In The Media

World leaders greet U.S.'s president-elect

by Marina Jimenez (feat. David Perry)

The Star
November 9, 2016

While western elites and politicians were numb with shock about Donald Trump’s unexpected victory, warmth for the U.S.’s president-elect overflowed elsewhere, including from North Korea, Cambodia and the Philippines.

In keeping with his outsider status, Trump’s most enthusiastic endorsements came from international outcasts, like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s anti-immigrant National Front, who declared the American people “free”.

Putin vowed he was ready to restore good relations with the U.S., adding “it is not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a state”.

In Mexico, the mood was sombre — former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda called the election result “an unmitigated disaster.”

“There are very few tools to fix the relationship,” Castaneda, a professor at New York University, told the New York Times.

Enrique Krauze, a Mexican historian, tweeted: “A civilized and democratic world will have to once again confront EVIL. Once again, with blood, sweat and tears, it will be defeated.”

During his campaign, Trump used Mexico as a whipping boy for concerns about free trade and undocumented immigrants, and threatened to force Mexico to pay for a wall on the Rio Grande.

“We’re in uncharted territory and should expect a setback in Mexican-American relations,” said Gonzalo Soto, with Reforma newspaper.

The peso fell to its lowest level in 22 years. The concern was such that the country’s economic policy-makers held a news conference to reassure investors their country is in “a strong position” to deal with any uncertainty.

President Enrique Pena Nieto struck a more conciliatory tone, tweeting “Mexico and the U.S. are friends, partners and allies that should continue to collaborate for the competitiveness and development of North America”.

Trump has vowed to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, and to pressure NATO allies — including Canada — to contribute significantly more to defence spending. He questions the value of allies in Asia, and has called on Japan and Korea to develop nuclear weapons to shoulder their own defence burden.

That may explain the jubilation Wednesday in China, which could emerge as an unchallenged power. “I highly value China-U.S. relations and am looking forward to working with you to expand co-operation in all fields,” said President Xi Jinping Wednesday in a message to Trump.

Pakistan’s president called the Trump victory “a triumph of the American people and their enduring faith in the ideals of democracy...”

President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ tough-talking leader, offered his “warm congratulations”.

Cuba, on the other hand, took the news hard, no doubt fearful Trump will reverse President Barack Obama’s push to re-establish diplomatic relations. Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces announced it would launch five days of military exercises to prepare troops to confront what the government calls “a range of enemy actions”.

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani urged Trump to stay committed to the nuclear accord which has led to the easing of sanctions.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a strained relationship with Obama, said he hoped to reach “new heights” in bilateral ties with Trump.

Analysts were loathe to predict whether Trump would carry out his many contentious pledges. “For a lot of analysts and pollsters, our frameworks have proven wrong. That makes it harder to predict Trump’s foreign policy,” noted Carlo Dade, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa, and director at the Canada West Foundation.

The president-elect may be tempered by advisers, as well as by other branches of government. However, there is no denying he has thrown the old world order on its head. “The possibility of him winning was looked at as a joke in many countries,” said David Perry, an analyst with Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “That means the U.S. will have less moral suasion and leadership in the world. His victory enhances and accelerates the trend of the American decline.”

Other friends and foes:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered Trump “close co-operation” on the basis of shared trans-Atlantic values that include respect for human dignity, regardless of people’s origin, gender or religion.

Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit movement in the U.K., predicted Trump’s triumph would bring a “massive result” for his own country.

President François Hollande said France wanted to begin talks with Trump to clarify his stance on international affairs. “This American election opens a period of uncertainty.”

South Korea expressed hope that Trump would maintain the U.S. policy of pressuring North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests.

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