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The End of a Democratic Tyrant and White Supremacy: Beyond Making America Great Again
By Bola A. Akinterinwa
United States used to be an important country for various reasons in international relations until the election of Mr. Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2016. Before 2016, the United States fought a civil war in 1861-1865 in defence of self-determination in international politics. In this regard, the United States made life very difficult for colonial masters, especially the United Kingdom and France in their desire to continue to sustain colonialism. In fact, the role of the United States in seeking to stop colonialism and promoting the principle of self-determination for dependent territories. The Gambia, in particular, was noteworthy.
It is also useful to recall the relevance of the 1823 Monroe doctrine. US President James Monroe noted in his State of the Union Address that the tolerance of existing colonial possessions did not mean US acceptance of new colonial possessions. Although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt rejected the Monroe Doctrine and President Harry S. Truman replaced the Monroe Doctrine with his own, Truman Doctrine, which was predicated on good neighbourliness policy and which lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Second, even though the United States is not generally considered as a coloniser, there is no disputing the fact that the United States falls squarely within the definition of an imperialist country. Imperialism, according to the British Encyclopaedia, is ‘state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas.’ More important, imperialism ‘always involves the use of power, whether military or economic or some subtler form.’ The purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803, the acquisition of Florida from Spain in 1819 and the forceful annexation of Texas from Mexico in 1845 are clear manifestations of imperialism, which is a critical subject in the discipline of international relations.
Third, the United States is recognised as a terra cognita of democracy and protection of fundamental human rights worldwide. Fourthly, the United States moved from its status of a great power at the end of World War II to that of a superpower, meaning that it could act universally in any field of choice: militarily, economically, culturally, etc. Fifthly, and perhaps more interestingly, is the fact of the United States being an industrialo-military power with a nuclear capability. This observation is self-explanatory, especially in light of the Soviet Union’s own policies of glasnost and perestroika, which led to its demise. As at today, the United States is the only superpower remaining, but which is breathing with much difficulty. This breathing difficulty might have informed the adoption by Donald Trump in 2016 the policy of ‘America First,’ and thereafter the twin policies of ‘Make America Great,’ and ‘Make America Great Again.’
White Supremacy as Basis of America First
US foreign policy under former President Donald Trump had two main dimensions: the declared and the non-declared. The declared foreign policy was defined in terms of US global interests, which essentially, were security of the homeland, with emphasis on elimination of the use of terror in international life and relations, on the one hand, and economic, with emphasis on trade.
At the level of US security interests, the strategic calculation was to carry the battle to the door steps of terrorists wherever they may find themselves abroad, while making it very difficult for them to enter the United States by tightening defence and immigration controls. In this regard, Donald Trump proposed the amendment of the law to allow for the re-adoption of the ‘water boarding’ policy and the use of torture by the United States to extort information from suspected terrorists. This was his declared agenda when he was campaigning for election. Following his election, Donald Trump believed that terrorism must be a priority.
This approach and priority required strengthening the military, expanding it in order to have a very robust defence. It was against this background that President Trump not only requested an additional amount of $30 billion for the Defense Department for the remainder of fiscal year 2017, but also sought an increase of 10% ($54 billion) in defence spending so as to have a total of $639 billion for the fiscal year 2018.
In terms of US global interests, foreign policy at the economic level was largely predicated on a tripod of ‘America First’, ‘Make America Great’, and ‘Make America Great Again.’ This policy was meant to apply to US attitude in foreign trade. The implication of the policies cannot be far-fetched. The first leg of the tripod, ‘America First,’ simply means non-readiness to accept the superiority of any other national interest. It implies rigidity, non-compromise when it comes to protection of the national interest. Whereas, the quest for global peace, and particularly the conduct and management of international relations, is generally predicated on give and take and taking and giving. It is a world of compromise but Donald Trump’s policy of America First does not give room for compromise.
As regards Making America Great and Great Again, there is nothing wrong with the policy. The challenge is at the level of the modality of how to make America Great and Great Again. How to make America great Again first reminds us of what Barbra Streisand said in Larry King’s book, Truth Be Told (New York: Weinstein Books, (c) 2011, p.142): ‘a man is commanding, a woman is demanding. A man is forceful, a woman is pushy. A man is perfectionist, a woman is a pain in the ass.’ The differentiation between a man and a woman by Barbra Streisand cannot but be tenable.
However, there is nothing to suggest that Donald Trump, a man that he really is, is not also demanding, pushy and constituting a pain in the ass. Put differently, Donald Trump is both a man and a woman. This is why the three trusts of his foreign policy have been problematic, because only his supporters, who were consciously misinformed and deliberately induced into error of believing that there was a true agenda of making America Great and Great Again, were the only people who wrongly understood Donald Trump.
As regards non-declared foreign policy, Donald Trump was only myopically, if not foolishly, preaching the sermon of white supremacy in a globalising world. As noted in the Holy Bible, Proverbs 26:4, ‘answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Verse 5 continued that ‘answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.’ These two verses may not be conflicting, even though they do in appearance. Verse 4 talks about the nexus between silence and foolishness while verse 5 is about action and foolishness. Both silence and action do raise the issue of how and when to be silent and when to act.
What the Bible is simply saying is that foolishness and wisdom co-exist, that there is time to know when silence is golden and there is also a time to respond constructively. Most unfortunately, however, President Donald Trump sees himself as an embodiment of unlimited wisdom, knowledge and understanding. He strongly believes in himself and white supremacy and therefore often carried this mentality to the general public in the conduct and management of political affairs in the governance of his country.
And true enough again, the need to make America Great Again can be explained by the quest for restoration of White supremacy in public governance in response to an emerging America in decay. As identified by Rebecca Gordon in CounterPunch of January 21, 2021 (vide www.counterPunch.org), there are three main dynamics of the decay. First is the grotesque economic inequality, which has been increasing and punctuated by the Great Recession of 2007-2008 and COVID-19 pandemic. In the words of Rebecca Gordon, ‘we’ve seen 40 years of tax reductions for the wealthy, stagnant wages for the rest of us (including a federal minimum wage that hasn’t changed since 2009 and attacks on programs like TANF (welfare) and SNAP (food stamp) that literally keep poor people alive.’
A second dynamic is deep corruption that undermines the political system. It should be recalled that Donald Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’ if elected. Most unfortunately, he ended up ‘presiding over one of the most corrupt administration in US history…,’ funnelling government resources to his own business, employing government resources to forward his re-election… tolerating corrupt subordinates… and contemplating self-pardon.’
A third dynamic is the ever-deepening conflict driven by White supremacy. The origin of politics of White supremacy can be traced back to the time attempts were made to nearly exterminate people of colour. The truth of the matter was that the US Constitution guaranteed many rights to White men, but codified the enslavement of Africans and their descendants. In fact, it was in an attempt to continue to maintain, as well as sustain, the enslavement that the Southern States seceded and fought a civil war.
It is precisely this undying idea of White supremacy that is running in the bloodstream of Donald Trump. He does not see any good thing in a Black man. He is a hardened racist without shame, without knowledge for political governance and wisdom to discern what is good from what is bad. He is an encyclopaedia unto himself, always correct while all others are always wrong.
In this regard, Ecclesiastes 1:18 says ‘for in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.’ This clearly summarises the situation with Donald Trump, who has been wrapped up in self-glorification of much wisdom, which he really does not have and in a holier-than-thou attitude, which again he lacks, but have to end his tenure, wallowing in much grief. He does not believe in simple democratic rule or in international protocols of official behaviour. He professes democracy but behaves like a tyrant. His life is that of fake news lies-telling whenever he is accused of misdeeds. He even presents himself as a Christian. The manifestations of his self-glorification which brought his end into a world of deepening grief, are a relief to the great majority of Americans who accept the goodness in whatever God Almighty has created, are all thought-provoking and not only encouraging, but also commendable. This is why the United States will need to go beyond Donald Trump’s lip service of Making America Great Again.
Beyond Making America Great Again
Without scintilla of doubt, America is already on the fast track of decay at home and decline in the world. If America is to be made great again, there will be need to completely do away with some of the obnoxious policies and attitudinal dispositions of Donald Trump.
First and foremost is to adopt a new policy of restoring the lost international respect for the United States. In this case, the policy should no longer be that of making America Great but making America respected Again. In doing this, the controversial White supremacy ingredient of political governance must first be thrown into the garbage of history. It should no longer be heard of. Returning to the world of multilateral diplomacy and seeking to play active parts in global governance is good, commendable but not enough. What will be enough is to have a United States without institutionalised racial inequality.
For instance, the belief in White supremacy is unnecessarily myopic. It has, for a long time, sharply divided the people of America. No race can rightly claim superiority over the other, especially if we consider and accept that all that God created were good. And perhaps more interestingly, the argument of White supremacy cannot have credibility beyond the fact of White people having early exposure before others to scientific discoveries, and therefore industrial breakthroughs, the main rationale of which cannot but be traceable to the harsh geo-climatic environment of the White world. Even if the White men are largely responsible for many scientific discoveries and development, no one can rightly dispute the fact of several discoveries and contributions to global development by non-White peoples.
Most unfortunately, what is particularly noteworthy about the belief in White supremacy is that it is precisely what sharply divides the people of America. As shown in the 2020 presidential election results, about 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump as a candidate for presidential election and chief apostle of White supremacy. 78 million people voted for Joe Biden. This means that only about 148 million out of a total population of 331,002,651, as at June 2020, participated in the election. Put differently, only 44.71% took active part in voting for and against, while the 55.29% of the people, in fact, the majority of Americans, did not vote. But what is the position of those Americans who did not vote? How many of the 55.29% of the people who did not vote would have supported Donald Trump’s belief in White supremacy? This is the most critical challenge for President Joe Biden. The United States must not be allowed to be a racist country. It must remain the global epicentre for true democracy and freedom in all its ramifications.
Even if we limit the analysis to the 148 million active voters, how will Joe Biden be able to unify peoples that are sharply divided over superiority of one race over the other? America First and Making America Great is what the pro-Trump protesters meant by singing ‘Bring our Country Back.’ In other words, ‘our country’ is and should be the country of the White. The greatness of America should be one that is exclusive to the White men. This is the truth that the loss of election by Donald Trump has thrown open. The US government must address this nagging question more seriously and once and for all. And if President Joe Biden is to prevent a new apartheid and also meaningfully re-unify all Americans, it should essentially be on the basis of elimination of the philosophy of White supremacy in the United States.
Second is the attitude of Donald Trump which must never be allowed to be emulated by any decent person. He is an unprecedented US president to have specialised in denials and lies-telling. US bilateral relations with Mexico is a case in point. Donald Trump strongly believed that when Mexico sends its people to the United States, ‘they’re not sending their best… They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. Their rapists.’ They bring infectious diseases ‘pouring across the border.’
Consequently, in reaction to this, Donald Trump promised to build a wall across the Southern border with Mexico for which the costs were to be settled by Mexico. Without doubt, there is nothing wrong with any American president seeking to secure the international borders of his country. What is wrong, however, and apparently very short-sighted, is for Donald Trump to want to build a concrete border wall meant to prevent Mexicans from coming to the United States, reportedly illegally, and at the same time, expect the Government of Mexico to accept to fund the border project, which, in the words of Donald Trump, would be ‘a real wall, not a toy wall we have now.’
Expectedly anyway, on August 31, 2016 Donald Trump held a meeting with the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and told the world thereafter that they did not discuss who would fund the border project. But on that same day, President Nieto reacted and said that he ‘made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.’ Although both presidents might have different meanings to the funding of the project, the problem is Donald Trump’s frequent denials and misinterpretation of facts. If President Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, it does not necessarily mean that Mexico would have to directly do so by cash transfers or do so consciously and directly. The strategic understanding of Donald Trump was to impose high tariffs on goods coming from Mexico and collect funds for the border project from the imposition of tariffs.
The lackadaisical attitude of President Trump is another question entirely. The US has lost more than 400,000 American lives as a result of policy remissness and don’t care attitude. While many other countries promptly took strenuous efforts to nip the COVID-19 in the bud, Donald Trump took the problem with kid gloves, playing politics with it. In fact, as revealed by the new President, Joe Biden, Donald Trump did not leave behind any distribution plan of the COVID-19 vaccines procured. The United States, to be respected internationally will need to provide leadership by good example.
Third is the observation that Donald Trump was the most corrupt in the political history of the United States, and yet he promised to do away completely with the problem if elected. Pardoning looters of public treasury and financial criminals is an expression of institutional corruption per excellence. Donald Trump pardoned 73 and commuted the punishment of 70 others, meaning that those pardoned are henceforth completely free from any stigma of an offender, while the commutation of punishment is simply a mitigation of it. Nothing could be much ridiculous as pardoning people who stole public funds to enhance re-election of Donald Trump only for the same Donald Trump to grant pardon.
This is why, above all, there is not only the need to impeach Donald Trump the second time, but also to have Senatorial trial for the records and to permanently deny him of any future opportunity to serve in the public service. Finally, the question of immigration should not be seen as a problem but as an instrument of further development and sources of fresh intellectual and economic resources. It is on this basis that the United States can, with due respect to it, evolve a new global understanding and partnership against US domestic and international terrorism.