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Saturday, 20 January 2018

“Shitholegate” as the inharmonious epitomy of awkward and unpleasant world politics: Trump barks, but the caravan should move on!

The air attack warning sounds like… This is the sound.
When you hear the air attack warning, you and your family must take cover

Was the writing on the wall last week, when the Hawaiian islands were in shock at the moment that an erroneous warning for an incoming ballistic missile took the islands by surprise?!

Especially in the 30 minutes between the warning itself and the ‘all clear’ signal, the social media were litterally bursting with disbelief, shock & awe, and (unspoken) questions like “This is it?!”

Luckily, as we found out soon, this was not it! Not even close… Just one innocent person who messed up his job and perhaps career, by pushing the wrong button during a drill.

Nevertheless, the nasty feeling that remained after ‘buttongate’ in Hawaii, was the feeling that it could have been ‘it’ indeed! Just because of the current geopolitical situation.

A few days ago, the Dutch newspaper Trouw wrote a very good article about the danger for world peace, coming from the paradigm shift in the United States’ nuclear strategy and the intended investments in small, tactical nuclear warheads.

Such nuclear warheads could be mounted on short and medium range missiles or could even be fired by a powerful canon, as can be seen in a short movie from the Fifties of last century.

Here follow the pertinent snippets of this article in Trouw:

The American administration considers a drastical paradigm shift in its nuclear strategy, that strongly increases the odds for a nuclear war. The Pentagon created a report in which a number of policy proposals are made, among others with regards to so-called ‘first use’. In other words: the question under which circumstances nuclear weapons could and should be deployed.

Until recently, the policy was that the US would only consider the deployment of nuclear weapons as a reaction to nuclear or biological attacks on American soil. However, in the new policy document it is stated that also cyber attacks upon the US could serve as a foundation for the deployment of nukes. A cyber attack upon America’s communication and electricity networks, is ample ground for a nuclear counter-attack. In the document, a plea is written on behalf of a more aggressive stance against America’s rivals, like Russia and China, but also North Korea and Iran.

And this was not all. Trump did not only want a larger nuclear arsenal (initially), but also a ‘smarter’ nuclear arsenal, as the following snippets from Trouw reveal:

Instead of expansion of the nuclear arsenal, [Trump] wants to replace a number of very powerful nuclear weapons by smaller items, also called ‘tactical nukes’. This seems good news, but in reality, it isn’t!

Smaller nukes are not meant for deterrence, like the powerful ones. They are meant for real deployment. This logic goes as follows: as tactical nukes are less powerful, the step towards deployment becomes smaller. However, when small nukes are eventually deployed, the odds increase that an opponent will use more powerful ones.

This is where we are today. A blatantly lying and bragging, mentally unstable and extremely vindictive American president has lowered the threshold for deployment of nuclear arms: for himself, as well as for his adversaries.

Donald Trump did this deliberately with his political desire to build up an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons that can be deployed at will: not as a ultimate weapon of last resort, but as a tactical discovery on the battle field. As if Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Cold War did never happen!

And so, after only 10 years of deep economic crisis, the world managed to get itself back in a very dangerous and uncertain political situation, with a lot of possible outcomes, of which a few could litterally become the end of the world.

Nevertheless, this is something for which we cannot blame the current American president alone, as there are more protagonists in this explosive, political conundrum: 
  • President Kim Young Un, the young, very brutal and unpredictable ‘rogue’ leader in North Korea, who leads his country with an iron fist and successfully built up a nuclear arsenal of his own, together with the required longe range missiles to deliver this arsenal at the home land of his enemies;
  • President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the professional plotter and manipulator in the Kremlin, who set the world on fire with his stealth wars against Georgia and Ukraine and his hardly conceived threats against the former Warsaw Pact countries in the NATO;
  • Xi Jinping, the sfinx-like Chinese strategist in Beijing with his repressive visions on his people and a large hidden agenda, regarding the future of China. A president who is involved in gathering a large share of the global commodities and raw materials for his domestic industries, via his ‘beads and mirrors’ policies in Latin America and Africa, his new Silk Route in Asia and his annexation of the oil-laden Spratly Islands;
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the narcisistic and paranoid leader in Turkey, who dreams of a revival of the Great Ottoman empire under his command, but who is afraid for the ‘mythical’ Fetullah Gülen: a former religious soulmate, who is now his most feared enemy. Turkey, as the 2nd largest country in the NATO, is currently involved in an attack against Syrian Kurds in the north of Syria, who are supported by the American army. This scenario of two NATO partners fighting with each other is even too risky for the Russians;
  • And of course – as icing on the cake – there is the aforementioned American president Donald Trump himself: a genuine political amateur in the White House. An amateur with radical ideas about economic cooperation and free trade, all based upon the ‘survival of the one with the biggest mouth and the most powerful weapons’, who is supported by ultra-religious grassroots with visions of ‘Judgement Day’ and with seemingly more money than brains in his understanding of world politics. 

This is a poisonous cocktail for the world indeed.

How amateuristical, blunt, openly racist and even brainless the American President Donald Trump can operate, became clear in a recent private White House meeting. There was a debate between Donald Trump and his administration about the immigration to the United States, coming from poor countries in Africa and middle-American countries like Haiti and El Salvador. Witnesses stated that Donald Trump called these countries ‘Shitholes’ during this meeting.

This disdainful outburst caused a global commotion among journalists and (non) US diplomats, but especially among representatives of these countries themselves, who were – of course – ‘not amused’. Besides that, it proved that President Trump does not have the credit and credibility within his administration, to keep such an erratic outcry private. Even though president Trump later denied to ever have said this, it is clear that nobody actually believed him, outside a few people whose brains probably still resided in the country of The Wizard of Ozz.

And so ‘Shitholegate’ turned into the inharmonious epitomy of awkward and unpleasant world politics in 2018. A global politics that is seemingly driven by ruthless and unscrupulous egoes, who consider themselves to be the right persons to fight for the interests of their country or – even worse – their own wallets.

What makes this current political situation so particularly dangerous is not so much the strenght and political prowess of Trump’s adversaries:

The most unpredictable adversary (or in fact ally) of Donald Trump is perhaps Recep Erdoğan. His enormous pride and ego, as well as his domestically shown paranoia in combination with his NATO membership, might bring him in uncharted territory of politics very soon; just as the very unstable situation in the neighbouring countries of Turkey could do. Syria, Iraq, Iran and East-Turkey are full of political pitfalls and a gung ho politician like Erdoğan could easily step in one or two, driven by his ego and his ambitious grand scheme for Turkey’s future.

Kim Jong Un, even though seemingly a dangerous madman with nuclear toys, knows that deploying his nuclear missiles towards the United States will become the immediate end for his country and (probably) himself. On top of that, he comes from a seasoned family of Korean leaders, that knows how to tease the Americans to such a level that they become really angry, but just not enough to attack North Korea. For the rest, the meaning of North Korea for the global political spectrum is quite futile, as the country is small and has little political meaning.

Both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping know how the global political games are played and keep a profile that does not bring them in immediate contact with the American (nuclear) forces. They make some noise and stir up some things in the global theatre, but further mind their own business.

No, first and foremost it is President Donald Trump himself and his deeply religious, right-wing administration of millionaires and billionaires, who are the most unpredictable party in today’s global politics.

His government, consisting of American exceptionalists with a lack of basic diplomatic skills and political experience, have been in a continuous battle with the media and the Democratic party about who is right, who is wrong and who is lying all the time.

When a relatively new president has come under such heavy artillery fire from the media and the opposition and has so little credibility left as Donald Trump, the obvious option in American politics has traditionally been to start a war or a conflict somewhere, in order to detract attention from the domestic situation. It has happened before and it could easily happen again. North Korea or Iran could then be obvious candidates for such a (probably very bloody and dangerous) conflict.

On top of that, Trump’s new nuclear politics, his rudeness towards other countries and his ‘America First’ economic policies, at the expense of mainly Europe and the Far East, might bring him in a confrontation with his global adversaries, but also his former allies. When the going gets really tough, these countries will also fight for their own interests in the political and economic theatres or on the battlefields.

This makes Donald Trump to these eyes the biggest and most uncontrolable risk for enduring peace in the world. And the risk may increase on a daily basis, as Trump’s politics seemed to become rather more than less erratic during the first year of his presidency.

Perhaps the best idea to get out of this dangerous stalemate situation would be when the other powerful countries just ignore Trump’s bragging and rude politics and try to establish (covert) diplomatic contacts with the other, more reasonable and less ideologically driven members of his administration.

This could be a good way to eventually improve relations with the US and prevent Trump from making catastrophical errors in global politics. In this way, Trump would become a quite powerless president ‘in name only’, with a shadow cabinet that keeps him from doing something stupid. As a political solution, this would perhaps be unprecedented in the US history, but could be the only thing to prevent the world from worse events and geopolitical conflicts.

You could then say: Trump barks, but the caravan moves on fortunately!

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