Commentary, Politics

Clash of Civilizations in US

One wonders if Trump has read the “Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel Huntington, because it seems he is just implementing its theory. He seems to be provoking a clash of civilizations in his own country for a start.

As soon as he became U.S. president, Donald Trump signed quite a number of executive orders, some of which have provoked heated debates. The point is, he is just doing what he said he would do if elected president. He could have taken his time, he could have done all this during his four-year term, but no, he seems to be in a hurry. He maybe believes he will not be able to finish his term for some reason or maybe he knows that in only two years, the composition of Congress may change radically because of the upcoming elections. Or maybe he is just being himself.

It is obvious that becoming president, especially of a country like the U.S., is a huge success. Being able to govern the country once elected, however, is an even greater success. Nevertheless, Donald Trump has a few hard days ahead of him while trying to fulfill his presidential duty.

One of his decisions was about beefing up the United States’ Armed Forces. He promised during the campaign that he would reinforce homeland security, attract foreign investors, find jobs for Americans and refuse to take more immigrants. Maybe he is planning to use the military to achieve all this.

He has already declared the U.K. and Israel as the U.S.’s best friends and he is pushing toward protectionism to the detriment of free trade. Because of the U.S.’s new protectionist direction, most countries will have to adopt similar policies. This kind of economic policy, however, often provokes antagonistic foreign relations. Maybe that is the reason why Trump needs a stronger army.

The U.S., as everybody knows, already has the strongest army in the world, so he must have some reason for wanting an even stronger army. Is he planning to wage war against someone?

If this is the case, he probably has already identified the “enemy.” He has banned, for example, citizens from seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S. So one can imagine the main enemies are these seven countries. The problem is, if those countries are the enemies, the U.S. does not need a stronger army to defeat them. Perhaps, in the future, he will label some other countries as the enemy and those will be more powerful ones. I can think of China as a potential candidate.

Anyway, there is no doubt that Trump’s policy of keeping people out, but asking for their money and investment will create unnecessary tension around the globe. Given his speed, we will not have to wait too long to witness the tension. One wonders if Trump has read the “Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel Huntington, because it seems he is just implementing its theory. He seems to be provoking a clash of civilizations in his own country for a start.

Thankfully, a New York judge has suspended some parts of the executive order to help people trapped in U.S. airports. Her decision reflected what the demonstrators said all weekend about the ban: The U.S. is better than this.

President Trump is dreaming of a U.S. free of foreigners, refugees, Muslims or Latinos; while his opponents suggest that the U.S. is a better and stronger place with its diversity. For Trump, holding a U.S. passport or green card is not enough, one has to be someone he would consider a “true American.” This is discriminatory, triggering fault lines across American society.

It is quite worrying to observe what Trump was able to do in one week, so I do not dare imagine what he could do in a couple of months. He will probably spread this clash of civilizations across the world. Maybe he believes if everyone was the same in his country, one religion, one race, one way of thinking, he would rule the country easily. Perhaps. But this is not the case, and that is why humankind invented something called politics.



Beril Dedeoğlu has been a Professor of International Relations at Galatasaray University since 1995. Apart from her academic career, Dedeoğlu served as the Minister of European Union Affairs in the interim election government between 22 September and 17 November 2015.