By Ali Hassnain
How dare I write this article? Just yesterday I was arguing with my father that Trump has practically no chance of winning. I was considering writing about the flaws of his strategy and how he had not hit Hillary hard enough on her foreign policy. I should have listened to his arguments carefully. Like most of political commentators I was frankly sure of a Clinton presidency. In retrospect, my father was right about the authenticity of surveys among other things. Yesterday my argument was that Trump would be better than Clinton but there is no chance he would win. Trump has surprised the world and won the US Presidential elections. As the speaker of the house in US rightly said today, Trump has turned politics on its head. Trump kept calling surveys and polls before election rigged against him and he turned out to be right. By the way, Bill Clinton also defeated George Bush senior against the expectations of establishment and polls.
How did Trump rise to power and what possible changes he would bring in the US policy? Born in an over privileged family, he had everything. We cannot compare Pakistani rich people to the American rich people. If you are a billionaire in US, you get what you want. You get used to getting what you want. For them there is little to fear other than death. Trump is rich but he is nowhere close to the richest people in the US. He did not even have strong lobbies behind him like Jeb Bush had. It appears that pharmaceutical companies and health insurance lobbies backed him, but certainly money alone cannot be a factor in becoming the US President. Had it been so, there are people many times richer than Mr. Trump. If you have been living under a rock for last two years here is some information for you.
Who is Donald Trump? He is a 70 years old American with a net worth of some 3.7 billion$ (8.2 billion according to him) and a very colourful past. From wrestling to interviewing play boy models and charges of sexual abuse he has lived a very public life. All four of his grandparents were born in Europe; German from father’s side and Scottish from mother’s side. His family changed their surname from Trumpf to Trump somewhere in history. His grandfather was born in Bavaria (Germany), immigrated to US, then Germany again and then forced to leave for the US. Donald Trump was born in a relative medium income area of queens in New York. His grandfather’s net worth was $31,359 ($494,700 today) when he died. His father built a real estate empire and he got a lot of financial help from his father, he self described his net worth as 200 million $ (1982 USD).
My cousin’s wife (Pakistani American couple) described Trump very well today on Facebook. She wrote, “He is a racist, a sexist and a narcissist who has no respect for ANYONE whether it is a disabled person or a woman. He has no tolerance for other races/ religions. He has no experience. He has a terrible financial record. He inspires bullies and he managed to bring the worst in some people during a very short time (I have seen this first-hand within our schools and communities). All of these things and many more are enough of a reason to not support him.”
I mostly agree with her, but being an eternal optimist, I choose to see the good side of results of this election.
Now first of all we must analyse Obama’s tenure. Had Clinton been elected it would have essentially been continuation of his policy for 8 more years. And what has his policy done? Daesh (ISIS), stateless Afghanistan, stateless Libya, a stateless Somalia, a divided and war torn Sudan! Wasn’t Clinton Secretary of State when Raymond Davis killed two people in broad daylight in Pakistan and got away with it? Do you really believe CIA didn’t foresee rise of ISIS? If so, half of the CIA should have been fired.
So, in essence we have a President in the US who is strong and a bit of hard-headed. After Kennedy, he is probably the only one with such finances. Election campaign is one thing. We have seen that Barry Goldwater in the 1960s was portrayed as a war monger. L.B. Johnson won and he pushed US further and deeper in the slippery sand of Vietnam. Trump has a lot to learn; he would be briefed on things he has no idea about. Would he be an establishment puppet? It is hard to say at this point. On the other hand if he takes a stand, after JFK we have the first person who can challenge CIA and formulate his own policy.
What would be his policy with China? Would he fuel the South China Sea petty issues which Obama administration kept fueling? His actions in office remain unpredictable; surely Mexico is not mad enough to build a wall with US with their own money, which by the way would not be very useful to the US any way. Someone can brief him on Pakistan-Afghan border and the terrain since he feels only a wall can stop immigrants from Mexico.
It is also highly unlikely he would put a blanket travel ban on Muslims. If did so, US image would be tarnished for decades. Iran deal is over if we take into consideration Trump’s statements during his campaign. Iran is essentially almost left defenseless with a US president who wants to squeeze them and possibly carry out surgical strikes. Saudis stand to gain if they engage Trump and convince him to spike oil prices. A collapsing regime might get a life line, but it can easily be the other way around.
On Pakistan, he has given two statements. One in particular is really absurd, that Pakistan is a country with nukes and he would rely on India to “handle” Pakistan. Other one is more rational; he said he would like to play a role if asked to resolve the disputes between Pakistan and India. This has been Pakistani stance since 1947: 3rd party mediation on Kashmir. I do hope and believe that after looking at the classified material, he would have good ties with Pakistan. General Raheel or the one who replaces him must adopt an aggressive foreign policy and if possible meet Trump directly and brief him on the situation.
Pakistan’s policy regarding Washington has been to have friends in White House; lobbyists have done little good, but are a necessary evil. We need a relationship and trust like there was between Musharraf and Bush. We should be briefed about Indian interference in Afghanistan and Pakistan and its consequences. I am deliberately not discussing Obama Care and domestic issues. I am more concerned about Trump’s foreign policy. The Chinese also would be watching with interest. If anything Pakistan-China alliance would get stronger. If Trump shakes hands with Putin, Daesh can be wiped out in a matter of weeks. Problems with Russia would essentially evaporate. He would surely be made aware of CIA black ops and failures. As Musharraf rightly said that the problem with US is that they don’t accept their blunders. For example in Afghanistan and Iraq the US military removed the government and established a command. It was the failure of CIA to misjudge the ground realities and imposing Karzai and Maliki. We are enjoying a complicated relationship with the US, slightly on the friendly side. We can work with Trump to improve it.
There is a ray of hope if you try to see it. Americans are tired of tyranny abroad and foreign interventions of Obama’s tenure, and want change. At least I chose to see it this way. Only time would tell.
Someone also needs to brief Trump on the failures of CIA and positive future options. History is blank; it is up to Trump to write it. And I pray and hope he leaves a good legacy. The world is still suffering from blunders of Bush senior and junior. Naturally there is congress and senate and Republicans who can essentially make him a lame duck President. Nevertheless, he is a populist, enjoys massive support and also as the US president, enjoys a lot of power. I hope Mr. Trump uses them for the good of the US and the world.