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  • Writer's pictureMike Lyons

THE UNITED STATES AT THE CROSSROADS


War Talk


Only days ago, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken made the remarkable statement, “If you’re not at the table in the international system, you’re going to be on the menu”. His comment sounded ominously like President George W Bush in 2001 when he said, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”.


Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. That statement was not much different to Jimmy Carter who described the US as “The most warlike country in the history of the world”. The US has been at war for 92% of the time since independence in 1776. It’s not just military violence. The US is also the world’s leading purveyor of sanctions with one in three countries around the world being targeted by US sanctions, causing immense harm to those who can least afford it.


Trump did not start any war during his term in office, while Biden has committed America to an unwinnable proxy conflict in Ukraine arguably depleting US global credibility even more than George W Bush’s disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump on the other hand has made it clear that he would end the war in Ukraine and would tell Zelensky, “You got to make a deal”.


Proxy wars have become the US way – no more “BOOTS ON THE GROUND”. It’s not just Ukraine. When it comes to Taiwan, it will not only be Taiwan, but also NATO, Japan, South Korea, Philippines and (with AUKUS), Australia, but don’t expect to see any American boots on the ground. In an in-depth analysis by Martin Indyk (former United States Ambassador to Israel), entitled The Strange Resurrection of the Two-State Solution, he talks of a peacekeeping force to maintain order and, to prevent friction with the Israel Defence Force, saying the peacekeeping force would need to be led by a US general, but “There would be no need for American boots on the ground: troops could come from other countries friendly to Israel and acceptable to the Palestinians, including Australia, Canada, India, and South Korea. Sunni Arab states should be invited to participate.” But not America? It is outrageous.


The US is the world’s sole military superpower, spending more on its military then the ten next highest spending countries combined. On the other hand, China is now seen as the world’s sole manufacturing superpower. Its production exceeds that of the next nine largest manufacturers combined. In a semi-humorous observation, the South China Morning Post writes “Beijing is spreading authoritarianism through producing goods and building infrastructure around the world, while the US is promoting freedom and democracy by bombing and selling weapons”.


The US is currently engaged in conflict against Russia, it is deeply involved in the war in the Middle East, and it threatens war with China.


Joe Biden


Biden and Trump adopt radically different approaches. Biden aims to restore US greatness through ideological alliances which will inevitably lead to regional blocs. Former Harvard professor and historian, Niall Ferguson contends that a second Trump term would be better for Australia than a re-elected President Biden who, Ferguson claims cannot be trusted not to “screw up” the global world order further. Ferguson adds that “If you give Biden another four years, God knows what will be left of the Pax Americana”. Australian author, Mike Scrafton recently wrote that while a Trump administration might mean domestic chaos, the danger is that Biden is far more inclined to conflict and war and would be more likely to lead the world into a catastrophic war.


Special Council Ben Hur recently found that 81 year old Biden’s conduct in retaining classified information after his term as Vice President ended, presented “serious risks” but he would not be charged for his actions as he was likely to present himself as “a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory”. He could not remember when his role as vice president began or ended nor could he remember when his son Beau had died. Surely, if you’re too senile to stand trial, you are too senile (even too dangerous) to serve as the president of the most powerful nation on earth.


Biden’s approval numbers are near historic lows and only one third of American voters approve of his foreign policy.


Donald Trump


When Trump first entered the Oval Office, I was dismayed. Here was this trash talking politician with no experience in governance following Barack Obama, a knowledgeable and highly articulate leader. However, while Trump is justifiably criticised as unpredictable, crass and bombastic, he is the first US president since Jimmy Carter not to launch a single new military campaign! Trump even sees NATO as “obsolete”, particularly because he believes that the Europeans must contribute more to their own security. Trump questions why Europe which has three times the population of Russia and a GDP more than nine times its size, continues to depend upon Washington to defend it. Even Barack Obama attacked the Europeans in 2016 for being “free riders”.


Unencumbered by ideological dogma, Trump takes a pragmatic approach to other great powers and is willing to make deals with adversaries even using friendly and diplomatic language when talking to Putin and Xi. He could even make another diplomatic visit to North Korea. If Donald Trump’s approach to these leaders brings the prospect of world peace, then I am all for it. Going to war over ideological differences is nothing short of insane. Trump’s potential reappearance might bring real change in America’s international positioning and could perhaps open new opportunities for the rest of the world – even peace.


And another thing, despite the insults, I remain of the view that in weeks to come, Trump might well nominate Nikki Haley as his VP running mate. That combination would almost certainly seal Biden’s fate.


Trump is today engaged in multiple court challenges many of which are rightly criticised as politically motivated. It is difficult to avoid comparisons with the imprisonment in Malaysia of Anwar Ibrahim on politically motivated charges of sodomy, the house arrest in Myanmar of political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the recent convictions of Imran Kahn in Pakistan. Can America today even claim legitimacy as a “democracy”.


Kamala Harris v Nikki Haley?


With Joe Biden’s age and mental faculties being seriously questioned and Donald Trump being subjected to never-ending litigation, with the risk of being disqualified from running as president, the intriguing possibility emerges of a contest between Kamala Harris and Nikki Haley for the US presidency.


Harris is 59 years of age while Hayley is 51. Harris has extensive experience in the White House and will have served four years as Biden’s Vice President. She has been held to a different, higher standard than previous VPs and has arguably been unfairly judged, but many now see her on a firmer footing. She is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants.


Nikki Haley served under Trump as the US ambassador to the United Nations and before that as the governor of South Carolina. Haley is remarkably articulate. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants from the Punjab.


Just imagine – two highly intelligent, experienced, youthful women, both of colour contesting the Presidency of the United States of America! That could be the best outcome of all.


"AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM" - HEAR THE OTHER SIDE!




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