

To cut it short, we are facing much uncertainty. When the dust settles the world will realize what a dreadful choice the Americans have made.