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Trump: A Non-Consecutive Second Term President

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

Many Americans claimed the 2020 election cycle to be the most consequential choice impacting the future of America. On the contrary, it can be debated that the 2016 presidential vote that resulted in Donald Trump, the disrupter and counter-establishment candidate, was far more momentous than 2020.

President Trump packed in an eight to 12-year term of accomplishments into a 4-year tenure that impacted the nation and shook up the world more than any president since Ronald Reagan’s defeat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War and the crumbling of the communist iron curtain stretching across the European continent.

First and foremost, Trump bagged three conservative Supreme Court Justices or one-third of the highest court in the land. This will have a far more profound impact in reshaping America’s future generations than if Hillary Clinton, the Democrat contender in 2016, had cemented her liberal choices in what has become a near forth branch of executive power in the United States.

The Trump era, as short as it was, exceeded expectations in accomplishing much on the economic front. He replaced the job-killing NAFTA trade agreement with the revamped USMCA that has seen manufacturing jobs flow back into America. Deregulations and competitive corporate tax rates have allowed numerous sectors in the economy to flourish with fewer constraints; resulting in the creation of millions of jobs, double-digit returns in personal retirement plans, and a country becoming energy independent from Middle East oil.

In the foreign affairs bracket, Trump became the first president in nearly 40 years not to start a war. At the chagrin of America’s allies, Trump forced its NATO partners to shoulder their fair share of the military costs of the Alliance. He also advanced peace on the Korean peninsula by reducing war provocations from South Korea that resulted in Kim Jong-un of North Korea refraining from testing nuclear ballistic missiles rattling the nerves along the Pacific Rim and Americans on the west coast.

The treacherous Middle East for any president navigating the sectarian landscape has seen the greatest turn around in modern history. Trump effectively brought peace to the region out of the remnants of the Obama ravaged era of appeasement in crushing the tormenting ISIS caliphate, all but neutralizing the Iranian regimes advancements to overtake the Sunni-led powers. Moreover, Israeli peace deals were struck with three Arab countries – a feat that not even Trump’s hardest critics thought possible. Finally, at long last, he moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a promise that many presidents before him made but never kept.

Trump faced off with two superpowers of Russia and China. He took on the unfair trade policies with China in what many thought would be economic suicide. This was done while simultaneously navigating a respectful rapport with President Putin that kept the Russian military excursions at bay rather than the ill-fated Obama approach of weakness resulting in the bear clawing out the strategic lapping tongue of Crimea.

President Trump executed his international policy by America leading with strength and carrying a big military stick that he rarely had to use. If the President’s name were not Trump, he would have easily won the Nobel Peace Prize.

On the home front, the president faced near-insurmountable odds with a relentless onslaught by the national political media’s endless negative slants, the social media giants censoring and burying unfavourable Biden reports, and polling institutes predicting a blue Democrat wave to victory in the 2020 elections with a clean sweep across all branches of government. The Media Research Center and PEW Research Center found in their studies that coverage of Trump by the major networks was over 90% negative. This was evident in the relentless lead-off stories in the weeks and months prior to the vote, whether being blamed for every coronavirus death in America or the rioting wing of BLM excoriating the president as a racist.

Yet, the election saw Trump expand the Republican tent, not only with unexpected gains in the House of Representatives and the likelihood of holding the Republican majority in the Senate, but most significantly a repudiation of racism. Trump collected three times the votes of African Americans than the failed GOP candidate John McCain for president in 2008 and twice the number of votes of Hispanics than the dismal showing of GOP candidate Mitt Romney eight years ago.

President Trump has a very different record with the Black community in just three years of political experience. Trump took meaningful action in 2018 on criminal justice reform when he signed into law the First Step Act that enacts reforms to make the justice system fairer and helps inmates successfully transition into society. Specifically, the Act provided the opportunity for sentencing relief for many African American defendants who received mandatory minimum sentences. This was followed by the Trump Administration promoting “second-chance hiring” with the ambitious goal to cut the unemployment for formerly incarcerated individuals to single digits. It is African Americans who will benefit the most from his plan.

Knowing these actions were not enough, the President focused on the education of African American students. His Administration provided more funding for Black colleges and universities than any other president in history. This included $1 billion dollars in relief for these schools and other minority-serving institutions. These actions targeting African Americans by President Trump in just three years in the White House far exceed the accomplishments of former President Obama’s eight years in office. The anti-Trump media has ignored these achievements and failed the American people in their reporting.

For any in the media and demonstrators gleefully gloating over a Trump defeat rather than a Biden win, the heat will be turned up quickly by revolting progressives on a Biden administration to produce socialist deliverables. Yet, any rollbacks to the Trump trade deals, more regulations, and corporate tax increases during a pandemic could see the economy sputter out with higher jobless claims. To satisfy the left, Biden may bring a hammer to the southern border for a photo-op to tear down the Trump wall.

If Biden is to have any chance of legitimately governing, there will need to be some level of transparency in proving to some 70 million Trump voters that the election was fair. This election has earned scepticism on the tailwinds of the enduring and now forgotten three-year Russian collusion narrative. There were abnormal disproportionate dumps of Biden ballots in Michigan and Wisconsin that require further investigation, as well as the legality of late mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, and more ballots counted than registered voters in some Georgia counties.

Biden will not have a mandate to govern with what will be lingering accusations that Trump was cheated out of the presidency and the very likelihood of a disruptive level of disenchantment until there is a sense that all ballots counted were legal.

For the many millions of Americans feeling they lost when Donald Trump was not re-elected, one has to be simply reminded of the many achievements over the last four years when Trump won the presidency over the GOP establishment candidates and what would have been a misfortune for conservatives if Clinton selected the three Supreme Court Justices.

A Biden presidency will eventually be a do-nothing administration with little to no success with the Republican-controlled Senate blocking the New Green Deal and other far-left legislation. The Democrats in the House of Representatives have become weakened with a marginal majority resulting in Joe Biden irking Trump supporters with executive orders appeasing the far left. If Nancy Pelosi stays on as Speaker of the House, the Democrats will face an even larger crushing defeat in 2022 mid-terms.

If the election of a Biden-Harris Administration is anything like Joe’s first forty years in politics, the next four years will not be successful but rather a pause to catch our breath before the next 2024 presidential election.

A beaten-up Trump may have lost this battle over the dislike for his personality, but he may not have lost the war over his policies. For his passionate supporters, a second Trump bid for the White House may see this counterpuncher “Restore Greatness in America.” Not since Grover Cleveland in 1893 has a president served two non-consecutive terms.

With that, we wish all presidents of the United States of America well, including President-elect Joe Biden.

From our partner RIAC

Rich Berdan is a freelance writer out of Detroit, Michigan. Rich often provides perspectives that are unique and thought provoking.

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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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