As critics have said of Donald Trump, even a stopped watch is right twice a day. It is worth considering some of the ways in which this alarming President-elect is not wrong.

He is not wrong about the money that fuels American elections. Too much of it comes from interest groups that expect favourable treatment, or at least no unfavourable treatment when the public interest would demand otherwise. Much of Trump's appeal lay in the fact he was personally funding his campaign and presumably will owe nothing to the usual lobbies.

He is not wrong about the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq and not totally wrong about further engagement in the Middle East. He wants to work with Russia to defeat Islamic State (Isis) though there may not be much left of the Islamic State by the time he takes office in January. Then, he wants the US to have as little as possible to do with the sectarian tensions of the Islamic world.

He is not wrong about the drugs and crime coming across the Mexican border. Not even his supporters probably take literally his promise to "build a wall" but if he can seal the border more effectively in some way he will be doing no more than all US presidential candidates have promised to do.


He is wrong to weaken the Nato alliance by insisting US partners bear a greater cost of their defence. He will not doubt extend that principle to New Zealand and we might find it too onerous. It is ironic that just as we prepared for the visit this week of the first US warship to visit here since the nuclear ban was imposed, the next US President may have less interest in this part of the world.

President Obama's "pivot to Asia" will be a casualty of the change in Washington, as will the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements. New Zealand's hard work for the TPP will be shelved, unless Trump wants to put a new gloss on the agreement and call it his own.

But that is wishful thinking. His instincts are isolationist. He wants to keep American business and jobs in America and calls little for external trade. He seems unaware of today's international production chains and his tariffs and taxes would at best reduce economic activity in the world, at worst start a trade war.

He brings much to worry about but there could some bright sides.