Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are defined as “a chemical, biological or radioactive weapon capable of causing widespread death and destruction.” The time has come to expand on that definition. I propose this: “a chemical, biological, radioactive or human weapon capable of causing widespread death and destruction.” By the revised definition, the United States has certainly been found to have weapons of mass destruction and is a threat to global security.
Much has been said about Trump and much more will be said in the weeks leading up to the November 8th election date. Much of what is being said centers around the noxious bluster that emits from his mouth every time he opens it, the utter stupidity and vileness that he spews every time he speaks. The time has come to step back from all that, to seriously assess what a Trump presidency, God forbid, would mean in terms of global peace. The difficulty with such an analysis, of course, is that it is virtually impossible to determine from the rhetoric what is real and what is not. I strongly suspect that even Trump himself does not know. We do know enough about Trump’s temperament, however, to gain a basic understanding of how he might respond to various situations and from there we can fairly accurately predict the fallout.
Starting with the situation in Turkey and Mr. Erdogan’s call for the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gülen. Thus far, the U.S. has denied the extradition request until the Turkish government provides irrefutable evidence that Gülen did, in fact, have significant influence in plotting the attempted military coup last month. However, as Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Erdogan on more than one occasion, and he makes no secret of the fact that he is in favour of strong, authoritarian leaders, one could make the assumption that Trump might be more amenable to simply sending Mr. Gülen back to Turkey to ‘face the consequences’. Since Erdogan is already talking about restoring the death penalty during his three-month ‘state of emergency’, the next assumption is that we would be sending Mr. Gülen straight to an executioner’s chamber, guilty or not. In a recent interview with New York Times journalists David Sanger and Maggie Haberman, Mr. Trump indicated that he did not believe the U.S. has a right to criticize Erdogan over his autocratic responses to the failed coup, including those that may be in violation of human rights.
What effect does all of this have on global peace? It depends, but at the very least, it would make the U.S. complicit in the murder of a possibly innocent man, which would not bode well for us in the eyes of our European allies. Which brings us to the next danger zone in a Trump presidency: our allies and NATO.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), established at the end of WWII, constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. Article V requires member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack. When questioned whether he would abide by this agreement, Trump responded that he might, but that he would first have to ‘look at it’ and would consider it if all NATO nations had “fulfilled their obligations to us.” The terms of Article V are not, I repeat not conditional, but are quite specific. If an ally is attacked, we come to their aid and ask questions later. The terms are very clear that an attack against any member state is an attack against them all. To reduce it to the simplest possible terms: If you see your neighbor being beaten by a thug, you don’t stop and ask yourself if the neighbor has yet returned the lawnmower he borrowed last week, and if not, continue to let him be beaten to death!
Trump has said on numerous occasions that he has little use for NATO, and granted there are some problems with NATO in that it may have attempted to expand its role beyond what it should be. However, it is a powerful and useful organization for helping to maintain world peace and should not be abandoned. If the U.S. fails to abide by terms it previously agreed to, we lose valuable allies and leave ourselves vulnerable when we need our allies to come to our aid. Many European governments have already expressed concern over Mr. Trump’s irresponsible and dangerous comments, as have some U.S. top foreign policy and military advisors.
Which brings us to Russia and its contentious relationship with the rest of the world. Trump is proposing that the U.S. and Russia become de facto allies and work together “to defeat terrorism and restore world peace.” He has indicated that he is open to lifting sanctions against Russia imposed after the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine and to cooperating with Russia in Syria, ostensibly against Daesh. Yet, Trump is woefully uninformed about global issues, as evidenced by his gaffe in a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos where he stated that Russia would not make a military move into Ukraine, even though he already did when he seized the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Either he did not know that Russia had invaded the Crimean Peninsula, or he did not know that the Crimean Peninsula was part of the Ukraine. Either way, his lack of knowledge is an indicator of his lack of competence in global affairs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have a long relationship … or they do not. Trump cannot seem to remember, or perhaps to decide, which it is, as he has vacillated on this more than a few times. Plus, there is a murky relationship between his campaign manager, Paul Manafort and Russian politics that has yet to be fully clarified. For his part, Putin seems to prefer Trump over Clinton, likely with good reason, as Clinton actually does understand Russia’s role in world politics. Putin commented about Trump: “ … a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt. It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race. He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome that.”
I could expound on at least 10-15 other situations brewing around the globe that Trump is far too uneducated in the way of international politics and too temperamentally unstable to handle wisely, but time and space do not permit. The point, though, has been made. Add to all this the volatile and unpredictable temperament of the thin-skinned narcissist, and it is nothing less than a recipe for disaster!
Perhaps the most telling and disturbing factor is that Trump has had 14 months since he first announced his candidacy in which he could have educated himself, with the aid of experienced polcy-makers in the matter of international relations and how the U.S. fits into the global picture, but he chose not to do so. Instead, he spent those 14 months on the campaign trail insulting people, threatening his perceived opposition, and telling the world how rich, how powerful and how wonderful he is. It is the belief of this writer that Trump is as dangerous not only to the United States, but to the entire world, as any other ‘weapon of mass destruction’, and should be treated as such.