Even though the US presidential election resulted in a decisive victory for Donald J. Trump, it nonetheless revealed a deeply divided America. Yet with Republicans in control of the White House, Senate, House and Supreme Court, the coming months and years will feature a realignment of America's domestic and foreign policies. What does this mean for America's role in the world?
Let's focus on Asia, the zone of greatest strategic importance. Recent months have witnessed the Philippines and Malaysia swing strongly into Beijing’s orbit, undermining Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy. This Asian bandwagoning was a major feature of my first book The Second World and is clearly coming true. Trump will have to plan his first overseas missions and it will surely include Asia -- perhaps both China and Southeast Asia -- to repair and renew ties in the region.
As in the campaign, trade will be at the top of the agenda. Trump has promised to tear up NAFTA and halt the TPP agreement. This means that Mexico and China will be the focal points of renegotiation. As I emphasize at great length in CONNECTOGRAPHY, the tug-of-war over global supply chains lies at the heart of international strategy today. In seeking more fair trade, Trump will demand more open markets, currency reforms, and other concessions from trade partners in order to avoid a protectionist spiral. At the same time, American businesses will continue to push abroad in order to secure access to high growth markets -- they will have to “go local” since it will be a long time before any new comprehensive trade framework comes into place.
As I have consistently argued since the release of CONNECTOGRAPHY earlier this year, rebuilding America through the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) should be the top domestic priority. President-elect Trump made this a consistent campaign theme and highlighted it in his victory speech. A new Infrastructure Bank should be structured to attract the trillions of dollars of corporate cash sitting on the sidelines and overseas back into the US -- as well as hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment that is seeking higher returns as US interest rates rise (another Trump platform). The stars could finally align behind a much needed infrastructural overhaul that would create millions of jobs and serve as a platform for future growth.
While there is sure to be non-stop attention to Trump’s choices for top-level cabinet positions, it is equally if not more important to pause and think about how the American political system needs to be redesigned to cope with this complex agenda. To that end, my new book Technocracy in America has been timed for release on January 10. This short book provides a practical roadmap for modifying the White House, Congress, Supreme Court and other pillars of government to make America a far more effective state. Especially with a political novice entering the White House, technocratic expertise will be more important than ever.