From now until next fall, the subject of the U.S. presidential election will be on the agenda of Arab and international media. Discussion, anticipation, and perhaps, hopes as well. It is now clear that there are two candidates for the presidency. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party, and Donald Trump for the Republican Party, are the two race horses in next fall’s election. Betting on which one of the two will occupy the White House in early 2017 might as well be a mysterious bet yet to be determined by ensuing developments at the internal and external levels. Such developments will decide which man or woman will win the consent of the voting public.
It is not easy to predict at this early stage of the tense U.S. election environment, which is clearly changing rapidly. There are many reasons for these changes, including: (1) economics, fundamentally; (2) the legacy of Obama's administration, which did not have a correct reading on global variables, and failed, as the two rival political parties see it, to achieve the interests of the United States in intense contested international battles; and (3) the complicated global situations, proxy wars, and especially the issue of international terrorism which haunts the American elite and threatens its interests.
The high moral standard that there used to be for democracy in the United States, which for a long time was an example for a lot of people, at least in the first half of the 20th century, is not what it used to be. It was hit by changing winds, and that spirit reverted to a measurable decline in turnout at the polls on the one hand, and a move toward extremism and isolation on the other hand. There are different segments of the American public who, for one reason or another, are no longer interested in exercising their voting rights. They perceive little difference between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, and instead see an exchange of interests between elites. Therefore, they leave the rivalry between these elites to take its course.
The Trump campaign stirs the collective memory of white Americans to feel that their livelihoods, the economy, and security with regard to immigration and terrorism are threatened. His camp, therefore, stirs up the worst fears of the other in the American public’s collective memory. This persists particularly because many white and blue collar folks feel neglected by the Democratic camp whose priorities they consider to be outside of the interests of the white collective that they see as being marginalized!
Likewise, the Republican Party no longer truly represents them. So, they turn to a figure who is outside of the customary elitist context, Trump, who, with his extremist slogans, swept crowds of white voters in the Republican Party and even beyond. Americans’ actions, to a certain extent, depend on a degree of ethnocentrism. This affects how the average American, urban or rural, thinks. Similarly, they are like those mentioned in some scientific and political studies as well as a book published in the 1970s titled "Irrational Thinking."* At the end of that book, the writer says that the "evidence proved essentially that the American masses are still easily-driven to political extremism, whereas the political system in the United States is less prone to that, and so the public scarcely clings to its positions." It seems that the key word in this text is “scarcely,” which describes a situation which has seemingly disintegrated over the past 45 years since the publication of that study, because of the choices made by the various administrations and the changes in the domestic and international political environment!
The election of President Obama was a kind of "extremism" to the left. There is not a single observer who would have expected a man of color to reach the White House! But the voting public did it. Even Hillary Clinton made reference to this skepticism in a slip of the tongue where she alluded to the possibility of the "black president being taken out by an act of violence" during her race with Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination almost ten years ago!
If we read the extremism as it should be read, then it can expected that Clinton will encounter the network of the “American deep state” in the next few months in attempts to disable or hurt her credibility. Indeed, the network has begun to block her as it did last week when she appeared before the FBI in an investigation. As such, it is likely that "revelations" will be coming out in impending months about her previous work as secretary of state during Obama’s first term. It is possible that a congressional committee might even place obstacles in front of her or impede her progress. The mood of the American “deep state” is headed toward extremism due to internal and external events. This is a United States which is in a phase of intense "uncertainty"!
The arrival of Trump at the White House remains a possibility because of the American public’s severe mood and its anxiety to the extent of being phobic. Perhaps there is no better example of such phobia than that which caused the suffering of a United Arab Emirates’ citizen last week as he was arrested and humiliated for nothing more than wearing "Arab clothing"! This case exposes the phobias that have taken root within the general public. Similar incidents have occurred to innocent people simply due to their appearance or to Arab or Muslim names, incidents which have never even been reported by the media. The “deep state” is no longer capable of easily hiding its slide into paranoia of the other. This is a tune which Trump audiences love and which he plays for his voter base ad nauseam. Not far from this are the intense attacks against the Arab states, which still similarly carry messages of negativity and distortions and which further inflate ideas of the "evil" and the piousness of the Arab-Muslim world in the minds of American citizens!
In this inflamed atmosphere, betting on a change in the course of U.S. policy in the Middle East is at a minimum an unreasonable one. Therefore, the conflicts in this bloody and dangerous region will continue, and will reverberate in a bloody way in the regions surrounding these conflicts. The “deep state” in the United States will continue to verbally call for engagement on regional issues, while, in fact, work on the lack of engagement, either distancing itself, or making way for other international and regional powers to take the initiative. As such, extreme caution in the region, especially for its political institutions, is the priority when it comes to considering reliance on others, no matter how charming their words may sound, versus self-reliance and building different alliances. This is an issue which perhaps Erdogan in Turkey has addressed most recently with his about-face, which some considered a surprise!**
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, neither the title of this book nor the quoted passages could be independently verified.
** Translator’s note: This final sentence may be a reference to Turkish President Erdogan’s apology to Russia for downing one of its aircraft, an incident which occurred on June 27, about two weeks before this piece was published.