Ashgabat, 30 November 2016 (nCa) — We are not sure whether his racism is real or perceived because according to the people who know him since long before the elections, Trump has not insulted anyone on the basis of their race alone.
Simultaneously, the team he has picked so far suggests that blatant antagonism toward Islam may be one of the defining factors of his administration. If it pans out in that direction, it may spell trouble for Central Asia in certain ways.
This is just conjecture – we need to wait and see; that is why every new president gets 100 days of ‘honeymoon’ period.
Trump as a person, friend, and family man is quite different from the Trump that ran the election campaign.
The original style of running a campaign suggests that Trump is a genius. He was up against two political dynasties – Bush and Clinton – and be brought them down with moves that looked bad in the beginning but proved successful in the due course. He nearly crushed Fox News by turning most of its viewer base against it and this is despite the fact that Fox News is traditionally a media joined at hip with the Republicans and conservatives. He paralyzed the Republican Party and made all of their maneuvers meaningless, forcing them to ultimately accept him as the candidate of their party. Most of the opponents he faced during the primaries were more powerful and better connected and yet he smashed them all one by one. The entire media machine – and it is a fearsome monster by all means – failed to put even a small dent in his popular base.
He brought to its knees the complete political machinery of the United States.
When this man moves to the White House, we can expect a rollercoaster ride with all kinds of surprises. He will live out of the box.
As reported by Reuters, here are some of the things he may do soon after being sworn in:
– Issuing notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Mr Trump described as “a potential disaster for our country”. Instead his administration would “negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores”.
– The cancellation of “job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy – including shale energy and clean coal”.
– The introduction of a rule “which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated”.
– The department of defence and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff will be asked to develop a plan “to protect America’s vital infrastructure from cyber attacks, and all other form of attacks”.
– The Department of Labor “will investigate all abuses of visa programmes that undercut the American worker”
– A five-year ban will be imposed on “executive officials becoming lobbyists after they leave the administration – and a lifetime ban on executive officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government”.
If he really does all of it, we can see some implications for Central Asia.
For instance, the removal of restrictions on shale and coal means that the USA will, in a few years, become a significant exporter of energy resources. This, together with the fact that OPEC as usual is in disarray, the oil prices may remain rather low. In Central Asia, where some countries depend on the hydrocarbon revenues, the balancing of the budget may remain a challenge unless they can quickly tap their potential and build their capacity for non-traditional exports.
His wide and strict screening of the visa regime will not impact Central Asia directly because this region is not one of the main sources of immigrants, legal or illegal, to the USA.
His withdrawal from TPP can be a mixed bag. On one hand, it may leave the European partners vulnerable to the Chinese juggernaut of sensibly priced goods and on the other hand it may give each partner the opportunity to negotiate a better deal with the United States. For Central Asia, it means more equality and flexibility when looking for markets out there.
His promise to bring the production, and therefore jobs, back to America may actually be a very good thing for all. He plans to offer some incentives to Apple to bring their production back to the USA and this may set a fine precedent if it goes through. Equally important would be if he encourages the companies to bring their call centres back to their own land. This would be a much-needed stimulant for the host countries to come up with their own brands and products to utilize the work force. Central Asia will not be affected directly because there are no call centres or production facilities that can be returned to the USA but it would certainly translate into more choice of brands and more variety of goods for all markets, including this region. We may actually see a new global wave of creativity.
As shown by the case of Nikki Haley and Mitt Romney, he can swallow his pride and reach out to his fierce critics and opponents if he thinks that is the right thing to do. In fact, Trump’s choice of Nikki Haley as the US ambassador to the United Nations shows that even if he is a racist, he is not a run-of-the-mill racist. His racism, wherever it shows in his rhetoric, is selective, purposeful.
If Trump actually sets in motion the process of deporting or imprisoning three million immigrants, it may trigger race riots internally and intimidate potential partners externally. The backlash can be anywhere in the world including Central Asia. If a group thinks that their people have been targeted unjustly in this purge of immigrants, they may plan retaliatory measures anywhere in the world to hurt the American interests. This would be a security challenge for Central Asia though it can be prevented, or at least contained, with some good planning.
There is a huge question mark as far as Afghanistan is concerned.
To be continued . . .