One American writer, Stephen M.R. Covey wrote in his book: “The Speed of Trust”, that “there is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world ― one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love … that one thing, is trust”. It is the one foremost and expensive principle Trump trashed away, and Biden must not repeat it.
Hardly would anyone dispute the fact that America under Donald Trump had lost its trust, so had its courage shivered, as well as its hegemony had also shaken. There is a profound sense of loss in the world today, observed American foreign analyst, Thomas L. Friedman, “that the optimistic, inclusive, generous and rule-of-law America—that so many foreigners grew up admiring is disapproving”. Wasn’t it why a poll by Germany’s ARD Media Group (Germany’s regional public service broadcasters) found that the percentage of Germans who thought the U.S. is a “trustworthy ally” dropped from 59 percent in November, (2016) to 22 percent last month (February, 2017)?
Wasn’t it why all the “ravings” by deserving noise makers in Middle East floated that “if America let its own leader gets away with lying, hiding information and smearing the press or a political opponent, it is taken as a license by all Middle Eastern leaders, or the leaders of Turkey or Russia, to do the exact the same thing…?” Biden must take note of this!
It is important we should recall that the forces which spawned and spanned America’s hegemony for more than half a century by now, i.e. the United Nations (“a child of necessity” to the erstwhile League of Nation), EU and NATO, have all become to Africans, as to the rest of the Third World, outdated pillars of a “global oppressive administrative state” that need deconstructing rather than pillars of a liberal democratic order that has globalized our spirits, our values, our rules and our standards to our “great benefits”?
This can be mixed threads woven in the nerve center of some American foreign policy analysts as Trump sought to undermine the big institutions that have hitherto stabilized the globe and purported to spread “prosperity, security, rule of law, democracy and openness” since the two historic World Wars. Like the “Brexits” (who favoured the British opt-out from EU), Trump also chose for the meant time, to diminish the influence of these global institutions in favour of an economic nationalism that will supposedly “painlessly” make America better off. Biden must sense this internal weakness!
It is, as it appears to some American policy analysts that, playing with these big institutions, even as there was the need to refurbish them, might be dangerous to America given the “prima-facie” of the historical circumstances which underlined the basic assumptions of these institutions as mere agents of rescuing millions of people out of the horrors of war and poverty, to establishing peace and prosperity throughout the period of seventy-five (75) years since the end of the Second World War.
Even so were these institutions appeared, Trump’s skewed conception of history should have liberated his thought from hallucinating that America was still the global power he thought of. He might have failed to sense his diplomacy beyond the post Cold War era and adjust the thinking that throughout this period, power reigned with the U.S. hegemony. Trump could have had the lesson that the America he knew then was no more, and now that it’s the “post-post Cold War era”, his missing thought should not, as it claimed too much of his sense and ideas, prevent him from realizing the fact that it is obviously a high time for American leadership to prosper and spin the fabric of these global institutions — which are much in need to sustain the global war crises more than ever before. Biden must take note of this!
This observation could be surpassed by Trump’s internal policies on immigration, his suspiciously undiplomatic approach to solving terrorism, and his cutting off of biggest allies only to boost the spirits of “America First” and raise the forces of its nationalism in toto. He broke away from TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership) ― a 12-nation free-trade partnership which incorporated countries like Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and other small nations of the Caribbean. It is the only US-biggest economic league that could pressurize China to a greater comfort of the U.S. ― perhaps with 40% control of global economy. Trump rather chose to cut a figure off away from it and called China to his midst. Yet, the latter was not ready for U.S. propaganda because almost all the members of the TPP had already made their in-roads to China. Biden should not repeat this!
At the backdoor of his foreign policy, i.e. in the more external terms, Trump’s decisions had continued to live high-on-the-hog as he was still boastful to his grand art design of the “giveaway”! Simply because the man, as one American foreign analyst observed, had given away “so much to so many for so little”. Trump had given away Jerusalem for power ― turning a part of the most expensive region of the world into a despicable one. He thought he nailed it as he gave off Jerusalem for “free”, just as costless as it was without any deal! He could have used the opportunity as a lever to advance the prospects of the compromising Israeli-Palestinian deal. Trump didn’t get this, and Biden must not miss this clue!
Trump could have ripped it off by turning Jerusalem ― the gold on the eyes of his Israeli cat-paw, Benjamin Netanyahu, into the most costly “commodity” for sale. Bibi’s long-time desire to realize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, should have said Trump, must be done with a deal. The deal of course is that ‘Bibi Netanyahu’ and his Israelis should declare an end to all Israeli settlement buildings in the West Bank. Such will create a balance where according to Dennis Ross ― a veteran American Middle East peace negotiator and author of “Doomed to Succeed”, “the preservation at a maximum of two-states outcome …’ may be realized and, ‘at a minimum, the ability for Israelis to separate from Palestinians”. Ross’ caution to the duo is: “keep up the building in densely populated Palestinian areas and separation becomes impossible”.
The duo’s indefensible decision to extend the U.S. hegemony by way of establishing an embassy in the West Jerusalem had diplomatically infracted the principle of decades-old peace process that still failed to avail any remarkable success. It may earn Trump an excuse if he had forged and initiated the establishment of another embassy for the state of Palestine in East Jerusalem. Such will reveal to Bibi Netanyahu that his coded attempts of intentions to subject Palestine under the now imperial “Jewish State of Israel”, had of course fallen on the gawk of his evil political godfather! Biden must take this lesson and not repeat the same henceforth.
It is important not miss the point that the decision to transfer the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was neither birthed out of the love and desire of both the Palestinians and Jews living in these areas, nor was it a plausible realisation of the 3000 years-old gospel revelation that Jerusalem would become the capital of Israel. This decision was partly a fulfilment of Trump’s campaign promises — a gratification of the wishes and interests of his Republican party stalwarts who deemed it necessary to amplify Jewish domination in these areas. Above all, the gospel truth behind this decision was to strengthen the Israeli iron foothold against Iran, as well as support the pro-Assad militia in Syria. Biden must repurpose himself to a proper meaning on this!
The whole of it was that, Trump risked taking the cost of this mission partly to fulfill the order of Israeli doctrine under the custody of one dimensional prime minister. He had a burning desire to make big bold historic moves, even if that means delivering where his predecessors did not i.e. sitting on the widening bottom of the mischievous 1949 Armistice (Mudros) Agreement; 1993 Oslo Accord; the mischief of the Camp David accords; the 2002 Arab Peace Plan, and so many other baits-and-switch compromises and agreements that continued to have impacts on the Occupied Territories of Gaza and West Bank. Biden must avoid repeating mistakes!
On the question of immigration, Trump in his election campaign promises, pledged to take extraordinary actions to curb immigration, including controversial plans to build out the border wall with Mexico, deport millions of “undocumented immigrants”, and temporarily ban Muslims. In office, he has scaled back his plans in some areas but pushed ahead with full force in others, often drawing legal challenges and public protest.
Trump could not sense that immigrants have long made up a significant portion of the U.S. population. In recent years, they have comprised almost 14 percent, equalling to 44 million people out of a total of about 327 million, according to the Census Bureau. Together, immigrants and their U.S.-born children make up about 28 percent of U.S. inhabitants. The figure maintains a steady rise since the 1970. The strength of the U.S. depends on its diversity and this must not be jeopardized under Biden!
While as part of his “Stop-Gap Measure” in 2012, Barrack Obama issued a two-year deportation deferrals and work permits to both the children and parents of “undocumented immigrants” through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the reverse was the case as Trump chose the “walling barriers”!. He instructed federal agencies to construct a physical wall “to obtain complete operational control” of the U.S. border with Mexico. He ordered increases in enforcement personnel on the deportation of ‘undocumented (unauthorized) population’. Biden is expected to build on what Obama had started.
Similarly, as part of his terrorism prevention, Trump banned nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the United States for at least ninety days; blocked nationals from Syria indefinitely; and suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days.
These actions, particularly the ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, drew widespread protests and legal challenges from individuals, cities, and states. As if this was not enough, in early 2020, the White House expanded the ban by suspending visa applications from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Nigeria and blocking permanent residency through the diversity lottery for citizens of Sudan and Tanzania. Officials framed the restrictions as national security measures, citing the countries’ failures to meet U.S. standards on information sharing and passport regulations. This must be reviewed and reconsidered under Biden.
Finally and the important issues of concern are the question of continuing racial discrimination against black African-Americans which various previous governments still ‘refused’ to address, the concern of the minority Kuklux clan and Latinos, and the relentless persecution of Muslims in Maryland, Bahia and South Carolina. Biden must put a stop of all these.
Trump’s America was an assassin of the principles of democracy, morality and ethics. His lies and blatant trashing of norms, his unguarded twitter handles and intimidation of political opponents should not continue to define America. The Capitol insurrection was not a surprise, it has happened as it was ‘expected’ because hardly could anyone doubt the fact that there should appear a consequence of what Trump has been doing — one that could have a collateral damage to constitutionalism and rule of law — one that could challenge the status quo and demand a new shift in power. No doubt the Capitol insurrection came the last episode of Trump administration. Biden should not tune on the same movie!
Ismail Misbahu is a Post Graduate student of history from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and can be reached via: