Facing up to the reasons Donald Trump was elected | Letters

Readers respond to the arrival of President Donald Trump in Britain

I don’t always agree with Owen Jones but I applaud his forensic piece on Trumpism and the rise of the far right down to the last comma (Protest against what Trump represents, not who he is, 12 July). But the fightback he urges is unlikely to succeed unless we face squarely up to the reasons for this growing horror. Though these are various and complex, the central and inescapable one is that hundreds of millions of Europeans, however wrongly, feel their identities and livelihoods threatened by large-scale immigration, especially by peoples from cultures with which they feel little empathy.

What might seem to the average Guardian reader as not just socially and economically beneficial but morally right, simply does not feel that way to those who believe their justifiable concerns have been ignored by those who govern them. If we really believe in democracy, we should acknowledge that this refusal to listen was a catastrophic error, of which Trump and Brexit are only two of the very nasty chickens now coming home to roost.
Alan Clark

• The Guardian, along with all neoliberal western political leaders and commentators, berates President Trump for his single-minded pursuit of his own corporate version of US self-interest (To do business, Mr Trump, you need a rules-based order that can be policed,11 July). But it is the neoliberal global capitalist focus on amassing private wealth and power at the expense of ordinary people – and the environment – that has led to this new world order, in which nationalist politicians seek to create their own protected communities behind militarily barricaded national boundaries.

The old neoliberalism of the Clintons, Obama, Merkel and Macron, with their political, economic, trade and military alliances and manipulation of democratic political institutions within a growing world economy, has had its day. We should at least give Trump credit for recognising this. But where do we go from here?

The only alternative, in a world facing ecological catastrophe, is to establish a “stable state” no-growth economy within an egalitarian socialist society, where the goal of quality of life replaces that of selfish individualist material prosperity. No socialist political party acknowledges this reality, let alone dares to promote such a solution to people, even though the very survival of humanity is now at stake. Instead, the best that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell can offer is the “creative economics” double whammy of yet more growth based on the inflationary expansion of national debt.
Hedley Taylor

• President Trump wants other Nato partners to raise their defence spending to the level of the US (at present 3.5% of GDP, or, as he claims, 4%). The lower level this side of the Atlantic is decried by him as European freeloading. That is misleading. The US maintains a strategic presence in many other parts of the world as well, from the Pacific to the Middle East, and its entire economy is heavily involved in research and development commissioned to US companies. Unlike most continental European member states, the US allocates only a fraction of its defence expenditure specifically to Nato. My hunch is that the actual US contribution to Nato (in GDP percentage) may fall short of many European ones.
Prof Joep Leerssen
University of Amsterdam

• The Trump tirade against European leaders, apart from being expected and boorish, is quite clearly driven by his war weapons lobby. Europe is not spending enough on US manufactured weapons and war machine. Since the first world war, the US has grown spectacularly powerful on the back of war loans and weapons sales and by entering wars only after the protagonists are on their knees and having made huge profits on weapons sales first. The pattern is clear. Create a threat and arm neighbouring countries up to the hilt with US weapons. Good examples are Japan, Korea and Saudi Arabia as well as the European Nato countries. There are plenty more.
David Reynolds

• The obvious response to the question “Why do other Nato countries spend so little on defence?” is “Why does America spend so much?” Does it really need such huge military bases abroad and a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines when life expectancy rates are so low back home? Why would Nato countries want to reduce social security expenditure down to US levels?
Dr Richard Turner
Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

• Tomorrow is my 90th birthday. The worst birthday present I could conceive of receiving is the visit of Donald Trump. Since 1945, the president of the US has been the most powerful individual in the world, whose decisions can affect the lives of every man, woman and child on earth, literally in the case of nuclear weapons. Trump is totally unfit to hold that position, and every democratic leader should be telling him so.

My ageing legs and knees are not up to hours of marching and standing, so I am not able to give him that message in person. But my friends who are demonstrating will know that I am with them in spirit. I will actually be celebrating my birthday on the 14th: Bastille Day; much more appropriate.
Frank Jackson
Former co-chair, World Disarmament Campaign

• When Emperor Hirohito of Japan visited in 1971, many of those who survived barbaric treatment during the second world war decided to line the streets as he came by in his carriage, and, as he passed, turned their backs on him. I suggest the same treatment for Trump.
Christopher Frew

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