Trump – Summits

Filed in Perspectives by on 23rd July 2018 0 Comments

It’s almost impossible not to have an opinion about Donald Trump. Those who elected him think they made the right choice, and with exceptions, tend to overlook his unorthodox approach to politics. Those who didn’t vote for him are dismayed at his ignorance, his attacks on immigrants, his disdain for women, diplomacy and international accords, and how he treats his allies. They are also dismayed at his praise of authoritarian leaders such as Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.  In America’s heartland where voters see him as the man who will bring back jobs and prosperity, Trump is a hero. Elsewhere, Trump is described by such words as ignorant, clinically insane, uninformed, a bull in a china shop, inept, isolationist and treasonous.

Foreign relations in shambles 

Trump has polarised domestic politics, seriously tarnished the reputation of the United States, and left foreign relations in shambles, all of which is highly disconcerting for millions of Americans. This has led to an almost palpable sense of dread for the billions of people who live in various countries outside the US. This summer Trump has met with Kim Jong-Un, the leaders of the G7, NATO, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Trump’s deference to Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin was in stark contrast to his public disdain for Canada’s Justin Trudeau, England’s Theresa May and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

In a matter of months, Trump has initiated trade wars with China, Europe, Mexico and Canada, while publicly praising Kim and Putin. Viewers around the world also saw Trump’s egotistical need to be adored and his love of lavish ceremony. However, in such a high-stakes game as international politics, should we not expect more substance? Especially since Kim and Putin both lead countries that developed nuclear weapons. And that was because US actions led them to fear attack from the United States.

In Singapore Trump and Kim agreed to pursue de-nuclearisation, though Trump seems to have forgotten that means no nukes for all countries. Wishful thinking at best!  What’s too often missing in our 24-hour news cycle is context. How many media also mentioned that North Korea honoured an agreement in the 1980’s to limit nuclear arms until President George W. Bush changed his mind and decided to brand North Korea as part of the Axis of Evil. In June 2002, Mr. Bush also withdrew from the landmark 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The ABM treaty basically ended the nuclear arms race in long-range missiles. Though it didn’t cover short and medium-range missiles, the treaty was considered a “cornerstone of strategic stability” that made it easier to reach later agreements on reducing nuclear arsenals.

Nuclear responsibility or idle talk?

After Trump and Putin held their private talks in Helsinki, Putin told reporters that the U.S. and Russia had a “special responsibility for maintaining international security”. He also said Moscow was ready to discuss extending a new START treaty. The current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty expires in 2021. Trump eagerly agreed saying “Ultimately, that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.” Is Putin’s suggestion just talk as many arms experts suggest? The US currently deploys nuclear missiles in Poland and Romania. How would Americans feel if Russia deployed nuclear missiles off the eastern seaboard? Talks to reduce nuclear missiles at least appear reasonable. Why spend billions of dollars on new nuclear missiles when the US and Russia together have more than 13-thousand nuclear missiles between them? That’s 92 per cent of all the weapons of mass destruction in the world. However, building more arms does mean money and jobs, and that’s bound to go over well in the US heartland.

Does Trump mean what he says, or is he being used? Let’s not overlook that Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has a long record of opposing nuclear arms agreements. Let’s also not forget that the US is behind more foreign wars over the past 60 years than North Korea or Russia.

    Putin says “Men in dark suits” tell US presidents what to do. Is that why Trump constantly back-tracks?  – because he’s getting flack for forgetting or ignoring his orders? Trump looks as if he is in over his head. Although he seems comfortable with chaos and keeping others on edge, he has no idea how he comes across, and appears to naively believe he can fix the wrongs of this world on his own. Trump is little more than a symptom of a greater malaise in the United States. The problem is, he is also a catalyst whose every action has become suspect.  For a leader of a country as powerful as the United States, having a president whose every word affects such basic concepts as ethics, democracy, press freedom, economics, international trade, and foreign relations, this has dangerous consequences.

 

 

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