What will President Trump do?

Norway and the world enter unchartered waters with US politics

Photo: Norwegian Intelligence Service Many fear—or hope—that President Donald Trump won’t do the things he promised as a candidate.

Photo: Norwegian Intelligence Service
Many fear—or hope—that President Donald Trump won’t do the things he promised as a candidate.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Several of the world’s leaders congratulated the GOP’s Donald Trump on his victory on November 9. Among them were Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Vladimir Putin, President of Russia; and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Norway’s Stoltenberg said he “looks forward to working” with Trump, stressing the importance of transatlantic bonds remaining strong. “A strong NATO is good for the United States, and good for Europe,” he said in his speech.

Stoltenberg added that he looks forward to meeting Trump at next year’s NATO summit in Brussels to discuss the way forward.

The Norwegian Progress Party’s (FrP) Ulf Leirstein, the only MP who has openly supported Donald Trump, tells Norway news agency NTB that Trump wants more normalized relations with Russia, which is better for world peace than a Hillary Clinton victory would have been.

Donald Trump’s victory was not greeted by unilateral optimism in Norway.

“I was not surprised that he won; awaking to the news of his victory wasn’t a shock. I thought that Clinton had the biggest chance of winning but his [Trump’s] chances of this were also considerable,” says Jenny Klinge MP, who represents the Center Party (Sp) on parliament’s Standing Committee on Justice, to The Foreigner.

“However, the seriousness of his victory lies in whether he will stick to his election campaign—which was conducted in a particularly singular manner—or not when he is sworn in as president soon. It will be grave if he continues to act like he has in recent months,” the opposition MP adds.

Asked what might happen should he be provoked, Klinge replied: “I’m quite sure that the administration that will surround him will moderate his politics, but his temper, which has astounded many, could lead to some incidents of note. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) director Ulf Sverdrup stresses the importance of transatlantic cooperation but also some of its structural challenges. He also mentions this in a recent op-ed in Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN).

“We need to stick to issues such as security and the economy. Trump’s election victory obviously brings a bit more uncertainty with it regarding the U.S. in international affairs, the country’s relationship to international institutions, and more specifically on policies towards Europe, Russia, and China,” Sverdrup comments.

“There is now also less certainty about the future in matters such as trade and climate policies, to mention just two. At the same time, we don’t know yet if he’ll do what he said in his campaign. It’s also uncertain whether he will be able to follow up on these points due to the checks and balance of the system, and we don’t know who would work with him.”

In his DN op-ed, Sverdrup writes that he thinks the U.S. and Europe should stand by their commitments regarding security and defense policies. The partners must see the value of common interests and values, and make resources available.

President-elect Donald Trump and several U.S. leaders have said that European countries’ investment in defense is too low. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that “he [Trump] is completely right.”

NUPI’s Ulf Sverdrup also highlights that U.S. voters’ worries about globalization and increased differences cannot be ignored. The transatlantic free trade goal should be supplemented by cooperation on efficient regulation for the environment and good standards.

Moreover, he suggests that the time for increased cooperation on tax and tax payment evasion might be here. One of Hillary Clinton’s criticisms of businessman Trump is that he has not paid federal income taxes for years. “This point cannot be ignored in either Europe or the U.S., in order to meet the voters concerned about globalization and inequality,” Sverdrup remarks to The Foreigner. “While international cooperation would probably have been on Clinton’s agenda, Trump is not so interested in this.”

Sverdrup’s third general point touches on how transatlantic partners can find common ground on issues they consider to be of long-term strategic relevance. Europe should probably be more concerned with Asia, while the U.S. must prioritize long-term development in areas south and east of Europe.

“I suspect Trump will be more inward-looking in relation to this. We don’t know yet, though he has indicated that he might go in this direction,” says Sverdrup.

Lastly, nobody can believe that the U.S. and Europe can govern alone in a world seeing major change. Europe and the U.S. increasing their bilateral cooperation and with others within international institutions will be decisive, according to the NUPI director.

“Again, we don’t yet know what role Trump will play there. One of the most important things to reflect upon after the election is the international reputation of the U.S. and the Western mode of governance,” Sverdrup concludes.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) believes that Donald Trump’s election victory “will cause widespread alarm across the global economy, given his loose grasp of economic policy, unabashed political populism, and tendency for contradiction.”

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Nov. 18, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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