21 Dec, 2016
by Xinhua writers Liu Chang, Jiang Hanlu, Lu Jiafei
BEIJING/WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) — As Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated as president of the United States next month, his unpredictability that has characterized his campaign trail and the ensuing transition has left the country and the world community in a deep abyss of doubt and anxieties.
Trump comes to power at a time when Washington and other world capitals are struggling with an ever rising tide of nationalism, populism, trade protectionism and the urge to backtrack on globalization. These trends, partly fuelled by some Americans’ discontent about their life over the past eight years, have helped pave his way to the White House.
It is almost deja vu all over again. Eight years ago, now outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama rode on U.S. voters’ desperation for change on the height of the global financial crisis.
Yet only a little more than a month ahead of his departure from the Oval Office, his legacies in terms of domestic and foreign policies are riddled with wreckage.
Inside the United States, the social fabric has been fractured with frequent gun violent crimes, rising racial discrimination, broken infrastructure, a controversial gigantic health care reform, and widening income inequality.
Douglas H. Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believed that the Obama White House has failed domestically because it simply rammed through the health care reform, and squandered the stimulus money on insubstantial projects during the global financial crisis.
Also, years of partisan gridlock between the Democrats and the Republicans have paralyzed the Obama administration’s ability to move forward with its preset agendas.
Overseas, the Obama administration has made quite a number of major mistakes. In the Middle East, Obama overturned Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi without a workable plan to rebuild the country. The Islamic State militants were able to emerge and occupy territories straddling Iraq and Syria because Obama’s ill-timed order to pull back from the area. His backing of Syria’s rebels has prolonged the country’s bloody civil war to even this day, and helped create the most terrible refugee crisis in decades.
In his move to pivot to the Asia Pacific, he planned to sow discords between China and other regional members so as to deter the rise of the Asian country. Yet the U.S. government’s re-balancing to the area has almost thrown the regional situation off balance. His now lifeless Trans-Pacific-Partnership trade accord, which excluded China, has shown that the U.S. leader is only interested in realizing his own strategic aim, even though it could be at the expense of America’s allies.
According to election results, Trump has lost the popular vote by a bigger margin than any other U.S. president in history. That means there would be no honeymoon between the president-elect and the American public.
A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that U.S. citizens remain deeply divided over whether he’ll be an effective president.
Across the country, there are a steady stream of protests with protesters being unhappy about the election results and chanting slogans against the president-elect.
However, despite his pledge to bring his country back together after perhaps the most negative election in U.S. political history, the president-in-waiting’s domestic policies could tear the country further apart.
During the elections, Trump has made tough anti-immigration statements, like rejecting Syrian refugees and building a long wall along the U.S.-Mexican borders.
Recent reports say that Trump’s advisers are discussing to build a nationwide system to track Muslims.
Though Trump’s transition team has immediately denied such report by saying that the president-elect has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion, yet one of the possible candidates to serve in Trump’s cabinet has been photographed carrying documents into a meeting with the president-elect that outlined proposals to bar the entry of Syrian refugees and reinstate a national registry focused on Muslims.
Already, that has stirred a lot of controversies and criticisms in the country, while tech companies like Facebook and Twitter have pledged not to cooperate if asked.
INEFFECTIVE ECONOMIC POLICY
Domestically, Trump seeks to revive the U.S. economy through tax cuts and infrastructure investment.
Dan Mahaffee, vice president of Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, said the Trump Administration is going to emphasize a strong, immediate approach to ensuring that the United States is “open for business” in terms of rolling back regulatory hurdles, increasing energy production, reforming tax policies, and infrastructure investment.
However, Wang Rongjun, senior fellow with National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that cutting taxes and increasing spending at the same time would further pile up budget deficits, and could cause possible raise of debt ceiling, which will face strong opposition by some deficit-hawk Republicans.
His tax cut plan, which primarily reduce taxes for businesses and the ultra wealthy Americans, would also be fiercely rejected by Democratic lawmakers.
Trump has also demanded repeatedly U.S. companies stop outsourcing jobs overseas, and warned possible financial penalties if they continue to do so.
Wang said Trump’s policies would do little to revive over the long run America’s manufacturing industries, many of which are experiencing disadvantages in global competition, and bring back jobs.
Dan Mahaffee also predicted that his policies would have a strong short-term impact in boosting the economy.
Yet, he warned that the short-term effects would mask the need to better prepare for long-term needs such as clean energy infrastructure and improved education to ensure that the United States could continue to be on the leading edge of innovation and new paradigms in high-tech development and manufacturing.
A WORLD IN DISARRAY?
On foreign trade, Trump is very likely to pursue a more protectionist approach.
He argued in his campaigning for the presidency that the existing trade policies have devastated the economic lives of many Americans. He proposes to renegotiate trade deals.
Trump has also announced the death of the TPP, and said he would choose to negotiate with each of his country’s partners for what he called “fair” trade pacts.
Wang at the CASS said Trump’s trade policies, if implemented, could easily lead to more frictions between the United States and its major trading partners, including China.
David Dollar, senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center, the Brookings Institution, said he hoped the Trump administration notices that it’s not in the U.S. interests to start a full-scale trade war.
In foreign policy, Dan Mahaffee said the United States would be far more assertive with both allies and potential adversaries.
In the Middle East, Trump is almost certain to continue the ongoing offensives against the Islamic State militant group, and would probably not change the current approach of backing the local forces for direct military involvement.
Yang Wenjing, a senior researcher at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that in the Middle East, Trump could be very prudent in further military engagement, and would choose to shift more burdens to its allies.
As for the Iranian nuclear deal Trump promised to walk away from,it is still unclear how the president-elect would handle it. Yet one thing is clear that once the deal is ripped apart, it would be much harder to get the Iranians back to the negotiating table.
On China policy, Yang said that while some specific policies are still shaping up, there would remain some uncertainties.
However, she cautioned that considering many of Trump’s senior advisers and potential cabinet secretaries are conservatives, the incoming U.S. government could play even tougher against China, and stepping up its pressures against Beijing in trade and currency, among others.
Trump’s recent telephone conversation with the leader of Taiwan, and the remarks on the one-China policy have raised serious concerns in Beijing, which has reiterated that adhering to the one-China principle is the political foundation to develop China-U.S. ties and a cornerstone for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Peter Navarro, a policy adviser to Trump, wrote recently in an article that Trump will steadfastly pursue a strategy of “peace through strength.”
While, the Trump administration may need to know that the United States has, over the past several decades, seldom failed to show its strength, chaos and bloodshed are what the world has got. Compared to strength, a little bit more of prudence and humility is perhaps better for peace around the world.