Set-back for Trump

President Donald Trump has received a set-back in the midterm elections to the Congress. While his Republican Party still has a majority in the upper house or Senate, the Democrats have captured the House of Representatives.  Like the general breed of politicians he has claimed victory. But that claim is fatuous. With their majority in the lower house the Democrats will now be able to thwart many of the policies being doggedly pursued by Trump. Both the Democrats and the President have threatened to start “inquiries” against each other. The President seems unfazed by the electoral reverse he has suffered.
Media reports say the Democrats are planning to start multiple investigations against the President, including his much talked about Russian connections. On his part, Trump has threatened to adopt a “warlike” posture to any probe against him including his personal financial transactions. However, the Democrats have not given any hint of bringing about any change in his foreign policy: the trade war against China, setting up a wall on the border with Mexico, imposing sanctions on Russia and Iran or repealing the highly controversial “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA for short. Following US journalist Khashoggi’s cold-blooded murder at the Saudi Arabian embassy at Istanbul, relations between the US and its most trusted ally in the Arab world have also nosedived.
Trump – and for that matter the US as a country – will have to decide on America’s modus vivendi with Russia and China. The Americans also will have to ponder whether they can treat countries like India and Japan as its client States or be a good deal more sensitive to their sensitivities and sensibilities. It bespeaks of maturity on the part of Washington to exempt, for the time being, India from the purview of the CAATSA as far as import of Iranian oil or defence hardware from Russia are concerned. Antagonizing allies like India and Japan at a time when the US hegemony is being challenged by Beijing will be counter-productive. But Trump cannot be accused of practising statecraft with any finesse, even with the long-term interests of the US kept in view. He calls the Press a bunch of liars, because they dare to criticize him. He has little respect for his main political rivals – the Democrats – either. If the confrontation between him and the Democrats escalates further, Trump may have to face impeachment. The Democrats seem unwilling at the moment to make such a drastic move, but intransigence on the President’s part may lead to a crisis.

Monday, 12 November, 2018