People all around the world, including high-ranking government officials, have been attentively watching the happenings in the US presidential campaign – and following the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential candidate and Donald Trump as the Republican’s the possibility of a Trump presidency has become all to real. In this article The World Uncensored will highlight some of the possible consequences of “president Trump” for Austria.
Austria, or as it is formally known the Republic of Austria, has a history highly influenced and dependent on the United States. Originally a part of the German Third Reich under Adolf Hitler since it was annexed in 1938 it was split up into zones occupied by the allied forces after the Second World War just like Germany. The country formally became independent again in 1955 with the signature of the independence treaty of the Republic of Austria. The US significantly contributed to Austria rebuilding its destroyed cities and economy, as well as its military. A large part of this help was brought to the country through the so-called “Martial Plan”. It was not out of goodwill that the US helped Austria – it was strategically important both for the US and the Soviet Union to have a “barrier” of neutral countries between northern and southern Europe, and it was even better that this barrier had mountains in it. Austria is, by constitution, a neutral country and not a member of any military alliances, although it has decided to become a member state of the European Union. The European Union, in turn, has close ties with the United States. Austria itself has a trade volume of 15,727,900,000 USD annually with the US.
Austria’s chancellor, Christian Kern, has showed himself concerned with the possibility of a Trump presidency. During a meeting with Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, Kern opposed Hungary’s decision to make it practically impossible for refugees to apply for asylum in the nation, and Orban’s support for Trump. Regarding the “lessons that can be learned” from Trump, our chancellor said: “I am sure that there is only one thing that we can learn from him: that a man should never dye his hair.”
Donald Trump’s promises to “build a wall” and to make “Mexico pay for it” are unrealistic, and Mexico’s government has unsurprisingly announced that their country would surely not “pay for it”. Trump announced that he would use the trade deficit of roughly 58,000,000,000 USD between the US and Mexico to “make Mexico pay” – a plan that, because it is impossible to force Mexico to import more from the United States and a cut of the US’ exports to its southern neighbor would cause significant problems for the US itself – is impossible to be achieved. Illegal immigration and imports over the Mexican-US border is a problem, yet building a costly and likely not highly effective “wall” at the border, as is Trumps supposed plan, is not the solution to it. Much rather should the existing capabilities be used fully, the process for immigration in the US made simpler and crime be fought in cooperation with the nations in which it originates, such as Mexico and other Latin American nations.
Further, Trump has vowed to deport entire population groups out of the United States – not only illegal immigrants, but also “all Muslims”. This is a clear violation of the International Convention of Human Rights, which has also been signed and ratified by the USA as well as Austria. Austria has itself been affected by a surge of migration over the past few years, peaking in 2015. And although measures such as border controls have been taken, all people have the right to request asylum by the Republic of Austria under the “Asylgesetz”, the law for asylum and the Austrian government is working in cooperation with the European Union and its member states as well as non-EU countries affected by the so-called “migrant crisis” to solve problems such as distribution of refugees and security concerns and to prevent tensions and conflict between nations. It is to be noted that this, however, may change with the upcoming repeat of the presidential election – current surveys show that the far-right wing candidate Norbert Hofer of the populist Freedom Party of Austria, FPÖ, is leading narrowly in front of his liberal contestant Alexander Van der Bellen.
Trump has also announced to make immigration and entry into the United States more complicated – a notion that Austria, as a member of the Schengen agreement – is likely highly opposed to.
The US Republican presidential candidate has also announced to “ramp up the fight against terror”, saying that he would “re-introduce waterboarding” and also methods “much worse than waterboarding”. This would, again, be a violation of the UN’s Human Rights Charter. Europe has increasingly turned into a target for terror attacks by terrorist organizations such as the self-proclaimed “Islamic State (IS)”, which has led to some European countries to participate in military operations in the Middle East. Austria is by constitution neutral and will therefore also remain neutral in this case. Although international cooperation of security forces has been announced by the government the main focus to combat terrorism is effective counter-terrorism by the Republic’s security forces – the Police and the Military – with good collaboration, necessary funding and up-to-date equipment and tactics.
Donald Trump’s ambitions to relocate American businesses’ production lines from abroad back into the country as well as his plan to heavily tax products going into the United States would not only cause the United States’ economy to face significant complications and ultimately fail, but would also very negatively impact international trading with organizations such as the EU and individual nations like Austria. As said above, the annual bilateral trade volume of Austria and the USA is 15,727,900,000 USD and the United States is one of Austria’s most important trade partners – a significant decrease in the number of goods imported by the US from Austria would put a big strain on the Republic of Austria’s economy while a lack of goods exported from the US may cause shortages for some goods. Austria would then turn to other countries, such as Russia, where over 60% of Austria’s natural gas comes from already.
Although Donald Trump would not be able to enforce all his promised policies due to disapproval inside the Republican party and having to work together with the (mostly Republican) senate, a Trump presidency would lead to unfavorable consequences for Austria and the European Union, and would result in both turning away from the US and more towards other nations, such as Russia, in an attempt to soften the impacts of the policies issued by the would-be president of the world’s most powerful country.