Appeared in Bulgarian at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
One Western diplomat, now head of a large analytical center in the US, stopped in Moscow a few days ago and shared some of his impressions. His observations and the comments of some relatively neutral (in the case with Trump there are not many) analysts, allow us to understand what’s really going on.
Our interlocutor began with the following: “I generally do not call him president, but Mister Trump instead. He has not started to govern yet, he is continuing his presidential campaign. When he stops doing that, he will become president.” According to the estimates of the observers, this will happen at the end of the year. First, the owner of the White House will establish the boundaries of the possible by the method of “trial and error”, or will learn how to extend these limits. This should not be a leap but systematic work. Second, the administration should start working, but supposedly it is currently still a command center without a rudder and sails. The likely scenario in the coming months is that the president will continue his attacks on the established order, and his ministers, each according to their beliefs and competence will determine policy. In the administration there is no strong center because following the character and attitude of Trump, he wants to leave that center for himself. But what is possible in a corporation will not work in governing a giant country, especially when there’s sabotage on the part of the ruling class.
Inevitably there will be turmoil. Some of his men will not be able to march together with the tycoon, and will lose their positions (his love for the firing of staff is well known). Others will leave the team voluntarily and his cabinet will gradually acquire homogeneity (like the unexpected resignation of Michael Flynn). Only then will the president understand that with his usual management methods things are not getting done, and he will begin to delegate responsibilities. The whole training process of this mandate will be the background of sharp political conflicts, both within the US and probably on the part of external partners. So there may be a variety of scenarios. If we consider the hostility of the environment, Trump’s actions are risky but not irrational. And what our interlocutor above called “continuing the campaign” is not just evidence of political immaturity, but a conscious strategy. Trump understands very well, that with the majority of the elite he can not negotiate. If he tries to win the elite, he will have to make such compromises that he will give up on almost everything for which he was actually elected. Naturally, the people’s support of Trump is not absolute, but it is much more secure than his support by the elites. So the bets for success now and for the next election (every American politician always thinks of the next election) is the preservation and possible expansion of the electoral base. Assuming solutions that shock his opponents, Trump demonstrates to his constituents that he will not retreat one iota from his promises given during the election campaign, even if these promises are pure populism. Such behavior which leads to the polarization of society would probably border with political folly, if events were developing in a normal situation.
However, from the outset, Trump worked following his intuition, which told him that the situation is exceptional, and that the time has come to change the political trend. And that means that what seemed fatal until recently, now may turn to be favorable. As happened in the election campaign when step by step he walked beyond many taboos. To forecast the outcome of such tactics is impossible, but with confidence we can predict the level of conflict that will occur with this approach. Moreover, the whole American political culture is a culture of balance through collision. The candidate’s ability to clearly articulate his position and firmly protect it is valued even by his opponents. The absence of such qualities largely determined the failures of President Obama. Unfortunately, the not so good news is that this is valid not only for domestic but also for foreign policy. Trump talks about transactions, which fully corresponds to his professional experience in big business. But transactions can be approached differently. The signs are now emerging that there is reason to believe that the US President will use the well-known style from the 90s – “acute confrontation then retreat”. Sharp and firm pressure in order to create favorable conditions for further negotiations. In international politics however, this is quite risky. To put it immodestly, Russia also successfully operates in this style, and the character of many of our political and business elites has been forged precisely during a period when attacking was a norm of life. During the time of his presidency, Putin experienced practically all and endured. He amassed a unique experience, which at this point not a single world leader can boast about. However, the transfer of skills from the accumulation of capital into the sphere of international politics does not sound optimistic. It would be better not to repeat the already well traveled road.
Author: Fyodor Lukyanov