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Opinion
Wednesday Jan 20 2021
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The Trump era: What the world gained and lost

President Trump takes off his face mask as he comes out on a White House balcony to speak to supporters gathered on the South Lawn for a campaign rally. Photo: Reuters

The most dramatic political show in the recent history of the United States of America is coming to its logical conclusion. As the actor finally leaves the stage, now is the moment to objectively look back and reflect at what the world has gained or lost during US President Donald J Trump’s four years in power.

But first, let’s examine the cost to America.

For a long time, Trump will be held responsible, rightly so, for damaging American’s democracy. The images of his loyalists ransacking the Capitol will continue to replay in people’s mind.

Then, his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans to date. Not only that but the US has the highest number of infections and deaths from the virus in the world.

This, too, America is unlikely to forget.

Read more: Trump banned on Twitter due to risk of more violence

Now over to the rest of the world. Few, with the exception of four countries - Israel, North Korea, Russia and India - are likely to miss the 45th president.

First, Israel. The outgoing president took the controversial decision of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. Then, he encouraged UAE, Bahrain and a few other countries to step up and normalise relations with Israel.

To further bolster ties with Israel, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and, that too despite his own administration having acknowledged that arch-rival Iran had fully abided by the nuclear deal.

Israel will not find a friend like Trump.

Onto North Korea. Trump honored Kim Jong-un with three visits and became the first American president to step foot in North Korea. Donald Trump also successfully convinced the “Rocket Man” to suspend nuclear and missile tests.

As for Russia, Trump made a public appeal in 2016 asking Moscow to find over 30,000 emails that he claimed Hillary Clinton has deleted. Then, there was the scandal of Russian meddling in the US presidential election, which only benefited Trump.

Read more: As America moves forward, is there a cure for Trumpism?

In his four years, Trump has managed to turn friends into foes. He alienated Germany, France, UK, Canada and Mexico and even threatened to pull out of NATO.

But, nonetheless, the US president managed to garner some successes under his belt as well. He ended the longest war fought in American history, by approving a controversial compromise.

He secured the US Taliban Peace Agreement that has helped reduce US troop numbers from 14,000 to 2,500. Although, on the contrary, there is every sign that the same Taliban, who were ousted in 2001, will rule Afghanistan again.

For Pakistan, there was hardly any bilateral development as the Trump administration’s focus remained on Afghanistan. Yet, Pakistanis should be thankful to Donald Trump for he has given us a wakeup call on Kashmir.

We were under an illusion that if the president of the superpower would meditate, the simmering issue of Kashmir can be resolved. But instead we got a reality check, as the world stood and watched, in muted silence, as the Indian prime minister usurped the rights of the Kashmiri people.

Read more: Democracy in decline: But can we save it?

It was a reminder that when it comes to national interest, not only Donald J Trump, but every US president will opt for the policy of “America First”.

So, how will Donald Trump be remembered?

It is too early to say in definite terms. But, to his opponents, he will remain a showman who divided the nation, demeaned America yet got away with four years in office.

For his loyalists, he is the outsider who challenged the establishment, faced media trials and was deprived of a reelection.