Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

Trump: New sheriff in town

  • Trump: Around 1 million expected in Washington for inaugural festivities (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Nearly 1 million people, including thousands of protesters, are expected in central Washington on Friday (20 January) to watch the pageantry of Donald Trump becoming the 45th president of the US.

The centrepiece of the events - Trump’s speech, at 11.30AM local time (5.30PM Brussels time), after he is sworn in in front of the Capitol Hill building with his hand on a bible - will also be watched in Europe for clues as to which of the things he promised in his campaign are likely to become policy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Announcement for anti-Trump rally in New Orleans (Photo: Peter Teffer)

On the domestic front, he promised an economic revival, especially in the manufacturing and energy industries, drastic action against illegal immigrants, tax reform, a repeal of free healthcare, and curbs on federal bureaucracy.

On foreign affairs, he has promised to challenge China’s military expansion, threatened to no longer protect Nato allies, and mocked the EU as a German “vehicle” that will shortly fall apart.

He has indicated he might end sanctions on Russia in return for cooperation in the fight against Islamist terrorism and on nuclear non-proliferation, despite having admitted that Russian hackers interfered in the US election.

He has also indicated that he might abandon the two-state solution on Israel and Palestine, the Paris accord on climate change, and the EU free-trade treaty.

According to Sean Spicer, the new White House press chief, speaking on Thursday, the inauguration speech might leave Trump’s European audience little the wiser, however.

The speech is expected to be short - just 20 minutes - and to make “philosophical” points on issues such as “what it means to be an American, the challenges that we face as members of the middle class … the proper role of government, the role of citizens”, Spicer said.

“It’s going to be a very personal and sincere statement about his vision for the country,” he said.

It is also likely to sound a conciliatory tone toward federal institutions and to the Democratic party and voters, both of which he demonised on the campaign trail.

Lincoln teaser

The lack of content was on show on Thursday when Trump addressed a crowd next to the Lincoln Memorial in the Washington Mall.

He led people in chants of “Make America great again!”, pledged to create jobs, and to rebuild the US military.

“I’m just the messenger ... It’s a movement like we’ve never seen anywhere in the world”, he said. “We are going to do things that haven’t been done in our country for many, many decades”, he said.

His questionable taste was also on show.

Standing close to the spot where Martin Luther King, a black rights activist, made his “I have a dream” speech in 1963, Trump, whose campaign teamed up with hard-right and white supremacist groups, told the largely white crowd: “They forgot about a lot of us … Well, you’re not forgotten any more”.

His Thursday-night party was boycotted by several A-list celebrities whom Trump had tried to invite.

Around 60 Democratic congressmen also plan to boycott Friday’s inauguration in protest at Trump’s racist, sexist, and divisive campaign rhetoric.

Trump, a 70-year old real estate billionaire and reality TV star, will enter the White House as the least popular president in US history, with an approval rating of just 40 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week.

The preparations, involving 28,000 security personnel and costing $200 million, have seen parts of the capital put on lockdown and steel barriers erected on main streets in order to help control protesters.

Around 30 groups have obtained permits to hold rallies on Friday and Saturday.

The largest of them, the Women’s March on Washington, is expected to attract 200,000 people on Saturday, but not all the protests are to be political in nature - another group, of pro-marijuana activists, plans to hand out 4,200 free joints to passers by on Friday.

New sheriff

When the party’s over, EU states, and America’s other international partners, will have to find a new modus vivendi with Trump’s administration.

Some EU diplomats believe that he will govern more soberly than he campaigned in what would amount to business as usual.

Some EU politicians have also said that Europe should use the same “hardball” tactics with Trump that Trump has used in his political and business career in order to win his respect.

Speaking to EUobserver in the run-up to Friday, Andras Simonyi, a former Hungarian diplomat and a scholar of transatlantic relations at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said Europe would be wrong to think that president Trump will be any milder than candidate Trump.

He added that the best way to win Trump’s respect would be for EU states to spend more on their militaries and to stand on their own two feet in terms of security.

“Europe still does not get it: There’s a new sheriff in town”, he said.

EU criticises Trump's Israel embassy idea

EU foreign relations chief Mogherini has warned that if Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem it could have “serious consequences”.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland extradites Polish man despite rule of law concerns
  2. Germany and France agree eurozone budget framework
  3. Austrian foreign minister: EU's Israel policy 'too strict'
  4. Soros and Kurz discuss Central European University move
  5. EU set to tighten rules on foreign strategic investment
  6. Macron repeats call for unified Europe in Bundestag speech
  7. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  8. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  2. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  3. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  4. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  5. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine
  6. EU must recognise new force for Balkans destabilisation
  7. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  8. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us