Mr Donald J. Trump’s election to the US presidency has sent ripples of unprecedented anxiety worldwide as people try to come to terms with Trump’s challenge to mainstream politics and his unorthodox rhetorical populism based not so much on any coherent ideology but on nebulous and unpredictable pragmatism. It is the fear as well as lack of confidence and trust in his untested values which has raised anxiety in the minds of those who see globalisation, diversity, multiculturalism, environmental protection and interconnectedness as today’s imperatives. At the time of writing, there is much speculation about what a new global geopolitical order might look like under Trump.
Some see a Trump victory as signifying the demise of neoliberalism. In Brexit and Trump, neoliberalism has reached its natural conclusion, The Sydney Morning Herald, although others argue that the ‘death of neoliberalism’ is inevitable anyway, and Trump has simply given it a stamp of approval. With his disdain of global free trade as embodied in the Trans-Pacifc Partnership (TPP), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), in which the US has played a pivotal role, combined with his isolationist stance on foreign policy, it is not easy to gauge the exact form or shape that US global hegemony will take over the next four years.
For Pacific island countries (PICs), the thought of a Trump presidency is disconcerting. For instance, they rely somewhat credulously on global cooperation in their fight against climate change – undoubtedly the major human security issue for PICs at the present time. Yet Trump’s denial of climate change as a ‘Chinese hoax’ bodes ill for the future prospects of effective global action.
This article provides a critical examination of Trump’s potential impact on three major security aspects in as far as PICs are concerned. These are: first, the geopolitical reconfiguration of the Pacific as a result of a potentially isolationist and nationalistic US foreign policy stance under Trump; second, the impact of the Trump presidency on the climate change issue; and third, the economic impact on PICs if Trump’s proposed restrictive migration policies are enacted.
Steven Ratuva, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Pacific Studies, Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Auckland, New Zealand.