12 December 2017

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THE PRAGMATIC IDEALIST

Trump is trying to transform the U.S. from a hegemonic power to the strongest national state in the world

Author:

01.10.2017

The major event of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly was the inaugural speech of the U.S. President Donald Trump. This first public outing meant a lot for Mr. Trump, as he was addressing to the world community, where the media is using various tricks to denigrate and expose him to dirt and open slander. So, what was the Trump’s speech about and how are we supposed to understand his words?

Trump focused on three main topics in his speech. First, he requested to modify the structure of the UN, which, according to the president, has become an impotent and expensive organization with a high level of bureaucratization that prevents the U.S. from defending its interests.

In the second half of his speech, Trump had a fling at countries such as Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea, threatening to wipe the latter off the map. And at the end of his speech, Trump appealed to all member-states to respect the sovereignty of other states and announced the rejection of American global hegemony.

 

Cutting off the excess fat

Trump had repeatedly criticized the UN when he was running for the presidency, calling it "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time" despite the Organization’s "huge potential". It is not surprising that he proposed to reform the UN almost completely, to reduce its budget and staff, which have increased by 140% and 100% since 2000, respectively.

It is fair to say that the U.S. is the main donor state of the United Nations and covers 22% of the Organization's expenses (more than $600 million). The U.S. also pays $2.2 billion for the maintenance of various contingents of peacekeepers. For comparison, Russian donations cover only 2% of the UN budget. As for the functionality and effectiveness of the UN, its ever decreasing role in the current system of international relations and turning into a "club for talking people" is not a novelty. The organization has an impressive budget indeed given the staff of officials sometimes engaged in vague problems, which nevertheless get them huge salaries and social benefits. As expressed by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, "the UN has excess fat that should be cut off. However, but any serious reform calls for caution, because the UN’s ‘corpulence’ is due to the fact that it has 193 member states."

According to analysts, the true motive for the desire of the American president to re-format the UN may be something else. It is no secret that Trump is a man coming from the "big business", and he often supports the pragmatic principles of Realpolitik in his approach to the problems of big politics. Americans believe that if they pay the most, then their position should be a priority in international organizations. In other words, it is all about the classical principle of "money talks".

By the way, the American establishment had tried to ‘privatize’ the UN even before the presidency of Trump. A few years ago, the Obama administration attempted to limit the influence of Russia and China in the Security Council through increasing the number of its members by more ‘loyal countries’. But it did not work at that time. It is very likely that the incumbent U.S. administration will fail this time too. Despite the participation of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the forum convened by Trump to discuss the reform declaration, and the overall support of the idea by 120 of 193 member-states, any prospects for implementing this venture look unpromising without the consent of all states. In fact, other members of the UN Security Council (China and France) did not support the proposal either. But even if Trump's proposal is unpromising de jure, the president needed to take this step to strengthen his position within the country, as he needs to distract the American media, trying to create an image of a "president elected thanks to Russian intervention", from constant pressure on himself. At least for a while...

 

Wiping off the map

Undoubtedly, Trump's speech was quite the scandal because of his statement on North Korea: "The United States has great strength and patience. But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. The rocket-man is on a suicidal mission for himself and for his regime". In other words, the U.S. President voiced an explicit threat to destroy the DPRK.

The high tribune of the UN has witnessed many remarkable historic moments: the anti-imperialist threats of the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR Nikita Khrushchev in 1960, a demonstrative tearing up of the copy of the UN Charter by the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2009, the prayers of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to help him fight against George W. Bush. But it was the first time when the country with a population of 25 million people was threatened with destruction. Even the unflattering arguments of the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel, for which he was labeled an enemy of mankind and a supervillain, sound like a joke against the Trump’s statement. By defining North Korea as a new "axis of evil", it seems that the U.S. president is determined to launch a large-scale war against the DPRK. After all, there are quite a few lobbyists around the president who wish to end the Pyongyang regime once and for all. However, a deeper analysis of the situation leads some analysts to a conclusion that the true target of the verbal attack is the neighboring China, whose support Trump is seeking so hard.

In other words, one should understand the true meaning of Trump’s statement as follows: if North Korea’s neighbors, China and Russia, do not make efforts to exert pressure on the North Korean leadership, we will strike them first. It is well known that China is the major regional and global economic rival of the United States. It is clear that the U.S. president is more focused on China, and by playing the Korean card, he is trying to guarantee some Chinese concessions. We have repeatedly analyzed the true U.S. goals in this matter - the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD in South Korea against China and Russia, which is almost over.

The positions of Japan and South Korea, the traditional regional allies of the United States are quite interesting. Obviously, North Korea will definitely answer the U.S., and Tokyo and Seoul will be exposed to the main blow more than the U.S..

According to The Washington Post, "The silence from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was particularly telling, because he has been eager to agree with Trump’s every utterance on dealing with North Korea." The spokesman to South Korean president, who has been trying hard in recent weeks to show he is in sync with the U.S. president, pointedly avoided reacting to Trump’s ‘total destruction’ line, saying the speech underscored the urgency of dealing with North Korea and that ‘Seoul believed Trump remained committed to peace’.

The attacks of the Trump administration on Iran can be explained by the U.S. desire to increase its global role and the attempt to return to another important region, which is the Middle East.

Trump blames the Iranian government for "camouflaging its corrupt dictatorship under a false form of democracy." It is a very interesting comment considering Trump's affection for certain Middle Eastern regimes, which have been absolute monarchies for centuries in the hands of the most powerful medieval tribes and far from democracies, false or real. Trump has always been known for his furious criticism of Iran and the infamous ‘nuclear deal’ reached between the six countries and Tehran, accusing the latter of violating the spirit of the deal. The U.S. president remains silent on what exactly Iran violated, but calls the ‘nuclear deal’ "one of the worst" he has ever seen. In all the reports, IAEA indicates full compliance with the agreements on the part of Iran. Incidentally, these agreements are considered the most significant foreign policy success of the previous White House administration.

According to American political scientists, Trump's attack on Iran can lead to unexpected consequences. Namely, the leadership of Iran can be in a winning position. "This angry ranting  creates sympathy for Iran among the international community. It is especially dangerous because Iran is very skilled at playing the victim, aggrieved by foreign powers for decades," told Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, to The New York Times. Another American analyst, executive director of the Arms Control Association, Daryl Kimball, agrees with his colleague: "A deal is a deal, and Iran has met its nuclear commitments. And Donald Trump is threatening to tear it apart. If it was intended to rally support against Iran, is clearly backfiring."

 

Sovereignty is above all

Many experts found Donald Trump’s arguments about the sovereignty inconsistent: "If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow."

On the one hand, almost everyone expected these words from the President of the United States. After all, it is no secret that it was the United States that have violated the above principles regularly. But the arguments about rejecting the threats to sovereignty, upholding respect for law and borders are not clear... Can all countries take advantage of these principles, or only those, which the U.S. president prefers?

So, is Mr. Trump an idealist or a pragmatist? His speech on sovereignty continues as follows: "I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs. In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty… As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first… The world needs a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote peace… This is the foundation for cooperation and success. Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values work side by side". These words cannot but arouse the wrath of the globalists who effectively realize their plans through the protection of various kinds of minorities and ideas and imposing them to the entire world community in order to achieve their geo-economic and political objectives. One cannot blame Trump in violating his own principles. He personifies idealism, realism and isolationism, but with a "strong bat" in his hands. He is trying to implement a very large-scale maneuver in foreign policy with minimal losses and maximum strategic benefits for the United States, the country he is trying to transform from a hegemonic power to the strongest national state in the world. But the ardent opponents of this idea are still inside the U.S. Trump makes critical moves in foreign policy to strengthen his position against the internal enemies.


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