We shouldn't believe that Trump's claims to isolationism will lead to a safer world, argues Lindsey German
One question to which it's difficult to find an answer to is Trump's attitude to foreign policy. We knew pretty much where Clinton stood - and it was fairly terrifying. She has been at the hawkish end of US foreign policy, cheering every intervention, gloating at the deaths of her opponents, and making it clear that if elected she would pursue further interventions in the Middle East, including a no-fly-zone in Syria.
Trump, on the other hand, has at various times praised Putin's Russia, said that he would disband Nato and adopted a more protectionist and isolationist approach. How much this had an effect on his support is unclear. I saw a post from US peace activist Medea Benjamin saying that a former vet she met in Illinois claimed that he and other ex-military were voting Trump because he was saying no more wars. I read an interview with a Trump voter who said the no-fly-zone was her reason for not voting Clinton. We should not forget how unpopular these wars are, not least in the US, which is such a militarised society.
It is unlikely, however, that Trump will reverse the drive to war which grips a declining US imperialism. According to the foreign policy think tank Stratfor in an interesting study of what his foreign policy would mean, his relative warmth towards Russia will likely be balanced by the US military and political establishment. In addition one possible name touted as his Secretary of State is the neocon John Bolton, who is definitely hawkish over Russia, Iran and so on.
A possible pulling back from direct intervention in Syria would lead to even greater consternation in particular from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and would almost certainly lead to greater intervention from them, as well as a further twist in the sectarian divisions there. He may end the pivot to the Pacific but if so will have to endorse further Japanese military powers.
It seems to me that we should add into this mix Trump's unpredictability. He is unlikely not to respond to a major terrorst attack against the US, which can mean further military intervention and the growth of terrorism. His foul Islamophobia and racism can lead not just to a rise in tensions but to further military confrontation. He will have the nuclear codes, and who can doubt he would consider using them.
I therefore think a Trump presidency is less predictable but just as dangerous in terms of foreign policy. I don't agree with those who say it is less dangerous than a Clinton one, that he is the lesser evil in this respect. A declining US empire, at the centre of many conflicts in the world, and fully committed to Nato (whose demise he now doesn't talk about) can see further tensions and rivalries leading to conflict, whether over the debt to China or the treatment of Latino workers. A bumpy ride ahead.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
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- Do not be fooled: Trump is the problem
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- What we should take from the election and what we do next
- Where do we go from here? – election briefing 13 December