This week, Donald Trump has instigated big changes to the United States, and it’s emerged that the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, is eager to renew the “special relationship” between the nations. Post-Brexit, she’s keen to get a special trade deal with the USA, and on Friday she’s expected to make nice with Trump, saying: "As we rediscover our confidence together – as you renew your nation just as we renew ours – we have the opportunity, indeed the responsibility, to renew the special relationship for this new age."
MPs have expressed their concern over May meeting Trump in light of his actions over the last week, but the prime minister batted away the criticism. Her spokeswoman said: “There are going to be issues where we differ on approach and view with President Trump. The benefits of a close, effective relationship is we will be able to raise these directly and frankly with the president.”
So what exactly has Donald Trump been up to this week, and what can Theresa May, or indeed any of us, do about it?
This is the one that will affect Britain most directly. Many believe that May’s hope for a good deal with Trump is optimistic, as in his inauguration speech he pledged that it’s going to be “America first” and in this first week he’s put a big emphasis on American jobs. Trump’s all-American plan has even involved a directive for all pipes installed or repaired in the USA to be done with American-made steel. The Labour Party has warned May against giving Trump a “blank cheque”, but what happens remains to be seen. His protectionist stance might be at odds with what post-Brexit Britain needs, but the prime minister is clearly remaining optimistic.
Women’s reproductive rights in the USA are used as part of a game of political ping-pong between the Democratic and Republican parties. So eight years after it was reversed by Barack Obama, Trump reinstated the Global Gag rule. This blocks US aid going to any non-governmental organisation that “promotes” abortion. Women’s campaigners saw this as “revenge” for the women’s marches, but ever since the rule was introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1984, it’s been enforced by Republican presidents and rescinded by Democrats. Women are worried about what will happen to reproductive health organisation Planned Parenthood, but it will be tricky for the Republicans to get rid of it.
Just two days into his presidency, Trump signed two orders to expedite the construction of two controversial pipelines: the Keystone XL and Dakota Access. The Keystone would run from Canada to the US Gulf Coast, but construction was halted by Obama after environmental concerns. The Dakota Access was suspended after massive protests from environmental campaigners and Native American groups, who say the land it would run through was stolen from them in the 1800s, and that the route could contaminate drinking water and disturb scared burial sites. But, hey, not Donald Trump’s problem, apparently!
Trump gave an interview to ABC News in which he refused to let go of the conversation around the relatively small size of the crowd at his inauguration. But the headline of the wide-ranging conversation was that Trump believes waterboarding “works”. Trump said he relies on his defence secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who think that “yes, absolutely” torture works when interrogating suspects. “When Isis is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times. Would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I’m concerned we have to fight fire with fire,” Trump added.
This has been the area in which Trump has made the most headway. He’s already signed a pair of executive orders concerning Mexico. One for the notorious “contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier" and the other pledging to withdraw money from “sanctuary cities” which refuse to deport undocumented immigrants.
Vicente Fox Quesada, the former president of Mexico – the actual former president of Mexico – addressed Trump’s press secretary when he tweeted: “Sean Spicer, I've said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I'll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall. #FuckingWall”. This may well signal a new low for diplomacy.
Today, Trump is also expected to sign an executive order for visa restrictions for people from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Somalia. This is interpreted as a softer version of the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and is said to be to stop terrorism. This has been met with horror from many, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who tweeted: “I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity”.
As Senator Elizabeth Warren put it: “Why not just declare January 25th as the Trump Administration's First Anti-Immigrant Day?” Which brings us on to…
If there’s one thing Trump loves than grabbing “beautiful women” by the vulva, it’s patriotism. In his inauguration speech he said: “Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.” According to a document published by the Federal Register, January 20 will be the National Day of Patriotic Devotion.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT THIS
If you’re unhappy about any or all of this, there are things you can do:
Donate to Planned Parenthood here.
Support our sisters in Ireland and Northern Ireland who cannot safely or legally access abortion at home.
To support the human rights of undocumented migrants in the USA, check out Amnesty’s work.
To help refugees in the UK, this website has a load of great resources.
Consider whether your day-to-day choices are worsening climate change.
Follow the Women’s March organizers, who are taking action for women every day to protest Trump’s first 100 days in office.