Make America Great Again, the slogan which bolstered Donald Trump to the White House in 2017. America’s 45th president came into leadership with bold ambitions, one that scared a significant Muslim population and people of colour in America. Though some might dismiss the American president as pompous and childish, the impact of his policies on the world cannot be ignored.
The election of Donald Trump saw not only the appearance of many distasteful tweets but also divisive policies. America had remained a leader in the global order, but with the onslaught of the novel Corona Virus, something unprecedented occurred. Trump ordered the withdrawal of funds to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the grounds that the organization favored China, whom he considered the source of the ‘bad gift’ to the world. It is undoubtedly unbecoming of the world leader to abandon an organization that sources 15% of its funding from the United States.
Another organization that suffered under the Trump administration is the World Food Program (WFP). An organization founded by a previous US President in 1961 was denied adequate funding by Donald Trump. This, too, after the world suffered mass economic misery and food shortages post Covid-19. Amidst accusations of politicizing the virus, Trump stood his ground, stating that his purpose was to cater to ‘America First.’ But what Trump means by America is the white Caucasian American. This is very different from what America actually comprises.
Trump’s animosity to people of colour in America became most visible during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement of June 2020. Protests sparked across the country after a video of George Floyd surfaced suffering from grave police brutality. The series of demonstrations it catalyzed across the country has been called the most massive movement in US history. However, it also brought to light the racist opinions of many in America, including the president’s own. Trump tried to politicize the movement by calling it ‘a symbol of hate.’ As Confederate statues of racist colonizers began to be taken down by protestors across the country, Trump again dismissed the existence of systematic racism and instead turned to schools, threatening to withdraw funding from those who highlighted the role of slavery in the formation of the country.
Trump’s very first executive order was to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, imposed by his predecessor Barack Obama. The Act made healthcare affordable and accessible for most in America. However, Trump’s revocation caused the structure of enforcement around the Act to be weakened. This caused protestors to rally against the decision, and after the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus, many in the country suffered due to inadequate healthcare provisions.
This hyper-nationalism is very characteristic of fascism, as some have pointed out. And the display of fascist tendencies in a world leader is a cause of significant worry for the rest of the global population. In a globalized world of multilateral economic networks, Trump backpedaled to preferring bilateral trade deals that undermine free trade agreements made on international forums. Trump withdrew America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and led a controversial renegotiation of the terms of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), all in the name of reducing America’s trade deficit.
In fact, Trump’s Trade Policy Agenda 2018-2019 has been called the most aggressive ever, one that threatens not only the global trade chain but also America’s own economic future. The series of aggressive tariffs imposed was targeted mostly at China, which suffered 301 tariffs totaling 250 billion dollars. This was enough to send analysts anticipating a second cold war between the two super-powers.
Trump’s foreign policy decisions have been as controversial as his internal policies. The ‘Trump Wall’ between Mexico and the US was widely debated and protested on local and international outlets. However, the work to build a stronger security border continued using federal funding. Another controversial order was concerning the ‘Muslim ban,’ which suspended the entry of Syrian refugees and those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen and revoked up to 60,000 visas. However, the ban lasted only four months after being blocked by several courts.
Trump’s radicalization of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) department saw a major backlash. Hundreds were detained and deported back to war-torn countries. Refugees entering the States were detained and kept in questionable conditions in migration detention centers. A congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, used the infamous term ‘concentration camps’ to define the reality of these facilities.
It is ironic for the US to turn back refugees to countries which the States itself has caused to become unstable due to political interference. Unlike his predecessors, Trump, with his hyper-nationalistic agenda, has continued to withdraw from international conflicts where the US was previously a key member. While this move is what some in the Middle East and Asia always desired, it comes at a time where it is synonymous with leaving the battle unfinished.
The United States in July, ordered for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, despite being aware of the presence of a mediator at this sensitive time in Afghanistan’s history. Thankfully, the Intra-Afghan peace dialogue spoke of holding negotiations to ensure the safe withdrawal of US troops so as to not leave a vacuum in the country that could once again be exploited by militia groups.
On the African continent, Libya remains emerged in conflict. After the NATO-led operation in 2011 set up the US-backed Haftar in authority, the conflict was re-sparked in 2020 after an oil pipeline blockade leads to devastating economic losses. However, this time the US chose to remain silent as the country looked on to it for support against rebel groups. Similarly, the US created the OSCE Minsk Group in 1991 with France & Russia to end the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, but no substantial peace has been established since. With Trump’s election, these efforts have continued to decline.
On the eve of elections in America, both the citizens of the country and the global population need to reassess the presidential term of Donald Trump and the executive orders he implemented. Still, only one of these groups can take action that will have an impact on the world. Donald Trump’s term brought to implementation a series of questionable internal and foreign policies. The questions remain are; has the United States permanently withdrawn from the international forum and the mess it created in the world? Will Trump’s re-election mean another term of continued US absence from global conflicts, and will the successor in the White House finally act in a way more befitting of a global leader?