What is the world expecting from a Trump presidency
Donald Trump , while campaigning for the presidency, unnerved European Leaders, by disparaging NATO, celebrating the British exit from the European Union and praising Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Many European leaders expected that after his unexpected victory in November last year, he’d clarify his remarks and adopt positions more in line with his predecessors.
Germans react in Berlin to Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Trump’s interview with two European papers last weekend proved that this was not the case. He called NATO again “obsolete”, declared that the British vote for leaving the EU would end up “being a great thing”, and described the EU’s role as “basically Germany’s vehicle.” He also condemned German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow in over a million refugees who were fleeing persecution and violence as a “catastrophic error.”
He also warned that he’d impose 35% duties on German and foreign cars imported from Mexico to the United States. He predicted that other countries will follow Britain and vote to leave Europe. And he said that he’d start his presidency by trusting Putin, who was once the head of the FSB (the successor to the KGB).
The European leaders are still unsure how much – if any – of Trump’s remarks will become US official policy. They have to prepare for Trump’s inconsistency and constant unpredictability, including his tendency of contradicting himself and his cabinet. In their confirmation hearings in the senate, the nominees to the positions of secretary of state and defense , for instance, affirmed that NATO and the EU remain a vital part of US foreign policy.
Europe is at a turning point. In modern American history, no president has ever entered office with this level of ambivalence about the institutions that bind the United States to its European allies. Trump’s actions may unite Europeans or further divide them. Merkel responded to Trump’s latest remarks by saying: “We Europeans are in charge of our destiny.”
Donald Trump avoided stating who he trusted more, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin. Damir Sagolj/Reuters
Andrea Peto and Weronika Grzebalska: Trump is good news for populist right-wing leaders in Europe
Trump’s election is a game-changer for right-wing populists from Central Europe. This is a sign of the slow decline of both the United States’ role as a guarantee of military security for the region and the global paradigm that connects free markets with liberal democratic values and rights.
Obama criticized Hungary and Poland for the erosion of civil liberties and the demise of the rule of law under the radical right parties FIDESZ and PiS. Trump has, however, begun his presidency with a warm invitation to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
These leaders, now that Trump is in power, are not the ‘black sheep’ among the Western political elites. They are partners in building a new unliberal international order that rejects liberal democratic freedoms and values.
Progressive NGOs and human rights organizations will be among the first victims of transnational illiberalism in Central Europe. These NGOs are already suffering from cuts to their government funding. This money was redirected towards conservative and faith-based organizations that support the right-wing populist agenda.
Kacper Pepl/Reuters Polish protesters holding signs that read, “Trump, go!” on the day before the US inauguration.
President Trump has opened a window to further de-globalization. We predict that he will restrict the presence of organizations like Amnesty International and expel foreign-funded donors of human rights like Open Society Foundations.
In short, the restructuring of the NGO sector could harm the feminist and human rights causes in the area, and activists might face security threats. In the long term, however, activists will be forced to rethink their political strategy if they lose their financial and institutional base. This could be a positive thing. The NGO-isation of Central Europe’s civil society after 1989 has depoliticised the resistance and turned it into a technological process.