It is usual in all healthy democracies for the winner of an election to say something like, "It is now time to recognise we have more that unites us than divides is." And fortunately it is true. The shared commitment to the country and the health, aspirations and prosperity of all its citizens is the common purpose of all who stand for its highest office. Donald Trump is no exception. Many might disagree with his prescriptions for making America "great, again" but few would doubt his purpose.

Those who do should put the doubts aside until they see what he does. Every new President of the United States has the right to start with a clean slate and the good will of opponents and critics. The outgoing President said as much to Americans in his farewell speech last weekend. If Barrack Obama can put aside all the personal and political slights he has received from Trump and wish him well, surely anyone can.

The new President is doing his utmost to strike unifying notes in his inaugural address this morning. But unity is never one-way. Opponents and critics need to adopt an open mind to his proposals, looking for the good in them or at least making the best of them if they can. They might as well, the President leads the executive branch of the US Government for the next four years.

This one has both houses of Congress controlled by his party and the opportunity to make a pivotal appointment to the Supreme Court. The policies and decisions of Donald Trump are going to govern the most powerful nation in the world for the next few years and all countries must come to terms with him.


His geopolitical plans are deeply disturbing but not entirely wrong. He calls Nato "obsolete" in the sense that it still antagonises Russia, which it does. If he gets along as well as he expects with Vladimir Putin, the reasons for Nato's vigilance might be reduced. Putin, like Trump, wants to make his country "great, again". If their rapport satisfies Putin's need, the Baltic States and even Ukraine might feel their continued independence more assured.

Trump talks of building up US military might but he is also less interested in deploying it anywhere unless US security is directly threatened. If he engages with the Middle East at all it will be to attempt to solve the Arab-Israeli impasse, and he gave indications in the early Republican primary debates that he may be less sympathetic to Israel than any President of recent times.

But it is in the fields of trade and climate change that the world will first notice the loss of US leadership. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will be an early casualty, as well the Paris agreement on climate change. For progress on both fronts the world might look to China. It signed on to carbon emissions reduction targets at Paris and, excluded from the TPP, it has already joined other Asia and Pacific countries in talks on a comprehensive trade pact.

The President of world's largest economy plans to renegotiate trade deals to be more heavily in its favour, and punish American firms that have part of their production chain offshore. Rising stock markets suggest investors think this bodes well for America. At least they at least are giving their new President the benefit of the doubt.