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ESSA

The 2016 Presidential Election: ESSA Reacts


ESSA Writers

By

November 9th, 2016


We’re going to have to get used to saying President Trump. ESSA’s team of writers react to a stunning election result.


Yaz Naji:

Well well well… There are a lot of narratives one can take from this, so let’s start from the top and flow down. First up, did Donald Trump just rescue conservatism from the changing demographics of the United States? Most thought Trump was playing a very risky game by solely depending on white voters to vote him into the Oval Office. Luckily for him, their turn out was almost at the limit of people who actually agree with his politics. This is in stark contrast to Hillary, whose downfall can arguably be placed at the hands of low turnout from a majority of Americans who at least feel ambivalent towards her policies of not hating ethnics (the real deplorables) and not grabbing women by the pussy. Cue the moans of Bernie Sanders supporters who swear their abandonment of the Democratic Party after Bernie’s loss had nothing to do with Trump winning.

Or was it simply the fact that sexism has reared its ugly head once again to denounce perhaps the most qualified candidate we’ve had in decades? Personally I can’t imagine a scenario where a white man with exactly the same track record as Clinton wouldn’t have completely decimated Trump. Detractors will argue that it is simply her lack of charisma and charm that have resulted in the public’s disdain for her. As a counterpoint I offer George W. Bush’s awful vernacular.

Now as an Australian, the most important point is that this result has given Pauline Hanson and the the rest of the basket of deplorables a mandate; two massive nations (U.S and UK) seemingly believe that the fall of the white man is attributable to social and economic progress since the 1960s. As a non-white person, I think that is something to fear as the flow on effects could be very dangerous. If you’re anything but Caucasian I think you have something to fear too. And, if you are the entire half of our population that are women, I think you have something to fear too.

Charlie Lyons Jones:

The nightmares many members of Washington’s national security community have just come true. Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States of America and will soon be Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces. The ability to determine the priorities of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Pentagon will soon be in the hands of a Trump administration.

America’s allies in the Asia-Pacific are worried. Although the United States has been the greatest power in the Asia-Pacific since World War II, the Obama administration reinvigorated America’s engagement with the region in 2011. This so-called ‘re-balance’ to the Asia-Pacific has been welcomed by America’s allies in the region. Ashton Carter, the Obama administration’s Secretary of Defense, noticed on his many trips to the Asia-Pacific that allied countries want “… the United States to do more, not less, in the region.” Unfortunately, Donald Trump wants America to do less in the region, not more.

Who are the important allies of the United States in the Asia-Pacific and how has the ‘re-balance’ helped them? It will be important to answer these questions before considering what possible effect a Trump administration might have on the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific.

First there is South Korea. With a belligerent, heavily-armed rogue state only a few kilometres away, South Korea gains a lot from the rebalance. Shortly after North Korea tested one of its inter-continental ballistic missiles in the June of this year, (ICBMs) the United States quickly responded by deploying Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) to South Korea’s Seongju county in July. THAAD’s cutting-edge radar technology has the capability to destroy North Korea’s ICBMs quickly, which would maintain South Korea’s edge without its own nuclear weapons. The United States noted that this deployment was ‘not negotiable’ despite concerns from China that this would cause an arms race in the region. Such resolve underscores America’s commitment to South Korea in the rebalance.

Second, there is Japan. While the United States Pacific Command is headquartered in Hawaii, America’s base in Okinawa has long been a strategic hub for the United States Military. However, since the rebalance began in 2011, America has deployed several of its capabilities to the island. These include the F-22 raptors as well as an aircraft carrier. The United States also plans on sending 16 F-35 stealth fighter jets to Okinawa, with the possibility of another. The United States and Japan have also stepped up their collaboration in the defence industry, with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force buying 38 F-35A fighter jets from the American company Lockheed Martin in December 2011. Along with all of these recent developments is the United States’ long-term commitment to defend Japan in the event of an attack on Japanese territory.

Then there is Australia. Australia has fought alongside the United States in all of its wars since World War I. The ANZUS Treaty has codified the two countries’ strategic commitment to one another, meaning that one is legally-bound to defend the other in the event of an attack. Building on top of this firm base is the United States rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. The rebalance benefits Australia’s defence in two important ways. Firstly, military-to-military relations are becoming stronger. In 2011, the Obama administration and Gillard government agreed that 2,500 American marines would be training in Darwin by 2017. Secondly, Australia, which has long acted as the United States’ eyes and ears in the Asia-Pacific, now has a great deal more say in American strategic policy thanks to the rebalance. For example, Major General Greg Bilton now serves as Deputy Commanding General of the United States Pacific Command, which forms 58 per cent of the entire United States Armed Forces. These benefits outline just how important the rebalance is to Australia’s defence.

Now that the world will have a Trump presidency America’s most trusted and active allies need to reflect deeply on their respective strategic policies. South Korea can no longer rely on the United States to keep its forces stationed in the country because Trump thinks the country is not paying its fair share. South Korea might now need to think of developing its own nuclear deterrent. Japan also cannot count on America defending it against China it in the East China Sea or against North Korea in the event of a nuclear attack, as Trump wants to trash the treaty that guarantees Japan’s defence. Japan might also need to consider developing its own arsenal of nuclear weapons for its own security. Rapid nuclear proliferation in the Asia-Pacific could well be the result of today’s election of Donald J. Trump.

As for the United States rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, that can now be treated as history.What do Trump’s views on South Korea and Japan mean for Australia, another ally of the United States? In short, the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific could well fall out of kilter with Trump’s scrapping of the rebalance and quick nuclear proliferation. While Australia might feel secure knowing that it works closely with the United States in both the military and intelligence communities, Australia cannot count on America’s strategic guarantees. There is now a real chance that Donald Trump will treat Australia in the same way as he treated South Korea and Japan. That means no ANZUS, no American troops in Darwin, less collaboration on matters of intelligence and less say in American strategic policy. Should Australia adopt a more independent foreign policy? If Canberra thinks the answer to that question is yes, Australia might have to rearm very quickly. Whether or not Australia’s voters are willing to pick up that bill is another question entirely.

Priyanka Banerjee:

This is not the piece that I had hoped or intended to have written this afternoon. The highest glass ceiling has a few cracks but remains fully intact, and we have seen the US Presidential Election mirror the everyday double standards facing women in broader society. In fact, the election result is symbolic, if not for the reason that it necessarily should have been. It is symbolic for showing, in the clear light of day, how embedded sexist perspectives are in society.

Hillary Clinton certainly was not the perfect candidate, but neither has any American political candidate ever been. It seemed, however, an obvious choice against the ignorant and hateful character that was Donald Trump. How could anyone see Clinton and Trump, side by side, and conscientiously choose the latter? Yet in the world’s highest office, we now see the reinforcement of the systemic pattern of unqualified, brash men being rewarded over ambitious, prepared women.

It is genuinely upsetting to think about the implications of this nightmare-turned-reality. Years and years of social progress are about to unravel. Trump is a candidate that has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, appoint a conservative US Supreme Court Justice meaning Roe v Wade is likely to be overturned, strengthen the role of the NRA and “protect” the Second Amendment, and undermine the rights of women and minority groups. And that is a vastly incomplete list.

Supporters of Trump rebuked the ‘corrupt’ character of Clinton and appraised how Trump ‘speaks his mind’. Let’s not kid ourselves. This was a public demonstration of the deeply rooted misogyny within the US. When a supremely qualified and dedicated woman is overlooked in favour of an arguable billionaire who has consistently demeaned women and has no understanding of policy or democracy, was it a vote against Hillary or a vote against the first woman President of the United States?

Quoc Anh Nguyen:

About a month ago I wrote an essay about democracy and economic growth. Though I pointed out many of democracy’s problem, I was still hopeful. When we in the developing world look towards the rich and prosperous parts of the world, there we see democracy. The USSR and its Second World satellites did not survive: the US did and “First World” became a synonym for successful nations. My ESSA colleagues have written a lot and written well about the immediate economic and political effects of this election result. I have nothing to add on that front. I only wonder what this result means for the prospects of the developing world.

When Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters won in Myanmar recently, their championing of democracy is partly based on the hope that it will brings prosperity. The long episode of chaos and instability and violence that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 was nonetheless called an “Arab Spring” because of what it promised, which was prosperity for the people of those nations as national governments become accountable and democratic. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe was cheered for much the same reasons. Any wishes for nations like still-communist Vietnam and China to “democratize” only stand because those nations did get more prosperous and better off when more (albeit limited) freedom was introduced.

The Western world should not think of democracy as some deity that deserves worship and respect. If democracy cannot ensures that a nation can make the best collective decision, and if it does not hold the promise of development, then why should we in the developing world care?

Today across the world, especially the still-developing world, there will be many who see that their and their nation’s fortunes were greatly worsened by a terrible decision in the world’s most powerful country. They will also note that it was carried out by that trusted political institution – liberal democracy. No doubt many will think that the system is a farce or at least had their faith wavered – I know I certainly have. Many will also recognize that we developing nations have no choice but suffer when the powerful shoot themselves in the foot. It is, then, natural to seek more strength through non-democratic means. This was precisely what many nations did in the 20th century when they adopted fascism and communism. If the 21st century is to witness a comparable rise of illiberalism, now you know where it will come from.

The views expressed within this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of the ESSA Committee or the Society's sponsors. Use of any content from this article should clearly attribute the work to the author and not to ESSA or its sponsors.

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