Why is Trump better than Clinton for Arabs?
Donald Trump may turn out to be better than the polished but somewhat artificial Hillary Clinton
It is a mission impossible to defend Donald Trump after the recent scandals that have flooded the media. However, if we remove the rubble of insults that have buried him alive due to his unpalatable personal acts and focus on his vision and plans, we would see a different person. Who knows, he may turn out to be better than the polished but somewhat artificial Hillary Clinton.
In order to see Trump in the right perspective, it is important to understand the answers to three questions: Why do Americans hate him or, to be more specific, why is the American media united against him? Why is Trump resorting to this controversial method that shocks us? Finally, and most importantly, what is the impact of Trump’s policies on our region?
There are several reasons behind the American media’s hatred toward Trump. Some of them are straightforward as they call him a shallow and ignorant TV star who boasts his wealth, hotels and marriages. He is someone who just wants to become the president and commander-in-chief, they say.
They compare Trump to great leaders like Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Roosevelt and then get furious because they cannot accept this reckless person, who cannot stop punching and cursing, as their next president.
This is understandable only if we have the luxury of going to the past and comparing it to the present. It seems this bad Arab habit has been transferred to the Americans. Hence we find many Americans – due to their hatred of Trump – turning into “political Salafists” and dreaming about a glorious past. It is also an elitist and arrogant attitude because the president must be a good orator, mobilizing the masses during crisis situations and making them laugh on light-hearted occasions.
When it comes to Trump’s Middle East policy in comparison to Hillary’s approach, Trump seems much betterMamdouh AlMuhaini
This point of view is theoretically true but can be misleading on the ground. The skills required to face the camera are personal and special and they do not make the person a captain and leader, or even an inspiring director of a small company. The most appropriate model for that is Professor Barack Obama. He flooded the world with eloquent speeches but did not follow up with action on the ground.
Role of the media
The US media turned President Nixon into a devil; they put him under lengthy investigation and made films and documentaries about him. However, this did not prevent him from becoming an extraordinary leader who changed the face of the world today.
As for why Trump is acting in this provocative manner, there are many reasons. Trump presents himself as a horse – or a bull if you like – a wild new horse that was not affected by politicians’ corruption in Washington. He refuses to be controlled and used for their interests. He represents a new persona that was not trained but yet can change the lack of action and break the inertia in the US capital and its politicians who have been corrupted by money and interests.
With this dynamic uncontrollable character, Trump has been able to break old traditions and touch the heart of the white middle class Americans that were forgotten, during the past eight years, when a black president was in power.
A white American friend once complained to me that white men do not appear in commercials involving black, Asian and Latin people and aiming to reflect the new social diversity. This is a minor complaint that hides the anger of the white people who felt marginalized, despite historically being a majority of the population.
This fear has a cultural side to it. Famous thinker Samuel Huntington wrote an oft-quoted article before his death, in which he warned about the Latin invasion of America. Huntington called for the imposition of conditions that would push the Latin community to be integrated into American society, including the need to learn English and believe in Protestant values, which has characterized the American spirit since the beginning.
It would be stupid to believe that Trump did not understand this predicament and did not know how to cleverly exploit it, even though his words make us laugh. Trump says these sentences includes special symbols and codes. When he said that he would imprison Hillary, he was not naïve; he wanted to say that he will help the weak and the marginalized and would waive the immunity of the corrupt political class, in order to ensure justice.
It is not surprising to see some of the audience cheering for these words, because they were able to understand the code immediately. When he underlines the idea of law and order, he reassures white people who are afraid of African-American protestors who take to the streets and burn shops and cars.
Trump has committed many bloopers when it comes to mass mobilization, but those who know him say that he is a different person off camera. The clear evidence of this is that he chose Mike Pence as his deputy, who is a quiet and serious person. How would a reckless and foolish man choose a sane person as his successor in case he died or anything happened to him?
Trump claims to be a devoted religious person but this seems to be a lie and no one is falling for it. He withdrew all his controversial talk about Muslims when he achieved his election objectives.
What is more important than the above-mentioned factors is Trump’s Middle East policy in comparison to Hillary’s approach. In the most important two areas, Trump seems much better than Hillary. He rejects the Iranian nuclear deal, which is strongly supported by Hillary, and strongly criticizes political Islam, which is also backed by the Democratic candidate (Clinton believes that the Muslim Brotherhood can tame the monster of terrorism and provide a new alternative that is more moderate).
Trump has threatened Iran in Syria and has repeatedly criticized the nuclear agreement, stressing that it is a failed agreement. He pointed out that the sanctions would have overwhelmed the regime in Tehran. He was right when he criticized political Islam saying that it was a source of terrorism. This is a valid point that we (Arabs) understand more than others do.
Another positive point is that Trump will be surrounded by wise Republican advisors. He is expected to be disciplined when dealing with reality, especially when it comes to controversial issues that cannot be practically applied. This includes his views on abandoning NATO or forcing the allies to pay. Hillary is an experienced politician but her point of view regarding the world is almost similar to Obama’s, except when it comes to Syria.
An emotional response will certainly make us favor Clinton over Trump because she looks more persuasive, elegant and wise. However, is we halt our psychological desire to admonish a famous and successful person, we will refrain from swallowing the bait that is set by the media in the US. If, due to our life experience, we do not believe what Obama says anymore – and we are right – why would we trust him when he insulted Trump and alarmed us about his policies? Would it not be logical to do just the opposite?
This article was first published on AlArabiya.net on Oct. 11, 2016.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain