Predicting Unpredictability


unnamedBy– Shyam KC

When predictions fail, predicting unpredictability remains the means to predict something. Many political scientists were stunned with the result of the US presidential election and largely uncertain and find hard to predict the likely move of president-elect Trump in regards to the liberal international order, Americans foreign policy and the future of its alliance system, more precisely US supremacy and its place in global politics.

Crumbling of Liberal Democracy                   

It had been twenty-seven years ago, while Fransis Fukuyama derived the groundbreaking thesis “the end of history” in 1989 –predicting the triumph of liberal democracy. Where, he argued that liberal democracy may constitute as “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution” and “the final form of human government”. Many were skeptical to the theory from the beginning, “the Clash of Civilization” in 1993 was the immediate response, were Samuel P. Huntington basically argued, “…the central and most dangerous dimension of the emerging global politics would be conflict between different civilizations”, wherein dominant civilization determine the form of human government.                   In references to the 9/11 attack, America’s failure to establish democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, rise of ISIS, Britain’s exit from EU various scholars termed these development in the international system as “the end of the end of history.”

As well in contemporary political trend we are witnessing in many ways different than Fukuyama’s prediction, rise of ultra-nationalism, skepticism in liberalism and globalism is being skyrocketing around the world– Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s preference on “illiberal state”, result in favor of ‘Brexit’ referendum, last year’s victory of euro-skeptic and far-right party in Poland, rise of right-wings around the Europe including France, Sweden and German, illiberal democracy of Turkey, among others.  China’s extra ordinary rise despite adopting one-party rule and resurgence of Russia though critics call democracy in the name, had been always there questioning critically for the thesis of the end of the history.

Stunning victory of Donald J. Trump as a 45th president of the United States, added the one more new chapter– perhaps the most imperative one. Scholars scrutinized Trump’s victory as the rejection of multiculturalism, denial of free trade and globalization, acquiescence of controlling national frontier. Coincidently, November 9, added the story of one more wall, the Fall of Berlin Wall happened on Nov. 9, 1989 amalgamating East and West Germany while Trump triumph as a president on Nov. 9, 2016 of United States, vowing to build 1000-miles long “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful” wall in Mexican border. United States which had been regarded as the setter of the world order, guarantor of the international system and more precisely the leader of the liberal democracy–uncertainty is triggering up how the Presidency of Donald Trump will impact the international system.

Calling it the ‘historic’ many of the far–right politicians of Europe is celebrating Trump’s victory. Like, Reuters reported hoping of Marine Le Pen, leader of far-right National Front Party of France “the same kind of upset would happen France next year.”  Trickle – down effect of triumph of the Trump may occur with the possible victory of far-right party around the Europe like in upcoming presidential election of France and federal election of Denmark next year and presidential election of Sweden in 2018.

Temporarily banning the Muslim immigrants, building Mexican-US border wall, deporting millions of undocumented illegal immigrants, either revisiting or abrogating the NAFTA, opposing Trans Pacific Partnership, labeling China as currency manipulator,  demanding fair share from NATO member states and its Asian allies, calling climate change as the hoax perpetrated by Chinese among others, were the major issues that world read during his campaign– if his campaign promise turn out to be true, proponents argues will significantly alter the international order while streamlining geopolitics of globe.

Thomas Wright, Director of the Project on International Order and Strategy, at the Brooking Institute, on Nov 2 tweeted, “Pretty clear this is the most important election anywhere in the world since the two German elections of 1932”, –German parliamentary election, which eventually granted power to Adolf Hitler. In an article “48 hours from a new world crisis’’, Wright characterizes Trump as anti US alliance arrangements and open global economy, pro-authoritarian and pro-Russian, further added, “If Trump tries to implement his worldview, he could ignite a new world crisis.” In the mean time, political scientists believes that if he doesn’t land his extreme rhetoric campaign agenda without at least moderating it will be the blow to the America’s liberal democratic values and principles.

Moreover, the overwhelming support from white working class for Trump exposes the deeply rooted anti-establishment anguish in regards to the elite capture politics at the same time the multiculturally divided American society. Xenophobia and misogyny are the other phenomenon that appears in the surface– endangering influence of American’s soft-power around the world.

Global and Regional Power Reshuffling                

US and Russia, the two cold war rivals, who had led the bi-polar world order in distinct ideological background– with the continuity of souring and cold relationship after the collapse of Soviet Union. Aftermath the victory of president-elect trump’s, RT reported Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, “Russia is ready and looks forward to restoring bilateral relations with the United States”. Similarly, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said “The current US-Russian relations cannot be called friendly. Hopefully, with the new US president a more constructive dialogue will be possible between our countries.” With the pro-Russian president-elect of US and with their likely rapprochement would possibly change the overall dynamics of international relations and global alliance system. Experts also believes that the, victory of Trump played the catalyst for cooling the confrontation between US-Russian relationship– east-ward expansion of NATO and annexation of Crimea by Russia has been galvanizing the military deployment in the context of security and strategic dilemma. Also the palpable fear lies, US likely adoption of pro-Russian policy will let Russia to repeat Crimean story especially in the Baltic States.                                                

The heavy reshuffling in Asia and ambiguity in security architecture can be felt if President Trump embraces the path in line with the agenda during his candidacy. Trump had laid down the plan for withdrawing its military forces from its allies like South Korea and Japan– altogether more than 80,000 US troops– if they don’t show willingness to contribute fair share in defense cooperation. In the absence of any kind of understanding and mutual cooperation, South Korea and Japan may choose for the ‘going nuclear’ options, which can escalate the arm race while altering the Asian security architectures. The recent China tilted move of Philippine’s President Rodirgo Duterte and Malaysian’s Prime Minister’s Najib Razak, has been already perceived as the debacle of Washington’s pivot to Asia.

Likewise, Trump is accusing China for “dumping its exports and of devaluing its currency’’ –calling “climate change as the hoax perpetrated by Chinese” and he rejected considering climate change as the “one of US big problems.”  In other hand, according to The Economist, in the context, Trump labeled Pakistan as semi-stable and a safe haven for terrorists and being critical about China, it can further strengthen Indo-US defense and strategic partnership.  Whereas, there is a kind of anxiety, that issue of H-1B visa conceivably affects the Indo-US ties.

“While we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone” president-elect Donald J. Trump said on his victory speech at Republican Party headquarter. Furthermore, he added “We will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict.” It will be noteworthy to closely observe aftershocks of global political earthquake in coming months and the year of the time– so as to concertize level of the impact on international system and global power politics.

Published On: November 13, 2016                                        

(KC holds Master’s in International Relations from Warsaw University, Poland)    

 

 

 

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