Donald Trump's position as the candidate most likely to be the Republican Party's nominee at the November 8 presidential election has prompted a lot of soul searching outside of the US. As many have observed, rarely have foreign policy and international trade played such a prominent role in a US election. Those countries on the receiving end of these policies are, in turn, examining their views on the US and pondering how much will change with a new president. Whoever wins, the paths taken in this campaign suggest it is time to revise our opinion of the US, according to Freddy Gray, deputy editor of The Spectator in the UK and former literary editor of The American Conservative. Gray's verdict? The nation which has been 'the most benevolent superpower in history is turning nasty'.
It’s easy to forget that the relative peace and prosperity we have enjoyed since the second world war has been underpinned by America’s stability and its might, both economic and military. That might sound like neocon twaddle, but it’s true. America’s generous attitude to globalisation has helped us all become richer — the manufacturing boom in Asia and Latin America, for instance, came at the expense of American jobs, but America accepted it. While European governments have steadily slashed their armies to pieces, US military spending now makes up 73 per cent of Nato’s total spend. There’s no such thing as a free world, really. Uncle Sam always picks up the tab. As John F. Kennedy said: ‘The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it.’ Trump would say that sounds like a bum deal.
Gray believes that Trump's strong showing in and of itself 'should be a cause of considerable alarm for those who believe in liberal democracy'.
Millions of American voters have made it clear that they don’t want a nice guy — or even a respectable one — in charge. Civility is for losers and outmoded establishment politicians. The Republican electorate want an arrogant daddy-big-bucks instead.
And if Trump does make it all the way? Well, Gray says, 'a fulminating demagogue with more than a whiff of the mad dictator about him could be in charge of the most powerful nation on earth'.
In Australia, that prospect has rattled us so much that many are questioning one of our most deep-seated tenets; that our alliance with the US is vital for Australia's security. The Lowy Institute Poll, undertaken each year by The Lowy Institute, publisher of The Interpreter, has revealed 45% of voters believe Australia should distance itself from the US if it 'elects a president like Donald Trump'. As Lowy executive director Michael Fullilove wrote in The Australian, this finding would have been 'a nasty surprise' for Washington, given Australia is 'the US’s most reliable ally: the only country to fight beside the Americans in every major conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries'. Dr Fullilove added:
Australians believe that by allying with America, we contribute to global security as well as our own. That nearly half of Australians would seek to move away from the US in the event of a Trump victory says something quite disturbing about this particular candidate.
The combination of Trump's determination to reign in trade deficits by rebuilding long-demolished tariff walls has world leaders speaking plainly. During a recent visit to the US, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong voiced his concerns, reported by Straits Times US Bureau Chief Jeremy Au Yong. When it comes to trade, Lee wondered, how can 'seriously-entered-into undertakings' be 'just torn up...because the Americans are not happy...how do we conclude a new agreement? How do I know where the bottom line is?'
Indian business leaders are wondering exactly how Trump would go about bringing jobs home. 'Outsourcing is as old as Adam Smith', Rajiv Khanna, president of the powerful India-America Chamber of Commerce told The Wire.
'You can’t turn economics on its head. Services will move where they are cheaper. US consumers have benefited from a higher quality of services from India at a cheaper price.'
Trump's pledges have not penetrated everywhere though. The collection of vox pops in the video from South Korea suggests the locals aren't taking him terribly seriously though they do think he looks suspicious. It's something about the hair.
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