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This week, Donald Trump’s provocative actions and bombastic, militaristic statements have contributed to creating concern around the globe at a frightening stand-off with nuclear-armed North Korea. The NBC News reported: “The National Security Council has presented President Donald Trump with options to respond to North Korea’s nuclear programme — including putting UK nukes in South Korea or killing dictator Kim Jong Un.”
But this is not an isolated incident of gung-ho foreign policy from the US president, who seems to be using it to distract from political problems at home just as with the bombing of Syria.
As John Rees from the Stop the War Coalition put it: “After years of 140-character warnings against involvement in Syria, Trump’s latest in a series of screeching U-turns needs some explanation. The decision marks another abandonment of the insurgent Trump persona and his rapid alignment with the US foreign policy establishment.”
Indeed, while during his election campaign Trump had often seemed to favour an isolationist foreign policy, now US intervention seems to be increasing all over the globe.
As we reach 100 days of his presidency next week, we have not only seen warships sail towards the Korean peninsula. We have also seen missile attacks on Syria plus the deployment of 1,000 troops there — Trump now looks set to send another 1,000 — the use in Afghanistan of a weapon of mass destruction distastefully called “the mother of all bombs,” an increase in air strikes on Yemen and Iraq, the expansion of US warzones in Somalia and Yemen and a spike in US drone strikes.
Trump has said he is “making it easier for the Pentagon to launch counter-terrorism strikes anywhere in the world” and has loosened restrictions on preventing civilian deaths that were put in place by the Obama administration.
Linked of course to all of this is his fanning of the flames of hatred — just as George Bush utilised a rise in Islamophobia to help justify his wars.
In Latin America, Trump has whacked more sanctions on Venezuela actively seeking to pursue “regime change” in that country through the auspices of the OAS.
He is going ahead with building a wall on the border with Mexico and his spokespeople have implied this could be enforced by military means.
The now disgraced and departed General Michael Flynn seems to have summed up the Trump administration’s mindset on foreign affairs when he said: “We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba and Caracas, Venezuela,” adding that “along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organisations such as Iran, al-Qaida, the Taliban and Islamic State.”
Before he departed, Flynn also made a surprise appearance at one of the daily press briefings to announce that the administration was putting Iran “on notice” after the country conducted a ballistic missile test.
Flynn may have gone, but his new “axis of evil” hit list seems to have stayed and is being acted on.
So contrary to what many who voted for him may have thought, Trump’s regime signals a sharp turn to even more aggressive interventions, which is bound to ratchet up tension around the world.
If this wasn’t bad enough, then we come to his stance on nuclear weapons and the possibility of a new arms race.
As Kate Hudson of CND put it: “In uncertain times the last thing anyone needs is the most powerful man on Earth kicking off a new nuclear arms race. But that’s exactly what president-elect Trump did just before Christmas.”
Hudson was responding to Trump tweeting that: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
To be clear, the US is not short of nuclear weapons — it already has 7,300 nuclear warheads plus plans to spend over £282 billion on maintaining and modernising these over the next decade.
Some of these weapons are many times more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb so the US already has the capacity to destroy all life on Earth multiple times.
In an act of total irresponsibility and against the spirit of international agreements, Trump has even suggested that more countries should get nuclear weapons and that he would be OK about an arms race in Asia, mentioning Japan and South Korea as countries that could go nuclear.
He has also announced he wants £42bn extra to be spent on tanks, ships and weapons systems. Again, it’s not as if the US doesn’t already have a massive arms arsenal. Indeed, US arms spending is more than the next eight countries combined, including China and Russia.
This will not benefit US voters as the extra spending on wars and weapons will divert funds from investment at home and cut international aid for some of the poorest around the world.
Not only is this not in the interest of the US or international peace and security, it also matters here in Britain. Theresa May’s government’s close alignment with Trump, including its support for the attacks on Syria and, possibly, committing to higher arms spending as Trump desires, is detrimental to British interests.
It is, therefore, important to step up the campaigning against honouring him with a state visit and making sure that if he does come, we have the “mother of all protests.”
- Matt Willgress is communications officer for Stand Up to Trump. Visit www.standuptotrump.uk to ask your MP to sign a statement against Trump’s visit to Britain.
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