Playing the Indian Card

Sunday, April 22, 2018

North Korea Denuclearizes?

Seen in Vienna.

I did not like Trump and did not want him to get the Republican nomination; I would have only voted for him, if I had a vote in US elections, when the choice came down to him or Hillary Clinton. Better the boor than the crook.

But I think by this point, it must be conceded that either 1) Trump is a very good president, 2) Obama was a very bad president, or 3) both.

Kim Jong Un has apparently just agreed to stop nuclear development and denuclearize without preconditions. The theory is that Trump was responsible for this. He called DPRK’s bluff, not offering any gifts to pacify them, as they had always gotten in the past. At the same time, his sabre-rattling on trade with China convinced the Chinese to put the screws to Kim for the sake of a better deal.

This is not the first sudden, shocking, happy foreign policy development under Trump. ISIS is just about gone in Syria and Iraq; it was born and grew to global prominence on Obama’s watch. Russia had already announced its intention to leave Syria, but Trump has also managed to humiliate Putin by his combined air strike last week, probably convincing Russia to pull in its horns elsewhere as well. Notably, virtually all of Putin’s recent adventurism, since the invasion of Georgia in 2008, has been under Obama’s administration. Russia had to feel pretty confident in all of it that the US would stay passive. When you get right down to it, Russia has a GDP equivalent to Italy’s. If there were a general war, and given that it were not nuclear, Russia could not stand up for long toe-to-toe to Britain or France, let alone NATO. It is spectacular what Putin has been able to achieve. It is hard to believe it was possible without some American connivance.

The economy and the stock market in the US has been booming since Trump took office. Some are saying this has everything to do with Trump’s policy of cutting regulations, and the Republican tax bill. It is certainly telling that, under Obama, Canada regularly did better than the US economically. Now, suddenly, under Trump, Canada is lagging the US on the economic figures.

Trump seems to have made a substantial difference quickly and at little cost.

Many of the things that Obama did, especially in foreign policy, seemed jaw-droppingly wrong at the time. With the collapse in oil prices, the US had a golden opportunity to force Iran and Cuba—long supported and subsidized by Venezuela, since the Soviet bloc stopped funding them—into important concessions. What Obama did instead was to offer them important concessions from the US at just the moment they could best prop up those regimes and save their hides. And, of course, offered no support to opposition movements in Iran.

The US role in overthrowing Gaddhafi in Libya too seems to have been handled as badly as it could possibly be handled, in terms of US interests. If the US was going to get involved, in the first place, by the announced Obama policy of “leading from behind,” they simply paid for the privilege of handing away their prestige to others. If they were going to do what it took to overthrow Gaddhafi, they should also have had some plan in place for his replacement, or some expectation of who or what would take his place. Instead, humiliatingly, they could not even protect their consulate or their Ambassador.

Obama also threw away a huge amount of American prestige in Syria, by declaring a “red line” over chemical weapons, and then backing down as soon as it was crossed. Handing prestige over to Russia for supposedly brokering the deal. Besides showing any allies the US could not be trusted, this probably intensified and prolonged the Syrian civil war and its bloodbath, by leaving a vacuum for lesser powers to get engaged. Also boosting the prestige and interests of Iran, Russia, and now Turkey, at US expense.

And this US-sanctioned chaos over Syria and Libya provoked a refugee crisis that now threatens to overwhelm and permanently change Europe. And has already played a part in breaking up the EU.

All thanks to Obama’s administration.

Even Trump’s boorishness seems to be a wise strategy. Civil discourse is broken in the US; whether or not he was directly responsible, this certainly developed under Obama. You cannot play by the rules any longer, or you just get bullied. Trump seems expert at not getting bullied: he will stand put and fight toe to toe with any attacker. At the same time, he does not seem (so far) to bully anyone else. Again, this is in contrast to Obama, who presented a smiling face, but had the IRS, the Education Department, the Justice Department, and maybe the FBI, bully people in dubiously legal ways.

I sometimes wonder whether God gives the USA his special providential care. He sends along improbable people like Trump when they are needed.

No comments: