The behavior of President Donald Trump remains as atypical and unpredictable as ever. Like President Putin, he believes that ‘the world is made of winners and losers and that only the strong prevail’. Accordingly, he advocates a unilateralist US foreign policy based on superficial quick wins and bilateral zerosum games. It is undoubtful that the change in US foreign policy brought by the election of President Trump has significantly impacted global developments. It is equally difficult to deny that this change mainly stems from the political vision, ideas, and leadership style of the President. Critically, he has brought in the international arena an unprecedented degree of uncertainty that would be difficult to explain without discussing his personality traits. Despite the opinion of his numerous adversaries, President Trump has the charismatic trait of inspiring voters to project their hopes on a single figure; he elicits an almost mystical faith in one man’s ability to deliver.
Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States by the same path that he became a billionaire celebrity, through the usage of his intellect and improvisation. When the decisive group of undecided voters made their choice, most of them hated both Clinton and Trump. Even if they disliked Trump more, they voted for policy rather than personality. And they believed that he was the candidate for change, and opposed to foreign wars and free trade and the wealthy political establishment. The billionaire managed to become the choice of working-class voters by channeling their anger and resentment toward the system. Voters wanted an outsider in the Oval Office, and that was never going to be Clinton. The promise of a brighter future and magic solutions is exactly what he offered. As Trump put it, “The image I created through the media enabled me to build one of the greatest luxury brands in the world”. That same manipulation of the media created the Trump presidency.
Most of all, what Trump offered was hope. He appealed to the new white nationalism based on a fabricated sense of victimization and grievance. Among his voters, 45 percent think that white people face “a lot of discrimination” in America today. The appeal of Trump’s stance on race was due to an important long-term trend: the increasing sense of alienation of the white working class. The impact of globalisation, the rise of economic rivals such as China, the loss of blue-collar jobs overseas and the very slow growth in wages had created a palpable anger and hopelessness. For anyone who hoped for some kind of improvement in America, or any type of change in their lives, Trump embraced every hope possible. He promised jobs, success, wealth, victory in every foreign conflict without having any foreign conflicts; and everything else Americans might dream of. The recent killing of likely Baghdadi successor by US troops also offers some hope to those nations working to wipe out terrorism.
Trump won the presidency by defying political correctness and threatening to replace the rule of multinational corporations and borderless international organizations, including both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with a return to a populist form of nationalist economics and politics that vowed to put “America First.” He expressed his determination to reduce America’s international commitments in order to focus on the nation’s domestic needs. Trump said, “from this day forward a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First”. That declaration chimed with the sentiments he had expressed on the campaign trail about withdrawing from free-trade agreements, compelling other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries to contribute more so as to reduce America’s financial commitment to the Western alliance; building a great wall on America’s Southern border to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico; and avoiding the sorts of wars that had characterized US foreign policy.
Convinced that free-trade agreements hurt the American worker, Trump announced the withdrawal of US participation from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He also announced US withdrawal from the landmark 2015 Paris climate change agreement because he believed that it restricted the development of clean coal in America. He also imposed substantial tariffs on the import of washing machines and solar panels, again to protect American industry—a decision criticised by the two countries whose trade with the USA would suffer most, China and South Korea. So, Trump’s foreign policy has comprised both internationalist and ‘America First’ elements. President Trump has mentioned his intention to put an end to “chronic trade abuses”. The US President has started to signal that he is serious about stopping the Chinese; economic bilateral tensions appear to have caused a trade war between Washington and Beijing. Trump also announced that the days of America’s ‘strategic patience’ with North Korea were over. He officially declared that North Korea was a state sponsor of terrorism, to be added to an infamous list that included Iran, Syria and Sudan.
While Mexico proved more than a little reluctant to corral its citizens by paying for Trump’s Wall, he did ensure a significant increase in the deportation of illegal immigrants. In key situations, President Trump undermines and contradicts his officials without warning. His foreign policy has been cautious in its departures from established routine. His approach must be distinguished from the moderate or cautious line that other speakers take on difficult issues: Trump does not tread carefully so much as lurch from one side of the issue to the other. Trump uses Twitter to set the media agenda on a daily basis. His modus operandi has been to tweet early most mornings, ensuring the items he wanted to prioritise became the lead stories on the morning TV shows and got massive direct contact with Americans, and notably his base of conservative supporters. Difficulties with Congress have stalled important parts of Trump’s domestic policy agenda, but, he has successfully achieved congressional passage of many rollbacks of federal regulations.
In his presidential election victory speech, Trump said, “I pledge to every citizen of our land, that I will be a president for all Americans. It is time for us to come together as one united people.” To be fair, he has been able to keep and deliver on some of the campaign promises. Trump’s economic policies, aside from trade, very much reflected conventional Republican thinking. His rhetoric of US foreign policy has remained staunchly nationalist in tone. His generals might advise him well, but he is the commander in chief; and he alone takes the decisions. In a famous speech the President said, “We must choose between greatness and gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction”. There are many facets of Trump’s personality and administration and at first, they may not all seem to impress; but, his vision of the Great American Nation, backed by his full-fledged support to countries battling terrorism and developmental issues have garnished his supporters all over the world; only time can tell how his vision materializes; but, he is indeed a great administrator and a visionary President!