This authorís impression of the Donald Trump inaugural speech was that it was lacking in grace seeing that till his speech most commentators covering the event were constantly highlighting the point that on such occasions all former presidents and Washingtonís elite come together forgetting their differences to stand solidly behind the new president, by extension wishing him a very successful tenure for the sake of the country. One look at their faces with Trumpís opening remarks said it all. In exactly one minute he had caused dismay across the podium. They were ready to forget and forgive. He was not. Not only did he alienate the elders and predecessors who had come to witness his triumph, he put practically the whole world on notice, displaying arrogance of a type not seen before at such a world commanding inauguration.
No doubt his largely white middle class constituency that brought him thus far would have lapped up his remarks. The comments of several independent commentators, again from practically around the world were far from salutary. Here is one: ďPresident Trumpís brief inaugural speech was a declaration of war against the entirety of the American Ruling Establishment. All of it. Trump made it abundantly clear that Americansí enemies are right here at home: globalists, neoliberal economists, neoconservatives and other unilateralists accustomed to imposing the US on the world and involving us in endless and expensive wars, politicians who serve the Ruling Establishment rather than the American people, indeed, the entire canopy of private interests that have run America into the ground while getting rich in the process. (Trumpís Declaration of War, Paul Craig Roberts, 22 January 2017).
While delivering his speech Trump chose to remain oblivious to the protests that were simultaneously breaking out in Washington and elsewhere in America and the world. These were not spontaneous protests. They had been going on almost daily since his electoral triumph. Various channels were highlighting these round the clock after his speech. Amazingly, at least on the face of it, going by his visible demeanour they were water off a duckís back. The question that arises: ďIs Donald Trump impervious to them, single-mindedly going ahead with the agenda that he had set out since day one for his presidency were he to be elected? Should that be the case it is a frightening thought. The sooner the world decides to not take it in its stride the better for its future. Increasing the allocation for the US military does become a call to arms. It has to be construed a declaration of intent. The US would be willing to use force against its adversaries Ė not limited to eradicating ISIS and its cohorts. It will force some of the major countries to add to their arsenals as well.
Hardly anybody doubts that the US is the foremost power, even as the multi polar world comes into being with the rise of China and the re-emergence of Russia. That in no way signifies that when push comes to shove or the core interests of China or Russia are threatened they will submit meekly to the US Presidentís will. Beyond these two big powers even the European Union, Japan and other allies that would be worried at the prospects of a US pullout or pull-back would certainly take stock in the weeks ahead to see whether they would actually be left helpless, so to say. Such an exercise over a period of time might indicate that it is not doom and gloom should they decide to confront Mr. Trump head on; certainly by not rolling over. Take the example of NATO and EU. The US remained the unchallenged unipolar power after the demise of the Soviet Union because of the strength it derived from its allies and military bases in their countries. Minus NATO allies, Japan, Australia and others the US would have been considerably diminished. What held good then, holds good today. It is unlikely that Trump will make good his threats in the geostrategic sphere once he and his team settle down in Washington to take stock of how the US would fare without its allies and alliances. Nevertheless, the European Union still being an economic heavyweight in spite of Brexit and the problems with the Euro might decide to raise its own military levels commensurate with the need to secure Europe from external threats. Brexit has still not been worked out. Europe has two nuclear powers and permanent seats in the UN Security Council. They did not pull their weight so far as they were attached to the big brotherís coat strings. Left to themselves they could become a formidable pole. Many countries in Europe well before the advent of Trump were uneasy with sanctions against Russia. Europe and Russia could benefit from a new accommodation.
Should the reset with Russia as announced by Trump come into being Russia will remain cautious, it will not change course for quite a while. It will wait and watch till it is assured that the reset is permanent. It is in much better position now than it was two years earlier having since become the dominant player in the war against ISIS and its own reset with Turkey after a troublesome period prior to that.
Among the countries likely to be affected India seems to be showing considerable anxiety. The point is that India is comfortably placed regardless of how the Trump economic policies play out. Its economy is definitely on the upswing and through ups and downs that may still come about, it will become a very large economy by 2030 according to most estimates. The world takes it as a given and so should India. Moreover, the biggest corporations in the US are very favourably disposed towards India, not merely because Indians have become heads of some of these. Additionally, in adverse scenarios India has several more options than other countries. There have been considerations starting from the time when Primakov first outlined his proposal sometime in the early 1980s for a Russia-China-India axis. It was looked at with interest but never took off. It would look attractive today on several counts. China-India relations could become pivotal for the stability of Asia, if not the world in the 21st Century. Sooner or later the two Asian giants will need to come together to ensure that the promise of the Asian Century does not wither away due to exaggerated differences or clashes between these two ancient civilisations, natural poles for stability for the rest of century, possibly beyond should the world not commit hara-kiri by then.
To revert to the forty-fifth president of the US, it would be a big mistake for the world to take him for a hot-head who could threaten global harmony due to an irrational act. The reference is largely to the apprehension that Mr. Trumpís finger on the nuclear trigger will keep the world on razor age. It is the belief of this writer that by about April this year once the new president and his team have settled down some of the extreme steps threatened by Mr. Trump in the build up to his ascent to the White House and during his inaugural speech on 20th January 2017 would be toned down or modified considerably. The US President contrary to most expectations might just become a force for global stability.
Author Third Millennium Equipoise
New Delhi, January 22 2017