[Donald Trump (center) with Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (left) and his Yale colleague Jacob Hacker (right) in Trump's office. (File Photo: Jonathan Weisberg—Yale School of Management]
Never interrupt your enemy, when he is making a mistake. – Napoleon Bonaparte
Although, I had planned to write this article about 4 months back – right after the nomination of Trump as a Republican candidate, I managed to convince myself that this is only a “Republican verdict” and I should wait for the “American verdict”.
Americans have now given their verdict!
Let’s remember: American “greatness” stands on two pillars (1) Military Might and (2) Economic Prowess.
Global media and folks in power make us believe that the world is divided between bad guys (Muslims) and good guys (everybody else). I agree that the world is split into two camps, but I have a long held view that the two groups are: rich + powerful and poor + oppressed. And both categories are all-faith.
So, we have a small minority in the world that is rich and powerful (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews etc.). They are one cohesive group and their only true religion is to acquire power and wealth at any cost. Whereas, a huge majority is poor and oppressed – consists of all faiths. It is at the mercy of the rich and powerful group. Always!
For instance, research shows that the socio-economic conditions of Blacks and Latinos (largely Christians) is worse than others in the US. Similarly, the socio-economic condition of Dalits and Tribals (mainly Hindus) in many parts of India is as bad as a vast majority of Indian Muslims.
According to American Psychological Association, African American children are three times more likely to live in poverty than White/Caucasian children. Poor and oppressed are more likely to receive high-cost mortgages: African Americans (53 percent) and Latinos (43 percent), in comparison to White/Caucasians (18 percent). Unemployment rates for African Americans are typically double those of White/ Caucasian Americans.
African American men working full time earn 72 percent of the average earnings of comparable Caucasian men and 85 percent of the earnings of White / Caucasian women. African Americans and Latinos in low-poverty areas were more likely to be referred for commitment by a law enforcement official than any other racial group.
However, it is largely poor and oppressed Muslims who are standing up firmly (on the bedrock of their faith) all over the world against the high and mighty. Hence, the open-ended and global war on “terror”!
But let me step back to exactly an 8-years back lunch-table conversation with the former CEO of my bank. That was the day after first of the two Obama victories. For some strange reasons (or for no reason) oppressed communities across the world, among them black and Muslims, were elated with that outcome. They naively thought that under Obama their lives will be more safe, secured and more dignified.
My reaction was: US Presidents are only “actors”! They are not directors or producers. The real movers and shakers sit at the Capitol Hill. Nothing has changed there and nothing will ever change there. So, absolutely no need to get overly optimistic by seeing the first black man in the White House!
History proved it right: Former US President George W Bush started the drone attacks outside declared war zones. During his tenure, 58 drone strikes killed over 300 innocent men, women and children in a couple of Muslim countries.
Then came “our own” President Obama! Since, assuming the most powerful office on the planet in 2009, he significantly extended the use of drones. After years of denial, on 1 July 2016, the US government finally admitted that it has conducted 473 counter-terrorism strikes
in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya from 2009 to 2015. Adding drone strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq takes this number to over 800, resulting in the deaths of over 5000 Muslims. This figure alone is more than double the number of Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks!
This, obviously, excludes the deaths and permanent crippling of over one million people and unprecedented destruction resulting from America’s “declared wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 15 years! Nor does it account for the half-hearted US intervention in Libya and strongly tacit support to Syrian dictator Bashar Asad and Egyptian dictator General Sisi – which together have cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives!
After having fought (and literally lost) the longest war in US history in Afghanistan, the morale of its security establishment is at an all-time low – and so it should be. If a 900-pound gorilla fights with a 700, 800 or 900-pound opponent and loses, then it is OK. However, if he is not able to tame a minion even after struggling for 15 long years then that is not fathomable by any stretch of imagination!
Consequently, about 20% US army personnel who served in Iraq are suffering from Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This situation leads, very often, to suicides.
In a Leadership Program at Harvard Business School last month, I met an ex US Army officer who is now the Founder and CEO of a New York based NGO “Stop Soldiers Suicide”! Frequent conversations with him made me realise that when an organization run by an insider is exclusively dedicated to saving soldiers from committing suicides, nothing more needs to be said about the morale and future of the US military might!
Now, at the fag end of Obama Presidency, “pessimism about race relations in America is higher than it has been in nearly a generation, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. In the aftermath of the mass shooting of police officers in Dallas and the high-profile police shooting deaths of two black men, in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul, Minn., more than 6 in 10 adults say race relations are generally bad, and a majority say they are getting worse” (Washington Post 16 July 2016).
But all this is past – and under a black President. Trump is all about our future.
The man is entering White House when the US economy is in deep structural mess. A part of the reason why Americans have voted him in is to see if a “magician” can save them from imminent disaster when “seasoned politicians” completely failed them over the past several decades. The passengers of sinking ships do not conduct extensive screening or interviews of a new captain. They simply put on the wheel whoever makes the loudest promises of saving them – regardless of his track record or qualifications! We saw similar sentiments in the last Indian general elections – and a part of the reason large number of Indian- Americans supported Trump!
(*These numbers do not include non-funded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare totalling up to US$ 33 trillion!)
New jobs are being added over the past few quarters. This is presented as an indication of “improved” US economy. But a former US Federal Reserve adviser confirmed to me (this information is already in public domain) at a conference in Barcelona last week that the real indicator of economic recovery is capital investments, which remains flat. This essentially means that the US corporates that once made America “great” have themselves stopped investments in the US economy and losing interest in its future!
Before the “most powerful” and “most prosperous” nation in the world goes bust, did Americans have any option other than bringing in a “magician”?
The magic has started working within minutes. America’s own currency dropped significantly against a basket of global currencies. Even its largest southern neighbour Mexico’s currency witnessed the biggest drop in 20 years! That is a true magic! And a lot more to come.
So, those who view the US as their detractor and are concerned about the election outcome need not worry – just keep the above advice of French General and politician Napoleon in mind.
Because this world belongs to the One-and-Only God. He loves the poor and oppressed, if they are deliberately wronged. Surely, He has a plan for them; He is the best of the Planner!
[The article is first published by caravandaily.com]