The late Nobel Prize winner and political economist Thomas Schelling is said to have noted 2 critical things in international politics and diplomacy- “Threats when they fail and promises when they succeed.”
In his recent State of the Union address I was particularly interested in what President Donald Trump had to say about U.S foreign policy and how it affected internal security interests, and so naturally I was interested in what he had to say about North Korea.
I heard Trump say North Korea will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.
Now considering the fact that Pyongyang under the uncontrollable tyrant Kim Jong Un is said to be just 3 months from having nuclear weapons President Trump will either already have a strategy to stop that or risk losing credibility and looking like a fool when North Korea crosses the red line in exactly the same way Bashar Assad made President Obama look really weak and stupid when he crossed and recrossed the chemical weapons red line.
Kim Jong Un has shown he isn’t someone to be pushed around. He has shown he has a similarly thin skin and is not willing to let any sort of attacks against him go without a response- sometimes just adequate, most other times disproportionate.
I am trying to wrap my head around exactly how President Donald Trump intends to handle this conundrum.
Another thing that caught my attention was his statement on Pakistan and the funds his administration will withhold from them. To be clear, the U.S does not owe Pakistan but only sends aid to the country and has done so since at least two years after Pakistan was founded in 1949.
Between 1951 and 2011 the United States has committed more than $67 billion to Pakistan and they have done so for a variety of reasons that underscore Pakistan’s strategic importance.
For starters, Pakistan borders Afghanistan (where US is fighting a 17 year war), Iran (which is both traditionally anti-American and a major player in the Middle East), China (America’s biggest trade partner BUT also its biggest rival), and India (an American ally and the biggest democracy on earth).
Secondly, Pakistan provides access to Central, West, and South Asia – three of the most critical regions for world peace.
Number three, Pakistan is one of the most populous countries on Earth.
Number four, Pakistan is very unstable and incidentally combines this instability with being a nuclear power.
By financing Pakistan, the US influences who runs it and essentially keeps it from becoming another Afghanistan.
IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF A TALIBANESQUE GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER PAKISTAN.
Now, with this cut in Pakistani funding it has increased the prospects of this country that is a state sponsor of terrorism trying to further destabilise the region by increasing hostility towards India, fomenting more crises in Afghanistan, and a tactical tilt towards Iran.
None of the above is good news for the United States, but even worse news is the fact that Pakistan will do more deals with and depend more on China which is America’s direct rival in practically everything presently.
Trump’s “America First” policy has given China a mindboggling advantage on the global scale and pushing the likes of Pakistan into the hands of China is not very strategic.
China has spread its web across the globe. Only recently speculations were rife that China planted secret mics and other espionage equipment in the African Union headquarters a Chinese company built in Addis Ababa.
They have their fingers in pies across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa and the foreign policy of the Trump administration is likely to only make it even moreso.