Trump is a monarch and not president - GulfToday

Trump is a monarch and not president

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Donald Trump addresses a press conference.File/ AFP

Donald Trump’s contradictory foreign policies have angered, alarmed and, even, amused both world leaders and concerned citizens who follow his antics and pronouncements in public events and via twitter. Since he moved in, it has become clear the White House has never had a more ignorant, erratic, and blustering occupant.

Trump has managed to offend many of Washington’s traditional friends and allies as well as threaten most of the country’s longstanding antagonists.

There are two reasons why this is happening. Since emerging as a major power after World War II, the US has adopted extraterritoriality as the mainstay of its foreign policies and has enforced its reach with 800 to 1,000 military bases and installations around the world.

And, Trump acts as a monarch rather than a president of a republic. He has taken extraterritoriality to a new, highly intrusive level whereby he issues diktats and tries to instruct the leaders of other countries on what to do and how to act.  A recent example of this behaviour was his declaration that Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May would have succeeded in delivering Britain’s exit from the European Union if she had taken his advice.  His comment was not welcome in London where it was seen as interfering and inappropriate.  

France, Germany and Turkey as well as Britain and the Western Nato alliance and the European Union (EU) have been offended by Trump who has tried to dictate policies they should adopt.  He insisted Nato members must boost their armies and pay more for defence, called for the dissolution of the EU, refused to honour the US commitment to the Paris agreement on climate change, backed Brexit, and threatened to sanction Turkey because it has purchased a Russian missile system.   

Trump’s relations with Russia are complicated because Moscow is accused of interfering  on his behalf in the 2016 race for the presidency. While he cultivates a close relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Puti, his administration condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine and Syria. In line with this anti-Russian policy, he approves sanctions on the country’s energy sector, defence industries, and oligarchs. Putin argues Russian-US relations are going downhill. This has not phased Trump.  During Putin’s  encounter with Trump at the G20 Summit in Japan, the Russian smiled ironically when Trump reiterated his belief in Putin’s assertion that Moscow did not meddle in Trump’s  election.  

Even before taking office, Trump tweeted he would engulf North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang threatened the US. When North Korea fired long-range ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan, Trump dubbed the North Korean leader Kim jong-un “little rocket man.” Kim replied by calling Trump a “dotard” and “mentally deranged.”  But then there were flip-flops on both sides.

In February 2018, tensions were defused during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, a close US ally, when teams from both north and south marched together at the opening of the games. In March, Trump was invited to meet Kim.

Their June summit began a love-fest which continues even despite the lack of progress on the US demand that North Korea eliminate its nuclear weapons and delivery systems and the North Korean demand to end sanctions.

In April 2017, Trump held a summit at his Florida resort with China’s President Xi Jinping with the aim of sorting out differences over trade and the transfer of US technologies to Chinese firms.  The two men smiled widely and dined and walked together in the grounds of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat, which he calls the Winter White House.  However, underlying the camaraderie was an undercurrent of tension over differences on trade, North Korea, and Chinese moves in the South China Sea. Nevertheless, the spin from both sides was that the meeting was successful. After subsequent one-to-one discussions with Xi that July, Trump called it a “great meeting.” A year later, Trump slapped 25 per cent tariffs on 818 categories of Chinese imports worth $50 billion, prompting Beijing to accuse him of launching a trade war and responding with tariffs on US imports. By June of this year, US imports from China had fallen by 31 per cent. Relations between Trump and Xi are strained.

While behaving erratically on most fronts, Trump is consistent in his policies toward Palestine and Iran. Furthermore, his attitude toward Iran is dictated by his stand on Palestine.  While claiming he intends to solve the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, he has systematically demolished the internationally-accepted but Israeli-rejected “two-state solution” involving the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ended funding to Palestinian refugees and development projects, and declared the occupied Syrian Golan part of Israel. This action suggests he could do the same for the Palestinian West Bank, which is being rapidly colonised by Israel.

Since the current government of Iran has never been forgiven by the US political establishment for overthrowing its ally the shah in 1979, Trump has exploited this sentiment by adopting “regime change” as his policy toward Tehran although he denies this is his objective. In May 2018, he withdrew the US from the 2015 agreement fir downsizing Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions.  Although Tehran fully abided by its commitments until recently, Trump has imposed increasingly punitive sanctions designed to strangle Iran, compelled the rest of the world to submit to this policy, and threatened Iran with obliteration.

The reason he has been consistent in his policies toward Palestine and Iran is that Trump is under the sway of the right-wing Israeli regime led by Binyamin Netanyahu.  He has made no secret of his determined to push the US into a war on Iran due to its unflinching support for Palestinian self-determination. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose family has long been closely involved with Netanyahu, has drafted but not yet released Trump’s “deal of the century” which he has claimed will end the Palestinian-Israeli struggle by giving Israel all of Palestine.

Kushner persists although  Palestinians reject biased US interference.

Trump will stick with Kushner’s plan because it is a great vote-getter among pro-Israeli, white, US Evangelical Christians and attracts campaign donations from wealthy US businessmen devoted to the cause of “Greater Israel,” stretching from the Mediterranean shore to the Jordan River and, if Trump is re-elected, perhaps, beyond.