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Donald Trump and the new world order

Donald Trump has no foreign policy experience. What will that mean on the world stage?


 
Members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF) prepare the arrival of new troops at the compound of the United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) upon their arrival in Juba, South Sudan, on November 21, 2016. A United Nations plane landed in the morning at Juba airport with 60 new Japanese peacekeepers as the first group of the 350-strong unit, which will replace the current Japanese troops at the UN mission in South Sudan. The group, mostly engineers, will construct roads and facilities and are also assigned for the first time under Japans new security law, which enables GSDF troops to use weapons to rescue UN staff under attack. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force during the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Juba, South Sudan on November 21, 2016. (Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)

The historic irony of Donald Trump may be that the American president with the least amount of foreign policy acumen may nonetheless have the greatest impact on global affairs since Franklin Roosevelt.

Trump is not a cypher. He doesn’t keep his opinions, his insecurities, and his ignorance close to the chest—he tapes all of it to his forehead. The president-elect has promised again and again he will pull America back from traditional alliances, align with traditional antagonists, and kick the multilateral order in the shins every chance he gets.

This isolationist agenda is supported by the shabby collection of also-rans, never-beens, and outcasts who have been stealing into Trump Tower. While Republicans in Congress may lean toward a more traditional global role for the United States, this is one file where a president enjoys almost complete authority. Trump may already be backpedalling from other policy pledges, like building a wall or locking up Hillary Clinton, but there is no reason to hope that, internationally, Trump won’t do exactly what he promised.

The major foreign powers evidently came to this conclusion quickly and are already moving. The resulting shifts in the global balance of power are happening so quickly and in so many places at once, it’s difficult to keep track.

MORE: The rise of realpolitik—and the strongman

Let’s start in midtown Manhattan. The United Nations may be one of the earliest victims of the Trump presidency. The organization is still recovering from the damage done by John Bolton as George W. Bush’s short-lived ambassador to the UN. Bolton found hundreds of ways to undermine the effectiveness and legitimacy of the organization and the entire multilateral system. Not surprisingly, he is now helping Trump, who is promising to cut funding and collaboration, either of which could be all but fatal to an already struggling organization.

More obvious shifts can be seen in Eastern Europe. Trump’s repeated praise for Vladimir Putin so emboldened the Russian dictator he was willing to risk interfering in the American election. Having gotten away with it, Russian officials are now boasting about it openly, and will undoubtedly do the same in other Western nations, including this one. Having pushed back the boundaries of what is acceptable in cyberwarfare, Russia will now be able to dramatically strengthen its strategic power with relatively little actual cost.

Russia’s self-defined sphere of influence won’t just expand in the digital world. We are already seeing a more aggressive posture in Syria. In the Baltics, governments are increasingly worried about Russian intervention, to the point that Estonia is training its population on how to conduct guerrilla operations in the wake of an invasion. In Turkey, it is hard to imagine Trump trying to court the Islamic government as it continues to turn toward Moscow.

This means more refugees in Europe. With Russia and Syria unhindered, the war will continue and it will likely go poorly for the rebels. Turkey’s unwillingness to stop refugees flowing toward Europe will continue. And more Syrians on the streets of Paris and Berlin will be bad news for liberal politicians like Angela Merkel, and good news for right-wing demagogues like Marine Le Pen.

But power in Western Europe has already begun to shift in different ways. NATO’s role as the guarantor of 70 years of continental peace is no longer certain. Trump is calling for fewer troops overseas, and has mocked the bedrock doctrine of mutual defence. This alone means America’s pre-eminent role in the alliance has effectively ended. No one is entirely sure the U.S. can be counted on. Given the stakes, other member states are understandably looking to Germany to move into the leadership vacuum.

It is almost inevitable that Europe (and Canada) will feel obligated to increase their own level of military spending and readiness, if not because Washington is explicitly demanding it, because they no longer know if American forces will be there when needed. And if you have troops, you tend to use them. So a better-armed European Union may be more willing to unilaterally intervene overseas in peacekeeping or peacemaking roles. When the next crisis boils over in Africa or the Middle East, global eyes may turn to Brussels, not Washington.

In the United Kingdom, Brexiteers are heartened by the Trump victory, and expect the populist president to re-emphasize the legendary transatlantic “special relationship” that has faded over the last few decades. Even though one of Trump’s first gaffes was to propose his accomplice Nigel Farage as the new British ambassador to the United States, there is no question this transatlantic partnership is going to become more relevant in both Washington and London and, as a result, pull the United Kingdom further away from Europe.

Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the British UKIP party, speaks as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, listens, at Trump's campaign rally in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the British UKIP party, speaks as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, listens, at Trump’s campaign rally in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The biggest tectonic shifts, however, are beginning to take place in the Asia Pacific. Trump has emphatically reaffirmed his intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaving the deal “meaningless,” in the words of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Enter China, stage right, with their own trade alliance proposal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This trade pact conveniently excludes the United States, giving Beijing an uncontested position as the main economic hegemon in the eastern Pacific.

China may be the biggest winner in a world rearranged by Trump. The South China Sea dispute is effectively over, especially in light of the new Philippine president’s shift toward Beijing. Beijing is also stepping into the leadership vacuum as Trump walks away from global efforts to limit climate change. Trump promises to use his first day in office to cut all the American funding that was meant to help developing nations shift to low-carbon economies. China will be delighted to pay that bill, giving them the global lead on an issue that is supported by every single national leader on the planet, except one: Trump.

Even if Trump endorses American military guarantees for traditional Asian allies like Taiwan and South Korea, these countries will be unwilling to entirely believe him. Fittingly, this week Japan deployed armed troops to South Sudan, their first combat mission since the Second World War. Expect to see a lot more of that. Even Australia is getting nervous and looking to shift its alliances. In Canberra, defence analysts and politicians acknowledged the American election results have “serious ramifications” for their security interests and they may now need to seek a rapprochement with China. Like Europe, we can expect these countries to increase the money they spend on the military, and reduce the attention they pay to Washington. By contrast, when Beijing speaks, they will have to listen more closely than they have in the past.

These are just some of the changes to the global balance of power that have emerged and Trump is not even in office yet. The incredible irony of his Make America Great Again campaign is that it will almost certainly make America far less important in the world everywhere. China is already moving into the leadership vacuum, as is Germany. Russia will now inflate its importance even further. The new multipolar world, one not seen since the 1930s, will be more unpredictable, more volatile, and more accident-prone than ever.

All of this presents a historic opportunity for Ottawa. For generations Canadian diplomats and politicians have tried, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to wean the country off its economic dependence on the United States. Trump’s arrival may mean this is no longer a choice, but a necessity. This could be the shock we needed to genuinely commit to an Asian strategy, closer economic links to Mexico, Central and South America, and to Europe. Britain will be looking for a stronger transatlantic relationship with Canada, too. The unexpected consequence of president Trump may be that Canada finally leaves the North American nest to make its own way in the world. Wilfrid Laurier would be delighted.


 

Donald Trump and the new world order

  1. Komarade Gilmore and How much did Zoolander Have??

  2. So now the “eastern Pacific” is in the Far East, due west of the middle of the Pacific? That makes sense, if you don’t know how to read a map or a compass.

  3. Trump has no foreign policy experience. Nor did Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or Barack Obama. Obama especially has been a foreign policy disaster for the USA. Hillary Clinton had foreign policy experience, all of which boiled down to taking money from whoever had a pen and a chequebook.
    Tell us again how much foreign policy experience the current idiot son of the Marxist father had, BTW.

    • I have a hunch that Bill does not come from Greenwood Nova Scotia but more likely somewhere in redneck Texas????? Such comments would be hateful from a Canadian but are the norm for a biased American.

      • He’s probably from Armpit, Alberta and is a supporter of Kellie Leitch.

      • Wow! Time to go cold turkey (no pun intended) from Fox and Briebart. Obviously you have an interest in learning and equipping yourself with factual information. Don’t comment let everyone know how ignorant you are.

        • Hey Camvan, Just the fact dude. Why don’t you start with Trevor Loudens ‘The enemy Within’.
          Or how about ‘The Worst President in History’ The Legacy of (?) of Barack Obama
          Everything you would ever want to know about the islamist/marxist and his putrid reign is all there! Just the facts. If you have a kindle, knock yourself out, but I have a sneaking suspicion you won’t. You blind sheep never do. :-)

      • Bill made very accurate assertions. You have a problem wit the truth?

  4. The UN is a corrupt organization that should be dismantled or rebuilt from the Ground up. No loss in my opinion if it folds. Especially with resolutions things like “the executive board of the United Nations cultural agency during a meeting in Paris passed a resolution declaring that the old city of Jerusalem has nothing to do with the Jews.” or According to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel. or In July, Serbian forces invaded the area, forcing the small UN team back. As many as 20,000 Bosniak refugees fled to the UN compound in Potocari, seeking protection from the advancing Serbs. Despite the UN peacekeeping force present, “Serbian soldiers entered the camp, raping Bosniak women and murdering freely while the Dutch peacekeepers did nothing. By July 18th, 7,800 Bosniaks were dead, due largely to an ill-equipped and unprepared UN force” I could go on but you get the picture.

  5. Trudeau and his gang of the son’s and daughter’s of the Canadian elite wanted so badly to be invited to all the right “parties” and “meetings” with the global elite (by selling off and asset-stripping Canada to and for the global 1%’ers along with fighting their neocolonial wars in Africa), and now they are pouting because they are going to have to “party” with the Trumps, the Farage’s, the Grillo’s, and the Le Pen’s (and maybe Putin). So the plan has gone awry. Are they still going to sell off Canada to the global elites when the “fun” of sitting at the “big” tables is now gone?

    • Yeah, and a couple of chitchats with the nazi Soros and suddenly we’re going to double immigration this coming year. I don’t believe in coincidence.

  6. Maclean’s has a Canadian flag in its logo, but all i ever hear about is US presidential news from this news Canadian news agency. Sad.

    • Would you rather hear how Justine goes from one photo op to another with Sophie tagging along to show her new clothes?

  7. Gilmore, I’m sorry but I’m getting personal now. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Kinda like that bubble headed bleach blonde you hang out with.

  8. Perhaps you could clarify something for me. You said that China is going to take over the role as a leader in helping the developing countries with climate change but the other day 67 people died in Bejiing when scaffolding collapsed on a new coal-fired electrical plant they are building. How is China going to be a leader when they are building new coal-fired electrical plants, one of the worst emitters in existence?

  9. The article reads: America you do it Canada’s way (and also Europe’s) or it’s the freaking highway! You got that!

    Twenty-five years after the end of the USSR and the US is still subsidizing European defense and the author sees nothing wrong with that says it all–but, of course, that kind of reasoning comes straight out of the two world war interventions that have obligated the US in perpetuity. The icing on the cake would be Trump shooing the UN out of the country.

    That the author doesn’t respect the right of Americans to reject a crook for an experienced businessman also says a great deal more about his judgment than he should be so recklessly exposing to public scrutiny.

  10. It may be distressing to see such sudden changes, but these may well be inevitable, and it is far better for the US – as well as Canada & most of the rest of the world – that they happen sooner, more peaceably, and voluntarily than a little later, maybe after a lost war, and with the US retreating with tail tucked behind legs. The truth to everyone that hasn’t been blinded by neo-imperialist elite opinion is that the US has been overextended for a long time and has been living well beyond its means. A retrenchment was long overdue. This need not mean a total withdrawal into “Fortress America” isolationism, but it is past time that a more realistic appraisal was made of what was actually possible and what was actually a priority.

    As for where this leaves Canada, it makes all the sense in the world for Canada and the US to continue to be strategic partners when it comes to North American security. Beyond that, it should be up to each country to define and pursue its respective global interests.

  11. The following quote is from Scott Gilmore’s Oct. 20th article, “The Morning After Donald Trump Loses”:
    “Without some cataclysmic surprise, Donald Trump has lost. His poll numbers are so low he is within groping distance of the worst showing by a mainstream candidate since 1936 when hapless Alf Landon only managed 36.5 per cent of the vote against Franklin Roosevelt.”

    If this election has taught us anything, it is that pollsters and journalists are affected by their own personal biases and desires when prognosticating the future. They think that their readers are not sharp enough to notice their blunders, and so jump right back on the bandwagon and continue in their deceit. Gilmore doesn’t have a clue as to what will happen in the next 4 years. The best thing that readers of MacLeans can do is to stop wasting their time reading such baseless speculation. The best thing that the editorial staff and management of MacLean’s can do to restore their reputation is to not allow such vapid content on their site.

  12. Samuel Huntington – Clash of Civilizations – 1992 – it took only 15 years to happen.

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