Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Thu, Nov 10th, 2016

The Emperor has no Clothes

The surprise election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States has plunged the entire world into a renewed fear for the future. Like it or not, the United States emerged in the aftermath of the political balancing act of the Cold War as the primary world power, economically, politically and militarily. The necon interference in Afghanistan and Iraq, non-direct interference in Syria and outright support for the current bombing campaign against Yemen have shattered the status quo in the Middle East. It is not that such status, which was heavily occupied by dictators, was ideal, but the current spread of terrorism and insecurity has actually made life worse for most people outside the oil-wealth-sheltered Gulf states. The question that is now entirely open is what actually a Trump administration will do in the Middle East and with Muslims, even those who are American citizens.


To the extent America is an empire, at least in its own eyes, the new emperor has no clothes: no experience whatsoever in international affairs, a tattered history of racist and bigoted actions, a failed businessman, a whore for lawsuits, a grabber of women’s private parts seemingly at random, a pathological liar mentality and the accumulated vocabulary of a jr. high drop out. It is also the case that the emperor has no clue. Like most emperors and presidents, any future actions will be those whispered into the leader’s ears by advisors (better known as syncophants).

Team Trump is something that even Comedy South Park would have trouble making up. Consider who the transition team players are.  First is Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey currently sporting a 19% approval rating. Even Trump trumps that. Christie is best known these days for orchestrating the closing of the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan as political payback. This was a very important bridge to somewhere and New Yorkers have long memories about engineered traffic jams. Then there is Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor who is best suited to a Batman sequel. If he becomes Attorney General, you would be wise to invest heavily in companies that build prisons. Another elephant in the room is Newt Gingrich; his first name describes him perfectly. When he was a congressman he shut down congress, but given the state of congress today that might be a blessing to do again. All three share something important with Trump: three marriages and cheating on at least one of their wives.

Then there are the media advisors. Roger Ailes was fired from Fox News for treating a number of the women who worked for him as foxy ladies rather than colleagues. He and Trump are natural allies, especially when it comes to grabbing parts they admire of women’s bodies without getting prior permission. Then there is the alt-right phenomenon Stephen Bannon, whose Breitbart ideas stay comfortably within the zone of illogical conspiracy theories. The melange of loonies which have heaped praise upon Trump include the indomitable (a word she would have to look up on Google) Sarah Palin, a natural choice for Ambassador to Russia given the fact she can see Russia from her bedroom window. And to fill out the feminine cohort there is Michelle Bachman, who would be a perfect press secretary since she is never at a loss for impossible to understand speech. And maybe KKK David Duke could take over a new cabinet post on “Bureau of Bigoted White People Affairs.”

Seriously, well to be honest there is really no way to talk seriously about Trump, whose approval rating in the United States is around 38% but drops to around 9% in Europe.  But he is indeed the leader of the most powerful country in the world. So what can we say beyond the satire?

First, the good news is that Trump is a pathological liar so there is no guarantee he will follow through on anything he has promised or suggested. His only principle is self-serving and self-promotion. Second, he owes nothing to the establishment, Republican or Democrats. Democrats will flail away (largely in vain now that they have lost control of all government branches) and Republicans will grovel for the crumbs he might drop. Trump can walk over to congress any day, put Paul Ryan on a leash and take him out to bark at the Lincoln Memorial for all his vapid “clear the swamp” supporters to gawk at. Third, unlike his ultra-right Vice President, Trump has no ideological principles to push. He may very well appoint conservative supreme court justices, but his lifestyle suggests that high life and gay sex are not in danger.

Regarding the Middle East, it is anyone’s guess at the moment. If the same neocons that snookered Bush into Iraq resurface, then more fighting is in the air and on the ground. But if Trump becomes as isolationist as he has indicated, countries that benefit from American military protection will be footing a lot more of the bill. This means that the Saudis and Gulf countries will be able to build up their military arsenals for as many billions as they want to spend. Trump will probably outsource Syria to Putin, which will keep Asad in power. Even if the U.S.moves its embassy to Jerusalem, Trump is likely to demand something major from the Israelis in return. His art of the deal is realist in the extreme; there will be no free handouts. He may sell Iran on a deal to scrap their nuclear plans and build a chain of Trump hotels instead. As for Muslims, President Trump will probably not want to create enemies of the billion and a half followers of Islam. Nor is he likely to round up American Muslims in detention camps, as his more rabid deplorables would love to see. He may not be sincere in saying he wants to be president of all the people, but if that will get him fame then he will no doubt do whatever it takes, butt naked to the very end. That end will be in four years, inshallah, but don’t believe any of the polls.

About the Author

- Anthropologist and historian with 40 years of experience researching and working in Yemen. Varisco is currently the President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Senior Fellow at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of Bonn University, and an expert advisor to MENA Tidningen.

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