U.S. will emerge much weaker under Trump: senior analyst
TEHRAN – A senior political analyst is of the opinion that the U.S. will become much weaker under Donald Trump.
“United States will emerge much weakened after voting someone like Trump into office,” Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, head of the Iran center at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: What were the main reasons behind Trump’s victory?
A: Let me first say that this is truly the biggest surprise in politics for the last decades. A real watershed which will determine our age for a long time to come. I don’t think anyone saw it coming, but it seems to me that Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate. Firstly, I see this as a gender issue. It is ironic for a society that was involved in the invasion of Muslim-majority countries in the name of liberating women, that the majority of Americans voted against a woman and for someone whose comments can only be called misogynistic. Secondly, this was a race vote, a vote for a closed identity, comparable to the Brexit vote in Britain. The overwhelming majority of white Americans voted for Donald Trump, over 80%. So this was a vote for a “white America”, and against the minorities, in response to the Obama years. I am studying these new forms of psycho-nationalism in my current book project. Thirdly, it was a vote against the political establishment in Washington DC. The advisors of Trump were clever enough to position him as the outsider candidate who was working against the establishment. People think he can bring about change, much in the same way as they thought Obama would adhere to his slogan “we can change”. And lastly, with the election of Trump, American hyper-capitalism and politico-economic corruption comes full cycle. In another irony, and in a paradox to what I said in point three: A citizen who never really paid income tax in his country, managed to buy himself into the White House during an opportune political moment. After all, it was certainly not his intelligence or education that made someone like Trump commander in chief of the most awesome war machine in the world. Because of this politically uncivilised persona and lack of intelligence, Trump must be considered the most dangerous man in the world today.
Q: Some claim since Trump is too wealthy he would not be influenced by lobbyists. What is your opinion?
A: One of the dangers of having a politically uncivilised President such as Donald Trump, is exactly that he can be easily manipulated by stakeholders/lobbying groups. As an apprentice President, he will be the object of several political campaigns, in particular by the powerful military-industrial complex that is always an important factor in U.S. politics. I expect these elements of the ruling political class in the United States to have privileged access to the new White House as opposed to his electorate thinking that he will keep the establishment out. Moreover, there are already rumours that he is recruiting prominent “neo-conservatives” from the George W. Bush years.
Q: What is your prediction of Trump’s approach toward the Middle East?
A: The election of Donald Trump is a calamity for the region. I didn’t think Hillary Clinton would have been much of a better option, but I expect Trump to be confrontational with Iran, at least initially. In his interviews and campaign speeches, he repeatedly indicated that he will challenge the JCPOA. While it is likely that he will be tempered by some of his advisors, we may expect some confrontational rhetoric in the very near future. For Iran, it is essential to create realities on the ground, especially with the European Union. I have repeatedly said, that Europe is Iran’s vital and most reliable partner in world politics. The European-American relations will be strained after Trump, and this is a good opportunity for Iran to foster even closer relations with Europe. Secondly, Iran’s relations with Russia are another factor that may prevent that the JCPOA will be relinquished. Trump may move closer to Russia in the short and middle term and Moscow is likely to temper Washington on the Iran file as it did during the George W. Bush years. And thirdly, Trump seems particularly concerned with ISIS rather than Iran. I expect Saudi Arabia to present itself as a partner in the fight against such terrorist movements and to continue to buy a positive image in the United States. The Saudis certainly like macho-politicians such as Trump, so they will see his election as an opportunity. But Trump is not an aggressive internationalist. The discourse may radicalise and become more confrontational and imperial, but I don’t expect Trump to pursue big wars outside of America comparable to the so called wars on terror.
“It was a vote against the political establishment in Washington DC.”
What is crucial in all of this is that the United States will emerge much weakened after voting someone like Trump into office. There will be even more domestic turmoil and the country has already lost much of its credibility in foreign affairs that the Obama administration carefully re-built after the Iraq war disaster of the George W. Bush years. Today, we see a weaker, less powerful America – a big country in a psychotic shock. Iran must position itself to be a part to find a proper therapy to contain the repercussions for the region and the world.