Does anybody know what President Trump will do?

Chris Doyle

TIME to stop whispering it and shout it. Donald Trump may well become President Trump. Only 40 days away and Hillary Clinton has not seen him off. Sone snapshot polls even showed Trump as having won the first Presidential debate. Yet across the world many still have a head-in-the sand approach just praying this will not happen.
This is a time of insurgent politics. Anti-establishment figures (or those who pretend to be as in the case of Trump) are dashing to the top of the polls, and voters want real change. When Trump wants borders control, he is not out of touch. Walls are going up across southern and eastern Europe. In Britain the mantra of taking back control of the nation’s borders, however flawed, was a winning formula. A world without borders does not sell.
Time to ask what Donald Trump’s policies will be not as an exercise in exposing his shallowness and self-interest to win a debate but as an exercise in preparing the international community for this outcome. Most people still react with a startled rabbits-in-headlights look at the mere idea that Trump could move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
More so than any other candidate in living memory, nobody really knows what President Trump will do. Analysts can pour over his every word or more often tweet if they like but rest assured that Trump has plenty of reverse gears and successfully blames everyone and everything but himself, even the microphone.
Certain diplomats in Europe have gulped but argue they will manage somehow. They are not convincing. Remember most European leaders rightly raised very strong objections to Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US. Trump has launched full blown attacks on Angela Merkel of Germany.
On one core area it is reasonably clear what his approach will be if not his policy. From the outset he has opposed free trade deals. This goes against the traditional Republican free trade approach but states and blocs better wake up.
To what extent will it matter for the Middle East who wins? In some areas probably not. Israeli leaders will be comfortable with either candidate on the Palestinian front. Trump may have the gall to actually defy international law and move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
The ban on Muslims entering the United States simply is not constitutional so Trump, a man who can blame a microphone for losing a debate, will just blame the system for not allowing him to do what he wants.
Would he rip up the Iran deal? Candidate Trump would shred it but President Trump might pause for thought. He has already shown a brazen capacity for breaking pledges like releasing his tax returns-so he would not have to stick to his guns on this.
Many scoffed and were appalled that another candidate Gary Johnson has not heard of Aleppo. Few said it but one wonders if Donald Trump had either. Syria, let alone Aleppo, did not get a mention in the Presidential debate. Many Syrian opposition figures fear that if Trump does pursue a closer relationship with Putin, Russia and the Syrian regime will prevail. Clinton of course backed a No-Fly-Zone over Syria.
Trump may talk tough on ISIS but will he commit ground troops? Doubtful. Trump enjoys making a statement ramping up the bombing to look tough might be his preference. Here again leaving it to the Russians might be his choice too.
“If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it 100 percent, and I can’t understand how anybody would be against it.” Do not expect any complaints from a Trump White House if the most brutal of tactics and torture are used by other states.
Trump will not push for democracy and reform in the region, a point he made clear when lavishing praise on President Sisi of Egypt. In fairness Trump might just end the lip service to the notion employed by American Presidents.
What might worry many of America’s allies in the Middle East most is a routine Trump position (as opposed to fly-by positons) that America’s allies have to pay their way if they want US help. On this basis Trump wants Japan and South Korea to get their own nuclear weapons.
I am not sure anyone has asked him but would Donald Trump have sent in an American armada to liberate Kuwait. In short, he might but if Gulf states for example want American protection from Iran, he will try to make them pay for the service.
But an American President is not all powerful. Trump remains an unknown not least in foreign affairs. He will be trapped in the Washington establishment he claims to loathe with a Congress that will not just give him free rein to decimate core American policy positions and alliances built over decades.
The ban on Muslims entering the United States simply is not constitutional so Trump, a man who can blame a microphone for losing a debate, will just blame the system for not allowing him to do what he wants.
Above all a President with a make-it-up-as-you-go-along strategy can hardly succeed. He may still encounter reluctance of serious experts to join him in his administration and serve under him.
Astute American allies may try to act as wise counsellor to a President Trump but perhaps the biggest question is whether anyone can pierce that iron-clad ego to get him to listen. It is time to start contemplating this possibility.

—Courtesy: AA
[Chris Doyle is the director of CAABU (the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding). He has worked with the Council since 1993 after graduating with a first class honors degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter University. As the lead spokesperson for Caabu and as an acknowledged expert on the region, Chris is a frequent commentator on TV and Radio, having given over 148 interviews on the Arab world in in 2012 alone. He has travelled to nearly every country in the Middle East. He has organized and accompanied numerous British Parliamentary delegations to Arab countries. Most recently he took Parliamentary delegations to the West Bank in April, November, December 2013 and January 2014 including with former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. He tweets @Doylech]

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