Tweets don’t work, US needs to talk to friends and foes
David RothkopfThe global situation may be more dangerous than it has been at any time since the height of the Cold War. Of the myriad serious geopolitical problems in the world right now, five of them involve nuclear powers and two involve near nuclear powers. Several of these cases could test whether old notions of nuclear security, like deterrence, can work in the new global risk environment.
Topping the list is North Korea. It now seems certain that during Trump’s time in office, North Korea will gain the capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon that can hit the continental United States. North Korea is also close to having a nuclear stockpile big enough that it would be extremely difficult to eliminate in limited military action. Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, believes having a large stockpile and advanced delivery capabilities will make guarantee him job security. But for the US and our allies, North Korea’s offensive nuclear capacity would mark the most destabilising shift since the end of the Cold War.
There are no military scenarios for intervention in North Korea that do not involve massive casualties in South Korea. But allowing North Korea to threaten massive destruction to the US or our allies is also intolerable. Further, our primary leverage with North Korea lies with the Chinese, who seem either disinclined to put too much pressure on Pyongyang or a refusal to be intimidated by the Twitter “pressure” on them from Trump.
On Iran, last week the country launched a satellite into orbit showing that it too is enhancing its weapons delivery capabilities. At the same time, Trump indicated that this fall, he will decertify Iranian compliance with the Obama-forged nuclear accord.
By announcing our intention to decertify Iran, Trump gave the Iranians more time to plan their strategy of confrontation with us and our allies - who are themselves confronted with another regional crisis: the standoff between the GCC countries and Qatar.
Further, from the South China Sea to Venezuela’s unravelling, famine in Africa to political confusion in Japan, Korea and the UK, the world is reeling.
Indeed, what makes each of the situations above many degrees more dangerous is the fact that the world is facing a parallel pandemic of leadership and institutional failures. At the centre of these is the decline in America’s standing as a leader.
Amidst the global turmoil, our modern-day Nero is choosing to Tweet as Rome burns. Trump surrounds himself with generals he views as just more gold-plated bling to show off to his buddies. He has gutted America’s diplomatic capability just when we need it most. Worst, this pigsty of a presidency has sucked all the oxygen out of the room so that none of the above issues are getting the attention they deserve from anyone. It’s no wonder people worry what would happen were these guys to face a real crisis. But that’s just the problem. The crises are here. And the fact that neither the president nor the American people seem to know it may be the greatest crisis of them all.
This abriged artile is taken from Khaleej Times.