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Trump’s implications on Sri Lanka

Donald Trump, US President-elect
We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.

– Donald Trump, US President-elect

Donald John Trump is the President-elect of the United States as well as an American businessman and reality television personality. He is the chairman and president of the Trump Organization, the principal holding company for his real estate ventures and other business interests. He was elected as the 45th US President in the 2016 election on the Republican ticket, defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and is scheduled to take office on 20 January 2017.

Born on 14 June 1946 in Jamaica, a neighbourhood in New York City, New York, US. Trump is 70 years of age. Trump will be the oldest person to assume the presidency. He received a Bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. In 1971, he was given control of his father Fred Trump's real estate and construction firm and later renamed it The Trump Organization, rising to public prominence shortly thereafter.

Trump has appeared at the Miss USA pageants, which he owned from 1996 to 2015, and has made cameo appearances in films and television series. He sought the Reform Party presidential nomination in 2000, but withdrew before voting began. As of 2016, he was listed by Forbes as the 324th wealthiest person in the world, and 156th in the United States, with a net worth of $3.7 billion in October 2016.

Republican rivals

Trump announced his candidacy for President as a Republican and quickly emerged as the front-runner for his party's nomination. In May 2016, his remaining Republican rivals suspended their campaigns, and in July, he was formally nominated for President at the 2016 Republican National Convention Trump's election platform included renegotiation of US –China trade deals, opposition to particular trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, stronger enforcement of immigration laws together with building a wall along the US-Mexico border, reform of veterans' care, repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, and tax cuts. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, later stating that the ban would focus instead on countries with a proven history of terrorism, until the screening for potential terrorists is improved. Trump's campaign received unprecedented media coverage and international attention.

On 8 November 2016, Trump won the Presidency with 306 electoral votes to 232 received by Hillary Clinton. Trump became the fourth US candidate to win the Electoral College despite receiving fewer popular votes than his opponent. Trump's victory was seen as one of the biggest political upsets in American history, as nearly all polls at the time showed Hillary Clinton with a modest lead over Trump. This was later attributed to pollsters overestimating Clinton's support among well-educated and non-white voters, while underestimating Trump's support among white working-class voters. Trump's win simultaneously marked the first time that Republicans gained control over both the White House and Congress since 2006.

Victory speech

In the early hours of 9 November 2016, Trump received a phone call in which Clinton conceded the presidency to him. Trump then delivered his victory speech before hundreds of supporters in the Hilton Hotel in New York City. The speech was in stark contrast with his previous rhetoric, with Trump promising to heal the division caused by the election, thanking Clinton for her service to the country, and promising to be a President to all Americans. The following day, Trump had a first-time meeting with President Obama to discuss plans for a peaceful transition of power. The meeting was notably cordial, with The New York Times stating: "It was an extraordinary show of cordiality and respect between two men who have been political enemies and are stylistic opposites."

Trump's foreign policy has been described as non-interventionalist and nationalist. Trump has reiterated that he supports "America First" foreign policy, though he is not linked to the historical isolationist America First Party (1944) or the defunct paleo-conservative America First Party (2002). He supports increasing United States military defence spending, but favours decreasing United States spending on NATO and in the Pacific region. He says America should look inward, stop "nation building", and reorient its resources towards domestic needs. He questions whether he, as President, would automatically extend security guarantees to NATO members, and suggests that he might leave NATO unless changes are made to the alliance.

Against the above backdrop the implications of Trump's election as US President on Sri Lanka may be gauged by some of his comments on international affairs in the past. Subsequent to the abortive military coup in Turkey Donald Trump exclaimed: "What right do we have in the United States to criticize the condition of human rights elsewhere? I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it's very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don't know what we are doing and we can't see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have Policemen being shot in the streets and when you have riots. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country we have other problems. I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don't think we're a very good messenger."

America's image

Thus Trump cannot be classified as neoconservative, with grand plans to reconstruct the world in America's image through military adventurism and coercive diplomacy. There is a doubt that Trump would endorse the liberal-outlook of the current (US) State Department developed during the administration of Barak Obama with effective involvement of Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton. The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission was used by these three persons to transform domestic issues in developing nations to international level, and thereby interfere in the internal governance of those nations such as Sri Lanka.

Trump referring to Iraq said, "Look what's happened in Iraq. What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people have been killed. And what about the people who are coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side, all those Iraqi kids have been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this happened for nothing!"

In contrast, Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State got the Obama administration to depose Gaddafi in Libya when he was cooperating with the CIA to track and identify agents who supply nuclear arsenal to other countries after his country surrendered his own. Today Libya is in disarray without a central government with parts of the country being controlled by various rebel groups. The Tamil Diaspora in the US calling themselves 'Tamils for Clinton' in the US supported Hillary Clinton's candidacy stating "We need her leadership at this juncture to bring justice to millions of people around the world, including Tamils in Sri Lanka, who faced mass killings and rape by Sri Lankan security forces. We saw first-hand her passion and effectiveness to fight for those abused when US under her leadership took steps at the UN to bring Sri Lankan Government to face international justice for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against Tamil people in Sri Lanka."
Two weeks before the total defeat of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers on 18 May 2009 then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was forcing the hand of the IMF and Cabinet Office of US Treasury Department to suspend all monetary assistance to Sri Lanka, as revealed in a sensitive e-mail message.

In conclusion, it must be stated that Donald Trump's election as US President is far more beneficial for the peace and tranquillity that presently prevails in our motherland than the situation that would have been if the opponent supported by pro-LTTE groups gained the US Presidency.

The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, MPhil (Colombo)
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