The world’s ringleader nation has elected an outsider to lead it. And in the global order of things, that is nothing short of revolutionary.
Now that Trump’s World is upon us, the global order of things is on course for a seismic reset. The geopolitical map that has defined the world since the end of the Cold War could become obsolete, with NATO commitments in question, free trade and climate deals up for renegotiation — or worse.
The world’s cornerstone of stability, its self-imposed policeman, could instead be turning inwards.
Of course, with no real Trump track record to go on beyond his isolationist and often jarring words, the world is at a loss to predict how exactly the U.S. will behave once he is at the helm.
As a brash political novice and an outsider, Trump has been viewed with suspicion in Europe and far beyond. Throughout the campaign, the press was both fascinated and repulsed by his crass pronouncements, raising concerns about this “Horror-Clown,” as one German paper called him, and the dangers of a “Trumpocalypse.”
‘God forgive America’
Despite Trump’s reassuring words during his victory speech about seeking common ground with other nations, predictably, after 18 months of unpredictability, the diplomatic handwringing has come out into the open.
Uncharacteristically frank, French President François Hollande said Trump’s election heralds a “period of uncertainty.”
The German justice minister said the world won’t end, but it would get “crazier.” A newspaper in Barcelona declared, “God forgive America.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Trump’s election raised “questions” and “alarm,” and he asked for clarification on where the U.S. now stands on key issues such as Syria, Iran and climate change.
“We are going to need to understand what the new president will want to do,” said Ayrault, calling Trump’s foreign policy “confused.”
‘Mr. Trump’s capacity to destabilize is almost limitless.’ - The Guardian editorial
“Mr. Trump’s capacity to destabilize is almost limitless,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper said in an editorial.
“Americans have done a very dangerous thing this week. Because of what they have done, we all face dark, uncertain and fearful times.”
Now that Trump has been elected, trust is going to be difficult to build. The markets initially welcomed his win with deflation and uncertainty.
But perhaps the most telling signs of the shifts his election might herald abroad have actually been the messages of congratulations for Trump — many of them from European nationalists.
Populist parties see Trump’s triumph as another sign of a “patriotic spring” or the “great political revolution of 2016″ — the second and more dramatic of a two-part political reset that started with the UK’s surprise vote in favour of exiting the EU.
‘The people are taking their country back’
In an early sign of the excitement on this side of the ocean, more than a few of those congratulatory messages came from movements hoping to replicate Trump’s success.
“The people are taking their country back … so will we,” said Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Dutch Freedom Party.
On Twitter, France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen congratulated Trump and the American people, who are now “free.”
Her father, the founder of the party, wrote: “Today the United States, tomorrow, France. Bravo!”
That’s unsettling for the European political establishment ahead of key upcoming elections and referenda in Austria, Italy, Germany and France.
From Russia, however, came a warm and early message from President Vladimir Putin.
He and Trump repeatedly praised each other throughout the campaign, a curiosity at a time when the current U.S. administration has shunned Putin over Syria, where he currently has the upper hand militarily and politically.
It’s also odd given Russia has been accused of meddling in the U.S. election campaign, and is possibly behind the leak of thousands of Democratic Party emails that embarrassed contender Hillary Clinton.
Russian media and commentators often indicated during the campaign Moscow’s preference for seeing Trump in the White House.
In a telegram, the Russian leader congratulated Trump and said he hoped to “work together to move Russian/American relations from a state of crisis.”
Behind the scenes, Russia will still be very concerned about Trump’s plans for Syria, as well as for Iran — Russia was a key player, along with the U.S., in brokering a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear capability in return for lifting long-time sanctions.
Trump has said he’d like to renegotiate the deal.
For its part, Iran reacted early today, saying it intended to honour the deal and expected the U.S. to continue to live up to its obligations. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country’s expanding economic ties with the world were irreversible.
Meanwhile, the polite messages from the rest of the world’s political establishment often read more like warnings or rebukes than a warm welcome.
The head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, addressed Trump in a pointed tweet, saying he looked “forward to working w/you to strengthen #NATO, keeping Europe & America safe.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised “close cooperation” but also pointed out that Trump’s election campaign included “confrontations that were difficult to bear.”
Merkel will be one of several top world leaders who are women and with whom Trump will be working for the foreseeable future.
Another is Theresa May, the British prime minister. For her part, she said she looked forward to working with Trump to maintain the “special relationship” between the two countries.
Even international groups like Oxfam weighed in, calling on Trump to “reconsider his stance against refugees who are seeking safety in America as their last resort.”
Under Trump, it will be an America the world has never known. It is a revolution —and for most, a head-spinning one.