The popular consensus on President-elect Donald Trump’s march to the White House has been shock and horror. How can a man who says what he says and behaves how he behaves – while displaying the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old – be allowed to have his finger on the nuclear codes?
He may have looked and sounded a little more like a statesman during his victory speech on Wednesday morning, but this won’t begin to wash away the unstatesmanlike bravado that marred his campaign from start to finish.
If this man has hidden depths they certainly didn’t surface during his battle with Hillary Clinton. The often-vile personality we witnessed somehow managed to gain the trust and votes of 50 million Americans – a quite staggering statistic.
Most politicians – Vladamir Putin and Nigel Farage aside – didn’t want to see the billionaire reality TV star anywhere near the White House. Now that’s where he’s heading, the world will simply have to knuckle down and deal with him.
Pragmatic politicians are, of course, making the best of it, insisting the new leader of the free world should be judged on future actions rather than the wicked words that brought him to power.
Theresa May said the UK and US will remain “strong and close partners on trade, security and defence” and stressed the enduring “special relationship”. Nicola Sturgeon said the result should be respected and Scotland valued its relationship with the US. Even Jeremy Corbyn, for whom “The Donald” is anathema to his worldview, looked on the bright side, saying: “I have no doubt that the decency and common sense of the American people will prevail.”
In January reality will bite and the one billion-dollar question asked: what will President Trump do?
Here are some best guesses…
Abroad, he will keep making a lot of noise about Iran, but he will not tear up the nuclear deal, unless there is a significant military threat to Israel. He may introduce new laws making it even more difficult for companies to deal with anything even remotely linked to an Iranian proxy, increasing the nervousness of big U.S. banks doing business in the Middle East.
His friendship with Russia means that, if he does decide to support a two-state push, he may give Vladimir Putin the nod to hold talks in Moscow. Putin and Trump would then share in the glory if it came off, which it won’t.
Before 2017 ends, there will be a high-profile presidential visit to the Holy Land, with big smiles all round, as he ‘brings Bibi back in from the cold.’
On military aid to Israel, the man who refuses to pay contractors is unlikely to increase the $38billion 10-year deal recently signed by Israel and the U.S. But he would be receptive to one-off military funding requests. An Israeli scrap with Hezbollah would be motive enough.
At home, if he is able, he may tighten race-hate laws, especially over anti-Israel activity. He will no doubt do this by mentioning the word ‘terrorism’. A lot. American universities, once home of the counter-revolution, may find that, under Trump, supporting Israel Apartheid Week becomes illegal.