Top menu

Trump’s election: has the American ‘experiment’ run its course?

Abroad, Trump’s unexpected success will only encourage the rise of right-wing nationalist movements and the further fragmentation of this planet of increasing disorder. A deep and spreading sense of disorder lay at the heart of the bizarre election campaign and, with Donald Trump’s election, it may never really end

The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of order as well as domination. So here’s the confounding thing about the American version of empire in the years when this country was often referred to as ‘the sole superpower’, when it was putting more money into its military than the next ten nations combined: it’s been an empire of chaos.

Back in September 2002, Amr Moussa, then head of the Arab League, offered a warning I’ve never forgotten. The Bush administration’s intention to invade Iraq and topple its ruler, Saddam Hussein, was already obvious. Were they to take such a step, Moussa insisted, it would “open the gates of hell.” His prediction turned out to be anything but hyperbole — and those gates have never again closed.

The wars come home

From the moment of the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, in fact, everything the US military touched in these years has turned to dust. Nations across the Middle East and Africa collapsed under the weight of American interventions or those of its allies, and terror movements, each one grimmer than the next, spread in a remarkably unchecked fashion. Afghanistan is now a disaster zone; Yemen, wracked by civil war, a brutal US-backed Saudi air campaign, and various ascendant terror groups, is essentially no more; Iraq, at best, is a riven sectarian nation; Syria barely exists; Libya, too, is hardly a state these days; and Somalia is a set of fiefdoms and terror movements. All in all, it’s quite a record for the mightiest power on the planet, which, in a distinctly un-imperial fashion, has been unable to impose its military will or order of any sort on any state or even group, no matter where it chose to act in these years. It’s hard to think of a historical precedent for this.

Read more