The dust has settled on the Presidential election. Peoples and governments everywhere have accepted the reality that a controversial personality has been elected to the highest political office in the world.There is muted hope, indeed rejoicing, among those American citizens who have hitherto felt woefully disenfranchised, that their concerns will soon be addressed. Millions, however, are fearful their country will inevitably slide into an abyss, with stagnation and disenchantment at home and a poor image abroad. This is not what the Forefathers envisioned when they arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 and settled in Plymouth, Mass., seeking a more abundant life with religious freedom.
Today, the USA stands at the international crossroads, drawn into wars over which it has no control, and confronted with humanitarian disasters of unprecedented magnitude, for which it can offer no viable solution. Ironically, America has brought many of these situations upon itself, with its flawed foreign policies, abetted by Western allies. Now, as the saying goes, “ the chickens have come home to roost.”
First and foremost, Mr Trump, you must establish a clear vision of what type of Presidency you want to establish and defend.This means, of course, that you build a coterie of highly respected, wise and seasoned advisors of the right mix so that you can govern effectively. Homeland security will naturally take precedence over all else, with the welfare of all Americans a close second. In doing so, you must guard against unraveling all the good that President Obama accomplished during his eight years in office. Rather, it behooves you to build on them and if there are perceived flaws in their make-up, to strive to correct them based on evidence and prudence. I refer to the Iran Nuclear Deal, the Transatlantic Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obamacare, the NATO alliance, and the recent Climate Accord. Your entrepreneurial background has made you a past master at deal-making. You can use that skill, both at home and abroad, to quietly seek diplomatic solutions. For deal making i.e. honest brokering, is an art form and the bedrock of diplomacy, whereby all parties to a conflict emerge satisfied with the end result rather than as victor or vanquished.
Second, I share some thoughts on immigration reform, immigrants and minority communities. During your campaign, you made hurtful comments about minority communities, including women and non-white peoples. You spoke of building walls to protect against Mexican border crossers, expelling undocumented aliens, and disallowing asylum seekers and all Muslims from landing on American soil. If you were to implement your then-avowed positions, you will be putting America to great shame. Needless to remind, the Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island in New York, has this verse enshrined in its pedestal:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Mr. Trump, America is a mighty nation, precisely because Lady Liberty welcomed immigrants of all colors, castes, creeds and races, who in turn pledged loyalty and commitment to their new homeland. They serve in high office in the Armed Forces, the Government, as research scientists, in the professions as well as in the Arts and Humanities. They also serve as carpenters, bakers and candlestick makers, and what are deemed the lowliest of jobs. They have built America.
For many, the American dream remains to be realized. For undocumented aliens, who have grown their families in hopes of realizing their own American dream, their expulsion would be both punitive and unconscionable. Thankfully, your modified stance since, is to provide for careful vetting of undocumented aliens before considering their expulsion, and enforcing a sounder, pragmatic and expeditious approach to reviewing asylum applications from new arrivals. This will assuage any fear of violence or hatred on the part of the American public.
Third, as a Muslim myself, I speak for the millions of disenfranchised Muslims, victims of xenophobic Islamophobia, a result of the meteoric rise of militant Islam, with their brand of Wahabist and Salafist, puritanical ideology. In their determination to establish an Islamic Caliphate, they have bombed villages and towns, ravaged families and killed untold thousands of innocent civilians.These militants represent only the minutest fraction of the more than one billion pious, God-fearing and peace-loving Muslims around the world. That Islamophobia exists in the West to such an intolerable degree demonstrates the frightful level of pervasive ignorance of the Islamic faith and its values of tolerance and social justice. The misconceptions must change and civil society encouraged to play its role. Neighbouring Canada understands this only too well and has successfully pursued a policy of multiculturalism that allows all its citizens to live in mutual peace, and harmony.
The richness and beauty of Islam was well underlined by President Obama in his widely-acclaimed speech in Cairo, upon first assuming the Presidency, and his message merits reiteration to a wider audience.: “As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial
Finally, an urgent reminder of the pressing need to resolve a ticking time bomb situation in the Middle East i.e. the already long-protracted search for a durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Successive US Presidents have failed to resolve the conflict. If you, Mr. Trump, can strike the right deal to resolve the conflict (illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, continuing Israeli settlement construction, the question of Palestinian autonomy through a two-state solution), it will certainly have far-reaching implications for overall peace in the Middle East and throughout the Islamic world.
Mr. Trump, your vision of a mighty America, must encompass a commitment to make the whole world a safer, gentler place to live in, for all Americans and for all humanity, indeed all God’s creation. One hopes you will strive to realize this vision, as far as possible, not with the use of force or bluster, military might or sophisticated weaponry, but by wielding torches of peace to quell conflicts and differences with empathy, moral courage and solid commitment to peace.
Iqbal Alimohamed is a Canadian citizen of British India origin. He is a former international banker and senior UN diplomat, and have worked in some 17 countries