Paul Kelly has an op-ed this morning warning about the consequences of a Trump presidency.
Essential to this disruption is the confusion at the heart of the Trump debate in Australia: while Trump is extolled by some conservatives, Trump himself is not a conservative. He is a radical nationalist, protectionist and reactionary, trading in nostalgia who seeks a dramatic revision in the existing order.
I think Kelly is missing an important point. Trump is an isolationist – this has a long and respectable pedigree in US politics. Historically the US has had to be dragged into intervening in world affairs. They were very late to both world wars, for example.
Kelly points to a number of issues:
- The TPP: Trump will withdraw from the TPP. Kelly discusses the TPP in geo-political terms – it’s all about isolating China. Yet criticises Trump for suggesting this trade deal doesn’t benefit the US. It was Obama’s job to convince the US that the TPP was a good deal for them. In any event, there is nothing stopping the remaining 11 partners from still signing up to the TPP. Or even following unilateral trade liberalisation.
- Climate Change: Kelly has the funniest line I’m expecting to see all day – “Trump will be depicted as a threat to the planet and the most dangerous man on earth” – like that hasn’t happened already.
- National Security: Let’s be very clear here – maintaining Australian national security is first and foremost an Australian government responsibility, not the Americans. That means that our national security spend cannot and should not constitute industry policy and welfare for South Australia. So military platforms and military systems that secure Australia’s national integrity, not job creation in Liberal marginal seats in Adelaide.
The post-World War II liberal order is about to get a shake-up. Those international institutions, like the UN, the EU, the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO , OECD, etc. are going to have to justify their existence. This is not inherently bad – these massive anti-democratic and frankly increasingly illiberal institutions are on notice. For all his personal faults and bad taste, Trump knows a bullshit story where he hears one (that is what millions of Americans saw when the watched the Apprentice and what they like in Trump).