in WorldAffairs

From the moment Donald Trump threw his hat into the US presidential campaign back in June 2015 until his controversial win in November 2016, I’ve experienced a range of emotions from hilarity, incredulity, fear, disappointment and now – lingering sadness and disappointment.

Why do I care, why do any of us – non-Americans – care what happens in American politics. Are we obsessed and chattering about Ugandan elections – such as they are – or Indonesia? Or any other country for that matter?

We care because America has been the military, cultural, economic – and therefore – global political empire of the last 70 years. “Has been” is the key part here – this empire is dying – there is no doubt about that. Every empire ends, regardless of how long, how great or how wide its sphere of influence.

I – like the rest – of the world expected a certain type of global leadership from the President of the United States. In part, this expectation has been set by history. With a few exceptions (ahem, George ‘Dubya’ Bush), American presidents and their administrations have maintained the global status quo – dealing respectfully with their allies and being the leader that was needed.

Not anymore. Trump is not maintaining the status quo, not in any sphere of his administration. He has asset stripping CEOs in his cabinet, Russian-buddying, obviously dodgy-as-fuck campaign managers. His administration pursues policies that devalue life, hurt innocent people, create divisions and actively demonstrates aggression to everyone.

Personally, he seems to have the morals of a brothel keeper, no sense of decorum, very little social skill, is unwilling to listen, extremely egotistical and seems to have very little goodness. He even fails at the very basic requirement of the office – being there as a voice of reason, measure and comfort for his country when it experiences tragedy.

I finally get him. He is a terrible United States President.
He is also the best one to catalyse the demise of this dying empire.

His latest ( 5/Dec/2017) –  bucking of convention is to announce that the US administration is recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is causing huge anger and response from pretty much every corner of the political space.

Jerusalem is central to three of the worlds big religions –  Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It’s dumb and shouldn’t matter who controls it politically, but the Muslim world wants a piece of it under Muslim control through the stalled peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The hitherto best chance for peace between those two is a two state solution with shared control i.e. division, of Jerusalem. Israelis and their obsession with ‘the chosen people and special relationship with God’  narrative claim an ‘undivided Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people’.

But back to Trump – he is a simple man. Some may even say, simple minded. He is a pussy grabbing, McDonald’s munching, unashamed capitalist and his administration is driven – perhaps more than any other previous one – by his own personal narrow world view. This world-view, like most people is informed by those we hang around with, what we hear and are exposed to daily. By our relationships.

He is very much pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he be? the world of finance and big business in the US and especially in New York is awash with Jewish and pro-Israeli relationships. Truth be told, so it has always been. The Clintons, Obama, Bush etc have all had deeper relationships – personal and professionally with pro-Israeli people compared to pro-peace/pro-Palestinian people.

So – Trump says ‘Jerusalem is Israel’s capital’. This is stating the obvious. The US will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – so what? Trump spouting it doesn’t magically make it so.

Jerusalem is already Israel’s capital.
The Israelis treat it as such and no amount of condemnation or support is going to change that. Will other countries follow suit – I strongly doubt it – no Arab/Muslim country that has diplomatic ties with Israel will be moving their embassies to Jerusalem. The Germans might, but they would anyway – because of the perpetual national guilt they carry for the Holocaust. Will the UK? Probably not – they are facing Brexit and looking to increase trade with many Muslim countries to mitigate that disaster – now is hardly the time to court more controversy.

China and India have so far been very diplomatic about it all but have their own global ambitions. Russia picks its fights very carefully and this is not one it is interested in and besides, for countries like China, Russia and India, being led on this by the US is not a reasonable part of their big global ambitions, it would show subservience, not independence.

What happens when any nation strays too far beyond the range of acceptable behaviour? Unfailingly, they get sidelined. The UK and Spain are prime examples, post Ottoman Turkey is another. Their relevance as global powers are questioned, their standing in the family of nations diminishes whether they choose to recognise it.

From domestic gun control to global climate change, from tackling wealth inequality in the US to North Korea, Iran and Cuba – Trump has shown he is willing to do the unreasonable thing. He has nearly done enough for the rest of the world’s nations to sideline him and his country, nearly enough to seal the irrelevance of their leadership.

So, I get it. Trump is the driver of the United States’ unrelenting , full-speed trajectory to global mediocrity. That is a better and more achievable definition of Making America Great Again. By ‘great’ meaning back to living in its own bubble and helping the world by not being able to fuck it up. I, for one, welcome it.

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  1. Hello, this is an interesting post. I think that you forget one thing, and is that the US is still almost single-handedly providing the world’s peace and security. One might jump at the statement and point out that the world is hardly a peaceful place, but I would point to the fact that we haven’t had a global conflict since the US started really stepped into its democratic leadership role. If the US slips into mediocrity, then you can count on another global conflict. Let’s just hope this conflict doesn’t involve nukes.

    • Hi Thomas and thanks for engaging.
      I disagree that the US has ‘single-handedly’ providing the World’s peace and security. It might be the largest contributor to its largest military collaboration – NATO – , but that is not ‘single-handed’. There are still plenty of conflicts that the US is not involved in securing.

      As for no global conflict – that I take to mean ‘world war’ – that is due less to US diplomacy and more to economics and shifting geopolitics. Europe for example – the source of the last 2 major wars has chosen collective prosperity over individual bickering and this radiates in the world.

      Afghanistan, Iraq 1 & 2 were unnecessary and carried out unilaterally for American corporate interests.

      Bizarrely I agree with you that the next major global conflict will be because American slips into mediocrity – like every other dying empire, it wants to cling on. Except this one has nukes and will use them to pursue its interests in an increasingly isolated position. It will start the next global conflict because it doesn’t get its own way and Trump is the poster child for that sort of approach.