Even the Trump camp was surprised at the tsunami of his win. "Washington Post" ran a news, early during the counting, "The Trump campaign is really lowering expectations right now". It said that his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway was seen beginning "the process of offering excuses for his likely loss - pointing, as expected, to the lack of unity and support from the GOP establishment". So how did it happen?
Reasons for Democratic Party's defeat:
There are many reasons for the unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton. Certain influential Conservative circles in America had been feeling that they had become a "Declining power" under 8 years of Democratic rule. They felt that US was not able to assume leadership in any part of the world to be the final arbiter of local disputes. The constant theme of Trump was to repair a" Broken America" since the leadership was only "apologizing" to other nations.
[Also Read: Trump's triumph: Contradictions bundled in irony]
The "Gun Boat" diplomacy followers supported Israel's misinterpretation of President Obama's Iran policy on nuclear issue as capitulation. They felt that his efforts to normalize relations with Cuba after long years of hostility since 1961 were in breach of the traditional American domination of its neighbourhood. They felt that USA and NATO could not prevent Russian incursions into Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The rise of China and the inability of US to enforce its writ on the South China Seas was yet another reason.
While this impression was gaining among intellectual circles, the effect of globalization was felt both by the Blue Collar and White Collar workers who were steadily losing jobs. A survey by "US News" in December 2014 said that America lost 3.2 million jobs between 2001 and 2014 to China. Simultaneously there were complaints about China's currency manipulation which had increased US trade deficit. Another report on March 13, 2016 by "Global Research" quoted a University of California study saying that 14 million White Collar jobs were threatened by outsourcing. These were "not only call-center operators, customer service and back-office jobs, but also information technology, accounting, architecture, advanced engineering design, news reporting, stock analysis, and medical and legal services".
"New York Times"( November 9) confirmed this since the White and Blue collar workers, the power base of Democratic Party from the time of F.D.Roosevelt, deserted the party "when these voters were offered a Republican who ran as an unapologetic populist, railing against foreign trade deals and illegal immigration".
The other major reason was the inability of Hillary Clinton to put forward any new ideas of "Change" than what was done by Obama for 8 years. They felt that she was "More of the same" as the last 8 years. Anti-incumbency feelings among the voters were strong and Clinton campaign did not fathom what was brewing in their minds. The last reason was the traditional American White Male prejudice against women aspiring to become senior politicians. The popular "Public Broadcasting Service" (PBS) had run a series on this in 2016.
As against this, Trump strode into the campaign with raw energy and chose to be an unorthodox campaigner. To quote "New York Times" again: "His rallies - furious, entertaining, heavy on name-calling and nationalist overtones - became the nexus of a political movement.......He seemed to embody the success and grandeur that so many of his followers felt was missing from their own lives - and from the country itself. And he scoffed at the poll-driven word-parsing ways of modern politics, calling them a waste of time and money. Instead, he relied on his gut".
[Also Read: Iran: Expect Trump to respect nuclear deal]
He hurled unorthodox challenges, incited fears and prescribed unusual remedies. He frightened an average American on terrorism from Islamic organizations, blamed all Muslims for that and said that he would not allow them into America. He scared workers about job losses due to immigration and promised to erect a wall between America and Mexico. He said he would take action against China and India who were snatching away American jobs. He rattled NATO partners by praising President Vladimir Putin and said that America should recognize Russian claims on Crimea. He annoyed Japan by suggesting that Tokyo should pay for the American troops stationed there and advising that they should develop nuclear arms to protect themselves. He trashed the "Climate Change" theories and said that he might revoke the successful "Paris Accord".
Trump knew fully well that he would not be able to translate all these into national policies even as President. Over the years the US President has become almost a prisoner of those very institutions like National Security Council (NSC) and Inter-Agency Committees for adjudicating policies. Then there is Congressional oversight to check President's impulsive ideas. Decisions are recorded and available for scrutiny. The helplessness of even a formidable President like Eisenhower can be gauged by what he wrote on an NSC meeting paper on Jan.3, 1957 on the questionable decision to give arms aid to Pakistan: "This was the worst kind of a plan and decision we could have made. It was a terrible error, but now we seem hopelessly involved in it". (Quoted by Dennis Kux in "United States & Pakistan-1947-2000-Disenchanted Allies") Effectively Trump would be told by his bureaucracy what all campaign promises could be implemented and what he cannot.
Trump's policies towards India, China & Pakistan:
Some print and visual media correspondents have reported on November 9 that Trump is very grateful to the Indian American Community for their voting. They based this impression by getting some odd sound bytes from Trump's relatives. Today morning dailies have even said that he followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election strategy. Similarly the "Trump Republican Hindu Coalition" has also claimed credit for his victory and said that he would be "tough" with Pakistan. Some others are claiming that he would be extra tough on China.
[Also Read: We are all rooting for Trump's success: Barack Obama]
All these are far fetched. Presidents usually find that they cannot implement even 10% of their campaign promises within 4 years. They are far too occupied with international events. Trump did not have a single Indian in his campaign team to advise him, notwithstanding the claim of "Trump Republican Hindu Coalition". Usually it is the campaign team that shapes the positioning of officials in the White House for making policies. As against this, Hillary had some key Indian Americans in her campaign team who could have influenced some decisions.
Trump dislikes media. However media can shame and oust an unconventional president as they did to Nixon. During campaigning Trump parried all uncomfortable questions on his business empire. But an elected President cannot dodge media queries on his personal or financial details. Nor can he run a nation like how he ran his business empire. There are far too many demons lurking in his past life. A "News Week" investigation on October 3, 2016 had alleged that he had opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers in at least two of his last three construction projects instead of US corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. When asked about it he said that they were commercial decisions that were good for business. An earlier investigation by Bloomberg on March 7, 2016 had said that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had raised some issues at the practice of issuing visas to wealthy Chinese on priority to help "finance a huge Trump branded tower in New Jersey".
These allegations about the clash of commercial interests with those of the state are likely to come up in days to come. Meanwhile we should wait and watch to see what type of team Trump would be assembling in his cabinet before forecasting any spectacular upswing in the Indo-US diplomacy vis-a vis US-China-Pakistan relations.
[The writer is a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat & author of "National Security & Intelligence Management-a new Paradigm"]