Donald Trump-Era: what future for the United States of America?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 16:27
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Epos converses with Prof. Ricardo R. Larémont

by Nicolamaria Coppola (EPOS)
EPOS Conversations


US President-elect Donald Trump is going to take office on January 20, 2017. He is going to become the 45th President of the United States of America, succeeding Barack Obama. Entering the White House, Mr Trump could change America's relationship with the rest of the world. In the following exclusive interview with EPOS, Ricardo Larémont, Professor of Political Science and Sociology at SUNY Binghamton, where he has served on the faculty since 1997, discusses about the election of Donald Trump and the future of the United States of America, and he expresses his point of view on the new starting Trump-era.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: In contrast to all forecasts, Donald Trump scored a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton, and he is the President-elect of the United States of America. Were you surprised about the election results?Did you have any sense that this might happen?

Ricardo Larémont: I was quite surprised. I expected Hillary Clinton to win handily. Most polls predicted a ac certain victory. I think most Americans were surprised.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: Why in your opinion pollsters and commentators did not predict the victory of Trump?

Ricardo Larémont: It is important to remember that Hillary Clinton won the election by almost three million votes. She lost the Electoral College. The Electoral College was instituted in the Constitution because Alexander Hamilton did not want the masses to elect the president directly. By contrast, Thomas Jefferson wanted a direct election of the president without any role to be played by the electoral college. In the twenty-first century two candidates have failed to win the general election yet have won the electoral college: George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: Is Trump representing a new movement in American politics, or his election is a rejection of Hillary Clinton by voters who hate the Clintons and are fed-up with the traditional and old-fashioned politics?

Ricardo Larémont: The election was about the haves and the have-nots. The haves, who reside in the states on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, voted for Clinton. The have-nots, who reside in interior America where both manufacturing and employment have declined for twenty years now, voted for Trump. Those in the interior of America are in desperate straits. Incomes are stagnant, employment opportunities are declining and they saw Trump as advocating for their interests. By contrast, Clinton was seen as representative of the coastal and financial elites.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: Few hours later the results of the election, Trump said that he "will represent all Americans". How is he going to do that when the nation is so divided and he has already expressed deep hatred for many groups in the United States, including women and minorities?

Ricardo Larémont: Trump will find it hard to govern. He is a rhetorician without solid plans for policy. Perhaps those around him will provide him with advice but  thevarious factions within Republican Party do not have consensus about how to proceed.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: In this election, we’ve heard the phrase “U.S.-led international order”. Uri Friedman, for example,  in several analysis and editorial on the figure and the ideology of the President-elect  has written “Donald Trump may well undo the post-World War II U.S.-led international order that has underwritten global peace and prosperity for decades”. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think the president of the United States has the power to undo that “order single-handedly”?

Ricardo Larémont: Trump is fundamentally unsupportive of the international institutions such as NATO, the UN, and the IMF that were formed at the end of World War II to foster international cooperation. His General Mattis, who is Trump’s designee to be the Secretary for Defense is strongly supportive of these institutions. We shall see who has the last say: Trump or Mattis.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: How would you portray and describe Trump’s foreign policy? Do you think that US foreign policy under a Trump administration isgoing to be more or less militaristic than what we have seen under the Obama administration, or even the George W. Bush administration?

Ricardo Larémont: I really do not know. He is entirely unpredictable. I can predict, however, that he will get on quite well the Putin and Russia.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: What about his apparently pro-Russian or pro-Putin policies?

Ricardo Larémont: Putin was and has remained an intelligence officer. Intelligence officers are trained to identify, train, and manipulate their assets. He has already accomplished his objectives with Trump.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: Do you think that a new chapter in the black book of the draining and exhausting Syrian Civil War will be written in the coming months?

Ricardo Larémont: Syria as formerly constituted will not exist. Al-Assad will control a western corridor from Aleppo to Damascus. ISIS will hold the center and the east in the medium-term and the Kurds will attempt to create a contiguous territory to the north but they will face opposition from the Turkish government.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: How will Trump administration handle the Iran-West Nuclear Deal, the U.S.-Cuba reconciliation and the North Korea dossier?  And what about the Israeli-Palestinian never-ending war?

Ricardo Larémont: I really do not think that Trump will set policy in these areas. Resident experts at the United States Department of State and at the Department of Defense are more likely to play a dispositive role. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I suggest patience. The Netanyahu government is expanding settlements to such an extent that a two-state solution is not geographically possible. Israel/Palestine is already one state. Eventually, with the passage of time the Jewish state will no longer exist because the Israelis will not have the political and moral resources  to govern an apartheid an apartheid state and Arabs will outnumber Jews in the long run.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: President-elect Donald Trump jeopardizes the global economy through his promises to block Middle East oil imports for the purpose of creating an energy independent United States. Riyadh has warned the tycoon of consequences if he chooses to stick to his election promise to block Saudi oil imports. What are your thoughts on that?

Ricardo Larémont: The US is largely independent of Saudi oil because of domestic production and imports from Canada and Mexico. China is more reliant on Saudi and Iranian oil and China will play a greater role in the region while the United States will play a declining role (save for sale of armaments). That’s geopolitics.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: Unsurprisingly, in Brussels people are not thrilled with Donald Trump’s election as new American President. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reacted by saying “We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works”. Might Trump presidency pose the risk of upsetting EU-US relations?

Ricardo Larémont: Because I think that Trump is unsupportive of NATO and other trans-Atlantic organizations, I think there is a substantial risk that these institutions will be weakened, to the detriment of the United States and Europe. The organizations of international stability are potentially threatened. We need to be cognizant of that.

Nicolamaria Coppola, EPOS: European unity has been threatened by the British vote to leave the European Union. It seems that American unity has been seriously damaged by the election of Donald Trump. Do you see any resemblance between Brexit and Donald Trump's victory?

Ricardo Larémont: I would answer the question in a different way. I fear the disintegration of the European Union. If Le Pen wins the French presidency and Merkel is defeated at the polls, Europe as we have come to know it will cease to exist.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the interviewed’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s editorial policy

Last modified on Friday, 20 January 2017 16:51
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