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What is Trump’s Aim? What is his goal?

Alright he has answered the question. So has his press secretary Sean Spicer. It is the slogan on the baseball cap: To “make America great again.”

But for the life of me I can’t understand how he is going to achieve that aim, especially as America already is the world’s only super power, produces the lion’s share of the world’s wealth and has one of the world’s highest standards of living. How great can a country be?

Setting all that aside, how does the slogan translate into policy? What is required in the Trump playbook to re-achieve American greatness?

After a roller coaster three weeks we are getting an idea. Trump’s great America is a non-renewable energy-powered industrial monolith churning out yesteryear’s manufactured products behind a metaphorical and physical wall of bricks, steel and tariffs.

Trump’s great America is paranoid and xenophobic. It bans highly skilled, entrepreneurial and hard-working Muslim immigrants for fear that the dominant Judaeo-Christian culture cannot compete against Islamic fifth columnists who worm their way into the “dishonest” media and government. Or worse still sneak into the country and attempt to violently overthrow the system.

Trump’s great America’s rules for the majority (of the electoral college that is) at the expense of the minority. It disheartens, demoralises and undermines the judiciary whose vital role is to ensure that constitutional protection is provided to everyone rather than to just those who voted for the winning candidate.

Trump’s great America does NOT lift its lamp beside the golden door to receive “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Trump’s America is one where its leader does not have to bother with accepted norms of civilised behaviour, the annoyance of paying taxes and can use his office to urge citizens to buy his children’s products.

In short, President Donald J. Trump is an historic break with America’s past and its proud claim to the moral high ground.

But such an obvious descent has consequences, some of them the reverse of the intended effect. Conservatives support his travel ban because they want to sleep safely in their beds. The fact is that there are very few Americans killed by Islamic terrorists—less than one third of one percent of all the homicides in the United States.

There are several reasons for this. One is that most Muslim immigrants are hard-working entrepreneurial types who have been thoroughly vetted for several years by highly qualified government investigators. For some time it has been extremely difficult for Arab Muslims to enter the US. The ones who make it do not want to queer the pitch.

Next, as an astonishing 1,000-plus American diplomats, have made clear in their dissent letter , the travel ban will only increase the likelihood of violence because it will act as a recruiting sergeant among American Muslims who find themselves marginalised and attacked by the leader of the country in which they have chosen to live. It will also damage political and security cooperation with moderate Muslim countries.

Furthermore, one of the main reasons that there have been relatively few Jihadist attacks on US soil is the intelligence agencies success in spotting and stopping terrorists on Arab soil. This requires an extensive network of local agents who are promised a safe American haven for themselves and their families. Well, that’s gone out the window and America’s spies are going nuts.

But Trump is the President. Flesh is appearing on the bones of the slogan. He wants to make America great again and paranoid, tariff-protected, wall-protected, protected from the “dishonest” media”, protected from “so-called” judges, smoke-belching, and a white Judeaeo-Christian subsidiary of Trump Inc. I think we will need a bigger baseball cap.

Tom Arms is editor of the foreign policy newsletter and podcast


10 Comments on "Trump’s Aim"

  1. “In short, President Donald J. Trump is an historic break with America’s past and its proud claim to the moral high ground.”

    Americas proud claim to the moral high ground exists only in the imagination of Americans.

  2. I did say it was a claim. That is different from a reality. But, having said that, it is a claim which many people believed, not all, but quite a few. Now they don’t

    • Well if they believed it after Vietnam, support for the Contras and Pinochet, the Iraq war, Afghanistan and Guantanamo but have now changed their minds after a travel ban on people from some Islamic nations what can I say.

      Trumps ban is pure politics, it is designed for the consumption of his support to show he is man who follows through on his pledges. It is a move that even if he loses in the supreme court will result in him being able cite the dreaded Washington establishment as having thwarted him and the will of the people. Polling is still showing more people support it than not in the US and even a recent poll of European countries showed more people in favour of banning migration from muslim countries than not with outright majorities in 8 of 10 countries. In many ways it is a win win situation for Trump. Sure if he loses he will have some short term embarrassment, but if even one American is killed by someone from one of those 7 countries in the next 4 years it turns into a huge win for him politically speaking.

  3. What bothers me about this situation is a little bit more obscure. As a kid growing up in Northern England I expected that everything in the 21st Century would be better, we would all have our flying cars, there would be massive wheel-shaped space stations in orbit and there would be colonies on Mars.

    Now look at what we actually have. There’s a reality TV star in the White House, NASA have to hitch a lift from the Russians to get into low Earth orbit because they don’t have any spaceships and a large percentage of the world don’t have access to clean water. The TV channels are filled with dross and various religious groups are killing each other because they think that their imaginary friend is better.

    I’m just glad I never had any children. I wouldn’t want them to grow up in a world ruled by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Right now we seem to be evolving backwards.

  4. Politics, yes, but a particularly nasty sort. It is politics that feeds on fear and paranoia in order to justify a wwider political agenda. It is a political stratagem that has been used by demagogues through the ages. It is a dangerous course, because once you have loosed the fear genii from the bottle it is very difficult to control it or stuff it back in.

    • Your possibly right, but let’s face it an attack which killed less than 3000 people was used by George W Bush to enact the draconian Patriot Act, one of the biggest roll backs of US civil liberties ever. It had majority support from Democrats and Republicans alike, Obama ensured in 2011 that many of it’s provisions would remain in place. Yet George W Bush got a relative free pass from the media compared to Trump, and Obama is idolised by the anti-trump camp. This has been the point Tim has been making this week, the indignation is very selective. To date it is only Trumps personal style and behaviour that is beyond the pale for US politics, not his actual policies.

  5. Trump has taken the attack on civil liberties to a new level on a perceived threat which he has helped to create. That is what owrries me. It would be tempting to propose a wait and see approach, but I am seriously concerned that if we waited too long it would be too difficult to repair the damage.

  6. Trump is following through on the pledges he made during his campaign .As much as I personally dislike some of his rhetoric and policies we should not be surprised now that he is trying to do what he has promised all along .To put America first, become isolationist, protect American workers, build walls and view other power bases be it the Judiciary or CIA with mistrust.

    The Slogan “Make America great again” resonated with many of his supporters who felt alienated and part of an America they did not like. I suspect in 4 years some of them may be questioning if America is indeed great again.

    Today US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned over allegations he discussed US sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office. Only 26 days in to his presidency and it seems like one crisis after the other. Will he survive long enough to make America great?

    • Paul, I think the problem is that unless you make some kind of grand promise you never get the chance of getting into office in the first place to have the chance to renege on it. Obama’s ‘yes we can’ now seems like the first part of a bad pantomime as evidently ‘oh no they couldn’t’, but oddly enough there doesn’t seem too much in the way of hard feelings from his supporters.

      You can get longer odds on the Jacks managing a point at Stamford Bridge next week than you can on Trump serving a full term which while not a firm indication of probability at least shows where peoples money is going.

      • Yes Rob, and as a Swansea fan who recently saw them lose to Man City with a last minute goal, I am not expecting us to get anything from the Chelsea game. I agree that those striving for power have to generate excitement and make promises to get the vote. I guess it is why we see so many broken promises. As long as The Jacks stay in the premier league I will be happy

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