Jerusalem Post Editorial– ‘Is Trump good for us, or anyone else?’


IRA SHARKANSKY

One of my correspondents provoked this note with the following response to what I had written previously.

“I read your article about who is Donald Trump. and it leaves me confused , for once America has a president that is for Israel and you want to pick him apart? .The American people voted him in, and are happy that he might put some favorable rules.”

The writer points to a problem worth pondering. Trump is a welcome change for Israelis who chaffed under eight years of a President some saw as a wannabee Muslim, whose last act with respect to the United Nations seemed to throw Israel under the bus by going along with a nasty one-sided resolution. Earlier, Obama’s Ambassador, as well as those of previous US Presidents had vetoed similar resolutions.

Yet Trump’s bizarre behavior is a source of worry for many, along with providing entertainment for some. His status as an ambitious political amateur who is breaking the rules of normal politics should worry anyone who is at least partly dependent on the US. Who can say that he’ll be consistent or reliable, or that he’ll survive a full term against those already plotting the tactics of impeachment? Moreover, the domestic clash in the US that may come between intense supporters and equally intense opponents may render the US an international giant that is more a problem than a reliable ally.

It’s hard to quarrel with those who assert that the US and the international community could use a good shaking up. Eight years of Obama followed by months of Clinton’s campaign produced the presidency of Donald Trump. Israelis and others welcome something different from a White House and State Department that goes along with the madness of the UN’s preoccupation with how Israel copes with Palestinian violence.

Liberals can applaud Obama’s efforts to deal fairly with refugees and others who have fled intolerable conditions in the Third World, and individuals who find themselves outside of the conventional sex roles. Yet the preoccupation with the Obama-Clinton conception of what is politically correct led their party to overlook the cultures and economic plight of what had been the working class base of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps most worrying are the new President’s fuzzy conception of facts, and his aggressive statements and actions against the media.

It’s easy to accept the notion of media that tilts toward the left. Yet there are a lot of sources, right as well as left, and the better media that are generally left are themselves not obsessively ideological or uniform.

Until now, the rules by which most operate tolerate open criticism of politicians as well as the media, and shy away from the invention of facts and an aggressive posture against critical journalists that render the Trump White House something like we’ve hitherto identified with flashy dictators of the Third World.

We’ve known for a long time that politicians lie. However, the President’s inventions about reality threaten the essence of trust between citizens and their government.

The few polls that have so far probed Americans’ attitudes toward their new President, as well as a number of notes coming to my inbox, indicate that Trump has a constituency. At least some of it represents the view that “he’s a lot better than Obama or Clinton,” but some are true believers in what Trump is saying about reality and the media.

Neither Obama nor Trump are all that different from their predecessor also bumped to the center of the world stage via party primaries. What George W. Bush contributed to chaos via his actions in Iraq are arguably more damaging to international stability than anything associated with Barack Obama or so far apparent with respect to Donald Trump.

The spinning of scenarios is problematic. Anything can happen, including the wildest surprises. Yet with someone so far off the rails of customary behavior as Donald Trump, it may help to consider some of the possibilities.

Starting at what we can hope is the wildest of extremes, least likely to occur as described here, we can worry about domestic violence, provoked by a successful or failed attempt at impeachment. There’s plenty of weapons and ammunition in the hands of those right and left, and we can fear that a number of police will join one side or the other rather than standing by conventional norms of law and order.

Also among the extreme possibilities is Trump moving toward serious impediments against international trade. This is something else where experienced advisers should express caution. Tightening control over imports may help some Trump supporters in the rust belt find a job, but the overall impact on the US economy and that of countries who respond in kind may be disastrous. In the past, trade wars have had nasty consequences beyond the economic.

One can wonder about the impact of personal style on relations between countries that generally operate according to interests. The bizarre way in which Trump has spoken with or about countries and their leaders may lead to uglier stuff, with the US President seeing that he is not the only nasty boor to have reached high office.

Praise from left and right after Trump’s speech to Congress may lead optimists to hope that his minders will keep him out of trouble. However, that comes after a month when his minders were not at work, or could not keep him out of trouble. And they didn’t filter the tweet that Barack Obama acted to tap Trumps’s phones.

We’ll hope for the best, but expect something less than the optimum.

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