Trump has been good for the US

| | in Oped

Contrary to media projections, ever since coming to power Trump has carried the mantle well. The litmus test was the recent trade war

Trump's daily childish hysterics and breast-beating about how he is being mistreated are working against him. “It has become embarrassing to watch the holder of the world's most powerful office,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International. Patel is a liberal and has relentlessly been anti-Modi ever since Prime Minister Modi formed the Government. Lately, he has also become anti-Jogi.

Being a liberal and more so being a representative of an NGO infamous for its anti-India campaign, Patel can't see anything good in them or for that matter in anyone who is not known to subscribe to the so-called idea of liberalism. He also does not like Trump. In any case, Trump seems to be succeeding; there must be a method in his madness.

In foreign relations, nothing has been a bigger surprise than team Trump's many successes. In spite of the media perception of disarray, the Trump team has put together a burgeoning alliance in the Middle East, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and others. Then, its dealing with China and North Korea has been deft. That China is helping the US with the Korean mess — perhaps for the first time — is a testament to Trump's skills. Last year, in Riyadh, Trump held three summits that achieved a new-level of cooperation between countries from the Middle East and also around the world to unite them against terrorism. In this connection, his vigorous efforts at restraining Pakistan from supporting and promoting terrorism has compelled countries to ban charities linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Daw'ah in Pakistan. Further, the US has also approached the Financial Action Task Force, an anti-money laundering monitoring group, to put Pakistan on a global terror financing watchlist.

Less than two weeks into his presidency, Trump chose 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge in Colorado, for the position of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US. Due to opposition from Democrats still smarting over McConnell's blocking of former President Barack Obama's choice for the seat, Republicans ultimately had to invoke the ‘nuclear option’ and change Senate rules to allow confirmation by a simple majority.

Another major concern of the President was allayed by securing the release of quite a few American citizens detained by foreign Governments and terror groups culminating in the release of University of California, Los Angeles  players. Like many Republican candidates, Trump campaigned by criticising federal regulations. In office, he has methodically rolled back a number of recent Obama-era regulations by executive action and the Bills passed under the Congressional Review Act, which allows faster review of rules, were finalised late in the previous Administration.

Among other things, Trump has reversed policies: Requiring federal contractors disclose and correct serious safety violations; requiring Internet service providers to get permission from customers before sharing personal data like their web-browsing history; blocking some people with mental illnesses from buying guns; issuing a permit for Keystone XL pipeline.

The ongoing praise of and cooperation with the police from Trump et.al is not only refreshing, but is going to have a long-term positive effect. Violent demonstrators are no longer being tolerated and are instead being prosecuted now. Existing border laws are being enforced.  Illegal crossings are down by 70 per cent.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been re-energised — they are rounding up criminals and deporting them.  Bad guys are on notice.  Drug trafficking is on the process of being minimised.  MS-13 and such criminal gangs are being fought. The Attorney General is simply enforcing laws that exist.

With Trump's resolve to control the borders, border issues will get better and become reasonably controlled. The new executive order, along with the new investigative commission is long overdue. It is certain they will allow States to clean up voter rolls, press for the common-sense demand that voters have proper ID, are US citizens, and vote only once. Another major push is for economic revitalisation. Response of American business to the Trump Administration is a good indicator. The undoing of so many bad regulations from prior Administrations is one giant step, more are underway.  The unleashing of the country's energy resources and businesses has been a major win.  Trump's ‘America First’ campaign broke with decades of Republican orthodoxy on multinational trade agreements.

Like it or not, one of his first actions in office was to officially cancel a pending 12-country regional free trade agreement that the Bush and Obama Administrations had argued would help the US compete with China. Trump's strong governing style and firm hand overseas is helping Americans make income. Unemployment is 17 years low. Stock market reached an all-time high that was increasing the value of pension funds and investor's confidence and wealth until the very recent crash.

It, therefore, appears that contrary to media expectations from Trump and their undermining of his capabilities, he has really been, so far, a good success.

However, very recently, Trump declared that he will impose 25 per cent and 10 per cent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports respectively, dramatically raising the possibility of a trade showdown with China and other key trading partners. This will be the litmus test, the outcome of which will finally determine Trump's success or otherwise.

(The writer is an author and a commentator on contemporary issues)

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