AMERICA TRANSFER OF POWER FROM LIBERALISM TO POPULISM
"I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself." -Robert E.Lee
he American Politics have in recent time witnessed a transfer of power from liberalism to populism one of its kinds in the United States political history.
As Barack Obama left office with the anticipation of handing over power to a democrat who will continue with his legacy especially, on some domestic policies like healthcare, cleaner energy and reducing the risk of American military engagement in some global hotspots. And also to maintain steady engagement with United States allies in as much as fixing new alignment to some soiled relationship with some of its adversaries.
The eight years of Obama's Presidency created an impression of rebranding America as less imperialistic and obtrusive towards other countries. His address at the Grand Hall of Cairo University in 2009 was a testament of his administration readiness to extend olive branch as a sign of peace to the Arab and Moslem world. He said "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
Despite that his speech was received with mix feelings and scepticism because of United States and its Western allies' role in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan still the Arabs and the Muslims were able to see some validity in his speech.
Obama's administration were so pragmatic and idealistic to redefine the United States roles in the world affairs in as much that he encountered much opposition from Senate Republicans who opposed almost every bit of his decision. The administration witnessed a new frontier in America relationship with the outside world especially with its enemies. He was able to re-establish the U.S. - Cuba diplomatic ties that were severed in 1961. And ease the tension on Iran nuclear weapon ambition which the P5+1 group China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany and Iran were able to achieved a verifiable, comprehensive agreement to limit Iran's nuclear activities a historic breakthrough for nuclear non-proliferation and international security. All these and more were able to achieve due to the administration's effort to reach both aisles of the political spectrum.
Since Donald Trump assumption of the Oval office his unequivocal hard-line policies and action has triggered a lot of anxieties within America and around the world. Few weeks of his Presidency across some major cities in America witnessed hundreds of thousands of demonstrators agitating against most of his executive order. On Saturday the 21st January 2017 a day after his inauguration women across United States and other capital cities of the world came out en masse to send President Trump an emphatic message that they won't let his agenda go unchallenged over the next four years. They were wearing pink pointy-eared "pussyhats" as a sign to mock the President. They decried over Trump's stands on some issues affecting women such as healthcare, immigration, the right to abortion, gay rights, diversity and climate change. Their message reverberated around the globe from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles to Paris, Berlin, London, Prague, Sydney and beyond. Presently, America is really more divided than ever due to the repugnant policies introduced by the Trump's administration.
Trump's inconsistency seems to be his weakest persona especially with his utterance. Right from his election days he has said number things which have no substantiated evidence. The example of it was the latest accusation on the former President Barack Obama of wire tapping his phone in October 2016 during the late stages of the presidential election campaign which he offered no evidence to support the allegation. Perhaps that's why he is at war with the media. President Trump does not entertain any stressful question thrown at him. Recently, his White House Secretary Sean Spicer banned reporters from CNN, the New York Times, and Politico from attending "gaggle", a non-televised briefing, but gave access to a number of other reporters, including those representing conservative outlets. The option is that as a reporter, if you don't speak good things about Trump you will not be let in the White House briefing room. Period!
His cabinet consists of some controversial individuals in the likes of Steve Bannon whom Trump appointed as senior counsellor and chief strategist. Before joining Trump's administration, Bannon ran Breitbart news network, a far right wing media website that promotes fringe conspiracy theories, bigotry and also a promoter of Alt-Right moniker (White supremacist and White nationalists).
Within few weeks of his administration the cabinet has been drenched with series of scandals. The first casualty was his National Security Adviser Mr Michael Flynn a retired three- star Lieutenant General was relieved from his post amid claims that he misled the administration over his communications with the Russia before President Trump took office which he was accused of mishandling classified information. Unfortunately, Michael Flynn was also known of having history of making controversial anti-Muslim rhetoric .He was veteran with 33 years of military experience, and former director of intelligence for United States command.
Meanwhile his, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is facing intense pressure from both democrats and some fellow Republicans to resign over the newly disclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to United States Mr Sergey I. Kislyak. Earlier Jeff Sessions denied meeting any Russian official but as FBI waded in, to start full investigation he swallowed his pride and rescued himself by admitting that he met the ambassador. Jeff Sessions who's been known also for his remark against Muslims is another populist icon.
Within the Trump's administration some Republicans have been in disagreement with him on some issues like immigration and the eminent proposed Mexico border wall which he swore to build. Senator John McClain said that the effect of Trump's immigration order "will probably in some area give the ISIS (Islamic State) some propaganda", and asked why the countries targeted by the order should include Iraq, where United States forces are fighting alongside with Iraqi forces against Islamic State.
Trump's patriotism and nationalism is not the type that is embedded on American core values. His stands on immigration which based on mass deportation and building walls between nation shows the weakness of America leadership and its decline in the world. The administration has created a suspicion and void between America and its European allies. The address of the vice President Michael Pence at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on the transatlantic alliance (NATO) perhaps passed a clear message that United States would no longer bears most of the financial burden of the alliance despite its unequivocal commitment made. In essence, it means that all NATO members should have their fair share in the organisation's defence budget by each member state contributing 2% of its annual country's GDP to NATO.
This implies that the alliance between Europe and America would no longer be business as usual probably for the next 4 to 8 years because of the Trump's divisive and populist agenda. The irrational behaviour of the new administration is an indication that the line between liberalism and populism is like an imaginary line that cannot meet. Populism connotes segregation, discrimination, bigotry, racism, incitement speech and infringement of fundamental human right.
America cannot work in isolation. Donald Trump should shun away bigotry and lead by example just like other of his predecessors who have worked closely with allies. As a leader of the free-world especially, in today's challenging world of terror it demands that the United States needs military co-operation and intelligence sharing from other countries especially from Europe and the Middle-east in order to win the war on terror.
The role of Russia in the ongoing Syrian war has positioned President Assad to be in more comfort zone and legitimize him to continue the extermination of his people on daily bases while the world sit back and watch him. Also it is an indirect way of President Putin sending message to United States and its allies that America is no longer holding sway in the world affairs.
If United States is to contend with the Russia aggressive behaviour and China military bullying it should stand tall for both eastern European countries, the Balkans and the south-east Asia where Russia and China are respectively conquering more territories and new frontiers at the detriment of its neighbours. The transatlantic alliance (NATO) must not derail from its mission objectives rather it should intensify effort and build a stronger alliance in order to meet up with the challenges of today's tumultuous world where big nations use their economic and military advantages to subdue the weak countries.
Consequently, at the moment China has started construction in the disputed islands on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea which is claimed by several other countries in the region. Already in 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration unanimously ruled in favour of the Philippines with the claim that there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or its petroleum reserves.
Meanwhile Russia recently, celebrated the 3rd year of annexation of Crimea. It could be recalled that in 2014 President Vladimir Putin unleashed thousands of Special Forces to take control of strategic infrastructure in Crimea before a hastily organised referendum was held that was rejected by the international community which Kremlin argued it was reacting to an illegal coup in Kiev.
President Putin has been longing to see a divided NATO, a divided Europe, and the fall of liberal democracy in Europe that will help galvanise his cause for a new Soviet era. The Russia military expansion within its European neighbours was clear evidence that Moscow is on the mission of conquest. At the moment, about 800 British troops are being stationed in Estonian border for combatant readiness against Russia's military aggression.
The clear narrative is that President Putin will continue to flex his military muscle against his neighbours as far as the economic sanctions imposed by United States and EU on Russia is not lifted. At the moment, the Russian economy is stressed coupled with the fall in the price of hydrocarbon substance in the international oil market.
Russia is vying for global recognition both in military might and also as an economic power house. In essence, Moscow has approved development of SS-30 since 2009 which replaced the Cold War-vintage SS-18. The Kremlin wants the new missiles to be ready for possible wartime use as early as 2018. According to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned news website, described the SS-30 as a two- stage rocket with a mass of 100 tons and a range of 6,200 miles. The "Daily Beast" a U.S. online media described the Russian SS-30 as apocalyptic weaponry which can wipe out the size of Texas and the entire France if launch.
As the Cold War era ended in some decades ago the beginning, of a new arm race seems to be on the loose. The Iron curtain is gradually been reinvented unfortunately, President Putin and Russia seems to be alone at the moment.
For the United States to continue to be a major player and a leader in the global arena the Trump administration must diplomatically engage with Russia, China and other economic rising powers. He should avoid clandestine approach with Russia as the administration is being dubbed at the moment rather be atoned in a more positive and cohesive manner that will usher in peace and stability in the world.