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The Trumped New World Order

The word Trump somehow has always remained associated with adrenaline push. Nothing excites a bridge player more than the prospects of a (No) Trump Game. The Cambridge dictionary explains ‘trump’ as to beat someone or something by doing or producing something better.

 

Mr. Donald John Trump, the real estate giant dwarfed all speculations, beating Ms Clinton to get nominated as the 45th President of the United States of America. Whether he won or Ms Clinton lost is now consigned to history. What stares into the future is a deeply divided America and a confused world. As he starts adjusting to the transition and takes over from Mr. Obama, the world is agog with the future of various regions and the world in general. Is his elevation as the most powerful man of the world signal a new world order? A lot of such "mental perplexity" is attributed to the personality of Mr Trump itself. Born to Fredrick Trump, he excelled in academics as well as sports in his student days. Inheriting the real estate business from his father, he took a lot of risks, suffered losses and finally came up trumps in establishing a real estate empire. Married thrice with a large family, when Mr. Trump announced his candidature for Presidency, he was probably the only one who took the announcement seriously. He broke political norms during his campaign. He was unapologetic in promoting his personal commercial interests (a new hotel) just a few blocks from the White House just a couple of months before the elections, something unheard of in the past. He simply followed his own instinct, spoke the common man’s language and never tried to be politically correct. In all possibility, the stated nuances of the existing governance became the political function of time and Ms Clinton, representing the same clan found herself as a close second to a rank outsider Mr. Trump.

 

The key issues raised by Mr. Trump during the campaign, especially with respect to foreign policy, need  deeper insight for it is going to change the way world is going to do business. He emphasised that the United States was paying disproportionate money to maintain NATO. He is for NATO but wants the United Sates to pay “a lot less”. A velvet disengagement in NATO can generate unprecedented spike in defence expenditure in Europe. He also questioned the military bases in South Korea and Japan. Should he offload American troops from these two nations, it would set a different kind of arms race in the region vis-a-vis-China with nuclear overtones. In Afghanistan the Obama administration had deferred the drawdown of American troops as part of ISAF due to the deteriorating situation (almost 70 per cent of ISAF is from the United States). Beyond December 2016,  US forces will focus on advising and training the Afghan forces, specially the counter terrorism force. Though the Americans, after their announced termination of combat role in 2014,  continue  to launch air strikes and provide Close Air Support, they are eager to see assumption of security responsibilities by the Afghan forces actually on ground, which is not happening due to a many reasons. The tribal affiliations and regional texture of Afghanistan is far too strong and regional satraps and power-brokers would never allow a national security construct to evolve homogenously. Mr Trump understands that any immediate withdrawal will just collapse Afghanistan and an unstable Afghanistan with an oscillating nuclear-capable Pakistan in the neighbourhood will prove totally counter-productive in the regional security architecture which will cause reverberations across the Atlantic. In West Asia, America may either choose to take Russia on board or leave the region to itself for Russia to fill the vacuum. A distant America will definitely increase the tempo of Saudi-Iran rivalry. The Islamic State may look at such a scenario as an opportunity to regain lost ground.

 

India will be more than interested in American dynamics in the region and its commitment now towards pivot to Asia. The challenge to the super power status of America comes from China. Mr Trump and his advisors would do well to understand that the biggest difference between the two nations is the alliances. America draws its strength from various alliances and the present international order since WW II is attributed to the Americans. China has none and it will rush into any vacuum created by the Americans. TPP could be the first litmus test. Though Mr Trump has emphasised all along the need to look inwards, rebuild America, improve infrastructure and follow a non interventionist approach, the intertwined complex web of geo political and geo strategical domain, running on geo economical platform would lead America to remain engaged with the alliances it has nurtured so painstakingly for such a long time and look within its own boundaries for visible improvement in infrastructure development, job creation and skill development. It is in this balanced approach it may want its partners to shoulder responsibilities beyond economic interests. Mr. Trump has been a close India watcher from his business days and is appreciative of Prime Minister Modi’s governance. Far more Indian Americans are likely to be in the policy making arena under the new regime. India will have to approach the new dimension of Indo US relations keeping its economic and security concerns in mind, though it does appear to be in a better position with the new regime.

 

The Triad of USA, Russia and China are likely to charter a new method in the international relations. USA is the reigning super power, Russia used to be a super power and China wants to be a super power. There’s likely to be a geopolitical churning and India has its task cut out to brace for a new world order. Mario Cuomo, who served as the Governor of New York for three terms from 1983 to 1994, had famously articulated that “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” The world will watch keenly as to what parts of poetry get converted to prose as Mr Trump assumes office. India will do well to look beyond Trump as many of his campaign speeches in fact represent what the other half of America aspires for and he may just be the trigger for an alternative National and International order Americans seek.

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Sameer Sharan Kartikeya
Senior Fellow, CLAWS
Contact at: [email protected]
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