Will the US under President Trump change the essence of its being?

Comment on the post-election gloom that had befallen us, first drafted on Dec. 6, 2016

Dear Reader,

You may have wondered why we have gone quiet on this site for such a long time. You did not hear from us when François Fillon won the Republican primary.  We did not comment on the all-time highs the Dow Jones reached not long ago.  And certainly you have not heart from us since Donald Trump won the US presidency on Nov. 8. In fact, it was the outcome of that particular election that had us go into a soul searching mode. Although we had flip-flopped on his candidacy during the campaign, first endorsing him then disavowing him, we cannot deny that the sheer misguidedness of his views on free trade as well as the xenophobic undertone of some of his rhetoric had us wonder whether we may have ever so slightly been an accomplice in creating a monster which you really, really do not want to see in the top job. Obviously, it is still very unclear where the Trump Presidency will actually be heading for. His pronouncements in the campaign were so light on substance that a moderate Trump is still just as much possible as is the out of control one.  In any case, one can only hope that the advisors who have his ears will be clever and adroitly enough to steer him into a reasonable direction.

On the free trade issue, however, it will not be dependent on his advisors whether Mr. Trump will be able to avoid making the worst protectionist mistakes. In our humble opinion, it will be the historical legacy of the US which will stop him from undermining let alone dismantling the WTO system and spirit. After all, it was the United States of America itself which fathered the World Trade Organisation rightly arguing that free trade will be instrumental to bring nations closer together, increase their understanding of each other and thereby contribute to the spread of universal values such as rule of law and world peace. Woodrow Wilson was the first to suggest a supranational approach to international relations. His League of Nations concept was the beginning of what later, after yet another devastating world war, became the United Nations, the Worldbank, the IMF and yes the WTO. Mr. Trump may be a great dealmaker but he certainly does not have the intellectual depth and analysis to understand the tectonic implications that come with undoing a cornerstone of US policy which has defined probably forever what the United States actually stands for. In other words, the unilateral and arbitrary undermining of WTO rules which the United States had earlier subjected itself to not just by law but also in spirit will not come to pass.  The consequences of this would be too preposterous that any such thing would indeed be allowed to happen by the wise men establishment in the US. In that respect, there is reason to hope that the financial markets will do to an out of control Mr. Trump what they are supposed to, i.e. force him into doing the right thing just as much as they earlier forced Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Hollande to give up their adolescent pipe-dreams of redistribution for budgetary responsibility.

Be that as it may, this still does not explain why we are back in action now. Well, the answer to that simply is that you have to do what you have to even if the latter seems quite futile meanwhile.

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