Last December, after the attack in San Bernardino California that left 14 dead, Donald Trump proposed a “temporary ban on Muslims entering the US”. This statement gave him a clear lead in the race for the Republican Party nomination, amongst the twelve candidates for the 8 November Presidential election. Republican voters seemingly appreciated his strong stance against terrorism, at least in words, and by far endorsed Trump’s ticket in the primaries.
Now, in the aftermath of the Orlando Florida nightclub massacre, with 50 people gunned down and more injured some very badly, Trump extends his proposal for the temporary interdiction on Muslims. He proposed to bar all immigrants coming from counties or regions with a “proven history of terrorism against America or its allies”. In his unrestricted manner he also asked President Obama to resign and told the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to quite the presidential race. He blames them that both didn’t take seriously his earlier comments about “radical Islamic terrorism”, a statement he says is fully justified now.
Americans dressed to fear
According to recent polls 60% to 70% of Americans are taking very seriously the danger of Islamic terrorism. No wonder then why Trump had so far a triumphant course in the nomination race, forcing at certain points his eleven adversaries to resign. In short, the December attack in San Bernardino gave Trump the chance to become the indisputable GOP nominee for the Presidential election.
It’s quite understandable then why Trump is currently over-exploiting the Orlando tragedy, in order to gain a trump card against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Clinton from her side has reacted with her standard ‘politically correct’ manner after the Orlando massacre. She said the US government must search and ‘find ways to keep the country safe, without demonizing Muslim Americans”. The problem is if this statement speaks to the heart of the average American, who is constantly terrified by media and other reports about the threats from radical Islamists and Washington’s ‘war on terror’.
In many respects, it was a predictable development, that somebody like Trump could exploit the terrorist attacks and the anti-terror frenzy in the media and the administration. The average American is really terrified and tends to overlook other equally important aspects of the political and social affairs. It remains to be seen though, if the Trump over-exploitation of the Orlando massacre can reverse the lead Clinton maintained in polls until before the weekend tragedy.
It’s a strange thing though to watch how societies react on threats of any kind. Take for example the massive threats on Britain, if the country left the EU. Every possible and impossible body or personality, from the country’s Prime Minister David Cameron, the US President Barack Obama and the German Czar of the economy Wolfgang Schäuble to the IMF, the OECD, the Bank of England and the entire financial community of the western world have urged the Brits to vote ‘stay’, otherwise they will face the consequences…
They all maintain that the ‘leave’ outcome will badly hurt Britain, both in the short and the long run. There are even reports by political and economic analysts and pundits that the ‘leave’ outcome will not only upset the country, but it will greatly harm the politico-economic ‘order’ of the entire world. The result was that the clear lead in the polls of the ‘stay’ vote until a few weeks ago is now reversed. A reliable IPSOS/Reuters poll this week gave the ‘leave’ option a clear 7 percentage points lead.
There is no doubt that terror and intimidation of entire societies and the unruly exploitation of people’s fears add up to a very risky business. For one thing, it can pass on to an unpredictable and rather dangerous personality the most powerful job of the world, the US Presidency. It can also upset an entire continent, Europe, and put a country, Britain, in an uncertain and probably perilous course.
Can we handle the risks?
In both cases, the dangerous possibilities could be considered by ‘experts’ as unpredictable eventualities. However, they are both direct offspring of the unrestricted exploitation of terror and intimidation of entire countries. The question is though, if our brave new world disposes strong enough political, social and economic institutions capable to handle similar risks.
The national legislatives, the mainstream political parties of the western world, the EU Parliament, the European Commission, the UN General Assembly and Security Council, international bodies like the IMF and OECD, are all now under pressure to prove that they can handle risks, like a rampant Donald Trump in the White House and Britain leaving the EU. Of course, this has to be done without denting the welfare of hundreds of millions of citizens.