Saturday, 12 November 2016

Trump’s America and the new global order: the old order changeth but how much will it change?

'Everything HRC touches she kinda screws up with hubris.' 
Colin Powell, in his hacked e-mail, said it all. The hubris that led her to say to her audience
'Why am I not fifty points ahead, you may ask'
and then not attempt to supply any answer.

I am as bored as you are by the question of Hillary's emails but this fascinating clip that I just saw explains that she was using her private server for very secret emails. Worth watching. It was, of course, the secrecy, the lies and the cover-up that were the problem, not the danger to national security. Hubris, again.

But Hillary is now a footnote in history, like George Schultz or Adlai Stevenson, an undistinguished Secretary of State who will be remembered for being the first woman presidential candidate from a major party and her (sorry) role in her husband's administration, but mostly for facilitating the rise to power of Donald Trump.

2016 is the most important year in politics since 1989 and before that either 1968 or perhaps 1945. We are seeing a revolution and should be thankful it has taken a democratic, legal and non-violent form. 

The revolution is a reaction to the financial crisis that started in 2008 and to globalisation, which has benefitted many but from which many have lost out. It is a reaction to the way in which the left has moved from class politics to identity politics, embracing economic liberalism, social liberalism and mass immigration.

Does Trump endanger the global political and economic systems? He appears to and many are very worried, but I do not expect a return to trade wars or more real wars.

In fact it is the liberals of all parties (George W. Bush and Hillary were both Wilsonian liberals in foreign policy) who have started disastrous wars.

What is going to be a huge change is that America's prestige, its dignity and its soft power, its standing in the world as a symbol of certain outward-looking and optimistic values, will be damaged by Donald Trump, whom most foreigners, outside of Russia and China, think is crazy.

It might be the end of Pax Americana, though I doubt it. It will certainly be a great change to it.

But the raison d'être of Pax Americana largely ceased to exist after 1991, so this was something that was likely to happen anyway. It is a sign of the EU's great failure that it looks to America and Britain to defend it from Russia, a very much less dangerous threat than the USSR. 

Europe will have to pay for its own defence. Quite justly.

Meanwhile, voters in America and in Europe, who are keen observers of life, increasingly and rightly see terrorism and mass waves of immigration, particularly by Muslims, as a bigger threat to their countries than state actors.

Politics has to change. The internationalist left in developed countries no longer represents the working class, while the internationalist right has not protected national interests. The traditional ideas of left and right are out of date.

America is no longer sure it wants to be policeman of the world, Russia and China eye opportunities and a post-colonial war is being waged by Islamists against Christendom, a term that the West considers an embarassment. I am sure this is the time for a peaceful revolution and we shall see if Donald Trump can ameliorate the problems he so brilliantly identified and exploited.

My suspicion is that he will disappoint many on the right by being surprisingly PC. 

Can PC ever be destroyed even by this vulgarian-barbarian? We shall see. If it is not, we do not escape identity politics.

Whatever disappointments lie in store, it is, to use a cliche, the end of an era. In the words that Dryden used in his Secular Masque in 1700 to mark the start of a new century:

All, all of a piece throughout;

Thy chase had a beast in view;

Thy wars brought nothing about;

Thy lovers were all untrue.

'Tis well an old age is out,

And time to begin a new.


  1. After 1991 Pax Americana became, as in Iraq, allies using American power to sort out their regional squabbles. It is to this that President Obama objected when Saudi Arabia and Israel tried to corner the US into invading Syria.

    1. I absolutely agree with you, Tim. Hillary was keen then to go into Syria and she would have gone in had she won. She said 3 weeks ago that removing Assad in Syria was her No. 1 priority.


    3. It seems Trump couldn't keep his fingers out of the Syrian Pie either. I suspect the warning shot was as much for the benefit of the Chinese as the Assad regime

  2. As always, quite accurate. With that record Clinton couldn't have faced a better opponent to win against and yet she lost — even with Hollywood, the media, mainstream Republican leaders and all of the press's pundits behind her. At some point it did dawn on me that this election cycle was unique — that it served as a built in safety valve that would allow for substantive change without battling in the street ( the rioting in Portland being just our run of the mill leftist temper tantrums ). Though, I have seen disturbing posts from liberal friends, who have gone to great lengths to present themselves as caring compassionate egalitarian people,"They could do it, and the electoral system was DESIGNED to prevent a Trump. But the govt would have to suppress inevitable armed rebellion." Crushing the results of a non-progressive election seems so antithetical to their cant — very telling about the true nature of our American leftists.

  3. IMHO Trump will be another Arnold Schwarzenegger; a failed blowhard. If America is lucky we'll follow that with as good a manager of competing interests as California Governor Jerry Brown has become.

  4. The Words Trump and Globalism are NOT compatible and quite rightly so should never be used in the same context, The Word Globalism will soon be BANNED (Again) in the Euro Region , GLOBALISM is incompatible with ANY Constitutional Republic and finally the present World we reside seems to be suffering a severe case of amnesia as the last time Globalism was forced upon Europe as in the current context, Fascism was the mechanism to leverage it. The Rest, Well common sense and logic should prevail.
    Derek McElearney

  5. Being the international financial capitol and the dominant reserve currency are two of the prerequisites of the center power. Actually London's City is the international part of the London/NY finical center. I can't see the Euro or the CNY could challenge the US$ (the EMU w/o fiscal/debt union and the CNY being a non-mkt based currency).

    Being the reserve currency is a significant source of economic wealth: monetizing something that belong to someone else as long as the majority of commodities and international trades are settled in the reserve currency.

    I really think the broadcast decline of the US as a foregone conclusion has much to be re-examined incl. the usefulness of GDP in the age of offshoring and globalized capital which has no national border.

    Also I find FT's "UK’s Risky Obsession With US Decline" interesting:

    "The United Kingdom understands full well how empires tend to over-reach and shrink, and British historians – notably Yale’s Paul Kennedy, Harvard’s Niall Ferguson and Stanford’s Ian Morris – suggest that such patterns are playing out for the United States, explains Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times. “British policy makers also seem to be operating on the assumption that the continuing rise of China and the relative decline of America are both inevitable,” he writes. “As a result, they are making decisions that reflect a cautious adaptation to this wind of change.” One point of evidence, he explains, is the UK defying Washington by applying to become a founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – a small hedge on shifting global power. Some in Britain may hope to serve as mentors of sorts for a rising China. Rachman points out that World War II was much more devastating for the UK than the Iraq War was for the US, and he concludes that the United States could hold its own by avoiding major conflicts and managing its finances well."

    Yoshiki Fujioka

  6. Everything is relative and nobody is perfect, but the West looks still fine from where I am. Just IMHO...

  7. << What is going to be a huge change is that America's prestige, its dignity and its soft power, its standing in the world as a symbol of certain outward-looking and optimistic values, will be damaged by Donald Trump >>

    I don't think so. If anything its prestige will recover slightly.

    Mark Griffith

    1. I don't think so. If anything its prestige will recover slightly.

      One of the big problems for the US internationally is that no-one really trusts the US. The US is feared but it's not trusted or respected.

      For Europeans it's an odd mixture of contempt for the US as dangerous unpredictable bunglers and fear of not having the US to protect them. The basis of European foreign policy is "And always keep a-hold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse."

      If Trump can pursue a less reckless and adventurous foreign policy he might restore some of the respect the US has lost. And if he can defuse tensions with Russia that should surely be seen as a positive thing by every sane person. I'm assuming Europeans aren't crazy enough to actually want World War 3.

    2. Good points. You might be right - and I hope so - nobody knows.

  8. Here is a quote for you.

    'The will of God prevails — In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this.'

    "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." Lincoln second inaugural address. 1865.

    1. Sorry to be obtuse but what point are you making?

  9. "It might be the end of Pax Americana, though I doubt it. It will certainly be a great change to it."
    You bet:
    "For instance, we should acknowledge now that this fight against Islamic Extremism is a sociological, psychological and cultural phenomenon, and not a military one AND, as I said earlier, we need to tell the American public, this is likely to last for decades, if not an entire generation."
    Lt.Gen Michael Flynn,
    next national security adviser

  10. Trump triumphed over every bit of conventional and establishment wisdom on the whole of planet earth. What was once regarded as expertise lies in ruins. Not even the people with skin in the game, those betting on the outcome, came close to being right. It's the greatest smashing of a paradigm – a devastating crush of not only opinions but every existing establishment left, right, and center.
    Here’s the problem in brief. The institutions of government we know all too well were built for a world that is rapidly fading away. Their systems no longer work. And they are too costly. In times when people are watching every dollar, bargain hunting on every website, government looks ever more like a ripoff. As a result, there is an increasing disconnect between our lives and the regime under which we live.
    Such a situation is not sustainable for the long term. Government is powerful, but not powerful enough to bend reality to its wishes.
    The only analogy that really comes to mind is the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite states.
    I've written that something similar could and would happen in the Western democracies. Our systems seem stable. We have our establishments. We have our embedded expectations of how the world is supposed to operate, with its politics, economics, and culture. But real world events will take a different course, one that challenges everything we thought we knew.
    That is precisely how this strikes me right now – a black swan that is huge, fast, and ominous to the point that it causes mass intellectual and psychological meltdown.
    The more I look at it, the less it seems to me that the election results are less about what Trump believes and more about what he represents: a fundamental shattering of an old paradigm.
    What lies in ruins here is not common decency and morality – much less the character of a whole people and nation – but rather an anachronistic, arrogant, entitled, smug, conceited ruling elite and ruling paradigm. You can see this in the clues that show that the vote was not so much for a particular vision of one man, but against a prevailing model of managing the world.

    Jeffrey Tucker

  11. "the Russians"" in general may or may not see Trump as an idiot - I suspect he attracts a certain admiration (for having gained wealth and women, and also for his general demeanour) - but I'm sure they do see him as "poshly", which is not generally considered a desirable characteristic (Yanokovych was poshly, Putin not)

    Dominic Heaney

    1. ...the best and the brightest see trump as a clown:

  12. "We are seeing a revolution and should be thankful it has taken a democratic, legal and non-violent form" is exactly what I've been saying to friends", Paul. I agree with an awful lot of this excellent analysis.
    Ruth Dudley Edwards