Do Liberalism and Trump Come Together?

Trump’s policies border conservatism. Liberalism may not see the horizon.

Is the US heading for a sub-liberalism era, or perhaps, a more conservative era? Trump’s ideologies manifested through his transition speeches clearly indicate a conservative future. Or, will it be a libertarian era with limited freedom, and will that be as far as it escalates for the US? Trump, with his policy intents and ideas has sparked mystery among liberals about the dangers of (their) implementation. US has been the epicentre of liberalism and free trade and an open market; it takes pride for its gift of globalization to the world. Having first spread a strong liberalism worldview, it seems that the US under Trump is set to amend, though gradually, the primary aspects of liberalism.

Trump’s conservative stand on policies is to impact previous treaties, especially the 69-year-old NATO alliance of 28 nations, the nascent initiation of TPP, and the US’s business integration/disintegration in Asia. NATO is a powerful alliance, also a cornerstone of US’s internal security. As per article 5 of the treaty, all 28 nations are to unconditionally defend each other when attacked by an armed enemy. Trump is desiring to re-integrate the alliance considering the current threat of terrorism, which did not exist 70 years back. NATO was created to defend Europe and the US against Russia’s growing sovereignty beyond Europe. He sounds logical with his intention, as the conditions under which and the reasons for which NATO was born do not exist anymore. NATO is known to have fought foolish wars, not for security but for political reasons. One part of the argument may seem reasonable, in the sense that he is being ethical when he expects the alliance to be ‘fair’, and that nations must contribute equally to benefit from unconditional military support. Since terrorism affects member nations differently and sometimes causes monumental damage, amending the treaty may seem right. However, this could compel partner nations to increase military spending, causing a resurgence of serious commitments from inactive members.

Trump’s policy is also affecting the TPP deal, he almost voices his opinion to pull out of it completely. TPP, signed by 12 countries in 2015 but not ratified yet, is seen as a disaster by Trump. He advocates to bring in jobs and industries to the US, for which the TPP is unfit. The trade pact is not even worthy in the absence of the US and Japan, Japan being inside only to seek deep discounts for its automakers. If the US withdraws, the trade pact could just be another bloc to die its natural death. Considering his conservative stand, the TPP could remain unimplemented. His rather alternate TPP stand of strong bilateral trade pacts could be ideal to create less interdependency and more case-based flexibility of business, giving power to the US to control its trade deficit.

His policies will affect Asian countries as well, a thick part of US investments being in Asia. Asia could see lesser US interest, challenging these economies to become either self-sufficient or increase non-US trade ties. Asian countries may be well positioned to enforce the much-awaited Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which China spearheads. Could Trump’s conservatism be an opportunity for Asia to strengthen its libertarian agenda? It could, provided Asia resolves its age long internal conflicts. Complex international relations defy clarity of even the keenest guesses and logical conclusions. If not ideal liberalism, Trump’s policy directions can be studied for their potential impact by economies.

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