By Davide Caocci,
Professor at Universidad Austral’s School of Government, Politics and International Relations

What many viewed as unthinkable finally happened. U.S. voters elected Donald Trump as their nation’s 45th President.

This election’s outcome corroborates the widespread rejection for traditional politics and professional politicians across all latitudes –in North and Latin America and in Europe, as well.

However, at this early stage, it would be wise to exercise some caution before anticipating the policies to be adopted by the new President elect.

First, campaign speeches are one thing, and daily government decisions are quite another. Trump’s campaign was a non-stop show, but the next four years will prove an ongoing challenge. Second, we need to consider the dynamics and coincidences among specific interests, in addition to conditions influencing potential actions: pressure groups are many, and the interests they represent are very significant. Third, the new president elect has no political experience, and the United States is still one of the world’s most powerful countries. Any government act requires competence, intelligence, and pragmatism; any act of government is the result of multidisciplinary team work. The people chosen by Trump to service him as technical advisors will prove key.

In any case, some predictions can be made. The new U.S. administration is likely to adopt an isolationist rhetoric, following the “America first” slogan and obsessively protecting the nation’s interests. Yet, Trump is a businessman, and he knows the actual state of global markets only too well, as well as the central role played by his country in them. He knows that currently no one can close the doors on international trade flows –least of all, the United States.

Additionally, a new approach to the U.S. agreements with Mexico and Canada, its NAFTA partners, seems likely, as well as the opening of a new debate with its long-time allies, the European Union and the United Kingdom, to revisit bilateral relations. It is harder to foresee what will happen with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), whose agreement will have to be ratified by February, or with China, the country that still owns half of Washington’s external debt and is the U.S. sole true existing competitor.

If economic issues are sensitive, foreign policy ones are dreadful: Trump announced that, from now on, NATO allies will have to pay for the military protection provided by the U.S., and the U.S. armed forces’ will have a more defensive than offensive stance.

Russia and Syria are two very delicate settings where the new U.S. president will have to make some choices, particularly on account of his alleged “friendship” with Putin and his suspected business ties to companies close to the Kremlin.

As regards Syria, Trump stated in several occasions the need to find a solution that takes the status quo into account, with Assad as president, the country’s borders with Iraq, a joint effort to fight ISIS terrorists, a strategic alliance with Moscow to gradually withdraw from the region.

Thus far, the president elect’s personality has proven rather prone to oversimplifying matters, lacking in-depth analysis. For Trump, the Mediterranean, Asia, Sub-Sahara Africa, and Latin America are bundled together, ranking very low in his agenda –or so it seems.

Nonetheless, Donald Trump is far too smart to underestimate how heavily these regions weigh in global balance, and he is too proud to stand on the sidelines in these areas.

In a nutshell, amidst the understandable uncertainty and concern that spreads across the United States after this election, everyone –including analysts specializing in international affairs, governments, investors, and U.S. citizens at large– needs Trump to assume his role as president, casting aside the campaign character that he embodied for the past eighteen months. Without a doubt, he will provide some interesting surprises.

Universidad Austral ranks among the world’s top universities under 50 and Latin America’s most renowned universities at the QS World University Rankings.