We have been a bit quiet the first days of this new year. Waiting for the storm maybe? In my last editorial I mentioned 2016 has been a year with strong currents. Many didn’t make it. But many others did. Can we say we arrived on solid ground or are we about to discover we are standing on quicksand. Only time will tell, all though there are some indications that can give us an idea of where some things are going.
So let’s talk about the Times Person of the Year 2016. Mister Donald Trump. We can like it or not, there is no escaping of the fact Trump has made an ineffaceable impression last year, and will without doubt keep doing that in the time to come. In about two weeks this man will officially become the next President of the United States and the world is still wondering what his real political agenda will look like. But we know one thing already. “The Great Wall” sits high on Trumps priority list. What is however not a priority for the President-Elect is a healthy relationship with the United States Intelligence Service. Soon to be his Intelligence Service.
Let’s start with the latter: one of the thing that brought Donald Trump in the news over the past days – and let’s face it, bringing it in the news is mostly driven by Trumps unstoppable need to make himself heard by childish tweets - is his blunt refusal to show any confidence in his own Intelligence Service. Has there or has there not been Russian influence on the American Elections and should the people of America not have the right to have answers before the President-Elect takes his seat in the Oval Office? There has been much discussion about this topic and US Intelligence seems to have some information that Trump chooses to dismiss as worthless and claims they should focus on cyber attacks coming from China. Indeed, that same China where Trump buys metal to build his towers. There seems to be a lot of smoke here, and you know what they say about smoke. Where there is some, there should be fire.
What about “The Great Wall”. Another smoke curtain to distract from more important things? Donald Trump said, in his very Donald Trump manner: “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively." (probably with cheap imported Chinese material but he didn’t say that). If we just put aside the fact that the mere idea of this project is probably the biggest example of arrogance and an unacceptable humiliation to the people of Mexico, let’s look at some facts: the construction of such a wall will take approximately 16 years - obviously far longer than the initiator will stay in office - and cost roughly between $8 and $12 billion. A number as vague as any of Trumps other political ideas. By the way, this doesn't include surveillance and maintenance, which is good for another $2,1 billion.... by year... Mister Trump has decided the construction should start ASAP which means the USA will finance the complete project. At first. Of course Mexico is going to pay the total costs back. Trump has confidence in that. Which makes totally sense. Why build a wall in the first place, right? Further more, Trump is worth over 10 billion dollars (so he says) and since he never released his tax returns, as every Presidential candidate should do, we should anticipate he never paid taxes. Add to that that the secret service is renting two whole floors in Trump Tower to guarantee the safety for the next First Family, for $1,5 million by floor by year, which is paid to – indeed – Trump, I say he could probably pay for his wall himself. Because let’s be honest here: this wall has nothing to do with Mexico, but everything with Trumps insatiable need to establish himself and earn his place in human history. And most likely to outshine (yes) the Chinese. Though there he made a small calculation error. The Mexican Wall will only be about 2,000 miles long, not even half as long as the Great Wall of China. It is probably this kind of calculation that made him decide to not reveal his financial situation to begin with.
You notice with all of the issues around the world, and in his own country, of dire importance that need to be addressed, Donald Trump can only focus on a fence. Doesn't that give you some perspective of his intellectual capabilities? We might think that by ending 2016 we have safely stepped on solid ground, but let’s not ignore the warning signs. Before you know it we are sucked in so far we won’t be able to escape anymore. –BM-
Cover photography by Jarrod Carter, featuring Stephane Marti.
PS: previously announced articles that have not been published will follow shortly.