September 24, 2016
A Trump Presidency possible: Preparing for Donald J. Trump
Embassies that once assumed Clinton would win struggle to know what to expect from her rival
The End of Obama’s Neo-Liberalism–It was good while it lasted
Although he was barely present in New York this week as world leaders descended on the UN, the Republican candidate was a constant theme of conversation on the sidelines of this year’s General Assembly.
“Everyone is freaking out that he might actually win,” said one senior European official in New York this week. “It would make Brexit seem easy to deal with.”
Many governments in Europe, Asia and Latin America have been openly critical of some of Mr Trump’s foreign policy positions, with French president François Hollande going so far as to say last month that the Republican nominee “makes you want to retch”.
However, until recently they were working under the assumption that Hillary Clinton would win comfortably in the autumn. Now, with Mrs Clinton holding a lead of little over two points in the polls, they suddenly find themselves having to adjust to a very different election, where a Trump victory is at least a possibility.
“Until recently, the main question we were asking was what sort of impact the election rhetoric would have on a Clinton administration, in terms of trade deals, military intervention and so on. But the polls are telling us we have to at least seriously entertain the idea that he has a chance to win,” said one Australian official.
My Answer: Why not? She is no different from Mr Trump. It’s Politics–Din Merican
If Mr Trump’s views on Russia have been the most controversial aspect of his foreign policy approach in the US, in Europe and Asia it is his scathing criticism of traditional alliances that has garnered the most attention. At various stages in the campaign, the Republican candidate has suggested the US might not defend NATO allies and has said Washington should spend much less on defending Japan and South Korea.
Diplomats in Washington say that in the run-up to the Republican convention in July, representatives from the Trump campaign, including co-chairman Sam Clovis and then campaign manager Paul Manafort, told them that Mr Trump’s statements about America’s allies were less policy proposals and more opening statements in a negotiation.
In recent weeks, however, embassies in Washington have been receiving instructions to get a more precise understanding of the priorities of a Trump White House and who would be the senior officials in the administration.
“We have been told we need much more detailed planning about what a Trump administration would mean, the specific policies we should expect and who the key players would be,” said one Asian official. “But even at this stage, this is almost impossible to say.”
One of the complications in this election for foreign governments has been the rift between Mr Trump and large parts of the Republican foreign policy establishment, a section of which is openly supporting Hillary Clinton. Most of the small group of foreign policy advisers currently working with Mr Trump are much less well-known, giving diplomats in Washington little insight into the campaign’s thinking.
Mr Trump did receive some praise from the one leader who he met this week in New York, Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who said the Republican candidate would “no doubt” make a strong leader. Asked about Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, Mr al-Sisi said that “during election campaigns many statements are made and many things are said; however, afterwards, governing the country would be something different.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Tuesday about the consequences of the US pulling back from its global role in ways that Mr Trump has often proposed.
“Can you imagine the soccer game where the referee decides to go back in the changing room? The first few moments, everyone says that’s great, and they’re away. After a time, it’s chaos,” Mr Blair told a Reuters event in New York. He added that Mrs Clinton was someone of “enormous wisdom, common sense and integrity.”
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang took the diplomatic route. “No matter who gets elected, I believe China-US ties will grow steadily and in a positive direction,” he told the Economic Club of New York.