Trump’s first triumph
One of the many thoughts I composed in my head but never got around to posting was a reaction to the election of Donald Trump. An optimistic reaction, mixing tongue-in-cheek (to wind up some – probably most – readers), benefit of the doubt, and a few realistic hopes for how his presidency might lead, intentionally or otherwise, to real improvement in the world.
It’s too late for that now. He’s made so many appointments I’d have to dig into them before taking a Panglossian view on his rhetoric about surrounding himself with the best people. He still has the outsider’s potential advantage that, if he chooses, he can better afford to stand up to Vested Interests – including those who control purse-strings for US politicians of both parties – than his predecessors in modern times.
On one matter of foreign policy he’s sent a message which is both clear and constructive. He is not in favour of warmongering around the world where his country has no business. Like provoking civil war and supporting terrorist and rebel groups on a my enemy’s enemy basis. The most obvious potential beneficiary of that is Syria, where the hope and expectation of Western intervention launched and subsequently fuelled a devastating civil war.
Trump gets elected, and after just a couple of weeks the rebels in Aleppo finally cut their losses. Another couple of weeks and we get a ceasefire backed by Russia and Turkey, and for the first time the Western-backed rebels seem to have dropped their show-stopper precondition that Assad and his government be booted out.
Coincidence? Even if we attribute Aleppo to pure military victory, the change in the rebels’ stance is surely not unconnected with Trump’s election. Trump has sent them a clear signal that the leading warmongers in the West – like John McCain in the US or Andrew Mitchell in the UK – won’t persuade our governments to step up military involvement.
Of course that doesn’t mean peace: it remains to be seen to what extent that can happen, and indeed whether Russia and Turkey can make a better job of it than the West’s interventions in other countries (above all Iraq). The key point right now is that the US – and by extension the West – no longer stands in the way of peace.