Donald Trump elected US President: Foreign policy, immigration are big challenges

Donald Trump claimed his place on Wednesday as America's 45th president, an astonishing victory for the celebrity businessman and political novice who capitalised on voters' economic anxieties, took advantage of racial tensions and overcame a string of sexual assault allegations on his way to the White House.

His vicious and brutal campaign against Hillary Clinton may have served as a vehicle of victory on the road to the White House. Statements like "Make America great again," and "It's time America was run like a business" resounded well with the white middle class, who were fed up with Washington and feeling left behind. In contrast with Trump's promises to bring back manufacturing jobs and keeping the "bad lot" of immigrants out of US, Clinton's experience in foreign policy and her liberal approach towards refugee and immigrants were no match.

However, the very populist agenda that helped him cinch the presidency may come back to haunt him as more pressing problems command the attention of President to-be. At best, Trump will inherit an anxious nation, deeply divided by economic and educational opportunities, race and culture.

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. AP

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. AP

Foreign policy

A beginner, Trump's foreign policy remains in uncharted water owing to his impulsive reactions and contradictory statements on matters of foreign policy.

He can tear up trade deals with Mexico and Pacific nations and abandon US allies in Europe and Asia if they don't spend more on their own defence — or, he may just decide to get along with Russia as well. Even with an army of bureaucrats and specialists at his disposal, Trump's inexperience in foreign policy is a matter of concern. A Republican foreign policy expert who has occasionally counselled Trump, cautioned that he is more likely to make his own decisions based on impulses than to follow the advice of his aides.

He has pledged to usher in sweeping changes to US foreign policy, including building a wall along the US-Mexico border and suspending immigration from countries with terrorism ties. He's also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and spoken of building a better relationship with Moscow, worrying some in his own party who fear he'll go easy on Putin's provocations.

However, beyond trade and the notorious 'Mexico wall', Trump has suggested a few concrete foreign policy proposals that may give clarity on his foreign policy, other than declaring China a "currency manipulator" for keeping what he believes is an artificially strong currency.

Trump will inherit a long list of pressing problems from his predecessor. An unstable gulf region, a waging war in Syria, increasing hostility with Russia and China, a rebellious North Korea, USA's self-assumed guardianship of the South China Sea dispute are just a few names in the long list of things.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault pledged to work with Trump, but said his personality "raised questions" and he admitted to being unsure as to what a Trump presidency would mean for key foreign policy challenges, from climate change and the West's nuclear deal with Iran to the war in Syria.

Trump, who has no foreign affairs or military experience, will confront the absence of a national or even Republican political consensus on how to deal with Syria, the Islamic State militant group, the rise of China and a newly assertive Russia.

Many top Republicans have publicly repudiated him, and a number of professional diplomats, intelligence and military officers have privately said they would retire if Trump wins.

"If he does everything he says he's going to do, we can kiss goodbye our leadership role in the world," former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin told Reuters. "So let's hope he doesn't mean it or that someone talks him out of it."

If he does everything he says he's going to do, we can kiss goodbye our leadership role in the world. so let's hope he doesn't mean it or that someone talks him out of it.

Trump has suggested he could accept Japanese and South Korean nuclear arms development, abandon the Iran nuclear deal, negotiate with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program, and embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Getting along with Russia?

Russia-US have been all-weather allies in the modern history of the world, yet Donald Trump has been sending mixed signals when it comes to his policy on a newly-assertive Russia. Trump has adopted an open-minded stance towards Putin, whom many current and former US officials consider an autocrat bent on suppressing dissent at home while bullying his neighbors and projecting Russia's power abroad.

Russia has annexed Crimea from Ukraine, backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and, according to US intelligence officials, hacked emails of prominent Democratic Party leaders and organisations.

"I would hope to have a good relationship with Russia and I would hope to have a good relationship with Putin," Trump told Reuters in an interview last month. "If we had a good relationship with Russia that would be a wonderful thing."

James Dobbins, a former US diplomat now at the Rand Corp., said he would not be surprised to see an effort to "reset" US relations with Russia.

Trump has taken a more aggressive tone toward China, threatening to slap tariffs on Chinese products to show Beijing the United States is "not playing games anymore" when it comes to leveling the field on trade.

China's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it would work with Trump to ensure the steady development of bilateral ties.

Trump also says he could scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement that took effect in Mexico, the United States and Canada in 1994, and he has threatened to impose tariffs of up to 35 percent on Mexican-made goods to help US industry.

Trump has taken aim at the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal championed by President Barack Obama, calling it a "death blow" for American manufacturing.

Immigration

The billionaire promised to "begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won't take them back."

He would also "suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur" and carry out unspecified "extreme vetting" of those seeking to enter the country.

In what became a mantra for his supporters, Trump has vowed to "drain the swamp" of what he sees as systemic corruption in Washington.

He said he'd impose term limits on members of Congress, freeze federal hiring, and ban lawmakers and White House staff from becoming lobbyists for five years.

He also has promised to "cancel every unconstitutional executive action" undertaken by Obama.

Trump intends to quickly make good on his signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, and impose a minimum two-year federal prison sentence on any deported migrant who tries to return.

Economy

Unlike his predecessor Obama, who assumed office at a time when unemployment was running high, Trump has recieved an economy that is pink in health. But with a waging war in middle-east and increasing defence spending, America continues to live beyond her means. Add to this the burden of public spending, that America has been shying away from since the great recession in the 2000s. Trump's call to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a better marketplace alternative is largely popular amid his republican colleagues, however, that is easier than done. Substituting insurance for a sturdy healthcare programme is as it a problematic idea and Trump has taken upon himself to make it a profitable venture as well, while keeping it in line with his promise to improve average American's quality of life.

A stagnant economy amid burdens of promises such as "America will settle for nothing lesser than the best" can amplify Trump's problems. Economic growth is slow; inequality is high; education and health care are expensive; entrepreneurship is falling. It remains to be seen how much of Trump's Business acumen and expertise comes in handy to bring the US economy back on track.

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Nov 09, 2016 06:26 pm | Updated Date: Nov 10, 2016 07:08 pm

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