The Continent at a Turning Point, Our Region in Danger

The Russians will try convincing Trump to consider a new division of Europe, and that will encourage Serbia.

America has a new president and is entering in a new and a changeable era. The main doubt about President-elect Donald Trump is whether he will act as he promised he would during his campaign and cause serious conflict inside and outside of America, or whether he will withdraw his threats and provoke the anger of half the voters who saw him as a populist savior.

Trump’s inauguration will take place in the middle of January. He will face tremendous challenges in the area of domestic and external policies after the election that divided the country and agitated many American allies. Truly, Trump and Hillary Clinton divided the country more than any other politicians in recent history.

Domestically, there is an urgent need for conciliation of a frustrated public. A great many of them see the federal government in Washington as a group of corrupted elites. Trump promised to drain the capital’s swamp, but it is not clear what that actually means. Any attempt to purge and investigate politicians such as the Clintons could jeopardize the two political parties in the Congress.

An equally significant threat involves public reaction against Trump if he implements his promise to deport millions of Mexicans and other Hispanic immigrants or if he bans the entrance of Muslims into the country, i.e., if he starts with extreme measures to control ‘’potential’’ terrorists. The possibility that America will witness violence of massive proportions not seen since the civil rights movement and the campaign against Vietnam War in the ’60s cannot be excluded. Nevertheless, a failure to actualize his campaign ideas will bring even greater public opposition to Trump and he himself might turn out to be a Washington insider himself, or simply an imposter.

Luckily, existing mechanisms inherent in American government will neutralize some of Trump’s authoritarian urges, such as his urge to hush up the media or incarcerate his political opponents. And considering that both the Senate and the House of Representatives are in Republican hands, it will be much easier for Trump to push forward policies that will ultimately divide the nation.

In particular, a conservative social agenda, such as abortion restrictions and the abolition of certain liberal laws – actions that will occur with the nomination of conservative Supreme Court justices – will provoke resistance among larger groups of citizens. I repeat, even strikes and violence are possible if Trump tries pushing forward his campaign’s conservative promises.

The program will include a whole string of polarizing themes, including the Obama health care program, the minimum wage and income taxes. It’s unlikely that Trump will fulfill the expectations of students and poor workers since he has promised to decrease the constraints for the business sector and taxes for big companies and he does not support a minimum wage increase.

In the international arena, “Trumpism” is part of a wider right-wing movement that is getting stronger in Europe and is based on xenophobia, anti-globalism, political nationalism and economic protectionism.

Trump’s economic policies will ensure the revision of all existing agreements on free trade and make sure that no new agreements are signed with Europe or East Asia. Paradoxically, that will undermine the creation of new companies, increase the price of goods and eventually harm the American worker. It will also create problems with China and other crucial powers, and create new tensions in quarrelsome regions, such as East Asia.

Trump’s promise to destroy the Islamic State and to cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran might herald a new arms battle in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia might advance its desire for a nuclear weapon. Trump actually supported nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and Far East during his campaign.

The country that might benefit the most from President Trump is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Trump commended Putin as a great leader, called NATO obsolete, and some of Trump’s foreign political allies do business in Russia or are privately connected with the Kremlin.

European allies cannot be sure that the United States will remain dedicated to NATO or that the U.S. will defend their national security. Indeed, Trump’s comments on NATO as being “surplus” have had serious repercussions on the Eastern front from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Putin might test Trump’s reaction by starting a short war with countries such as Estonia and claim that it’s a local problem which has nothing to do with the United States.

It is even more likely that the Kremlin will try luring Trump into considering a new division of Europe in exchange for a grandiose anti-terrorism coalition which responds to Moscow. Such an approach will encourage Russian allies and partners such as Serbia to assume a bigger role in the Balkans, with no fear of a greater American reaction during a time of chaos in Europe.

There is the danger that Russia is being judged poorly and that it is dominating the relationship with Washington. Trump might turn out to be the kind of person who responds more fiercely to something he considers to be an insult from Moscow or any other party that breaks an agreement. That kind of unpredictability may result in a hasty and much more dangerous international confrontation.

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