Can a Rambling Democracy Denier and Sex Offender Ensure Our Freedom?

Donald Trump
Is this the man that will ensure freedom and democracy? (Archive photo: Gage Skidmore)

(Commentary) Imagine a head of state who believes Vladimir Putin to be intelligent, who refuses to support Ukraine, and who does not believe in democracy as a form of governance, in addition to having to pay NOK 50 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Imagine that same head of state as our most important ally in the event of a Russian military attack on Norway and Sweden.

Dystopian Netflix film

This is not the outline of a dystopian Netflix film, but reality as it appears at the moment.

A rambling Donald Trump, first as a sexual predator, then in free expression on a stage under the auspices of the American TV channel CNN, followed by opinion polls declaring him a clear presidential candidate.

Western democracies are currently re-organizing their defense budgets in order to face an increasingly bloody and aggressive Russia.

A security policy spring cleaning is also taking place in Norway and Sweden after what can be described as a dramatic decline over a long period of time.

The defense commission is not blind to the red flags.

Just a short while ago, the Norwegian Expert Commission on Norwegian Security and Defence Policy presented a crushing report. An extensive solution for our defense policy challenges is, if possible, even closer ties to American security policy.

Deeper cooperation

The commission wants a strengthened, or deepened, as the report states, cooperation with the US. This happens after Norway has already moved several steps in that direction, steps that have changed the Norwegian base policy.

The commission wrote its report at a time in which Donald Trump's return to the presidency might have been unthinkable. That time has passed. Therefore, the defense commission is putting our fate in the hands of a head of state who does not believe in democracy and who is unable to distance himself from Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine.

That does not mean that the defense commission is blind to the red flags of the US moving away from democratic governance.  But where the report presents hypotheses of what might happen, Donald Trump is climbing opinion polls and proving that the improbable is the most probable. 

Great significance

It also proves that it has great significance for Norway and other allies, or as the report states:

"The US' domestic political development is important to Norwegian and international security."

Then follows a description of polarization and deep division within the US and even a specific reference to how "the American withdrawal was especially clear under the Trump administration". In plain words, the commission writes that "continued polarization within American politics can, however, provide faster and more unpredictable shifts in the US foreign policy in the years to come."

That is a debate that Norway must also take seriously.

In one of its many conclusions, the commission writes that the US could, in the worst case, "abandon Europe and direct most of its attention toward China."

For then in the next turn, to nevertheless conclude that the US will "maintain its presence here [Europe, ed.note] and act to ensure these interests when necessary."

Sweden goes further

Similar investigative work is currently taking place in Sweden as well, which is on its way into NATO. In addition to the same analyses as the Norwegian commission, the Swedish Armed Forces point to red flags such as economic inequality and poverty, mistrust of the state, health crises, and extreme weather. All this, writes the Swedish Armed Forces in a perspective study, will affect the US security policy priorities. 

In what is called the Swedish Armed Forces' "basis for the next defense policy orientation decision" it is stated that:

"Given the strong party polarization, Sweden should prepare for a volatile and very unpredictable American foreign and security policy, in which unilateralism, short-termism, and transactionalism risk becoming prominent features."

Where the Norwegian defense commission settles for describing the US red flags, Sweden is more confrontational and infers that it must have consequences for Swedish foreign policy.

That is a debate that Norway must also take seriously.

Donald Trump's praise of Vladimir Putin and lack of support for Ukraine are signs clear enough that we must dare confront our almost blind trust in the US being a predictable ally in the future.

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This commentary was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.