by Ghassan Kadi
Trumps recent and sudden 180 degree turn on a number of international issues is mind-boggling, to say the least. But, if we connect the dots it becomes easier to get into the mind of the pragmatic billionaire-turned-President.
First and foremost, we must thank Obama for the “if” state of mind he gave us about Trump. Many analysts, including myself, felt hopeful when Clinton was defeated and Trump won. Given the Obama disappointment, we all learnt to reserve our enthusiasm and make optimistic statements on the condition of “if” Trump kept his promises; which we now know he obviously did not. Whether he did not, could not or did not want to in the first place, makes no difference at all because, at the end of the day, he did not keep his promises of reducing world tension and conflict.
When analysts sit and try to explain why was it that the Trump administration suddenly decided to bomb Syria, with the “chemical attack” as aside, they have been forgetting that, out of the blue, and for no reason at all, and just a few days before this incident, the Trump administration made very strong pro-Assad statements.
That was a prelude for the upcoming Xi Jinping visit. Trump wanted to present to the rest of the world that he was working against ISIS primarily, with Russia and even with Assad.
That was all meant to change the moment the Chinese Tiger laid foot on American soil.
The scenario that I am speculating on involves a direct American role in the Chemical attack, otherwise the timing would have been an almost impossible feat.
Let’s wind back the clock a bit. Soon after his inauguration, Trump told the Russians to tell the Syrians that he was prepared to stop total support for ISIS and have it eradicated on condition that Syria and Russia guarantee that they will reciprocate by kicking Iran and Hezbollah off Syrian soil. I have written a whole article about this called “The Race for Raqqa”.
The Russians and the Syrians were not either prepared to back-stab their allies or prepared to give America a central and pivotal role in the Levant. In other words, Trump’s outcries fell on deaf ears to his sheer dismay, the accomplished business man, who is not used to taking “no” for an answer. That “no” that Trump received from Russia marked a pivotal point in as far as his future relationship with Russia is concerned. For a simple minded person who judges complex international events and diplomats as being “bad”, “good” and “tough” amongst other school playground expressions, he had to make a stand to prove that he was “tough”.
Trump’s message to Xi Jinping was clear, stop supporting Russia and the USA will give you a “better deal”. The Chinese leader’s response was even clearer; don’t blame America’s problems on China and don’t interfere with our international diplomacy.
In the middle of the negotiations between the two leaders, Trump wanted to give his Chinese counterpart a clear preparedness on his part to dump Russia and any future collaboration with Russia as a prelude for closer and better relationships with China. What better way did he have than do a 180 degree turn and attack Syria, with Russian troops on the ground, and only a few days after endorsing Assad’s Presidency and fate?
The Tomahawks that hit Syria were not launched to inflict major damage because Trump clearly cannot afford to escalate the situation there between America and Russia to the point of no return. Trump’s attack on Syria was simply a message for China, telling China “for me to gain your support I am prepared to do crazy things, including dumping Russia”.
When Tillerson went to Moscow a few days after the attack on a pre-scheduled visit, he had nothing to say in defense of that attack and left Moscow “agreeing” that this should not happen again in a manner as if he was saying it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
The big fish that Trump wants to fry is not Syria. Even though in his stumbling, awkward arrogance, he may attack Syria again if he feels he needs to.
It is as if Trump is courting two potential partners; Russia and China. He tried to strike a military deal with Russia on Syria but he failed. But he also tried to strike a much more complex deal with China but this is also failing.
Ideally, Trump wants China to let go of its Island development program in the South China Sea and abandon its BRICS based economic and other strategic alliances with Russia. China is not biting.
Comes the MOAB.
There was no strategic or logical explanation or gain behind Trump’s orders to drop a MOAB on Afghanistan. It was a simple show of force and determined mentality of aggression at any cost.
Trump now wants to bring the war closer to China’s borders. He wants to turn Korea into Obama’s Ukraine. The stalemate in Ukraine will eventually give way. If NATO was going to do something against Russia it would have done it already. The new hotspot is Korea.
What Trump hopes for is a that a war against North Korea will give him enough justification to blockade China’s sea trade routes all the way down to the South China Sea under the guise of military necessity.
Trump seems confident that he can blow a devastating strike on North Korea and then follow this up with a blockade that covers the entire China Sea, north, middle and south. In his short-sightedness and arrogance, he thinks that nuclear North Korea is not going to be able to retaliate and that China will sit idle.
What is to happen in the next few days, weeks or months is going to be pivotal in deciding the short term future of humanity on this planet.
At best, the bottom line behind Trump’s new moves, if he is truly continuing to uphold the slogan of “make America great again”, is that he realized now that the American economy has been destroyed beyond repair and that he needs drastic measures, including limited nuclear wars, to restore America’s dominion. By the same token, by now, Trump would have realized that it is really the Deep State that is in charge and for him to secure his survival as President, he has to tow the line.
Irrespective of what is driving Trump; the Deep State, financial pragmatism, the shrinking global influence of the United States or any other factor or combination of the above, Trump is playing a very dangerous game which may prove to be a decisive game of Russian Roulette of global reach.
Trump is up against Russia and China, not to forget the smaller powers of North Korea and Iran. In the Levant you can add the Syrian Army and Hezbollah to the equation. Is the ailing USA up to the task? Rational thinking implies the contrary. Irrespective, the consequences of the interaction of all of those powers at play is something that we as citizens of the world have no other option but to sit back and watch.