Donald Trump’s First State of The Union Address was entirely predictable. It was a variation of the same speech he has been giving for nearly a year, which combined rhetoric about how “unfair trade deals” are hurting the United States and how his personal responsibility for record high stock markets is a sign that “America is great again”. Finally, the speech was about how an unrealistic approach to terrorism, 1950s John Birch rhetoric about left-wing Latin American states, perpetual war in Afghanistan and antagonising North Korea and Iran is somehow good for the United States.
Here are the key flaws in Donald Trump’s foreign policy vision as outlined in his State of The Union
On Afghanistan, Trump stated: “Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.”.
This is essentially pumped-up rhetoric which admits that the US will be in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future without any abatement. The US military is holding an entire nation captive through its aggressive presence in the country, one which continues to escalate an already dire situation. Since Donald Trump’s “troop surge” in November of 2017, terrorist attacks have only increased in number and brutality.
It has come to light that as of January 2018, the Taliban control 70% of all Afghan territory. This is simply not a force that the US can beat without facing Vietnam level casualties. The reality though is that the US neither wants to beat the Taliban nor leave the country in peace.
As I previously wrote in Eurasia Future, the following are the actual goals of the endless US war in Afghanistan:
2. Make sure to get US hands on as many Afghan resources as possible, including minerals, poppies (as cultivated in the lucrative narcotics trade) and precious metals.
3. In the event that the US is unable to obtain Afghanistan’s resources, make certain that countries like China are not allowed to do so by using an endless US military presence in the country to disrupt any One Belt–One Road links through Afghanistan.
4. Use Afghanistan as a terrorist base from which to launch attacks on Pakistan’s strategically important Balochistan province, which is home to the Chinese built Gwadar Port.
5. Use Afghanistan as a terrorist base from which Daesh and other Takfiris can enter Iran.
6. Use US control of the roads in Afghanistan to sow further conflicts between India and Pakistan, using Iran’s Chabahar Port’s proximity to Afghanistan to trap Iran into taking an overly pro-Indian side vis-a-vis the longstanding Indo-Pak disputes, due to Indian investments in Chabahar”
Because of this, the US refuses to speak with moderate elements of the Taliban who have offered a full ceasefire in exchange for peace talks, but only after the US withdraws its troops.
For Afghanistan itself, the country is trapped in a helpless position–caught between the potentially positive inevitability of an all-party peace process, which is negatively off-set against the fact that moderate elements of the Taliban will not come to the peace table being set by Russia and China until the US vacates the country.
In order to exacerbate this tension, many suspect the US has and will continue to airlift Daesh terrorists from the Levant to Afghanistan. Today’s announcement from Iran merely confirms what many already suspect and what some claim to have documented. Such a scenario not only worsens the security situation in the country, but from the calculating US perspective, it will cause a prolonged three way fight between the government, Taliban (and other local rebels) and Daesh.
The US is also counting on Daesh in Afghanistan causing internal rifts among radical elements of the Taliban. Most importantly, the US could use Afghanistan as a base to send Daesh terrorists into Pakistan’s Balochistan Province where the Chinese built Gwadar port is located. The love affair between the US and India could be used to supply such terrorists with Indian intelligence about Balochistan, as Delhi has long been accused of aiding terrorism against Pakistan in the region. The US could likewise attempt to get Daesh terrorists into Iran, although Iran’s Afghan border is generally more stable than the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which the US has frequently attacked without mercy, in spite of an increasing number of official protests from Islamabad. When it comes to Afghanistan, the US is entirely aware of what it is doing and Trump yet again lied about the purpose and goal of the endless mission there.
When Barack Obama campaigned for the US Presidency in 2008, he promised he would close the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay where men from around the world are held captive without any formal charge, without the ability to consult a lawyer and without the prospect of any trial. Some of these men have been held prisoner in torturous conditions for nearly two decades.
While Obama broke his promise about closing the concentration camp, Trump has praised it and called for its continued use The unconscionable acts of torture that the US commits against detainees in Guantanamo, are fully unacceptable. To praise its existence in a major speech heard around the world, is simply disgusting.
As Donald Trump was making his speech, South Korean skiers begun training activities at the Masikryong ski resort in the DPRK. Yet while Trump continued to spew rumour, innuendo and “alternative facts” about North Korea, the Korean people were in the midst of much needed endeavours to cooperate with one another in preparation for the Olympics where the two Korean states will march under a single unification flag.
It beggars belief that during a time of cooperation between Pyongyang and Seoul, Trump did not say a single word about the Olympics and the detente they are fostering on the Korean peninsula. He instead talked about a North Korean “threat”, at a time when a fragile but unambiguous peace has broken out between the two Korean states.
While the illegal occupying US forces in Syria have threatened to shoot at the soldiers of a fellow NATO member, Turkey, as the Turkish President and Foreign Minister vow to push Kurdish militants all the way to the Iraqi border as part of Operation Olive Branch, Trump clearly seemed embarrassed by this turn of events in the Middle East.
Trump mentioned Syria and Iraq only once during his speech. He worryingly stated that in spite of Daesh losing control of the territories it once occupied, that the US will stay in Syria for the foreseeable future. Ankara will have watched that part of the speech intently and in spite of his best efforts to skirt the issue, if anything, Trump only inflamed tensions between the US and Turkey.
While The Islamic Republic of Iran played a key role in curtailing the power of Daesh in Iraq and Syria, Trump once again criticised the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) in spite of the fact that every other party to the deal, including America’s EU allies have said openly that Iran is in full compliance with the agreement. The UN has also stated that Iran is obeying every letter of the agreement.
In spite of this Trump once again agitated for amendments to the JCPOA while restating the US support for the short-lived riots which took place in Iran at the end of 2017.
–Cuba and Venezuela
Just as he did during his infamous speech to the UN General Assembly last year, Trump called Cuba and Venezuela, “communist and socialist dictatorships” while spewing demands for renewed sanctions. This time however, Cuba’s ally Venezuela is well on the road to being sanction-proof as the country has begun selling oil in the Petroyuan with the cooperation of China. Furthermore, Venezuela has introduced an oil backed cryptocurrency called El Petro which will allow even small investors to show their support for The Bolivarian Revolution using a currency not attached to US based financial institutions.
Donald Trump stated, “As part of our defence, we must modernise and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression”.
Trump was once quoted as privately saying that he wants the US to have “ten times” more nuclear weapons than it currently has. Such irresponsible and anti-scientific rhetoric, clearly demonstrates that the war hungry “rocket man” is none other than the US leader himself.
Any hope that Trump might tone down his bellicose rhetoric against North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Iraq was proved to be supremely futile. His speech was merely an old rehashing of threats against countries the US remains intent on harming, in spite of the fact that none of these countries are harming or seek to harm the US. It was a speech light on substance and heavy on violence.