The Trump Doctrine

Ideology that points to false enemies is the best guarantee for American hegemonism to survive. US President Donald Trump doesn’t differ much from his predecessors in inventing ‘new enemies’ when ‘old ones’ fail to foot the bill. Trump made an aggressive ‘America First’ maiden speech at the United Nations recently, contrasting with the internationalist views of the UN Secretary General. In truth Trump threw diplomacy to the winds, reaffirmed his oft-repeated pledge of implementing an ‘America First’ policy and threatened countries selected to be a new ‘‘axis of evil’’. This ‘America First’ policy doesn’t mean Trump is talking about isolationist policy—it is very much interventionist in nature. ‘America First’ policy follows a crude display of hard aggression, not couched in diplomatic language with regard to ‘enemies’ he called a new ‘axis of evil’—North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. The ‘evil empire’ of Soviet Union is gone but the very survival of American military-industrial complex is in question if there are no evils and North Korea is now leading the brigade of American adversaries. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, however, made his maiden UN speech by highlighting the standard UN principles of universalism and seeking peaceful solutions to all conflicts. Unlike Trump he didn’t say anything that could heighten war tensions. But the UN sponsored peace appeal makes little sense because in the end it is the Trump company that matters in framing peace or war strategies. By any standard UN is more like an international forum for fine discussions without any goal to reach. What the UN Secretary General said at the UN meet had virtually no impact on Trump’s policy of arrogance. In place of Soviet Russia, Trump has fixed a new target—a new ‘axis of evil’.

Trump raised the issue of national sovereignty 21 times in his maiden UN speech. But he was concerned only about the national sovereignty which he won’t hesitate to use as a principle to violate the national sovereignty of others. North Korea is on his immediate agenda. So it seems. As North Korea test fired what appeared to be an inter-continental ballistic missile posing a major challenge to American hegemonism in the region, Trump resorted to more aggressive stance by holding a high-level talk with his South Korean counterpart Moon Je-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The missile capable of carrying nuclear war heads and hitting anywhere in the United States travelled about 1000 km before splashing down in the sea of Japan. America along with Japan and South Korea, has already requested the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeging in response to North Korea’s latest test of an inter-continental ballistic missile. Sanctions apart a UN sponsored military intervention is on the card though China is very much there, without effectively opposing the US move. The hard reality is that in the event of a full-fledged military showdown in the Korean peninsula, North Korea is unlikely to get full support, both moral and material, from China. If anything Beijing expressed ‘‘grave concern’’ over North Korea’s missile test. They are in a dilemma as to how to appease the Uncle Sam without antagonising North Korea beyond tolerable limits. To some extent China echoed the ‘Voice of America’ as they asked North Korea to strictly abide by UN Security Council resolutions on the use of ballistic missile technology.

When small Vietnam, predominantly an agrarian country, having no advanced weapons system, defeated the mighty America, even Americans themselves took some time to believe it. And now a tiny country, even smaller than Vietnam, is ridiculing America’s fire-power which is equally ‘unbelievable’ to concerned Americans.

War of words has already begun. And US Vice-President Mike Pence said the other day against the backdrop of missile test that all options were open. He went a step further to advise Kim Jong-un that ‘North Korea would do well not to test the resolve of President Trump on the capabilities of all the Armed forces of the United States’. The message was clear—either fall in line or face the consequences.

America is now engaged in isolating North Korea globally and to some extent they have succeeded, thanks to political bankruptcy of the progressives across the world.

No doubt the Korean crisis is a very complicated web to untangle, but threatening to totally annihilate a nation is not going to contribute to a solution. For one thing Trump’s aggressive campaign against North Korea, seems to have convinced Kim Jong-un more and more that he is right to develop weapons—ballistic missiles and all that. Trump is using the UN stage to threaten war. Not that all Americans subscribe to Trump’s vision of America-centric global order. There are people who think ‘‘He (Trump) aims to unify the world through tactics of intimidation, but in reality he only further isolates the United States’’.

What America’s president is saying may be codified as a new Trump doctrine which in effect means more brutalities in the coming days.

Vol. 50, No.24, Dec 17 - 23, 2017