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With Trump in the Oval Office, the world’s direction is a known unknown

Iranian crtoonist Hossein Safi's take on the U.S. election before the result. Image via
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Iranian cartoonist Hossein Safi’s take on the US election before the result. Image via

Credit must be given, however grudgingly, where it is due. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, one of the jokers in the Bush pack, we are now awash with a great plethora of known unknowns.  With Donald Trump set to become American president come 20 January 2017, the world is entering an unknown territory, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

In the forthcoming edition of the IISS journal Survival, eminent US analyst Dana H. Allin argues that “the United States—and with it, the world—is entering terra incognita with the first overtly illiberal candidate to be elected president since the Second World War.”

Allin, who is Editor of Survival and IISS Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs, writes in an article published three days before Trump won the election that, against the grim backdrop of his imminent presidency, “there are two thin hopes. First, maybe it was all a kind of grievance theatre for his much-aggrieved followers, and one that we do not need to take seriously as a plan for governing, not least because much of it is logically impossible. Second, President Trump will operate within the institutional checks and balances of the American constitutional system, which will act to restrain excesses.

“The first hope requires us to ignore everything we saw and heard over the past 16 months—but who knows? On the second hope, some of the agenda, obviously, constitutes war crimes. The former head of the CIA and various retired generals have stated that America’s spies and soldiers will refuse to carry out such orders. Trump’s first response was: if I order it, they will do it. Then he backed off a little. So maybe that is a fight he would not seek. In more general terms, Congress is in Republican hands. There are elements of this agenda – the trade wars and the abandonment of NATO – that are at odds with Republican consensus. Other elements—the mass deportation of undocumented Hispanics—are at odds with Republicans’ long-term political interest in not permanently alienating the fastest-growing segment of the American population. So Congress could fight him on these issues, although it is not clear why we would expect their calculation of interest and ideology to be any different now that he has won than it was when he was a candidate.”

In the Middle East the post-election debate centres on what Trump will do in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Israel-Palestine and how he will deal with the Iran nuclear deal. Read article here.

Author: Editor

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