2017: A Turning Point for International Geopolitics

Writer: Nisar Ahmed Category: অভিমত (Opinion) Edition: Dhaboman - Winter 2017

2017 was the year of confusion, chaos, disaster, and disorder. From all these forces of instability came more deaths, displacements, and increased human sufferings. We seem to have broadened the divide along the lines of religion, race, color, and ethnicity. Would all these volatility lead to a new cold war era between two different players, or would it be an era of a new single superpower? Would the allegiance of nations be realigned?

Trump administration’s first policy implementation was the selective Muslim travel ban to US. With this ban Trump wanted to make it clear that his administration will champion policies his ultra right voter base wants. Though the initial ban was rejected by the appeals courts, the Trump administration continued to pursue throughout 2017 the same ban, only wrapped differently. The final fate of the selective travel ban now rests with the US Supreme Court.

Trump’s doctrine is of isolation and ultra nationalism. He believes America can be great “again” by going it alone and without paying heed to anyone else in the world. To make America great again, he believes in restoring absolute power of the Caucasian (European decent) Christian male. This translates into restrictive immigration for non-Caucasian people, especially the two fastest growing ethnic groups in America – Latin Americans and Asians. Trump followers believe their jobs have been taken over by these recent immigrants. What they don’t take into account is the fact that the Caucasian middle class male are not interested in either the labor intensive jobs that the Latin Americans are willing to do, or the high tech jobs that the Asians are hired to do. The middle class European American male with high school education believes Trump can bring back the manufacturing jobs. They are oblivious to the fact that even if the manufacturing returns to America in some shape or form, most of the routine jobs will be occupied by robots, not human beings. On America’s security question, Trump’s alt-right cohorts believe that keeping Muslims away from US soil will solve all terrorism problems in America. Interestingly, even if the Muslim travel ban had taken effect, none of the mass killings on US soil in 2017 would have been prevented,  including two of the deadliest mass killings in US history – the Las Vegas, Nevada (58 deaths) and Sutherland Springs, Texas (26 deaths). Both these were committed by single Caucasian male. Since the 9-11 attack, most of the terrorist attacks by fundamentalist Muslims happened outside of US. But statistics doesn’t convince the alt-right because they are only interested in racial supremacy of the Caucasian Christian male.

On the international stage, Trump seemed to have found a new ally in Putin, even though on certain issues like Iran and North Korea they may not agree. Whether Trump’s hobnobbing with Russia is simply from a personal financial interest or has any geopolitical depth, we will not know until the dice have fallen and the game is settled. Since his inauguration, Trump has engaged in toddler like screaming contest with the North Korean leader. Except for a new economic sanction, the screaming match has only encouraged North Korean to put its nuclear arms program on a fast track and produced ICBMs that are capable of hitting targets as far as Chicago. Trump is hell-bent on reversing Iran nuclear deal even though his European allies are advising against it. We can only hope that US Congress will make the sensible decision to stay in the deal. Trump’s latest foreign policy decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital goes against all international laws and upsets many US allies. 128 nations strong international community, including most of the EU members, has sent a strong rebuke to Trump for his Jerusalem decision through the UN General Assembly resolution.

From his major foreign policy moves on Iran, North Korea, and Jerusalem, it appears that Trump is oblivious to his European allies’ interests. Is this shift deliberate to create a new alignment? He has shown unusual closeness to Russia’s Putin. Does this mean he agrees with Putin’s unspoken goal of dismantling the NATO? Does Trump consider China, not Russia, as the new world power to contend with? That’s maybe why he feels making friends with Russia can help him bring the Shia block into the Middle East peace talks; and with friends like Russia and India, threat of China can be better managed. Maybe I am reading too much into Trump’s whimsical foreign policies, but I am willing to wait and see. I just hope nothing disastrous will happen and the world will be able to get through Trump Presidency without a big irreversible scar.