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The logic and strategy of Trump’s Presidency

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] W [/yt_dropcap] hich are the psycho-political mechanisms and the actual policies that have led Donald Trump to power? It is not something simple to define. Certainly the Presidency of the businessman having a German origin – as former President Eisenhower’s – has gone against all the tenets and dogmas of the now intolerable politically correct. It has tackled the core of the US crisis that is much more evident at social level than Europe’s, which is not politically correct but at least has the Welfare State.

For example in almost 8% of American homes, there are “food insecure” children – a politically correct way to say that they do not eat enough.

Furthermore, in 2014, there were 43.1 million poor people in the United States, 19.4 millions of whom lived in extreme poverty.

Even the government statistical offices tell us that one of the major causes of poverty is immigration.

The immigrants coming from other neighbouring countries, namely Mexico, are ready to be paid less than the native people – hence the low-wage jobs are becoming increasingly rare and increasingly low-paid.

Then there is the huge military and security spending, which is 50% of the government’s discretionary spending. All this finally leads to what some sociologists have defined as the “culture of inequality”.

Indeed, the United States are alien to any social tradition of solidarity, which remains Protestantly withdrawn into the soul of the single individual.

Therefore populations are always segregated by income and race and, as already said, jobs are rare and underpaid, which generates mass crime and spreads the model of the “single parent family”.

Hence this is the starting design: the long progressive season in the United States; a political culture more interested in gay marriage than in mass poverty; a political language focused on the body and its “rights”; the pop culture as the axis of young people’s communication, education and training.

Young people have to be considered future consumers, not producers.

Conversely Donald Trump speaks, first and foremost, to the underprivileged masses, who are huge in the United States.

The Midwest region which voted for Trump, the Rust Belt of abandoned factories and endemic poverty of the former working class followed the Brexit example and voted for the New York’s tycoon.

All the universalistic political classes that remember what is useless and forget the new poverty will be wiped out.

In addition, and this still holds true at psycho-political level, Trump’s election campaign was specifically “male chauvinist and sexist”, without bending to the various current mythologies – as Barthes called them – which idealize and enhance the role of women and conversely make men an often unnecessary corollary.

Trump’s other chance of victory was Hillary Clinton herself.

She endangered the US ambassador to Libya, Stevens, who later died in an attack by Ansar al Sharia, by denying additional support to make the Benghazi’s offices safe. Not to mention the misuse of the Clinton Foundation, used as a bribe for those who wanted to talk to the Head of the State Department.

She was also blamed for the 15,000 e-mails on her personal server, as well as for her obviously not good health conditions and the aura of cynicism and truth denial shown in her political activities.

In short, only the naive Europeans, with their poor minds still tied to the myths of Kennedy’s “New Society”, could fund her publicly, being ill-informed of how the election campaign was going and later subjected to Trump’s revenge.

Let us not forget that, even during the election campaign, Hillary Clinton was focused on continuing to implement the tragic strategy of “bringing” democracy throughout the Middle East.

In fact, she had started the insurgency which unsuccessfully tried to oust   Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria.

Indeed, she used all the jihad delinquents, renamed – for the occasion – “moderate Islamists”.

Maybe those groups included also Ansar al Sharia, precisely the one which had assassinated Stevens and the others in Benghazi …

The jihadist fighters trained by CIA and the Department of State shot one another while, after the US training, some “moderate” jihadist groups went immediately to enlist and swell the Isis ranks.

The comedy of tragedy.

Reverting to the election campaign, it is not hard to guess that Bernie Sanders’ supporters voted for Hillary Clinton, but bringing not even an additional voter to the polls for supporting her.

However, what is President-elect Trump planning to do? He will most likely be the political leader putting an end to globalization, which was an Americanization and, hence, can only be stopped “at source.”

In more concrete terms, Trump said the united States should stop the great immigration from the South, namely from Mexico, which should pay for the now notorious “wall.”

Hence less immigration, less competition for “low-paid jobs” and wage increase in those sectors.

Trump, a politician from the Right, is the first candidate for the Presidency to talk about the poor during the election campaign.

This is not so strange. It was Bismarck, with the help of the Social Democrat Lassalle, to make insurance mandatory for workers.

Moreover, again in Trump’s mind, the Muslims coming from countries with a proven record of terrorism against the United States should be barred from entering the country.

However, are there Islamic countries not falling within this category?

Currently there are 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States.

An even smaller religious minority than Hindus and Sikhs in America.

Obviously Trump wants to avoid the quick expansion of this ethno-religious area, which the new President regards as a “fifth column” of all forms of Islamic insurgency.

This is another limit to globalization: one of its founding myths was everybody’s freedom to move everywhere to find good jobs, salvation and survival.

This was also a way to stabilize the Third World countries’ regimes which, thanks to emigration, got rid of their “dangerous masses.”

This is no longer the case in the United States.

Maybe the US stance and behaviour on these issues will encourage the countries recording strong migration flows to seal their borders permanently.

The issue of borders recurs everywhere – those borders which, according to Régis Debray, were the first motivation for a State.

Another issue raised in the election campaign, which will soon be implemented, is the end of “Obamacare”, the system of health insurance for the poor people that has also greatly irritated and vexed the US old and new Right.

In essence, “Obamacare” is the State support for purchasing health insurance, thus forbidding insurance companies from refusing to insure people for their past health conditions or economic status.

In the United States healthcare spending accounts for 10% of GDP, while in countries characterized by the Welfare State, such as Italy, it accounts for 9.2%.

The reason for all this is complex to explain, but one point is clear: it is a health system focused on doctors’ income.

Trump, however, believes that everyone should have health coverage, but not linked to the insurance market, which has other criteria than those of the healthcare system, because it only wants to make profit.

Nevertheless it is not yet clear how Trump wants to solve this problem in the future.

Furthermore the new President-elect believes that we should certainly set great store by clean air and water, but he thinks that “climate change” is a real hoax.

And to think that a former vice-President had made it the focus of his election campaign, fearing huge destruction which did not occur.

Certainly we must take care of the environment, but the scare-mongering campaign of “climate change” supporters has much to do with science fiction movies.

As to the global strategy, Trump has dared to challenge one of the most deeply-rooted common places in the US public, by saying that the world would be better if Saddam and Gaddafi were still in power.

They both fought terrorism better and made their countries stable; it was a US severe mistake to make them collapse.

This is an essential step: with Trump, America will cease to bring democracy everywhere, with the results that are before us to be seen.

Will it be a new isolationism? No, it will not.

It will be a new US position in the world, in close relation with China’s strong economic and political expansion, a more assertive Russia and an irrelevant Europe.

Not to mention the hot spots: Syria, North Korea and the whole Middle East.

Trump has already stated he is harshly opposed to the JCPOA Treaty on Iran’s nuclear power.

In his opinion, the 5 + 1 Treaty is a way to enrich Iran and not to really stop its nuclear weapons, thus making it continue to play its role as sponsor of international terrorism.

Certainly, as already discussed at length, the JCPOA Treaty has many chances to be circumvented and, in any case, it does not stop the Iranian race to nuclear weapons.

Trump has also stated he has a plan to eliminate Isis, but he has not delved into the issue during the election campaign.

Furthermore – and this is a sore spot for Europeans – Trump has dismissed NATO as “obsolete”.

In other words, the President-elect thinks that the primary axis of defence is not what unites Europe to America, but he believes that the United States should take autonomous and independent actions with regard to China, the Russian Federation and the other growing geopolitical powers.

Just to quote the witty remark of its first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, NATO had been created to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down”.

Today, this is no longer the case: the Germans are autonomous and often make foreign policy with the United States and not with the other EU Member States; the Russians are out but, despite the current NATO doctrine, they are not a deadly threat.

Now the new strategic potentials are elsewhere.

Hence if NATO is obsolete, we shall rethink the EU’s foreign policy, which will not have the automatic protection ensured by the Atlantic mechanism.

Therefore the EU shall rethink all its foreign and defence policy lines, including the most recent ones, and accept the fact that globalization, at least its first phase, is over.

The United States will play their game, regardless of Europeans liking it or not.

Moreover the European Union shall rethink its strategic role.

Shall it only be an economic union, with the euro that nobody wants any longer? It will soon fail because every political union has a strategic and military principle.

However, there will be a real European army, as some people hope after Brexit?

And who will dictate the strategies: the EU universalistic humanitarianism or other countries more aware of the new threats?

In short, with Trump, Europe is alone. It shall operate in a new world without the forms of protection which had arisen in the aftermath of World War II.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Americas

In Praise of the Lioness of Law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her Jurisprudence

Punsara Amarasinghe

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image credit: Wikipedia

The death of the US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created an abyss in the court for the liberal voice where justice Ginsburg was seen as the linchpin of the liberal block of the Supreme Court at a time when that block was shrinking. Especially late judge had vociferously advocated for women ‘rights, environmental issues and often came up with unique dissents in delivering her judgements which were propelled by her jurisprudence which embodied the solemn ideal in American legal system “Equal Protection under the Law “. She was on a quest to defend the delicate balance between honoring the timelessness of American Constitution and recognizing the depth of its enduring principles in new centuries and under new circumstances.

She grew up in an era where men held the helm in every aspect of social life and especially the legal profession was utterly dominated by men. Recalling her legal studies at Harvard law school in the 50’s judge Ginsburg had stated later how she was once asked by the Dean of Harvard law school to justify her position as a law student that otherwise would have gone to a man. Yet she had the spunk to overcome all the obstacles stood on her way and excelled as a scholar becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.

In tracing her legal career that it becomes a salient fact, Judge Ginsburg marked her name in American legal history even decades before she joined the bench. While at the American Civil Liberties Union in the early seventies she made an upheaval in American in legal system in famous Supreme Court Case Reed Vs Reed. In Reed Vs Reed the brief drafted by Ginsburg provided an astute analysis on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause. Ginsburg’s brief changed the aged long practice existed in the State of Idaho on favoring men over women in estate battles by paving the path for a discourse on gender equality rights in the USA.

Judge Ginsburg’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 1994 during Clinton administration marked the dawn of new jurisprudential chapter in the US Supreme Court. Two terms later, in the United States v. Virginia (VMI), Justice Ginsburg applied her lucid perspective to a sharply disputed constitutional claim. The United States challenged Virginia’s practice of admitting only men to its prestigious military college, the Virginia Military Institute. Writing for six Justices, Ginsburg held this policy unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. In reaching this result, Ginsburg adroitly cut away potentially confounding issues about women’s participation in the military or the advantages of single-sex education.

Her robust activism in securing gender equality often attracted the admirations of the feminist scholars and activists, but it should be noted that her contribution was not only confined to the protection of gender equality. She was a robust critique of racial dissemination which still pervades in American society and she frequently pointed out how racial discrimination has marred the constitutional protections guaranteed to every citizen. Especially in the case of Gratz Vs Bollitnger, she stressed on the commitment that the state ought to fulfil by eliminating the racial biases existing employment and education. Moreover, disabled citizens. In Olmstead v. Zimring, she held that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.45 She elaborated a two-fold concept of discrimination, noting that unneeded institutionalization both “perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life”.

In remembering the mortal departure of this prudent judge that one cannot forget her keenness in incorporating international law into her judgements regardless of the disinclination shown by conservative judges like Antony Scalia. Going beyond the mere textualism approach to the law, Ginsburg’s jurisprudence was much more akin to using international law to make substantive decisions. For instance, in her concurring verdict in Grutter Vs Bollinger, Justice Ginsburg relied upon international human rights law, and in particular upon two United Nations conventions, to support her conclusions.

Indeed, the demise of Ruth Ginsburg is a major blow for the liberalists in the USA, especially in an era where liberalist values are at stake under the fervent rise of populist waves propounded by Donald Trump. Especially late judge had been one of the harsh critics of Trump even before ascendency to the Oval office. The void created by the demise of judge Ginsburg might change the role the US Supreme Court if the successor to her position would take a more conservative approach and it will fortify the conservative bloc in the US Supreme Court. Trump has already placed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and the third pick would more deeply entrench the conservative views in the US Supreme Court, which would inevitably undermine the progressive policies taken during Obama’s administration towards issues such as the environment. The political storm appeared after the death of the late judge has already created a tense situation in US politics as president Trump is determined to appoint a judge to fill before the presidential election in November.

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The Politics of (In)security in Mexico: Between Narcissism and Political Failure

Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza

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Image credit: Wikimedia

Security cannot be that easily separated from the political realm. The need for security is the prime reason why people come together to collectively form a state. Providing security is, therefore, one of the most basic functions of the state as a political and collective entity.

Last Friday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) laughed during his daily morning press briefings over a national newspaper headline about 45 massacres during his presidency. This attitude summarises in a macabre way his approach to insecurity: it is not his top priority. This is not the first time that AMLO has showed some serious and deeply disturbing lack of empathy for victims of crimes. Before taking office, he knew that insecurity was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges, and he has come to realise that curbing it down will not be as simple as he predicted during his presidential campaign.

Since the start of the War on Drugs in 2006, Mexico has sunk into a deep and ever-growing spiral of violence and vigilantism as a result of the erosion of the capacity of the state to provide safety to citizens. Vigilantism is when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands in order to fill the vacuum left by the state, or to pursue their own very particular interests. Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz have over 50 vigilante organisations that pose substantial danger to the power of the state.

Vigilantism is not the only factor exacerbating the security crisis in Mexico: since 2006, young people have also started to join drug cartels and other criminal organisations. There are important sectors of the population who feel that the state has failed to represent them. They also feel betrayed because the state has not been able to provide them with the necessary means to better themselves. These frustrations make them vulnerable to the indoctrination of organised crime gangs who promise to give them some sort of ideological direction and solution to their problems.

As a result, it is not enough to carry out a kingpin arrest strategy and to preach on the moral duties we have as citizens as well as on human dignity. People need to be given enough means to find alternative livelihoods that are attractive enough to take them out of organised crime, Mexico can draw some important lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and resettled ex-combatants after the armed conflict. Vigilantism, recruitment by organised crime, and insecurity have also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. The judicial system is weak and highly ineffective. A large proportion of the population does not trust the police, or the institutions in charge of the rule of law.

A long-term strategy requires linking security with politics. It needs to address not only the consequences but also the roots of unemployment and deep inequality. However, doing so requires decisive actions to root out widespread and vicious corruption. Corruption allows concentration of wealth and also prevents people from being held accountable. This perpetuates the circle of insecurity. Mexico has been slowly moving towards a borderline failed state. The current government is starting to lose legitimacy and the fragility of the state is further perpetuated by the undemocratic, and predatory governance of the current administration.

Creating a safer Mexico requires a strong, coherent, and stable leadership, AMLO’s administration is far from it. His popularity has consistently fallen as a result of his ineffective policies to tackle the pandemic, worsening insecurity, and the economic crisis. Mexico has reached over 72,000 Covid-19 deaths; during his initial 20 months as incumbent president, there has been 53,628 murders, among them 1800 children or teenagers, and 5888 women (11 women killed per day) This criminality rate is double than what it was during the same period in the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012); and 55% higher than with the last president, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Mexico is also experiencing its worst economic recession in 90 years.

Insecurity remains as the issue of most concern among Mexicans, seeing the president laughing about it, can only fill citizens with yet more despair and lack of trusts in the government and its institutions. AMLO’s catastrophic performance is not surprising, though. Much of his failures and shortcomings can be explained by both ideology and a narcissistic personality. Having someone with both of those traits ruling a country under normal, peaceful times is already dangerous enough, add an economic crisis and a pandemic to the mix and the result is utter chaos.

AMLO embodies the prototypical narcissist: he has a grandiose self-image; an inflated ego; a constant need for admiration; and intolerance to criticism. He, like many other narcissists, thinks about himself too much and too often, making him incapable of considering the wellbeing of other and unable to pursue the public interest. He has a scapegoat ready to blame for his failures and mistakes: previous administrations, conservatives, neoliberalism, academics, writers, intellectuals, reporters, scientists, you name it, the list is long and keeps getting longer.

AMLO keeps contradicting himself and he does not realise it. He has been claiming for months that the pandemic is under control: it is not. He declares Mexico is ready to face the pandemic and we have enough tests and medical equipment: we do not. He says Mexico is on its way to economic recovery: it is not. He states corruption is a thing of the past: it is not. He says Mexico is now safer than ever before: it is not. When told the opposite he shrugs criticism off and laughs, the behaviour of a typical narcissist.

AMLO, alike narcissists, due to his inability to face criticism, has never cared about surrounding himself by the best and brightest. He chose a bunch of flunkies as members of his cabinet who try to please and not humiliate their leader. A further trait of narcissistic personalities is that they love conflict and division as this keeps them under control. The more destabilisation and antagonism, the better. AMLO since the start of his presidency has been setting states against states for resources and for pandemic responses, instead of coordinating a national response. He is also vindictive: playing favourites with those governors who follow him and punishing those that oppose him.

Deep down, narcissistic leaders are weak. AMLO is genuinely afraid to lead. He simply cannot bring himself to make decisions that are solely his. This is why he has relied on public referendums and consultations to cancel projects or advance legislation. He will not take any responsibility if something goes wrong: It was not him who decided, it was the people, blame them. He inherited a broken system that cannot be fixed during his term, blame the previous administrations, not him.

AMLO is a prime example of a textbook narcissist, unfortunately he is not the only one: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte are only a few more examples of what seems to be a normalised behaviour in contemporary politics. Every aspect of AMLO’s and other leaders presidencies have been heavily marked by their psychopathology. Narcissism, however, does not allow proper and realistic self-assessment, self-criticism, and self-appreciation therefore such leaders will simply ignore the red flags in their administration and have no clue how despicably and disgracefully they will be remembered.

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Americas

Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption.  And the stones certainly bruise.

Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers.  Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January.  It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago.  It gets worse for Trump. 

In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent.  Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent.  Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.

Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.

If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other.  Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico.  President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump,   Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel.  In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank.  Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime.  However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait.  Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.

If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof.  As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel.  Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace.  When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion.  Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.

How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?

There things stand.  As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early.  Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money.  The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage.  Time it seems is on Trump’s side.  

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