One of the gibes thrown at Trump during the election campaign was that someone who can’t be trusted with a Twitter account can’t be trusted with the USA’s nuclear arsenal. (Oh dear, I did it again. Talking about Trump when I said that my last post was going to be the last time talking about the US election. Oh well, this piece isn’t actually about the election – so I’m not really breaking my word.) Anyway, now that Trump has been elected, many are worried that all the doomsday predictions about his presidency will be proved right and that he’ll lead the USA down the drain. If you are one of those people, never fear! The good people at Salon.com are here to tell you that the USA has some fundamental things going for it which mean that “Trump will not destroy America”. (If this is seriously the standard people are setting for Trump, then I think that he’s going to exceed expectations!) 

So what are these fundamentals that not even Sata…I mean, Trump cannot affect? Put simply, according to Ryan Bohl, Trump “must play by the rules” and to undermine the USA’s superpower status he must lose several pillars that hold up American power and he’d have to allow another power to replace it. That is not easy to do in four, or eight, years in office. For a start, the USA has a geographic advantage: it enjoys ample and easy access to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; it has a good and long farming season and its river system facilitates internal trade and agriculture. It also has only two land neighbours to worry about (and one will have a wall blocking it off soon anyway…) These geographic advantages are lacking mainly in the nearest two rivals to the USA: Russia and China. Neither power has good access to the Atlantic and they are bordered by at least 14 land neighbours at any one time. This geographic advantage will not be lost by Trump, unless California secedes or something… 

This geographic heartland is home to a huge and relatively young population. Russia is not yet recovered from a post-1991 geographic decline while China’s demographic problems are numerous and its population is ageing. Again, this advantage will not be undermined by Trump unless he breeds some sort of super virus and accidentally unleashes it from his lab in New York city. 

Finally, these geographic and demographic strengths allow the USA to develop influence throughout the world. Now, this pillar of American power is easiest to lose, but again a lot would have to happen on Trump’s watch for this to happen. Perhaps NATO could collapse (or the EU), the Pacific alliance network could crumble, the US ties to the Gulf States could weaken, the US could cut Israel adrift and its influence in Latin America could wane. But all of these things happening? Under one man? Unlikely. Besides, again it’s not as if America’s competitors for title of top-dog, China or Russia, are any better in deploying influence through soft power or alliances. Both in fact have done a great job of stirring their neighbours against them. As Bohl states, all presidents have a lot of leeway in dealing with American power abroad and some have squandered it. But “America has long been able to afford this: It’s geographic and demographic strengths allow mistakes others can’t afford.” So perhaps all those worried should all relax about a Trump presidency, and sit back and dream of Chelsea Clinton’s bid in 2020 or 2024…

Marcus Roberts

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...