Trump and the Arabs
Donald Trump doesn’t hate Moslems. But a large section of the American people does hate Moslems, because they fear the terrorism attributed to them by the persistent western media. Trump, merely used this hatred as a marketing tool to endear himself to his electorate during his campaign for the presidency of the US.
Trump is a businessman and his primary language is finance and deals, and he will transact equally with one and all, including, the Devil if a safe opportunity presents itself. He does not react out of love or hatred, but on the basis of his interests, and now the interests of the US. Therefore, it is expected that, once the election dust settles, US international relations will return to their previous modus operandi, or close to that, after some alterations that reflect Trump’s personal philosophy, vision, inclinations, and priorities.
It is expected that Trump will concentrate on rejuvenating the economy and reducing the deficit, rather than follow belligerent policies that his predecessors opted to do. This is a difficult task and requires serious reduction in expenditures – including military – which means a transformation of the US policy away from a priority of “total world hegemony”, with its accompanying military adventurism, to an inward outlook and a concentration on internal problems that have been ignored for decades. He will, also, prioritize reactivating US manufacturing and reduction of imports. He is inclined to reduce US dependence on imported oil, and replace it with North American oil – Ergo, Canadian oil company shares rose on the news of his election.
This does not, in any way, mean that the US will relinquish its leadership role in world affairs or totally abandon its hegemonic tendencies and gains. However, it may reduce its belligerence towards countries it does not agree with. Based on Trump’s businessman’s pragmatic outlook, he would be expected to negotiate and reconcile with such nations and find a mutually agreeable formula to live and let live, without sacrificing much of either parties’ interests. But, businessmen see the world as “profit & loss” and black and white, while politicians tend to vacillate between contradictory positions, which they call “consensual middle ground”. Politicians, not unlike chameleons, tend to switch to any color of the rainbow. Therefore, it is expected that Trump will be soft and conciliatory with others, but strict and firm with regards the “red lines”, whose threshold he will lower and not allow any crossing of, once an agreement or understanding is concluded.
As for the Middle East, Trump has, more than once, publicly declared that the Middle East is a mess, mostly due to wrong and unwise US policies. All indicators point to his preference to stay as far away as possible from the Middle East, or at least, not get too closely involved in its affairs and problems. As for defending the Middle East, he has again, repeatedly declared that the rich Arab countries must pay an expensive fee for the US to act as their defender. He once declared that the US should be entitled to half of Kuwait’s oil for liberating it from Iraq’s Saddam Husain. There are other negative expectations, including those related to Palestine and Iran, and time will expose them more clearly.
This aversion to the Middle East does not negate or stop the sale of military equipment to the Arabs – or any other country in the world. This is “business” and is one of Trumps priorities to rejuvenate the US economy and increase exports, at the highest prices possible. But, as previous arms sales have shown, the sold military equipment remains one or two degrees less powerful than that delivered to Israel. It is primarily useful in internal or regional disputes and conflicts, and its true objective, as ex-CIA director, James Woolsey declared, is to syphon the money of rogue Arab states that sponsor terrorism, and impoverish them. The new JASTA law is yet another of many ploys designed to do that.
A good and successful businessman always knows that the customer is king and is always right. Therefore, it is not expected that the US will stringently adhere to its oft professed desire to export and propagate the concepts of democracy, human rights and freedoms to the rest of the world. It is now likely to look the other way, or at least downgrade this priority with its customers.
Undoubtedly, such announcements and expectations should instill dread into the hearts of Arab governments. They portend a huge power vacuum that would be enticing for many parties; local as well as foreign. And as the Arab countries have not used the past half a century to build their societies and economies, they remain weak and undeveloped, and will now find themselves lodged between a rock and a hard place. They are unable to defend themselves, they do not have robust economies that can employ the younger generation which represents the majority of their populations, and have never fully understood the meaning of sustainability.
Trump’s election as president:
• May reduce the possibility of a third world war with Russia and China.
• May solve the problem of the Ukraine and Crimea, which was artificially created by the neo-con hawks of the US administration.
• May reduce the military confrontation with China over the South China Sea, which is part of the “Pivot to Asia” strategy, that now seems to be failing, as well as too expensive.
• May dissolve or shrink NATO, and reduce the rashness of the smaller members.
• May induce closer cooperation between the US and Russia regarding the war on terrorism in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and possibly assign the task to Russia.
• May rejuvenate the US economy, despite its dire and weak condition.
• May achieve or try to achieve many other objectives.
However, it may not continue the US close embrace of the Arab Gulf countries, with the same warmth that they have become used to. It may also, increase the syphoning of their surplus wealth. Therefore, the Arab countries, and especially the Gulf states, must rapidly reassess and re-plan their options, so as to absorb the eminent new state of affairs, that are far from favorable to them.
What to Do?
The Arab countries should quickly begin to reform and rebuild their economies, and by extension, their political and social structures. This is a huge and complex undertaking, the details of which can fill many books. But, the paramount prerequisite to success will be the need to introduce a new concept; “Transparency”. Increasing transparency is essential to inform the public of their true state-of-affairs. For only then, will the people understand and, hopefully, accept the reforms, which are bound to impact their standard of living for several years, before positive results begin to appear.
Transparency, also means the divulging of all information regarding government actions and policies, as well as all expenses and revenues with clear justification for each. Failure to provide full transparency, will keep existing public suspicion and dissent rampant, and will delay the implementation of real reforms, thus confirming Trump’s original view that it is a mess.