Donald Trump’s provocative actions and bombastic, militaristic statements have created concern around the globe as a frightening stand-off with nuclear-armed North Korea continues. This is not an isolated incident of gung-ho behaviour from the US President, who seems to be using an aggressive foreign policy to distract from political problems at home.
His actions are in contrast with spirit seen during his presidential campaign, when he often seemed to be promising to embrace an isolationist foreign policy. Now he is in the White House, US intervention seems to be increasing across nearly all of the globe.
We have seen: warships sent to the seas around the Korean peninsula; missile attacks on Syria, plus the deployment of troops there; the use in Afghanistan of a weapon of mass destruction (the distastefully termed “mother of all bombs”); an increase in air strikes on Yemen and Iraq; the expansion of US warzones in Somalia and a spike in US drone strikes.
Trump has declared he is making it easier for the Pentagon to launch counterterrorism strikes anywhere in the world and has loosened restrictions on preventing civilian deaths that were put in place by the Obama Administration.
Trump’s now disgraced and departed former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn summed up the Trump Administration’s thinking on foreign policy, saying, “We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela,” adding that, “along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organisations such as Iran, al-Qaida, the Taliban and Islamic State.”
Flynn may have gone, but his new ‘axis of evil’ hit list seems to have stayed and it’s guiding US actions. Contrary, therefore, to what many who voted for him may have thought, Trump’s regime is taking a sharp turn to even more aggressive interventions.
If this wasn’t bad enough, Trump’s stance on nuclear weapons has come into play. As Kate Hudson of CND put it: “In uncertain times the last thing anyone needs is the most powerful man on earth kicking off a new nuclear arms race.” Hudson was referring to Trump tweeting that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” The US is not short of nuclear weapons – it already has 7,300 nuclear warheads.
Trump has also announced he wants $54 billion extra to be spent on tanks, ships and weapons systems. Again, it’s not as if the US doesn’t have a massive arms arsenal. Indeed, US arms spending is more than the next eight countries combined – including China and Russia.
This will not benefit people in the USA. Trump’s extra spending on war and weapons of war will distract from investment at home – in addition, of course, to cutting international aid for some of the poorest around the world.
Not only is this not in the interest of people in the USA or of international peace and security, it also matters here in Britain.
Theresa May’s Government’s close alignment with Trump, including supporting the attacks on Syria, makes her look like a little Tony Blair, trying to be a US poodle – not least because of the international loneliness likely after Brexit. She looked as if she was considering committing to higher arms spending. always a quality Trump admires in his allies. At the time of writing, we’re waiting to see what commitments on arms spending make it into the Tory manifesto.
Whatever the outcome of the General Election, Trump has been invited to make a state visit to the UK in the autumn. We need to lobby the new Government to withdraw the invite – and if it won’t, we need to welcome him with the “mother of all protests”.
• This article also appears in the Labour Briefing Co-operative magazine. Matt Willgress is the Communications Officer of Stand Up to Trump. This Saturday sees Donald Trump mark 100 days as US President. You can follow Stand Up to Trump at https://www.facebook.com/StandUp2TrumpUK/ , https://twitter.com/standup2trumpuk and http://standuptotrump.uk