13.01.2017 Redacción Perú

This post is also available in: Spanish

Trump, a catastrophe or a catalyst for change?
(Image by Wikimedia Commons)

By Ana Carvallo

With the nail-biting inauguration of January 20th rapidly approaching, many feel a gut-wrenching sense of unease at the prospect of an inexperienced, loud-mouthed and rather vulgar successor leading America into 2017. Of course, over here in Europe we do not have as much to worry about, yet worrying it may seem nonetheless. After all, US foreign policy has had a defining impact on the world stage for the past 70 plus years. While its influence has been waning with the ongoing shift towards a more balanced world stage, and what some scholars have called the inevitable decline of US hegemony, I am inclined to be wary about the US tucking its tail between its legs anytime soon. Clearly Trump has produced anxiety from within the US establishment about the possible thawing of icy relations with President Putin, apparent in Obama and the CIA’s recent regurgitation of Cold War rhetoric concerning the importance of maintaining an iron fist approach towards the Kremlin. Not to mention the unfounded media claims that Trump, Putin and WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange have been cohorting in a fake news conspiracy, somehow responsible for the collective brainwashing of a large section of the nation into voting for the wrong man…Sounds unconvincing to me. Obama has been pulling out the final stops to sugar-coat his administration. Though Trump is detestable, I see his potentially less provocative stance towards Russia and the rest of the world as a positive development. However, his recent comments regarding Israel have made his foreign policy intentions more ambiguous. Recently, he tweeted in response to John Kerry’s condemnation of illegal Israeli settlements that he could ‘no longer allow Israel to be treated with disdain’ and urged Israel to ‘stay strong’ until he takes office on Jan. 20. He is also talking of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision that will likely further deteriorate relations with the Arab states and Palestine.

For one, I am intrigued to see what will happen once he is in power. Not because I wish ill on the people of America but because I see a potential glimmer of light at the end of a damp and dreary tunnel. No-one can claim that the current system in the US has been working well, that the majority are satisfied, and that America has an equal and fair democratic system that caters properly to the needs of its population. Having spent 5 months in New York in 2013, I could not help notice that beyond the glitzy skyscrapers there existed a lot of poverty, a lack of up-to-date infrastructure and strong social and racial divides. I only got a small glimpse, one cannot imagine the difficulties faced in some of the more neglected areas of the country.

If things were going well Trump’s appeals to the economic fears of small-town America would never have got him elected in the first place. He is not a cause but a symptom of the deep-rooted dissatisfaction and crisis present in American society today. Nor would Bernie Sanders have shaken the bipartisan system, giving youngsters a new sense of hope that there were more inspiring alternatives and nuances within the two-party system. What I’m getting at here is the fact that throughout history it is often the most striking and cataclysmic events that are best at producing positive change. It takes a combination of interconnected elements, of being caught in a precise moment in space and time, a common mindset and a particular generation to produce coherent and well-directed political action. History has produced numerous examples such as the Civil Rights Movement in America or on a smaller scale the Humanist Movement in Latin America, born out of a unique context of dictatorships across Central and South America. Perhaps we are about to reach a climax, who knows…Post-January 20th things will start to look an awful lot clearer.