Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 8 August 2020

The US president has signalled his intentions simply and clearly

What the Arabic media is saying about Donald Trump's vision of "America first". Translated by Jennifer Attieh
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office. Jim Bourg / EPA
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office. Jim Bourg / EPA

In his inaugural speech, Donald Trump pledged: “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America first.”

Writing in Aletihad, the Arabic-language sister publication of The National, Abdul Wahab Badrakhan noted that Mr Trump’s inaugural speech greatly matched his electoral pledge.

“The new president has reiterated his ideas – despite the criticism and controversy they stirred – to show that he was adamant about his populism plans to which he owes his victory,” Badrakhan said.

The writer said the slogan “America first” was an extension of the slogan “Make America great again”, which Mr Trump used during his election campaign.

“According to Mr Trump, internal and foreign policies are no longer useful as they have caused financial and economic regression. He no longer saw in trade and business figures a reflection of his country’s greatness and power,” Badrakhan wrote.

He added that Mr Trump’s era marks a parting from globalisation, a concept that was invented by the Americans but that benefited China the most and had even placed China in competition with the United States.

The writer said that the concept of globalisation strongly contrasted with Mr Trump’s slogan, which suggests seclusion and closed boundaries.

“Mr Trump’s obsession with changing the trade rules under his ‘America first’ slogan goes hand-in-hand with a tendency to modify the norms of international relations,” Badrakhan said. “This includes establishing a new cooperation with Russia, applauding the break-up of the European Union and fuelling a climate of hostility with China.”

In this context, he continued, Mr Trump is elaborating his immigration policy in connection with security and counter-terrorism requirements. He is also putting forward a low-cost foreign defence strategy, because he insists that his commitment to fighting terrorism – just like his plan for a wall between the US and Mexico – are to be paid for by other countries.

According to the writer, Mr Trump’s approach will strip the principles, values and morals that have often covered the country’s dubious goals and violations of international laws – as in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What Barack Obama has been reproached for – with respect to withdrawing his country from the Arab region before resolving the conflicts that the United States had a hand in igniting – Donald Trump might adopt as a fixed approach,” the writer said.

Writing in the pan-Arab daily paper Asharq Al Awsat, Saudi columnist Turki Al Dakhil said Mr Trump’s “America first” slogan shows that the US will no longer support other powers at its expense – an allusion to Nato and the European Union.

Al Dakhil noted that some analysts are excessively optimistic in their belief that Mr Trump will extensively discuss Arab and Middle East issues, while others see the new president as a racist enemy who equates Muslims with evil and loathes Arab people.

However, the writer gave a much simpler explanation. “Mr Trump is a businessman with an interest-orientated mindset as he has mentioned in his speech. The United States’s relations with other countries will be based on one, and only one, factor – namely his country’s actual interests.”

According to the writer, we should look for common factors to build a more interactive future between the current US administration and the forces of moderation in the Arab and Islamic world. Only then can we establish successful partnerships with the US.

“People were moved to tears when Barack Obama delivered his inaugural speech. But to their disappointment, he was adamant on turning his back on moderate countries and moving towards Iran and Cuba.

“As such, it would be wiser to refrain from making any hasty judgments until the new US administration shows its true colour.”

The writer concluded that the “America first” slogan is a message to the world that relations with his country will henceforth rotate around US interests, nothing more, nothing less.

Translated by Jennifer Attieh

translation@thenational.ae

Updated: January 24, 2017 04:00 AM

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