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Donald Trump: Is new day dawning or is the world done for?

17/11/2016 00:00:00
by Seewell Mashizha
 
 
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THE last few days have been dramatic in more ways than one, and it would be amiss of me to pretend that all is well under God’s heaven.

As the Americans might say, Donald Trump pulled a fast one on everyone, and came up trumps in an election whose result had long been a foregone conclusion in the wrong direction. Although the papers, networks and analysts kept saying Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the two most unpopular candidates ever, one of them was always going to emerge victorious, no matter what. And that someone was always going to be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton! Except, they had reckoned without the street-fighting skills of billionaire Donald Trump, a green-horn in terms of public office, but one with a knack for survival regardless.

As far as Trump was concerned nothing was too sacrosanct. Everything was fair game including the rival candidate’s husband. Hate him or like him, the man would still have made history even in defeat, just as Hillary Clinton would have and has. Hillary Clinton is the first ever woman presidential candidate in America and would have been the first ever woman president of the USA if things had gone her way.

But, as it turns out, Donald Trump has become the first ever President to have been a rank outsider even during his party’s primaries and to have still made it to the White House. The Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader and many other Republicans were uncomfortable with Trump’s candidacy and conduct especially because of the racist and divisive comments attributed to him.

There was an almost palpable discomfort with Trump’s ambivalence on the KKK (Ku Klux Klan). This led McConnell to observe, “Senate Republicans condemn David Duke, the KKK and his racism.” He expected a similarly unequivocal statement from Trump but did not get it.

David Duke is the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist vigilante group guilty of all sorts of crimes against Afro-Americans across the centuries. Lynchings and assassinations are the calling card of the KKK. The results of this latest American Presidential election show that the overwhelming inclination of white America is racist. This election might mean that there has been an overt retrogression. The days ahead will be instructive.



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Poor Hillary Clinton whose ‘presidential’ handshake Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe had been waxing lyrical about was in many ways a wilful victim of her own propaganda machine. She believed the skewed polls as we all did and was beginning to visibly carry herself like a President-in-waiting. The lack of enthusiasm for her among black voters was largely ignored. She must have been thinking that Barrack Obama’s incumbency would see her comfortably making the home run. But, as it turned out, she lost even in Florida where the minorities had been expected to come through for her.

If the truth be told, many blacks were quite disillusioned with her. It was clear from some of the things she is alleged to have said in private that she could not be their ‘man’ so to say. That, coupled with the largely damp squib presidency of Barrack Obama insofar as black Americans and the African continent were concerned, meant that Hillary was always going to lose. Once the novelty of having a black face in the white house had worn off it became unavoidable to conclude that although Obama had indeed come, his tenure was largely of no consequence in things that really mattered. ISIS was created on his watch and Libya was destroyed during that same watch.

Hillary Clinton’s infamous words regarding the shameful assassination of Muammar Gadhafi still ring ominously in the air and those with ears to hear continue hearing them: We came, we saw, he died! Such personalised politicking probably made Julius Caesar turn in his grave. But then, this is typical of American politics and foreign policy. The United States creates problems in order to later solve them and get the credit. It’s always the same, the deception, the subterfuge and the outright lies.

America armed Saddam Hussein against Iran during the long war between the two countries. He was a good guy while he served the American agenda. As soon as he began to show independent enterprise, Saddam became the bad guy who had to be stopped, and that regardless of the fact that Kuwait was historically a part of Iraq and despite the fact that the lateral drilling of oil into Iraq by the Kuwaitis was not in dispute. The rhetoric from George Bush (the father of George W) became increasingly more ominous in the months immediately preceding the war. George Lakoff, an American linguist circulated a paper to mobilise opinion against what he saw as an unjustified war that Saddam could never have succeeded in avoiding.

Lakoff showed how in order to forestall opposition from the citizenry of America oil was metaphorically referred to as the life blood of the nation which was about to be squeezed out and that the only way to stop this happeninSaddam Husseing was to stop Saddam. The whole of Iraq became Saddam the bad guy: old people – men and – women, women and children all coalesced into one devilish despot Saddam Hussein. Once this idea had been repeated often enough it became easier to attack Iraq without conscience. The cluster bombs and all the weaponry were out to get one person, Saddam! The facts on the ground were anything but.

The trick on Saddam Hussein was also played on Osama Bin Laden. He was an American protégé in Afghanistan where the USA fought a war by proxy against the Soviet Union. After he had served his purpose and Mohammad Najibullah the pro-Soviet president had been deposed and executed by the Mujahedeen, Bin Laden expanded his agenda and became a marked man whose eventual demise in Pakistan was never in doubt from then on.

What seems to emerge from all this is the continuity of American interests, a stance that is often reflected in the often expressed view that America has no permanent friends, only permanent interests. This is why Obama became bushier than Bush. There are no real differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. Whatever differences might appear to exist are generally superficial and largely a matter of style only.

It remains to be seen how Donald Trump and his administration pan out. Will he turn out to be the devil that his utterances along the way suggest he might become or will the famous American checks and balances checkmate him? If a new day is about to dawn in international relations what are its likely hues? My guess is that there will not be too much veering from the well-trodden path that America has walked over time. There are clues to that effect.

Donald Trump used music quite liberally in his campaign and each song was used to some effect. The one I find most enigmatic is ‘You can’t always get what you want’ by the Rolling Stones. Here was a man promising to do a lot of earth-shattering stuff like building a wall along the Mexican border and deporting millions and so on and so forth. Then he goes around playing a song that could be a double-edged sword. Probably with tongue in cheek and a not unlikely chuckle he must have been saying to all and sundry that there was no way they could always get what they wanted. It’s a toss-up who is going to be disappointed in the end.

The downside of Trump’s impending presidency is the sudden rise and multiplication of would-be copy cats who think it’s a time for the triumph of far-right politics. Nigel Farage must be fancying his chances after his United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) successfully campaigned for Brexit. His camaraderie with Trump has a precedent. Tony Blair came to power after sharing notes with Bill Clinton. This looks like a repeat of the same. The feeling of ‘de ja vu’ is very strong.

More countries are beginning to talk about national sovereignty including most surprisingly, the UK. Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister has been using that word quite deliberately of late in keeping with the exhortation to reclaim the country’s boundaries. That kind of rhetoric is something we had begun to associate with Zimbabwe exclusively. Interesting times are in the offing.

Will it be World War Three soon or are we going to move away from the brink of disaster? One hopes no state or leader adopts brinkmanship as a strategy. What with all the spots around the world just waiting to burn!

There is some poetry in a Donald Trump win followed not too long afterwards by earthquakes in New Zealand and the passing on of music maestro and ace lyricist Leonard Cohen of So Long Marianne and Hallelujah fame. One is tempted to wonder what Cohen’s take on a Trump presidency might have been. He was critical of America’s politics as the song Democracy (is coming to the USA) shows.

Cohen’s assessment of the USA is encapsulated most poignantly in these two stanzas:

Sail on, sail on

O mighty Ship of State!

To the Shores of Need

Past the Reefs of Greed

Through the Squalls of Hate

Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

 

It's coming to America first,

the cradle of the best and of the worst.

It's here they got the range

and the machinery for change

and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.

It's here the family's broken

and it's here the lonely say

that the heart has got to open

in a fundamental way:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Trump, willy-nilly, confirms Cohen’s assessment. During his campaign one of his punchlines was ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’, meaning of course that the American dream has been quite moribund for some time.

So we wait to see if a new day is dawning anytime soon.


 
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