- Many of America’s allies in Europe are in shock, but nationalists, including France’s Marine Le Pen and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, have welcomed Donald Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.
- France has called for closer European cooperation now that America appears to be distancing itself from the rest of the world.
- There is a sense in Britain that a new era of populism married with discontent at the status quo has arrived, reports David Downing.
- Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert, argues that Trump’s election essentially hands Vladimir Putin half the “Yalta 2.0” deal in Europe he always wanted.
Nationalists party leaders across Europe, including France’s Marine Le Pen, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, have all hailed Trump’s victory as “historic” and one for “democracy”.
Le Pen and Wilders, in particular, will be hoping the outcome in the United States forebodes better-than-expected results for their respective parties in the French and Dutch elections next year.
Le Pen is expected to make it into the second round of France’s presidential election, but the polls show she would be defeated by the center-right candidate, likely to be Alain Juppé, by a significant margin.
Wilders is polling neck-and-neck with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the ruling liberal party leader, but is still unlikely to “win” in a meaningful way. Even in the best-case scenario (for him), Wilders’ Freedom Party wouldn’t get more than, say, thirty out of 150 seats in parliament and almost no other party wants to go into coalition with him.
So chances of Trump-like upsets in Western Europe are still slim.
The exception being, as András Tóth-Czifra reported here earlier today, Austria, where the far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer, was already the favorite to win the presidential reelection.
In its most extreme form, a Trump presidency could mean the dismantling of the Western international institutions which the US has used to maintain international stability since World War II.
There are serious implications for world trade, which is already suffering from the stagnation of the World Trade Organization and increase in trade barriers. Mexico is panicking about the impact on its citizens in the US and the possibility of a border wall while Canada’s immigration website collapses.
But the gravest medium- to long-term implications could be for Europe. The European Union, already in crisis, has repeatedly shown itself unable to develop a coherent position for dealing either with Russia or Turkey. It is unable to formulate a strategy for confronting Putin. It has depended on the US to rescue it from its foreign policy ineptitude, while pretending to an intellectual superiority.
As a newly confident Putin (reportedly launching renewed airstrikes against Syria to coincide with US elections) ramps up the pressure in the Ukraine and the Baltics, the European Union may no longer be able to depend on Washington. Its ability to confront the geopolitical challenges represented by Russia and Turkey has already been complicated by Brexit. European, and British, political leaders need to think hard about the implications of Trump’s election.
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A return to American isolationism under Trump would not be a good thing for Britain just as it is trying to find a new place for itself in the world.
There are worries related to defense. Under Trump’s “America First” doctrine, the United Kingdom could find itself slipping into a gap between a less effective NATO and an EU that, in response to Trump’s policy, deepens military and security integration.
There is now a sense in Britain that a new era of populism married with discontent at the status quo has arrived. We had Brexit, they have Trump, and across Europe and the world populist leaders are gaining traction.
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Robert Shrimsley argues in the Financial Times it is now beyond doubt we are seeing a revolt against the economic and political order that has governed the Western world for decades.
After this, the free-market, open, globalist-minded world can only sit back and wonder where the next domino will fall.
In its editorial, the newspaper itself agrees that Trump’s victory represents a challenge to the Western democratic model.
The optimistic view is that “the mean-spirited, Muslim-baiting candidate” will transform once inside the White House. But the Financial Times isn’t betting on it.
His temperament may not allow it. He can also argue, justifiably, that his tactics, however outrageous, won him the presidency. He had a chance to pivot toward a more responsible middle ground after the Republican convention and he chose not to do so.
It is winter in Central Europe, argues Russia expert Mark Galeotti on his personal blog:
Whether or not Trump actually means anything he said, especially his backpedaling from US commitments to the defense of NATO allies, nonetheless this must be a real concern in the Baltics and Central Europe.
Closer to Russia, the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they can probably no longer cont on serious Western support and protection, according to Galeotti.
Putin may have pushed for a Yalta 2.0 division of Europe, but this election essentially hands him the half of that deal he wanted, by default.
France’s foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, argues that Europe must work together more closely in the wake of Trump’s election.
Europe cannot blink after Brexit, after the election of Donald Trump with all the questions being raised, Europe must stand together more, be more active and go more on the offensive even if it is just to protect itself.
Ayrault’s Socialist Party is expected to lose power in France next year. Reactions to Trump’s surprise victory have been more mixed on the right.
Marine Le Pen, the American’s ideological soulmate, is thrilled. France’s center-right Republicans are divided.
Alain Juppé, the mainstream candidate who is expected to win the party’s presidential nomination, has rejected Trumpism. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president who is in second place for the nomination, has adopted part of the nativist platform, from banning Islamic headscarfs to rounding up thousands of known Muslim radicals, even if they haven’t committed any crime.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is curt in his reaction, writing that he assumes a President Trump would continue America’s close cooperation with the Netherlands on the basis of shared interests and shared values.
Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who is a member of the junior Labor Party, is more critical:
Trump has said things during this campaign that contrasts with our views of society and our views of the world order, for example about NATO, relations with Russia and Europe and about minorities.
As I reported here yesterday, there is much at stake for the Dutch. They are economically dependent on international trade, which a new protectionism could threaten, and shelter under the American security umbrella, which Trump might fold.
Felix Salmon predicts Trump will be a weak president, beset by opponents inside and outside the United States:
Trump will be fought politically, he will be protested nationally and he will be opposed internationally. He will spend his entire presidency on his back foot, until he is no longer president, and a breath of fresh air can enter the White House. All it takes is the courage is to oppose him, the resolve to avoid defeatism and the determination to continue the fight no matter what.
Even if Hillary Clinton had won the election, Europeans could have come under renewed pressure to raise defense spending and contribute more to international security. “It is now essential to do this,” writes Ian Bond of the Center for European Reform.
The United Kingdom has consistently opposed closer defense and foreign-policy coordination inside the European Union. It needs to change that position — especially when it’s leaving the EU anyway.
If a Trump administration decides that nuclear nonproliferation is no longer an American priority, then Europe will need to part company with Washington and ensure that it has the diplomatic wherewithal and intelligence capacities it needs to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
If Trump reneges on the international nuclear deal with Iran, then the EU will need to work independently with China and Russia to prevent Iran rushing to develop a bomb.
Bond also recommends deepening the single market to drive productivity growth and European leadership to combat climate change.
It’s a tall order. On many of these issues, European countries have deferred to the United States and the United States have always led. But the alternative may be global anarchy or a Sino-Russian condominium.
Walter Russell Mead cautions against throwing out the baby of liberalism and internationalism with the bathwater.
Hillary Clinton spoke for the values of tolerance and cosmopolitanism that are an essential part of any humane and liberal society, according to Mead.
[She] offered a steady if not always stirring defense of the American global strategy that, warts and all has provided the world with a long stretch of prosperity and which has prevented new wars on the scale of the global conflicts that almost ended civilization in the first half of the twentieth century.
Mead recognizes that strategy needs to be revised and updated. But the ideas on which it is founded, he argues, “remain the strongest bulwarks of our security and prosperity.”
Well, someone’s happy. Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has said he doesn’t want to “quarrel” with the Americans anymore now that Trump has won the election.
The impetuous Duterte has badmouthed Obama — and just about every other foreign leader, including the pope — since he was elected in May. He has presided over scores of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers, called into question the Philippines’ alliance with the United States and been dubbed the “Trump of the East.” Little wonder then that the two men are drawn to each other.
Except the trouble with alpha-male strongmen is that they can’t stand competition. Trump has made clear he expects obedience from treaty allies when it’s a sense of subjection that unnerves Duterte.
The image of the United States had taken a harsh battering, writes Roula Khalaf in the Financial Times.
In coming years, US diplomats will have little credibility when they seek to lecture others about tolerance; their president has espoused views that much of the world deems extremist. Trump, in any case, is an isolationist who finds no merit in shoring up allies or asserting American values abroad.
American democracy has disappointed the rest of the world before. Most recently when George W. Bush’s “Freedom Agenda” ended in bloodshed. By the time he left office, only 38 percent of the world approved of American leadership.
But those critical of the conduct of America’s leaders have usually been able to distinguish between government and people. “The risk, following Trump’s victory, is that lines will be blurred,” argues Khalaf.
Germany’s official reactions to Trump’s victory are case studies of diplomatic iciness, which may very well come to characterize transatlantic relations when Trump is in power.
Angela Merkel, while congratulating Trump, said she was ready to work together with him only if he “offers respect for human beings” and fundamental values.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister, refused to congratulate Trump, merely acknowledging the result of the election and pointing out that it will be more difficult to work together with the Americans.
The defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, who is seen as one of Merkel’s possible successors, expressed “deep shock” over the outcome.
Steinmeier also called an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers, which tells a lot about the cluelessness in European capitals.
One of the first victims of Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States could be the Trans Pacific Partnership, a comprehensive trade agreement that the outgoing president, Barack Obama, had hoped to enact in the waning days of his administration.
Many Republicans in the Senate, and quite a few Democrats, support free trade in principle and understand the strategic value of the pact.
But they may balk at ratifying the treaty now that Trump, who campaigned explicitly on an anti-trade platform, is two months away from the presidency.
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Stewart M. Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues three things must happen in order to restore faith in the liberal internationalist consensus.
First is a new social compact that ensures the tangible benefits of globalization don’t only flow to the well-connected but to working people as well.
Global trade and capital has been liberalized and titans of finance have flourished, but too often the “little guy” has been left behind.
A strange irony of Trump’s election is that some of his policies, like massive tax cuts for the rich and deep cuts in Medicaid, would only exacerbate this trend. Read this from Vox on how Trump’s program would hurt white working people the most.
Second point from Patrick is that liberals and internationalists must come to terms with a sovereignty-minded public that insists on controlling the border and American freedom of action abroad.
He thinks this is the hardest nut to crack and persuading voters that sustained international cooperation, as opposed to unilateral action, benefits American security and prosperity isn’t easy. But it’s been done before and I don’t think this is something Trump voters worry about in the abstract. They worry about immigration and not all of it is unjustified.
Set aside the wisdom of curtailing immigration and set aside the border wall, which is not going to be build — liberals haven’t exactly made an effort to discriminate between legal and illegal immigration, nor have they seemed terribly concerned about the latter.
Immigrants aren’t stealing people’s jobs, but the idea that a foreigner who broke the law could cut in line is one that frustrates a lot of people. There may be some xenophobia tied in here, but it’s not an altogether unreasonable sentiment and there are things we could do about this.
Finally, Patrick writes that internationalists need to persuade a skeptical American electorate that alliances are deeply in their own national interest. I think this is actually the hardest part and Patrick doesn’t offer any concrete advice on how to accomplish this.
How, short of a crisis or war, do you convince people NATO is still worth having? That the Trans Pacific Partnership is virtual to American leadership in Asia? And why that matters?
German economy minister and Social Democratic Party leader Sigmar Gabriel has called Trump “the pioneer of a new authoritarian and chauvinist international movement.”
He is also a warning, Gabriel said.
Our country and Europe must change if we want to counter the authoritarian international movement.
Click here to read more about Germany’s fears for liberal democracy in the wake of Trump’s victory.
Alex Massie cautions those who favored Britain’s exit from the European Union in The Spectator against assuming a President Trump will give them a better trade deal. Nothing in Trump’s career suggests he believes in the concept of a win-win bargain, Massie writes.
If you like a deal, he concludes he must be being screwed. His entire record is based upon the urgent necessity of screwing you. That’s his style; that’s how he judges success.
Trump’s presidency will mean a return to a measure of isolationism and an attempt to recenter the country’s cultural core back to the white nationalists.
That first part may be relatively painless, even popular: Americans are tired of war and are unable to see the vast alliance network America has built as anything but a burden. A world without America will be a bad thing in many ways, and as that becomes clear President Trump may feel compelled, as Obama did, to rush back into the places he withdraws from.
It is the second part, of the recapturing of the nation’s cultural core, that will be most traumatic.
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Presidential transitions are precious moments for American foreign policy, argue Phil Potter and Tony Lucadamo at the Monkey Cage, a political science blog hosted by The Washington Post.
Outgoing, lame-duck presidents tend to channel their remaining energies into ambitious (and sometimes ill-advised) foreign policy agendas. New administrations, however, are “ugly ducklings” lacking the experience to manage the fallout.
That combination has caused problems before. At best, the rest of the world is unnerved and disoriented by the resulting policy inconsistencies. At worst, lives are lost in crises abroad.
Timothy Garton Ash argues in The Guardian the challenge for liberals is now in plain view: “we face the globalization of anti-globalization, a popular front of populists, an International of nationalists.”
In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we have something very close to fascism. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey is rapidly crossing the line between illiberal democracy and fascism while Viktor Orbán’s Hungary is already an illiberal democracy. In Poland, France, the Netherlands, Britain and now the US, we have to defend the line between liberal and illiberal democracy.
What these nationalist populisms have in common, writes Garton Ash, is that they all claims the directly expressed will of “the people” trumps all other sources of authority.
Trump’s “I am your voice” is a totemic populist line. But so is the Daily Mail‘s front page denouncing the three British judges who ruled that parliament must have a vote on Brexit as “enemies of the people”. So is the Turkish prime minister rebuking EU claims that a red line has been crossed in his country’s brutal repression of media freedom by saying: “The people draw the red lines.”
Except “the people” are ever only part of the people.
It’s not the Others, you see: the Kurds, Muslims, Jews, refugees, immigrants, black people, elites, experts, homosexuals, Sinti and Roma, cosmopolitans, metropolitans, gay Europhile judges.
Pluralism needed to be defended and Garton Ash implores everybody from the left to the anti-nativist right to seek a new language and new policies that appeal, emotionally as well as substantively, to that large part of the populist electorate that is not irredeemably xenophobic, racist and misogynist.