Tom Arms’ World Review

USA – Trump

I may have written too early and ill-advisedly when last week I predicted the political decline of Donald Trump.

His delayed indictment in the Stormy Daniels case has finally hit the newsstands and the ex-president is deftly using his victimhood to rally his political base. “This is,” he said “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”

Clearly the man never studied the classics or medieval European history.

But this has not stopped the conspiracy theorists from flooding cyber space with outlandish claims and threats of civil war. Qanon was quick to tweet that Trump is waging a secret war “against a network of Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media.” It added ominously: “We are ready when you are…Mr President.”

Trump’s opponents in the race for the Republican nomination – Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis – are also lining up behind the ex-president to condemn the indictment as a witch hunt. They are all afraid of alienating Trump’s political base.

But how big is that base? For a start, a significant proportion of Trump’s base in the 2016 and 2020 elections were White evangelical Christians. They comprise roughly a quarter of the American population and 80 percent of them voted for Trump.

However, a large proportion of the Evangelicals are one issue voters – abortion. They have won that battle with Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. They are unlikely to shift their allegiance to “socialist” Joe Biden but Trump’s apparent lack of morals could pull them towards one of the other Republican hopefuls, an independent third candidate or abstention.

That still leaves a sizable chunk of Trump supporters who have now been galvanised by their leader’s imminent arrest. Their reaction is the major unknown in American politics, and, following the Capitol Hill riots, potentially worrying. There may even be enough Trump supporters within the Republican Party to secure him the nomination. In fact, as of this week, he is 30 points ahead of his nearest challenger Ron DeSantis. But that could be the end of Trump’s political road. The country is hopelessly split between Republicans and Democrats. The balance lies with the roughly thirty percent of the voting population who are registered independents. They, and disenchanted evangelicals and moderate Republicans are unlikely to cast their vote for a felon, or even an alleged felon.

USA – guns

There are lots of reasons Americans have more guns than people – 395 million shooters for 336 million people.

There is the pioneer Wild West culture, Hollywood’s glorification of gun culture, personal and family protection, law enforcement, recreational target shooting, hunting and, of course, the pursuit of criminal objectives.

To my mind, the most worrying reason is protection of the individual from the government. This is one of the arguments by the National Rifle Association and politicians such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It is a justification which dates back to the 1689 English Bill of Rights when citizens were guaranteed the right to carry guns as a defense against the imposition of a Catholic monarch.

This fear of “big government” using its power to deny Americans basic human rights was one of the reasons for the Second Amendment. They had, after all, just fought a revolution against a government which had blocked their liberties.

The problem for gun advocates is that society and politics has moved on from the 18th century. We have now had 240 years of American governments elected by universal franchise (except for women who did not secure the right to vote until 1920) to pass laws to protect them. If the gun lobby has a problem with lack of representation in federal government then it should use the legal instruments in the US constitution to amend it.

Instead its solution is more guns. Guns in schools. Guns in churches. Guns in shops and theatres and guns in homes. Following the latest school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, there are new reasons. Shootings are not a gun problem. They are a mental health problem. There are also, it is being argued post-Nashville, now a transgender problem because the shooter was a transgender person.

Very few Americans dare to suggest that the guns themselves are the problem. This is because the Second Amendment has become a political sacred cow.

Russia

There are four main reasons for Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he is basing tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.

First is a simple continuation of his policy of nuclear blackmail. He believes that if he rattles the nuclear sabre loud enough and long enough, the West, especially Europe, will take fright, back down and withdraw support for Ukraine. The danger, of course, is that if the victim refuses to be blackmailed the blackmailer is faced with the choice of putting up or shutting up.

Next is Kremlin politics. Putin faces increasing pressure from the ultra-nationalists to throw caution to the winds and use tactical nuclear weapons. Chief among the hawks is Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group which is bogged down in the siege of Bakhmut. His view has media backing, in recent weeks the state-controlled media has been replete with stories about how Russia can successfully win and survive a nuclear war.

Third on the list is China. Beijing has repeatedly opposed Putin’s policy of threatening nuclear war. It is also clear that Russia has become the junior partner in the Sino-Russian alliance. Putin’s announcement that he is basing nukes in Belarus came only days after Xi’s visit to Moscow. It should be interpreted as Putin’s way of asserting Russia’s super power status and foreign policy independent of Beijing.

Finally there is Belarus. Putin would dearly love to simply annex his neighbour and ally. Years before the Ukraine invasion there were moves towards political and economic union and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has walked a fine line of alternately embracing and fending off the Russian bear. The tactical nuclear weapons bound for Belarus will remain under Russian control. This will further increase Moscow’s control over the country’s foreign and defense policy.

Germany

Germany and France are the twin pillars of the European Union. When they work together EU policies are more successful. When they are politically stable, the EU is more stable. It therefore follows that when Paris and Berlin are unstable, Europe falters.

This week both France and Germany were suffering bouts of instability. France’s problems are well-known. Television viewers around the world have been treated to violent scenes as rioters demonstrate against President Emmanuel Macron’s raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Not as well reported are the problems of German Chancellor Olof Scholz who is dealing with a dispute within his coalition of the Greens, the Liberals (FDP) and his own Social Democrats (The SPD) which has spilled over into the corridors of the European Commission.

At its core is the future of Europe’s green credentials and Germany’s position as EU leader. The European Council – which included Scholz – had agreed to phase out combustion engines by 2035. EU leaders were very proud of and pleased with the policy.

Not so pleased was Germany’s massive car industry which is still heavily invested in combustion engine technology. Ten percent of Germany’s exports – and a million jobs – are tied to the manufacture of cars and car parts. The car industry is represented in the Berlin government by the pro-business FDP who threatened a revolt over the EU law.

The result was that Scholz opted for coalition harmony and reneged on the law which he had agreed upon, thus annoying the Brussels Eurocrats and all of his EU partners. He also alienated his other coalition partner – the Green Party. Some of the steam has been taken out of this quadrilateral dispute by a compromise decision to allow combustion engines not fuelled by diesel or petrol. But the problem with that is that the technology is yet to be commercially developed for combustion engines to run on e-fuels such as hydrogen and ethanol.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain". To subscribe to his email alerts on world affairs click here.

Read more by or more about , , , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

6 Comments

  • Mel Borthwaite 2nd Apr '23 - 9:07am

    I regard myself as reasonably level-headed but yet I have no doubt that a number of Democrat Attorney Generals around the USA are trying to find a way to charge and, if possible, convict Donald Trump both to make their own names in Democratic circles but also – and especially – to try to prevent Trump running in 2024. If independent-minded voters can be persuaded that this is what is driving some of Trump’s legal problems, this venture could actually bolster his support.

    As for evangelical voters, I suspect that most of them will realise that the next President could reshape the Supreme Court by filling vacancies that are likely to occur (Clarence Thomas is now almost 75) and they also know that Donald Trump appointed Justices who strongly supported religious rights. I do not see them abandoning him when the consider the rulings a majority Democrat appointed Supreme Court may issue.

  • Steve Trevethan 2nd Apr '23 - 2:49pm

    Germany:

    « In 2008 the average German household was £500 a year better off than the U K. In 2023 they are £4,500 better off. »
    (Counterpunch)
    ?

  • Anyone who has spent anytime travelling in the States will come to realise that there are quite different cultures and attitudes encountered in the coastal cities versus mid-west regions. Joel Garreau’s 1981 book “The Nine Nations of North America ” sets out to provide a more accurate way of understanding the true nature of North American society.
    A more recent publication of the theme by Colin Woodward breaks down those cultures and the regions they each dominate American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America
    The author’s argue, there is not a single homogenous culture in the USA – gun culture or otherwise – but rather a disparate collection of regions that have their origins in the religious and cultural predilections of the European colonies that settled the North American continent. New England is a reflection of the fundamentalist puritan values brought there by English religious dissidents. Pennsylvania a reflection of the more Libertarian culture of Quakers etc.

  • The Russian Federation likewise has a number of distinctive regions and cultures from the European facing urban centres of St Petersburg and Moscow to the Muslim regions of the North Caucuses and Southern Russia east of the Urals, the Far eastern centres of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk and the empty expanse of Siberia.
    Despite centuries of Russification and the Soviet experiment these regions retain distinctive cultures. As with the English language in the USA, most Russian citizens speak Russian as their first and only language. Most speakers of a minority language are also bilingual speakers of Russian. Belarusan is the native language of the Belarusians and one of the two official state languages in Belarus, alongside Russian.
    As Tom writes, “the Putin regime might well dearly love to simply annex his neighbour”, but the path the current Russian administration is following seems to be one bent on alienating its near neighbours and even threaten the dissolution of much of what currently constitutes the Russian Federation.

  • Peter Hirst 8th Apr '23 - 12:06pm

    I don’t understand why the French are so concerned about the modest rise in their pension age while they are living longer. Don’t they understand basic economics? The American constitution is far too frozen and hopefully when we get one it will be easier to modify as circumstances change.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Jenny Barnes
    Godalming & Ash :)) and my little legs are all worn down from delivering hundreds of leaflets. The local Town Fair had a lib dem event for children : H...
  • Mick Taylor
    @PeterMartin. Uncritical support of the EU??? Not at all. Liberals all over the EU are very critical of the EU and want to make a lot of changes. I'm sure they'...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Peter Martin: No-one was saying that at all, except maybe @Adam who is relying on BtL comments on news articles which cannot be taken as representative of anyt...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Chris, Adam and David, So can we all agree (except perhaps Alex ) that being in favour of the EU does require uncritical support? This is a big problem...
  • Ted Kim
    There are similarities to Elwyn’s fight in Saddleworth – and the degradation of politics ever since. Facing an electoral court battle back in 2011, a def...