Will Trump’s cabinet be able to offer him the required guidance?

What Arabic journalists are saying about the Trump presidency

Donald Trump’s election has been seen as a move towards the unknown. Evan Vucci / AP Photo
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On November 9, we woke up to a different world with the news of the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Mr Trump’s election has been seen as a move towards the unknown, largely ­because of the outlandish views he expressed during his campaign.

“A month before officially taking office, Mr Trump is seeking to cast aside the growing concerns of the people amid talk of the mess that surrounds his secret endeavour to fill his cabinet,” wrote the Lebanese columnist Rajeh Al Khoury, in the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Al Khoury said Mr Trump sought to overcome a host of obstacles and complications that stand in the way of forming his cabinet and the appointment of 4,000 federal staff.

“A close look at Mr Trump’s tweets and at the statements of his adviser, Kellyanne Conway, in particular, reveal that he is gradually going back on his disturbing standpoints in a clear attempt to gain acceptance among his opponents – albeit without losing his followers,” Al Khoury wrote.

“For example, Ms Conway declared on Wednesday that the president-elect does not intend to sue Hillary Clinton, although he had threatened during his campaign to throw her in prison in connection with the scandal over her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.”

The writer added that Ms Conway had circulated a two-and-a-half-minute video of the president-elect talking about his plans for his first 100 days in office.

“Mr Trump backed down on all his previous threats, from building a wall along the US-Mexican border to deporting illegal immigrants and annulling Obamacare, which he now intends to amend instead,” Al Khoury wrote.

This moment in America’s foreign relations, according to the writer, is reminiscent of another not-so-distant one.

“At the end of Bill Clinton’s second term in 2000 – following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the United States’ economic progress under Mr Clinton’s administration – the world saw America as the only country in the world that possessed all the elements of a superpower,” he wrote.

Writing in the London-based pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat, Al Sayed Amin Shalaby wondered about the relationship between Mr Trump and other nations.

“The question was how the world should deal with such a power, and it was reiterated with the election of the Republican candidate George W Bush, who was controlled by a group of neoconservatives that had been calling for the ‘American century’ since the 1990s,” he said.

Shalaby noted that the neoconservatives had succeeded in infiltrating the administration and gaining power following the events of September 11, 2001. After this, Mr Bush adopted an isolationist strategy, waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without heeding the advice of his allies, and launched several regime-change projects.

“This led American intellectuals to talk about taming American power in an effort to direct its behaviour rather than oppose it.”

The writer said this process would depend upon the individuals Mr Trump inducts into his cabinet, especially in the departments of state and defence, the CIA, the White House National Security Council and his various advisers.

“If Mr Trump fills his cabinet with hardliners who adopt the ideas he had voiced during his campaign, especially in relation to America’s foreign relations, then the taming process will prove to be difficult.

“However, people with experience in the matters of the world and acquainted with America’s complicated experience in the past couple of decades might help tame Mr Trump and direct his decisions,” the writer concluded.