Trade and Globalisation


The Dutch Right should also be seriously worried about Trump

20 Oct 2016 - 16:49
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch Right should also be seriously worried about Donald Trump after the third debate. 

Even the ever expanding legion of US experts have been making soothing noises in the past few months. ‘Trump in the White House? Once he has actually moved into the White House, he’ll undoubtedly face up to reality.’ It’s true that a new president is surrounded by a large circle of advisors and civil servants that it is generally not easy to break through. The National Security Council alone has about five hundred employees. What is more, the American constitution has enough checks and balances to rein in the president. Think of the right to determine the budget and the right to declare war, both of which lie with Congress rather than the president. Which is why ‘No need to worry’ is the message from columnists.

'Wishful thinking!' The Dutch Right should know better as parties on the right are just as much the guardians of freedom and democracy. Last night, during the third and final televised debate, Trump spoke the historic words that he didn’t know yet whether he would respect the final outcome. In saying this, he is directly undermining American democracy. With his previous predictions of election fraud in American inner cities — by implication, black communities — he is conjuring up fear among older black voters who can still well remember the days when black voters in the South were intimidated at the polling booths. Trump has literally called on his overwhelmingly white supporters to keep watch on those same polling booths on 8 November.

The fact is that NATO, which is certainly considered vital in VVD and other right wing parties' circles, is having a hard time at the moment. Not through the actions of NATO itself, but ‘because of the global situation’, as the late Dutch political commentator G.B.J. Hilterman used to say in his earnest voice. After the Cold War, we had the naive years of the illusionary peace. In the past fifteen years we have seen new dividing lines directly caused by poverty and violence. Some years ago, Harvard professor Niall Ferguson saw an axis of despair stretching from central Africa deep into Asia. Countless terrorist organisations exploit the unrest, leading to security risks for the entire world, as is demonstrated by the series of attacks in places that were, until recently, considered safe, such as Brussels, Nice and Bali.

NATO is already involved in the fight against terrorism but its further restyling should really take place under the leadership of the US president. Well, presidential candidate Trump has plenty of slogans but no plan. Trump has more to say about his ‘America First’ doctrine. Realistic VVD supporters should have serious concerns at the thought of a president who has doubts about the use of NATO, is unwilling to give cast-iron guarantees of collective defence as enshrined in Article 5 and is also looking for a rapprochement with the Russian president, who is essentially trying to destabilise NATO. Trump behaved like Putin’s puppet last night when he FAILED to confirm what seventeen American investigations have unanimously concluded, namely that the Russian government is behind the theft of American computer data.

In the last debate, Hillary Clinton also stated — correctly — that Trump must not be given responsibility for nuclear weapons in view of his unpredictable, cavalier behaviour. Note too that under the War Powers Act, the president has the right to deploy troops anywhere in the world for at least 60 days. We have known Trump for decades. He says himself that he is combative and averse to ‘slow diplomacy’. That could easily lead the world into serious conflicts. Global history is full of terrifying examples.

The true liberals can simply observe that in her forty years in public life, Hillary Clinton has taken a stand for the rights of women and children and against the oppression of people fighting for human rights. She is regularly criticised on Chinese state television. Even in 2015, she called President Xi Jinping shameless when he hosted a conference on women’s rights while at the same time arresting five young feminists. Trump presents himself as a free thinker too these days but he regularly changed his views on abortion over the past few years and he has demonstrably treated women with contempt on numerous occasions. He plumbed the depths of impropriety with his brazen ‘Pussygate’.

‘Business’ VVD supporters in particular should be worried by a Trump presidency. Uncertainty is fatal when the economic recovery is still so fragile. Presidential candidate Trump has announced substantial tax cuts (again without any details), which are supposed to largely be financed by measures to combat the misuse of social provisions. Not one economist can demonstrate that this economic policy will have any effect other than a huge hole in the economy. The unpredictability of Trump’s behaviour is another cause for concern. The US president may not run the economy but he or she still has to help steer it. Trump prides himself on his success in business but that is partly based on more than 2000 court cases used to intimidate his ‘opponents’ and on shady business deals in countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Dubai.

Last week, the New York Times published the report of a study that looked at the relationship between share prices and the performance of the two presidential candidates during the first televised debate. Well, it seems that share prices could fall by more than 10 per cent. That applies to the national income too.

Dutch people who advocate a rather hawkish foreign policy should logically be supporting Hillary, as she is the candidate in favour of a firm approach to terrorism. Top generals as well as the former Republican Secretary of Defense Bob Gates all agree that during security discussions in the White House, Clinton always sided with their tough stance rather than with Obama. If Obama wanted to send 10,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, then Hillary supported sending 40,000. Unlike Obama, Hillary does not rule out deploying ground troops against ISIS.

For the Dutch Left, the choice between the ‘super-capitalist’ Trump and Hillary is an easy one to make. But the Dutch Right should actually also be Hillaryland. Now that the Republican party has nominated a presidential candidate who is in fact calling on people to destabilise his own country, which also has considerably influence on our security and freedom, this may hopefully mean a temporary end to our traditional belief that it doesn’t matter to us whether the United States elects a Clinton or Dole, or an Obama or Romney. Stability is assured. But not this time. Thanks to Trump!