Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 4

Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 4

In the previous part of this series, I focused on problems which will almost certainly arise from one of Trump’s recent executive orders- namely the one about “temporarily” banning entry into USA of people from certain predominantly Muslim countries. In that post and a subsequent standalone post, I made the point that his Muslim ban was problematic for reasons that have little to do with it targeting Muslims. Firstly, it simply reinforces the widespread perception (in USA and rest of the world) that Trump makes decisions without regard to considerations of legality, feasibility, prior official positions or the risks inherent in such abrupt changes in direction.

Secondly, and perhaps far more importantly, the rest of the world (including friendly countries) see this ban as yet another confirmation of their view that trusting Trump or the USA to follow through on any agreement made in the past or even in the future is a bad idea. The second type of problems are more important that the first, since it is relatively easy to gloss over localized problems arising from personality quirks of a head of state than it is to overlook an increase in systemic risk due to a pattern of unpredictable behavior. In other words, the rest of the world would not care much if Trump’s break from the past was localized to one or two areas.

As I briefly mentioned in the previous post of this series, Trump is trying to implement large shifts from past positions on issues in a large number of areas- from immigration and international trade to reproductive right issues and dramatically ramping up the police state in USA. Moreover, his attempts to shift positions have been characterized by an unwillingness to understand the factors which made them the default in the first place. For example- increases in immigration (legal and otherwise) are largely due to the insatiable thirst of corporations for ever-increasing margins of profit. The same is true for constant increases in international trade including “free” trade.

And that brings us to the inevitable and massive international repercussions inherent in Trump’s desire to effect large shifts in major policies on a number of issues..

The relationships between nation states, unlike those between entities within a nation-state, are almost totally dependent on their mutual perceptions. These perceptions in turn are largely based on experiences of prior interactions. Furthermore, a lot of these perceptions are contingent to the parties not making any sudden deviations from their prior positions. For example- it is widely understood that China is unlikely to invade Taiwan in the near future (say.. the next 5 years) in spite of its long-term official position on that issue. Similarly, it is understood that India is going to keep on building more nuclear weapons, ICBMs and nuclear submarines in spite of what its leaders say or any residual international pressure.

Relationships between any two nation states can survive a lot of friction as long as both parties do not make any unexpected and sudden moves. The USA was, for many decades, widely seen as a nation-state with predictable behavior and policies- even if they were unsavory. Foreign and trade policies of USA, as bad as they might have been, remained reasonably consistent and stable irrespective of who was the president or which party was in power. Furthermore, changes in these policies were gradual and constant (predictable) rather than large and abrupt (unpredictable). It is this relative stability and consistency which allowed the USA to successfully create and sustain international organisations and treaties.

Trump’s desire to effect large shifts in multiple areas of national and international policy upsets the relative stability and consistency which have characterized the previous few decades. They also negate many established perceptions about the USA which are essential to relatively smooth and predictable interactions between that country and the rest of the world. For example- the continued functionality of many international organisations such as NATO, IMF etc are intimately tied to USA not deviating too much from past positions. The same is true about all those existing international trade agreements which the USA is a party to.

Think about it this way- would you enter into a business partnership where you could lose money or more with somebody whose behavior was highly unpredictable? Also, would you maintain or expand a business relationship with somebody who exhibited sudden and large changes in their behavior? Well.. the same holds true for relationships between nation states. The point is that Trump’s desire for large shifts to many policies makes it very hard for the USA to sustain, let alone improve, its existing relationships with various other nations. Now, this would not have been that big a deal if we were still living in the 1850s, 1910s or even 1950s- when you could get by without much of a two-way interaction with the rest of the world.

But we no longer live in those eras. Today, manufacturing and supply chains of everything from your toothbrush and clothes to CPUs and airliners span the entire globe. While it is certainly possible to argue about the desirability of this particular setup, we cannot deny that it exists. Nor can we pretend that waving a magic wand will somehow change the system the next month, year or decade. Also, it is not realistically possible to reproduce a previous era since each era is largely the product of conditions and circumstances unique to that era.

In other words, Trump’s desire to effect major policy shifts in multiple areas will almost certainly damage a whole slew of international relationships without most people in USA benefiting from them. It is sorta like wrecking the house you live in without having a feasible plan to quickly move into a new house. In my opinion, it is unlikely to end well- to put it mildly.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. February 3, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    “Think about it this way- would you enter into a business partnership where you could lose money or more with somebody whose behavior was highly unpredictable? ”

    there are many stories of him ripping people off in bad business deals…


    That is well known and is a pretty big liability for USA, now that he has become the president.

    • February 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Trump knows a few things about greedy people.

      First, he knows that PT Barnum was correct.

      Second, greedy people will be easily led into believing what they want to believe so that they won’t act against him.

      Three, as long as some money comes in, he can negotiate a settlement (including non-disclosure clauses) without upsetting the entire scheme.

      Four, tie them up in the courts until they are broke.

      Then he wins.

      So there will be no shortage of opportunists seeking to make deals with Herr Hair, especially now that he is in charge of the largest economy and a huge nuclear arsenal.

      That only works domestically, to a limited extent. Internationally, he is screwed because 2017 and onward is not the 1950s- the only decade where the USA could have sorta gotten away with such behavior.

  2. February 3, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    creeper yiannopolous is also a con artist:


    he also ripped off people who worked for him…

    Of course, he is a con artist. Then again, such behavior is routine for attention whores like him- whether they are on the political right or left.

  3. Anonymous
    February 4, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Isn’t breaking up the international order a good thing?
    Isn’t the hitherto international order responsible for imposing neoliberalism?
    Why should the USA defend that system when it has been detrimental to American citizens?
    Furthermore, didn’t America’s allies drag it into the Libya war (which Obama was against but had to participate in to placate allies Britain and France)?
    Didn’t even Bernie praise the end of the TPP?
    What is there to lament on the breaking up of such a system?

    • P Ray
      February 4, 2017 at 5:35 am

      Probably because “oops, I made a mistake” is not going to look good for the careers of the ardent cheerleaders of the broken system. Hence they’ll double down and hope something “lucky” happens to change their fortunes, nevermind that the structure of their beliefs simply cannot produce such an outcome.

      tl,dr: people would make fewer mistakes if they didn’t spend so much time denying them.

    • With the thoughts you'd be thinkin
      February 4, 2017 at 7:05 am

      Perhaps in the long-term it might be but in the short-term it could get real ugly, real fast. America has dragged its allies into many debacles as well, Australia for instance was dragged into Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The breakup of the international order if it happens isn’t go to happen in an orderly fashion and probably won’t be amicable, old vendettas will reassert themselves, the unstated cooperation that allows much of the world to function will be undercut even the cooperation that isn’t a part of agreements will fall by the wayside. Also just because a breakup occurs doesn’t mean an alternative is ready and waiting, and if there is one waiting anyway the best plans can be ruined by poor implementation.

    • Lab Guy
      February 4, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      I would be happy as an American citizen to be done with NATO and bring our military home. CIA does most of the mischief for the benefit of a wealthy and elite few.

      When in history has the USA ever been intentionally governed to benefit the majority of its people?

  4. February 4, 2017 at 11:33 am

    this guy is a full on Trumpkin…


    will be funny watching him get betrayed in the next few years….

  5. February 4, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I have not read any previous comments as I write this.

    According to a CNN poll conducted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 (MOE +/- 3%), Trump’s approval rating stands at 44% of the general public. Quinnipiac has released a poll January 26, 2017 which has 81% of REPUBLICANS approving of his job performance. CBS relawsed A February 3, 2017 poll which reflects similar numbers. Gallup polling February 1, 2017 has Trump’s Republican support at 89%.

    As long as the Republican Party controls the entire Federal Government (SCOTUS control is now merely a formality), and controls the majority of the state governments, Republican support is all Trump will care about. He will claim that such high numbers of Republicans supporting him as President {*GASP**Shudder!!*} represents a mandate to continue to destroy the post-WWII global order as well as throwing the final shovels of dirt on the New Deal.

    By the time those Republican fools awaken, it will be too late to do anything but retaliate. That will only play into Trump’s fantasies of being an American Caesar. He will crack down harshly, because he has already gotten away with so much.

    I once thought that the breakup of the US into smaller regional states couldn’t happen. Now I’m not so certain that it isn’t a good way for states like California (6th largest economy globally) to make their own way in the world without the baggage of the Red State Special Education candidates weighing us down.

    Our only real issues would be defending our borders. Deserts and mountains make great natural barriers. We’d find enough military types out of our 39 million citizens (2015) to cover them, and much of the aerospace industry remains within our state. We could find the will to establish major desalination systems to grow our own food.

    I don’t want to see this happen, but I no longer fear it. All that remains is for that fool Trump to not get us into a nuclear war.

    • A.B. Prosper
      February 6, 2017 at 11:10 pm

      The last few times States have have brooked a Republican President things went badly and California is far more vulnerable than it thinks both to military outcomes and to economic warfare

      That said the US becoming several separate nations is both a good idea and probably inevitable. The only disagreement is the time frame and if it will be violent or peaceful

      Now if AD is correct in his time frame of a few years really Trump needn’t worry about his deals anyway the Union won’t last long enough for him to care.

      If its longer, Trump is trying to delay the collapse by keeping the economy working longer . I’m not sure it will work or if it can work

      Right now its not an easy thing to even try not enough things are made domestically but among nations , the US is capable of near autarky something it should considered for long term plans

      That said immigration will be the killer, heterogeneous nations simply don’t work well and invariably fall down economic and social tiers do to lack of shared social capital. That mistake or malice from 1965 on will doom the US more than any other factor

  6. Lab Guy
    February 4, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    The New Deal was as fascist as you could get. You know FDR stole the gold from the population right? He gave them $20/ounce and then revalued gold to $35/ounce. Yet we hear this nonsense how he was a man of the people yet brought up rich and nowhere near as competent as his north eastern sissy cousin Teddy. SS is bankrupt due to the handouts given over the years to those, especially immigrants, who did not contribute to the system.

    FDR also lied us into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor instigated by his policies. He campaigned on no war but secretly worked toward that goal.

  7. GenesisSerpentEnki
    February 6, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Trump has already started to do four of the things that eventually lead to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. When Theodosius I made Christianity the State Religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD he took away money from the economy/military and gave it to the Churches thus weakening the economy/military and strengthening the Churches (Trump is giving powerful positions/control of the economy and military to the extremists Religious Right/Christian Churches). Theodosius I weakened the role of the Roman Emperor (that for hundreds of years was founded upon worship of the Emperor to make the Emperor appear strong) by bowing/submitting to the “authority” of Bishop Ambrose, thus making the Christian Bishop Ambrose have power/control over the Emperor (Trump has bowed down before the Christian Right/extreme Christians, thus giving Christians/Churches power over the President of the United States thus weakening the role of the Presidency and giving the most extreme branches of Christianity power/control over the government of the United States). Theodosius I did not treat people well (especially Alaric I in the outsourced military) and then Honorius murdered thousands of Goth families and like many throughout history Alaric I and the Goths sought revenge (Trump does not treat people well and he has made threats to go after families with innocent people). Theodosius I as a fanatical Christian would not reinstall the Altar of Victory that the military would go to for celebration after military victories and this further weakened and demoralized the military, and then Theodosius I began to destroy everything considered pagan (non-Christian) thus destroying the foundation the Roman Empire was founded on (Trump vows to destroy the Johnson Amendment to destroy the Separation of Church and State that since the 1700’s Enlightenment with the Separation of Church and State the United States of America was founded on to further give more power/control to extremists branches of Christians over the government of United States). It still took from 380 AD to 476 AD for the total Fall of the Western Roman Empire (it was already substantially weakened only a few years later in the early 400’s AD), but it began when Christianity was made the State Religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD and thus with an extremist Christian fanatic Theodosius I beginning to destroy the Empire from within.

    • webej
      February 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Not reinstalling the Altar of Victory is almost an exact parallel to the power Trump is diverting from the neo-cons/military to American Christendom. You really nailed it!

      Does it ever occur to people that the upsurge of Christianity in Rome was not the cause of Rome waning, but that all the servitude and tribute exacted by a violent fascist clique was the bedding in which Christianity was seen as salvation? The arrow of cause and effect are exactly the reverse. Rome justified every single war of conquest with the excuse that it was preemptive defence! The pax Romana was based on new tribute and conquest, until the empire was so large that the economics and logistics of conquest still further afield didn’t make sense anymore. Rome collapsed, but Byzantium (Christendom par excellence) flourished for another 1000 years [!].

      When the Empire fell and gave way to the so-called Dark Ages, for >90% of the population it meant, despite the falling away of many of the perks of civilization, that they could farm their own land without being slaves, and had a lot more to eat. Private land ownership was abolished (the land belonged to God), and even the king was a tenant. Feudal tenants were apportioned plots of land annually by lot (quallty) and by number of dependants (area), in addition to the commons. Society was organized in interlocking staged cells of bonds based on allegiance and mutual defence, which was not, judging by its longevity of the arrangements, based on a mind trick played by lords on their serfs, but on objective demands of survival. Few that knew it first hand mourned the empire’s fall, no matter how many pined for the lost glory and splendour.

  8. Shiningtime
    February 13, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Trump hasn’t really done anything yet, besides the failed Muslim ban. I’m happy to see the courts slap down President Trump. At least one branch of government is still doing its job.

    As far as the Muslim ban, I’m in support of it with a caveat. Single Muslim men should have their quota severely restricted. America currently has a surplus of young men, many struggling to find decent mates. Having a large surplus of young men with no job prospects, no mate prospects leads to problems. Only married men and young women should be permitted with the necessary “vetting”. Not about racism. The pie is shrinking and tough choices have to be made for the future. Those young men should stay and fight for their country.

    • P Ray
      February 13, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      Those young men should stay and fight for their country.
      And those countries need to be left alone and not interfered with for “the feminist good”.

      It seems right after a country is successfully defended by men,
      the women immediately want to be considered equal despite the most of them preferring to suck invader dick.

  9. February 19, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    How much “walking around money” is needed to win an election?

    Trump thinks $100 a month for the average taxpayer will do. I think he is right.

    Look for Republicans to at least hold their own in Nov. 2018. And if mid-Term turnouts are the same as usual (since 2010) look for a Republican blow out.

    If the Democrats could make the Drug War a national issue in 2018 that might help. But Democrat politicians are divided on the issue (Nancy Pelosi). And Republicans are coming around (Rand Paul, Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.) Heck, Orrin Hatch is promoting medical cannabis.

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