Does Donald Trump’s victory spell the end of the West?
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November 13, 2016 ( Post 1 )
Donald Trump’s election has thrown key US alliances into doubt, but could it yet destroy the liberal world order and the West as we know it?
If you thought President Barack Obama’s White House sit-down with Donald Trump was awkward, wait for Obama’s menu of meetings with foreign leaders next week.[br]
Most of them will have similar questions: “How on Earth did this happen? What do we do now?”
Obama has spent a year telling interlocutors that the Republican billionaire would never be elected and that he was a threat to American democracy and the global system.
Now Obama will try to reassure allies that Trump’s America will not bring the global order crashing to the ground.
– Just another Republican? –
Insiders point to Trump’s disinterest in policy as evidence that he plans to be a titular or ceremonial president.
Vice President Mike Pence, they argue, will be the real president or at least behave like a prime minister.
He and the constellation of Washington-based advisors already gathered around Trump — possible secretary of state Newt Gingrich, possible secretary of defense Jeff Sessions — will crank out orthodox Republican policies.
But for European capitals that kind of Trump administration would still mean a return to the deep differences seen during Bush administration.
Trump would be political kryptonite in Europe, avoided like the plague by leaders like Francois Hollande or Angela Merkel who are seeking reelection. But at least the sky wouldn’t fall.[br]
– The Imperial presidency –
And if not, the world’s preeminent economic and military power would be run by a capricious leader with questionable respect for the rule of law.[br]
Those asking what Trump thinks about North Korea or Syria might get a different answer depending on what day he is tweeting.[br]
Japan, South Korea and other Asian allies America has vowed to defend have long doubted whether a US president would actually risk a nuclear war with China or North Korea to fulfil that vow.[br]
Shinzo Abe’s Japan has already been moving gingerly toward military self-sufficiency. If that trend speeds up considerably, or Tokyo develops a nuclear weapon — as Trump has suggested it should — the impact vis-a-vis China would be profound.– Passing the torch –
In Europe there is a similar sense we may be seeing the end of Pax Americana.[br]
“Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views,” she said, reminding Trump of common values that normally go without saying.
She also made clear the relationship is conditional: “I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”
If he handed the baton to Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday, then his meeting with Merkel in Berlin may be the passing of the liberal democratic torch.[br]
Merkel may now be the de facto “leader of the free world,” but Europe remains deeply divided.
Germany has economic and political power, but military and diplomatic power rests in London in Paris.
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