21 May 2024, Tuesday, 19:37
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Volodymyr Fesenko: Trump May Bristle

Volodymyr Fesenko: Trump May Bristle

The political scientist speaks about risks due to the possible victory of the former US president.

Former US President Donald Trump won the Republican primaries in one of the key states – New Hampshire, gaining almost 55% of the vote.

Trump gets at least 11 Republican delegates, and his only rival, Nikki Haley, gets at least eight.

Is the outcome of the GOP primaries in the US a foregone conclusion? Charter97.org spoke about this with the famous Ukrainian political scientist Volodymyr Fesenko, the head of the Penta Center for Applied Political Research:

— It is not a big sensation that Trump is a clear favorite, judging by various American opinion polls both last year and earlier this year. He has a very solid electoral core in the Republican Party. He did not have an equal competitor.

Even before the primary, many hoped that if the other two candidates, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, together received more than half the votes, then the intrigue would go on.

As for New Hampshire, Haley was left alone, with no competitors. I would say that she is such a moderate alternative to Trump — not a populist, classic version of the representative of the Republican Party.

It is important to say that what is happening now is a huge risk of a split in American society. New Hampshire was important because there were quite a few supporters of a moderate position in this state. The state is not key in itself, but it was important in terms of demonstrating an alternative to Trump. If Nikki Haley managed to get more than half of the votes, then, again, the intrigue would remain.

The chances that Trump will be the uncontested Republican candidate are significantly increasing now. His team is making great efforts to ensure that he is the only candidate now, at the beginning of the primaries. They want to eliminate all competitors.

Moreover, I know this from Ukrainian diplomats in the United States, and from American experts, Trump seeks to become a dictator in the Republican Party — an uncontested leader. That is why he eliminates competitors, puts pressure on them and their sponsors.

It seems to me that Nikki Haley is now fighting not so much with Trump as for her political future, the prospect after Trump.

No one knows how this story will end, because Trump provoked the strongest internal contradictions in the United States after the Civil War in the 19th century. Yes, there were contradictions, the struggle of Republicans and Democrats, but the moderate wing always dominated.

It is the figure of Trump that divides American society into his supporters and opponents. The main problem is not even in the possible victory of Trump in the election, but in the fact of the split. The split can manifest itself negatively both during the election and after it, as it was after the 2021 elections in the United States, when Trump supporters even tried to storm Congress.

— The Western media, describing the scenario of a possible Russian attack on NATO countries, agree that the election of Trump could be a danger to Europe. Will Trump defend Europe from a possible attack by the Russian Federation if he becomes president?

— There are different opinions in this regard. The thesis that Trump will not defend Europe in the event of a Russian attack is popular in the EU. Many European politicians and commentators think so, but not all. The opposite opinion was expressed recently, for example, by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He believes it will be the opposite.

Moderate Republicans also believe that Trump should not be too demonized. Still, he will have to act in the national interests of the United States. European commentators refer to the words of Trump: when he was still President of the United States, in a polemic with European leaders, said that if you do not want to pay to the NATO budget at the level of 2% of GDP, then we will not protect you in the event of an attack by the Russian Federation. But the situation is different now.

I will give historical examples. During the two world wars, the United States was dominated by isolationist sentiments. Most Americans did not want to fight in Europe. The United States did not enter World War II until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After that, they joined the hostilities in Europe.

Suppose, purely theoretically, that suddenly Russia will attack Europe, and Trump will be the president of the United States. At the beginning, Trump may say, “let them understand” or “let me help establish peace.” But if the events develop dramatically, critically, and even if China sides with Russia, then the United States will be forced to at least help Europe.

By the way, I think that even in the Republican Party there will be many critics of the US withdrawal from NATO, because this will mean not the greatness of America, but weakness. Rejection of the leading role in the modern world. This will contradict the very ideology of Trumpism, the essence of which is the famous slogan "Make America Great Again."

Trump's problem is not that he will not help Ukraine or Europe in the event of a Russian attack. The problem is his unsystematic, political eclecticism, when he clearly sympathizes with strong dictators — Putin, Xi Jinping.

Trump has such features, deformations, but he also has the experience of the first presidency. After all, he sympathized with Putin, wanted to negotiate with him, met with him several times and had many hours of conversations. How did it end? Not an improvement, but a deterioration in US-Russian relations. Putin did not want to make concessions to the United States on any issue.

Recently, in Davos, we met with American diplomats Kurt Volker and John Herbst, who, we can say, calmed us down, reminiscent of the history of the Trump presidency. Including the fact that then Trump had representatives of the traditional Republican wing in the foreign policy and power bloc. Their position was that America's enemies must be deterred by force.

If Trump's second presidency takes place, and there are the same people in his power and foreign policy bloc, then he will pursue a fairly traditional US power policy. Much will depend on who will be in key positions: Secretary of State, Minister of Defence, National Security Advisor, and so on.

So far, I am not inclined to apocalyptic expectations that Trump will surrender both Ukraine and Europe. But deviations, inconsistency and attempts to negotiate with Putin are possible.

Trump may try to stop the war in Ukraine, but if he is faced with a tough position of the Russian Federation, and even more so if there is a joint position of Russia and China, then Trump may change to the other direction.

If he sees that Putin wants concessions from the United States, then Trump may bristle. So let's see, it is too early to draw conclusions.

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