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Contradictory views about Republican Trump as US President

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Good or bad for the USA, but Republican Party appears to have gained an edge over the Democratic Party in the ongoing presidency poll campaign. People of America are unhappy, if not annoyed, that the Democratic Party too has convincingly betrayed them.

There cannot be two opinions about the suitability of Republican hopeful Trump for US presidency in advancing its capitalist and imperialist ideals even as the ruling Democratic party, pursuing the Bushdom’s imperialist policy as its own, has lost its legitimacy and worth to be the American rulers. Americans have no reason to trust the Obama-Hillary party any more.

Unlike Democrats, who have rallied in a unified fashion around Mrs. Clinton for the most part, the Republican Party has splintered around the divisive candidate since Donald Trump first began gaining traction among voters more than a year ago. All of them welcomed Trump phenomenon as a morale boost for Hillary. However, as the trend began slowing changing in his favor, many of Democrats and Republicans opposed him.

First there is a feeble protest from within the Republican Party as, interestingly, less than a week after several GOP officials called for Donald Trump to step down from the ticket, some have decided to back him again. After publicly repudiating Donald Trump, some Republicans have reclaimed their spots behind the candidate, saying they still plan to vote for him in spite of recent revelations.

That’s the odd middle ground where several Republican officials and candidates find themselves this week. For them the “nasty” comments made by Trump during the primaries were not disgusting but now Trump’s fanatic rhetoric has become totally “unacceptable” under any circumstance. Now they argue: “It would be wise for him to step aside and allow Mike Pence to serve as our party’s nominee.” They have backtracked, telling KILN radio in Nebraska that they will vote for Trump in November. Sen. Deb Fischer (R) of Nebraska, for instance, revised her choice: “I support the Republican ticket and it’s a Trump-Pence ticket.” Perhaps they see the victory for Trump for granted now. Sen. John Thune (R) of South Dakota faced a similar dilemma after calling for Trump to step down on Twitter. He, too, decided to remain among Trump’s voting bloc. Then Darryl Glenn, a Republican candidate running for a Colorado Senate seat, swayed his position similarly. Solid backing for Trump!

Those who now still oppose Trump candidacy are “establishment” people who had earlier forcefully supported Trump thinking his candidature would strengthen Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s chances to White House as the first woman president of the NATO leader nation. In an increasingly unconventional election year, partisanship hasn’t proved as strong of a tie as it once did. A quarter of elected Republican officials, along with a growing list of prominent conservatives – most recently commentator Glenn Back – have sided with the “Never Trump” movement. A few have even endorsed Hillary Clinton’s run for president.

The group of outspoken Republicans has cited the businessman’s brash rhetoric and unorthodox attacks on others as factors that make him unfit to serve as president. Dozens of party members who had previously pledged their support to Trump changed their tune after The Washington Post canvassing for Hillary, “unearthed” a decade-old recording in which he boasted of his aggressive and nonconsensual sexual conduct with women.

Even as the dust settles, it seems that not everyone who decried the candidate’s remarks plans to follow through on denouncing him entirely. For some, speaking out against Trump may be about protecting their own image, but defaulting back to the party’s ticket allows them to maintain vital ties in Congress.

For Republicans who have given less-than-enthusiastic endorsements to Trump, or even shifted their stances, there’s an opportunity to stand in line with the post-2016 Republican party, whatever form it takes. If brazen Trump supporters make up the party’s majority, they can find favor in the crowd for supporting the candidate. But if the party takes a more moderate, traditionally conservative shape next year, they’ll be among those who condemned Trump’s racist and sexist rhetoric.

Other defectors and non-endorsers, like New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte or Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, are skirting the lines of party loyalty to save their own campaigns. In their battleground states, where attracting moderates remains a key campaign plan, Senator Ayotte has formally denounced Trump, while Senator Toomey has refused to come to a public conclusion.

As a candidate who has brought first-time and disenfranchised voters to the forefront in massive numbers, Trump has proven he can mobilize a passionate group of people. The pressure from voters has been mounting to support Trump. They also have a lot of constituents who strongly support Trump and view defection as disloyalty.

The Republican candidate’s view that America should remain great in its own right, and that its involvement in international partnerships is more of a burden than a blessing, is naturally antithetical to international cooperation. After his first debate with Hillary Clinton, several US allies expressed fear of an isolationist America withdrawing from a dangerous world, putting “America first,” in Trump’s words, and giving little weight to anybody else’s opinion.

Meanwhile, the UN’s top human rights official has joined the chorus of Donald Trump critics. UN human rights chief and Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told reporters that he is very concerned about the Republican presidential candidate’s attitude towards human rights issues, particularly the use of torture. “If Donald Trump is elected, on the basis of what he has said already and unless that changes, I think it’s without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view,” said Prince Zeid, who spent many years living and studying in the USA. Last month, Zeid also criticized Trump’s reliance on divisive racial and religious rhetoric, which he said could put already vulnerable people at greater risk of losing their rights. “We have to be on guard to see that in the end vulnerable populations, populations at risk, do not again see their rights deprived because of a view that is in the ascendancy based on false premises,” he said. The human rights chief said that his concern for the potential consequences of Trump’s election compelled him to speak out.

With Election Day less than one month away, the factions that constitute today’s Republican Party may have reached a parting of the ways, as House Speaker Paul Ryan and presidential nominee Donald Trump engage in an extraordinary political struggle over the soul of the GOP. Will Nov. 9 mark the beginning of the return of the GOP of Representative Ryan – traditional, conservative, devoted to smaller government and lower taxes? Or is the Republican Party now the Party of Trump, nativist, populist, nostalgic for an undefined past?

If Trump loses, the outcome is far less predictable. It is possible that he will fade almost as quickly as he emerged, defeat having punctured his bellicose image. Presidents are the face of their party. Trump would win the election and almost certainly would win this intramural contest, as well. The billionaire’s priorities and supporters would define the GOP after four (or eight) years in power.

Donald Trump is sure what said during the primaries was just an essential gimmick to impress upon the Republicans choose as candidate for the presidency and he won that. Quite likely Trump would, if what the trends suggest is real, win the White house too. His tough views pushed virtually all his Republican primary rivals in his direction. Opposition to a path for citizenship for those present in the US illegally may now be a litmus test for future GOP presidential aspirants. Similarly, Trump may have flipped the party’s long-standing pro-free trade position. His tirades about jobs lost to China and Mexico, and the need to reverse that trend, get the crowds at his rallies roaring.

Demographic trends within the Republican Party underlie many of these attitudes. The GOP is becoming whiter, older, more male, and less educated than the nation as a whole. During the years of the Obama presidency, GOP gains among whites and men have enabled the party to offset corresponding Democratic gains among nonwhites and women.

Whether or not Trump would be a defiantly hawk to pursue the Bushdom rule of invading energy rich Arab world more aggressively than what Bush-Obama duo have done so far, is different matter, but obviously American voters do not expect him to be the first ever elected revolutionary leader to wind down all ongoing terror wars and honestly and sincerely work for global peace.

American public, which remains a helplessly silent spectator of what the pentagon-CIA duo has been doing world side, is ready now for any political eventuality.

Whether that works for Republicans, and produces a party that can win presidential elections at a time when the US is becoming less white, remains to be seen.

After a long period of stable gridlock, American politics has entered a newly chaotic period. The party coalitions are realigning too. It does mean the GOP may be entering a period of instability unprecedented in the modern era. If Trump loses, party leaders may vacillate between approaches, first attempting to unite the GOP around a general anti-Clinton philosophy, then perhaps acceding to certain aspects of Trumpism.

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Americas

Will Geneva Be Any Different Than Helsinki?

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Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Any meeting between the leaders of Russia and the U.S. is inevitably an important international event. At some point in history, such summits decided the fate of the entire world, and the world held its collective breath as it followed Kremlin-White House talks on strategic arms or the two sides seeking agreements on urgent regional problems or any political signals coming from the superpower capitals prior to another round of negotiations.

The bipolar era has long been gone, and the Russia-U.S. relations are no longer the principal axis of international politics, although the suspense over bilateral summits remains. As before, the two countries are engaged in “top-down” interaction. Summits give the initial impetus to Moscow and Washington’s cumbersome bureaucratic machines, then diplomats, military personnel and officials start their assiduous work on specific issues, collaboration between the two countries’ private sectors and civil society perks up, the media gradually soften their rhetoric, bilateral projects in culture, education and science are gradually resumed.

Still, there are annoying exceptions to this general rule. In particular, the latest full-fledged Russia–U.S. summit in Helsinki in July 2018 failed to trigger improvements in bilateral relations. On the contrary, Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland’s capital aroused massive resentment among the anti-Russian Washington establishment. Ultimately, on returning home, the U.S. President had to offer awkward apologies to his supporters and opponents alike, and relations between the two countries continued to rapidly deteriorate after the summit.

Surely, nobody is willing to see another Helsinki scenario in June 2021, this time in Geneva. Yet, do we have good reason to hope for a different outcome this time? To answer this question, let us compare Donald Trump and Joseph Biden’s approaches to Russia-U.S. summits and to bilateral relations at large.

First of all, in Helsinki, Trump very much wanted the Russian leader to like him. The Republican President avoided publicly criticizing his Russian counterpart and was quite generous with his compliments to him, which inevitably caused not only annoyance but pure outrage in Washington and in Trump’s own Administration. Joe Biden has known Vladimir Putin for many years; he does not set himself the task of getting the Russian leader to like him. As far as one can tell, the two politicians do not have any special liking for each other, with this more than reserved attitude unlikely to change following their meeting in Geneva.

Additionally, in Helsinki, Trump wanted, as was his wont, to score an impressive foreign policy victory of his own. He believed he was quite capable of doing better than Barack Obama with his “reset” and of somehow “hitting it off” with Putin, thereby transforming Russia if not into a U.S. ally, then at least into its strategic partner. Apparently, Biden has no such plans. The new American President clearly sees that Moscow-Washington relations will remain those of rivalry in the near future and will involve direct confrontation in some instances. The Kremlin and the White House have widely diverging ideas about today’s world: about what is legitimate and what is illegitimate, what is fair and what is unfair, where the world is heading and what the impending world order should be like. So, we are not talking about a transition from strategic confrontation to strategic partnership, we are talking about a possible reduction in the risks and costs of this necessarily costly and lengthy confrontation.

Finally, Trump simply had much more time to prepare for the Helsinki summit than Biden has had to prepare for Geneva. Trump travelled to Finland eighteen months after coming to power. Biden is planning to meet with Putin in less than five months since his inauguration. Preparations for the Geneva summit have to be made in haste, so the expectations concerning the impending summit’s outcome are less.

These differences between Biden and Trump suggest that there is no reason to expect a particularly successful summit. Even so, we should not forget the entire spectrum of other special features of the Biden Administration’s current style of foreign policy. They allow us to be cautiously optimistic about the June summit.

First, Donald Trump never put too much store by arms control, since he arrogantly believed the U.S. capable of winning any race with either Moscow or Beijing. So, his presidential tenure saw nearly total destruction of this crucial dimension of the bilateral relations, with all its attendant negative consequences for other aspects of Russia-U.S. interaction and for global strategic stability.

In contrast, Biden remains a staunch supporter of arms control, as he has already confirmed by his decision to prolong the bilateral New START. There are grounds for hoping that Geneva will see the two leaders to at least start discussing a new agenda in this area, including militarization of outer space, cyberspace, hypersonic weapons, prompt global strike potential, lethal autonomous weapons etc. The dialogue on arms control beyond the New START does not promise any quick solutions, as it will be difficult for both parties. Yet, the sooner it starts, the better it is going to be for both countries and for the international community as a whole.

Second, Trump never liked multilateral formats, believing them to be unproductive. Apparently, he sincerely believed that he could single-handedly resolve any burning international problems, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to North Korea’s nuclear missile programme.

Biden does not seem to harbor such illusions. He has repeatedly emphasized the importance of multilateralism, and he clearly understands that collaboration with Russia is necessary on many regional conflicts and crises. Consequently, Geneva talks may see the two leaders engage in a dialogue on Afghanistan, on the Iranian nuclear deal, on North Korea, or even on Syria. It is not at all obvious that Biden will succeed in reaching agreement with Putin immediately on all or any of these issues, but the very possibility of them discussed at the summit should be welcomed.

Third, Trump was not particularly fond of career diplomats and, apparently, attached little value to the diplomatic dimension of foreign policy. The Russia-U.S. “embassy war” had started before Trump—but not only did Trump fail to stop it, he boosted it to an unprecedented scale and urgency.

Sadly, the “embassy war” continues after Trump, too. Yet President Biden, with his tremendous foreign policy experience, understands diplomatic work better and appreciates it. Practical results of the Geneva summit could include a restoration of the diplomatic missions in Washington and Moscow to their full-fledged status and a rebuilding of the networks of consular offices, which have been completely destroyed in recent years. Amid the problems of big politics, consular services may not seem crucial but, for most ordinary Russians and Americans, regaining the opportunity for recourse to rapid and efficient consular services would outweigh many other potential achievements of the Geneva summit.

From our partner RIAC

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“Choose sides” is practically a bogus idea for US military partners

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“Choosing sides” is practically a non-starter for US military allies such as Japan and South Korea. These nations, first and foremost military allies of the US, are forging cordial and productive ties with other countries based on military alliances with the US. The nature and level of partnerships varies greatly from those of allies, despite the fact that they appear to be quite heated at times.

Military concerns have been less important in the postwar period, but economic concerns have been extremely heated, social and cultural interactions have been close, and the qualitative differences between cooperative relations and allies have gotten confused, or have been covered and neglected.

Some unreasonable expectations and even mistakes were made. In general, in the game between the rising power and the hegemony, it is undesirable for the rising power to take the initiative and urge the hegemony’s supporters to select a side. Doing so will merely reinforce these countries’ preference for hegemony.

Not only that, but a developing country must contend with not only a dominant hegemony, but also a system of allies governed by the hegemony. In the event of a relative reduction in the power of the hegemony, the strength of the entire alliance system may be reinforced by removing restraints on allies, boosting allies’ capabilities, and allowing allies’ passion and initiative to shine.

Similarly, the allies of the hegemonic power are likely to be quite eager to improve their own strength and exert greater strength for the alliance, without necessarily responding to, much alone being pushed by, the leader. The “opening of a new chapter in the Korean-US partnership” was a key component of the joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States following the meeting of Moon Jae-in and Biden. What “new chapter” may a military alliance have in a situation of non-war?

There are at least three features that can be drawn from the series of encounters between South Korea and the United States during Moon Jae-visit in’s to the United States: First, the withdrawal of the “Korea-US Missile Guide” will place military constraints on South Korea’s missile development and serve as a deterrence to surrounding nations. The second point is that, in addition to the Korean Peninsula, military cooperation between the US and South Korea should be expanded to the regional level in order to respond to regional hotspots. The third point is that, in addition to military alliances, certain elements in vaccinations, chips, 5G, and even 6G are required. These types of coalitions will help to enhance economic cooperation.

Despite the fact that Vice President Harris wiped her hands after shaking hands with Moon Jae-in, and Biden called Moon Jae-in “Prime Minister” and other rude behaviors, the so-called “flaws” are not hidden, South Korea still believes that the visit’s results have exceeded expectations, and that Moon Jae-in’s approval rate will rise significantly as a result.

The joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States addresses delicate subjects such as the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Of course, China expresses its outrage. It is widely assumed that this is a “private cargo” delivered by Biden’s invitation to Moon Jae-in to visit the United States.

Moon Jae-in stated that he was not pressured by Biden. If this is correct, one option is that such specific concerns will not be handled at all at the summit level; second, South Korea is truly worried about the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns and wishes to speak with the US jointly.

South Korea should be cognizant of China’s sensitivity to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns. When it comes to China-related concerns, the phrasing in the ROK-US joint statement is far more mild than that in the ROK-Japan joint declaration. Nonetheless, the harm done to South Korea-China ties cannot be overlooked.

South Korea highlights the “openness” and “inclusiveness” of the four-party security dialogue system, which allows South Korea to engage to some extent. South Korea will assess the net gain between the “gain” on the US side and the “loss” on the Chinese side. China would strongly protest and fiercely respond to any country’s measures to intervene in China’s domestic affairs and restrict China’s rise.

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Political Violence and Elections: Should We Care?

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The next Sunday 6th of June, the Chamber of Deputies along with 15 out of the 32 governorships will be up for grabs in Mexico’s mid-term elections. These elections will be a crucial test for the popularity of the president and his party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). They currently hold majority in the Lower Chamber of the national Congress, and these elections could challenge this.

Recent national polls indicate that the ruling party, MORENA, is still the most popular political force in Mexico, and they are poised to win not only several governorships, but also several municipalities. They are also expected to maintain control of the Lower  Chamber, although with a loss of a few seats. In order to ensure MORENA keeps its current majority in the Congress, they have decided to pursue an electoral alliance with the Green Party (PVEM) and the Labout Party (PT). It is expected that with this move, they will be able to ensure the majority in the Chamber of Deputies in the Congress.

There is, however, another aspect that is making the headlines in this current electoral process: The high levels of political and electoral violence, The current electoral process is the second most violent since 2000. The number of candidates that have been assassinated is close to 30% higher than the mid-term electoral process of 2015. More than 79 candidates have been killed so far all across the country.

Insecurity in Mexico has been an ongoing issue that has continued to deteriorate during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). AMLO has continually criticised his predecessors and the valid problems of their approaches to insecurity in Mexico along with the War on Drugs policy. However, to date, he has yet to offer a viable alternative to tackle the security problems he inherited. During his campaign, AMLO coined the phrase “abrazos no balazos” (hugs not bullets) to describe his approach toward improving security in Mexico. He believed that to successfully tackle the worsening crisis of insecurity, the structural conditions that forced people to commit crimes had to be addressed first: Namely inequality, poverty, low salaries, lack of access to employment etc. To date, insecurity in Mexico continues to worsen, and this had become evident during the current electoral process.

This nonsensical approach to insecurity has resulted in the first three years of his government reaching over 100,000 murders, along with the nearly 225,000 deaths as a result of the pandemic.

What should be particularly worrying in this spiral of violence, is the prevalence of political and electoral violence during the current process. Political violence represents not only a direct attack on democratic institutions and democracy itself, but it also compromises the independence, autonomy, and integrity of those currently in power, and those competing for positions of power. It affects democracy also because political violence offers a way for candidates to gain power through violent means against opposition, and this also allows organised crime to infiltrate the state apparatus.

Political violence is a phenomenon that hurts all citizens and actors in a democracy. It represents a breeding ground for authoritarianism, and impunity at all levels of government. This limits the freedoms and rights of citizens and other actors as it extinguishes any sort of democratic coexistence between those currently holding political power and those aspiring to achieve it. Political violence also obstructs the development of democracy as it discredits anyone with critical views to those in power. This is worrying when we consider that 49% of those assassinated belong to opposition parties. This increase in political violence has also highlighted AMLO´s inability to curtail organised crime and related violence.

Assassination of candidates is only the tip of the iceberg. Organised criminal groups have also infiltrated politics through financing of political campaigns. Most of electoral and political violence tends to happen an municipal levels, where it is easier for criminal groups to exert more pressure and influence in the hope of securing protection, and perpetuate impunity, or securing control over drug trafficking routes. This should be especially worrisome when there is close too government control in certain areas of the country, and there is a serious risk of state erosion at municipal level in several states.

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