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10 November 2016

Will Trump be fair to the world?

By: Daoud Kuttab
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At about 2:40am Wednesday, Donald J. Trump, the US president elect, spoke to his supporters, the American people and the world.
 
He praised Hillary Clinton, spoke about how he will make America great and then addressed the world.
 
“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone. All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict.”
 
Naturally this is the kind of speech that one would expect from a victor. But it begs the question: Can Trump in fact be fair to the world while putting America’s interest first?
 
The answer is obviously positive if, in fact, that is what a Trump administration will attempt to do.
 
Politically speaking, the president-elect surprisingly has very little baggage in terms of strictly held positions or in terms of being committed to any particular ideological point of view.
 
The fact that he is not indebted to any special-interest group has advantages in this field, although one of the few major donors that supported him, Sheldon Adelson, is a supporter of the right-wing Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
 
If Trump wants to be fair about Palestine, he will need to reverse or fix many of the current policies that are driven by a single topic lobby called AIPAC.
 
This would also mean that the White House resident will not tolerate the perpetual occupation of Palestinians by Israel, now entering its 50th year.
 
It will refuse the theft of land and will not allow an apartheid regime to exist, with illegal settler minority living under one law and the landowner Palestinian majority under an undemocratic law.
 
Israel’s Education Minister Neftali Bennet said that Trump’s victory is the burial of the two-state solution, as if had Clinton won, Israel would have suddenly withdrawn within the 1967 borders.
 
The fact is that for too long Washington was playing a two-faced game, talking about two states and peace while signing billion-dollar long-term deals with the country that has been occupying Palestine for 49 years.
 
Regionally, it is unclear what Trump’s victory will mean.
 
Europeans probably feel emboldened now to come up and sponsor their kind of solution in Libya, without an attempt by Clinton to clean her record in this North African country.
 
Trump and the Republican’s big issue of waging war on “radical Islam” will not produce any major change from the current Obama strategy, but there will be big words followed by a scary kind of Islamphobia in the US.
 
America’s role in world affairs through UN agencies and its funding giant, USAID, will certainly take a backstage now that the White House and Congress are in the hands of a party that hates international agencies and does not like to spend money abroad.
 
The potential of a deal with Russia looms very big when one thinks of the attitude of someone like Trump the wheeler-dealer.
 
This could mean a deal to end the war in Syria, although it most likely will mean that Bashar Assad will stay on as president for some time.
 
If the interest of the US is the only reference point in the coming four years, it is hard to imagine how this will play out in Trump’s foreign policy.
 
Will this mean an abandonment of the very moral issues that the US has stood for over the years since its creation in 1776?
 
America and Britain will most likely increase their cooperation, as they are both in need to boost their trade partnership now that the UK is exiting the EU and America’s relations with Mexico will probably suffer.
 
But there is little expectation that an isolationist policy will grip Washington.
 
Despite claims to the contrary, international trade deals and agreements will not suffer because it is good for American business and brings in money and inexpensive products.
 
Trump’s victory against major odds has many people scratching their head simply because they have no idea who is the real Trump.
 
Is he the bigot, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrants, pro-waterboarding macho leader or is he someone who wants, as he said in his victory speech, to “seek common ground not hostility, partnership not conflict”?
 
Time will tell which Trump America has chosen and whether he will in fact deal fairly with the world.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net



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