Summary of a successful event: What Trump Wants

During the third and last instalment of the series: “De wereld in scherven?”, journalist Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal interviewed Prof. dr. Peter Trubowitz of the London School of Economics (LSE). Topic was the Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, his domestic and international strategies, the consequences of the recent midterm election and the positioning of this presidency in a wider global context.

Trubowitz gave a very nuanced opinion on Trump and indicated that there might be a strategy behind most of the seemingly random actions of the American president. Despite the frequent international news, connecting Trump to North Korea, Russia, Iran, China, the European Union, etc., he described him as a domestic president first, meaning that the first two years of his term have seen a strong focus on domestic policy and legislation. Trubowitz hinted at a coming shift of priorities towards foreign policies, as the recent midterm elections’ “blue wave”, allows Democrats to block domestic legislation in the coming two years.  The most important tool gained in this election however is the possibility to investigate not only Trump but his entire government in the House of Representatives which restores an important checks and balances measure in the U.S.

Internationally, Trubowitz sees both positive and negative influence of the Trump administration. Many international institutions, such as NATO, go through positive developments, be it on the request of Trump or as a reaction to his politics. There is also an unwillingness of the American government to use the military to solve problems. The dispute with China however is gliding out of control, with the U.S. losing ground. While Trumps represents a common American position, there are better strategies to handle China. The unwillingness to take a side against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggis murder not only raised issues within the Republican Party it also hurts the moral position of the United States in general.

It would probably take an entire book to describe “What Trump wants”, Trubowitz was however able to make some sense of the administration and present some of the consequences, such as the political damage. (i.e. the perceived U.S. reliability, a new standard of international institutions to produce a benefit for the U.S.)

Trump rattled the cage of the liberal world order, although Trubowitz would not go so far to proclaim neither the end of it nor of the U.S. as a world leader. He pointed out, that the American political system is so dysfunctional, that it is close to impossible to tackle big problems, and that is an issue that did not start with Trump. As a prospect for the Election 2020 and a possible re-election, Trubowitz warned against an independent third-party candidate, that could possibly draw away voters from the Democratic electorate.