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Fleeting moments

November 19, 2020

Trump’s exit

Opinion

November 19, 2020

Amid thundering crowds and glaring lights, US President-elect Joe Biden saluted his voters for electing him as the new occupant of the White House. While many Americans and people elsewhere are rejoicing over Joe Biden’s victory, as many seem somewhat melancholic over Trump’s departure from the presidency but for a different reason. They think that there may never again be a US president as entertaining and mercurial as Trump has been.

Losing the presidency is a serious matter for a contestant. Trump will have to live with the anguish that had he done this or that, the results could have been different. Looking like a tired man who had run a marathon and came last, he doesn’t appear to be the person he once was. His ashen face represents the torment inside, as if he hurtled down from the peak and landed at the bottom only to realise he was nobody.

However, unlike his immediate predecessors, Barack Obama and George Bush Jr, Trump was not a warmonger. Where Bush ignited wars, destroyed peace in the Muslim world, his successor Obama didn’t lag behind. In 2009, Obama ordered to augment the troop strength in Afghanistan by sending 34,000 more troops, despite the fact that US troops were fighting a losing battle in the inhospitable land. President-elect Joe Biden, then the vice president, was one among the policymakers in the meeting in which the decision to add more troops was taken.

Joe Biden has already spelled out his foreign policy under the title 'Why America Must Lead Again'. “President Trump has belittled, undermined and abandoned US allies and partners, and abdicated American leadership; as president, I will take immediate steps to renew the alliances of the United States, and ensure that America, once more, leads the world.” The policy guideline shows the hawkish mindset of the president-elect. But he may recall the famous phrase ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’ coined by James Carville – planner of Bill Clinton’s successful campaign in 1992. The US economy in debt of Japan and China to the tune of trillions of dollars may not allow any military adventurism to the president-elect, as he aspires for American leadership of the world.

On the other hand, Trump considered it pointless to keep troops in Syria and Afghanistan and wanted to withdraw them from both countries even though his defence secretary Mark Asper opposed his boss’s withdrawal policy and tried to talk him out of it. Trump was so determined to bring troops home that he decided to fire Asper from the post of defence secretary.

Moreover, the defence and foreign policies of the Bush-Obama duo played havoc with the peace in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Libya. US forces destroyed Iraq's centuries-old civilisation and burnt its libraries containing rare books. The top leaders of both countries were removed, humiliated and murdered. Saddam Hussein was hanged; Muammar Gaddafi captured, dragged and his body chopped to pieces. The regimes of both countries were pulled down only to plunder their oil. The wanton pillage goes on unabated. But Trump cannot be blamed for any war crimes.

As a consequence of the 'war on terror' Bush launched in Afghanistan, we are still suffering from its fallout. Our participation in this war alienated populations of our tribal areas and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless. We had to host millions of refugees who were forced to abandon their homes and hearth to escape the brutalities of war.

But those who liked Trump, including the writer, enjoyed observing many facets of his personality. For instance, his funny gestures even during appearances on stage when solemnity should have been in place was amusing. And funnier it was when he poked fun at someone else for being funny, as he did to the North Korean president. After meeting President Kim in 2018, Trump commented, "He's got a great personality. He's a funny guy. He's very smart” and so on. Trump will be missed, since the likes of him don’t come often.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]