No man in recent memory has assumed high office with so much opposition from those who did not vote for him as Donald John Trump did when he was sworn in as the 45 President of the United Sates of America on January 20, 2017. His critics say he knows nothing about politics, government, or foreign policy. He has been labelled a clown, a boorish buffoon and a selfish business man. Yet, Charlie Laderman and Brendan Simms point out in their recent book, ” Donald Trump- The Making of a World View” that Trump has been very consistent in his views for the last thirty years on many matters of significant interest to the United States.
The authors are well-versed with world history. Brendan Simms is a Professor in History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge while Charlie Laderman is a Lecturer in International History at King’s College London and currently a Harrington Faculty Fellow at the Clements Center for National Security, University of Texas, Austin.
To start with the authors trace the world of Trump’s youth. When he was born in 1946, World War II had just ended and the United Sates was universally acknowledged as the most powerful nation on earth. Then came setbacks, first in Korea and later in Viet Nam and things were never the same again. Trump and others of his ilk hold the view that the United States has done too much for its allies in NATO, and for Japan and got back too little in return. They believe the United States could have retained its premier position in the world if it had been less generous in its aid to many countries who became guzzlers of US resources. As early as in 1987, full 30 years ago, Trump in an open letter to the American people declared that the “world is laughing at America’s politicians.” He said the Americans in leadership positions were stupid and not smart enough, and that they lacked the spine to deal with foreign powers.
Trump had echoed the “America First” policy that many espoused before him. He wasn’t the first to do so, nor will he be the last. Trump argues that favorable terms offered by successive US Governments to other countries have enabled them to thrive in the United States while making it near impossible for US firms to compete in their countries. Japan and China are but two examples. Trump and others like him in the world of business maintain that America has slipped from its pre-eminent position because it has not extracted its pound of flesh, so to speak, from nations which it has helped and stood by over the decades.
In another line of thinking, Trump has consistently said that the United States is paying far more than its rightful share in alliances like NATO. He has been saying for years that member countries in Europe had fallen short of the contributions they ought to have made. Why should the United Sates have alliances with 65 countries and military bases in 60 countries if they are not willing to pay for the huge costs incurred in maintaining such bases, they ask. Trump, it appears, felt the United States was being “kicked around” by its free-loading allies.
The book is made up of material researched over the decades and covers all sources of information such as his speeches, television appearances, press statements etc. Most of these were made much, much before he emerged as the Republican candidate for the President of the United States, to the surprise of many.
What Mr. Trump will actually do now that he holds office of the President of the United Sates, only time will tell. Laderman and Simms have given us considerable food for thought as they put together all that Trump has stood for from the days as a maverick business man to his current position as arguably the most powerful leader in the world.