US president Donald Trump’s inauguration speech was, not surprisingly, an explosive carnival of populist hard talk, i.e. of vastly worrisome errors and contradictions. Was it the worst inauguration speech in the history of the United States? 

TRUMP EXCLAIMED that power and prosperity would now be transferred from Washington to the people. Being the republican on the far right that he is and the hardline billionaire businessman that he always has been, this would have come as a big surprise if we hadn’t known about his arch-populist orientation since the day he announced his candidacy. Thus, in reality, Trump’s politics will more likely lead to a money-transfer towards the rich on the expense of the poor.

THE VERY FIRST decision from the Trump administration, announced just minutes following the inauguration, promised a new missile defense specifically targeted against North Korea and Iran. This is confusing at best. When it comes to North Korea, the US could level the impoverished state into the ground as soon as Kim Young Un sneezes the wrong way. And China would hardly allow its misbehaving little brother to excurse on such a lethal mission as a military attack on the US – the thought strikes me as somewhat ridiculous.

Regarding Iran, a current threat hardly exists at all and the trump administration’s claim on the contrary appears like nothing but an ugly, populist smoke screen. In truth, the Iran nuclear deal forced through by the Obama administration in 2015, has actually defused a proposed threat from that country by preventing its nuclear program. This turns a missile defense against Iran into an incomprehensible and irrelevant move. In conclusion, Trump has exaggerated the threat from devious but weak enemies.

TRUMP’S “AMERICA FIRST” slogan, including a promise to strangle a supposed money-flow from the US into foreign countries in order to (allegedly) give it back to the American people, would be counterproductive. In reality, America’s financial, military and moral support to the democracies of Western Europe since the end of World War II, have always been maintained for the benefit of America itself. Thus, this extensive support has always, perhaps indirectly, put “America first”.

Pulling military support from European allies would be extremely dangerous. It would change the world order that has prevailed since the end of World War II, a world order that has protected Western freedom, democracy, equality and prosperity – all values worth fighting for and embraced by the United States since its beginning of time. By protecting these values the US has not only helped its allies, but also itself.

PROTECTIONISM. Through his campaign, and clearly stated in his inauguration speech, Trump has embraced a protectionist orientation and thereby bashed international trade deals. This is clearly a dead end – protectionism will most likely have an opposite effect to job creation and economic growth in the long run. History do tell us that protectionist policies have an exceedingly bad track record when it comes to nations’ economies as well as world peace. Trump’s initial decision to tear up the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) trade deal shows that he indeed has been serious about his protectionist promises, i.e. damaging economic politics.

CUTTING GOVERNMENT SPENDING. Trump has made it clear that he intends to cut government spending. At the same time he promises to rebuild the military and infrastructure, i.e. spending more government funds. Consequently, Trump intends to cut costs in a society already hampered by grave social and economic inequalities, simultaneously as he will “rebuild” a military that is already many times stronger than the second strongest military power in the world. One can surely argue for hardcore rightwing politics, but these are contradictions that don’t really make sense.

Except for promising arguably destructive politics, Trump’s first weeks in office have proved to divide America even further rather than bringing it together, which it needs more than ever. He has challenged freedom of speech and started a war against the free media, against one of the very pillars of democratic society. Instead he has brought “alternative” truths to the American people.

Furthermore, Trump has annoyed world leaders, allied and foes alike, laying the ground for a more difficult diplomatic state of affairs. This in turn can lead to compromised trade and security cooperation. All of the above mentioned examples of Trump leadership so far, indicate that America – and the world – is in for four to eight years of ice age, where democratic, economic and environmental development risk freezing to a standstill.

Filip Ericsson

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