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Opinion Columnists 13 Jan 2017 View from Pakistan: ...

View from Pakistan: Will Trump’s tweets lead to disasters?

Published Jan 13, 2017, 3:20 am IST
Updated Jan 13, 2017, 3:25 am IST
If Trump’s tweeted prescriptions are translated into policy, it could yield disasters for America.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (Photo: AP)
 President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. (Photo: AP)

Karachi: Despite its high-market valuation, Twitter is reportedly losing money. Then, the “bellicose ignoramus” (in the words of Martin Wolf in the Financial Times) who has been elected as the 45th President of the US would not be able to express US policies in less than 140 characters. Donald Trump appears addicted to this medium to communicate his feelings, facts, and non-facts reducing the discussion of serious policy issues to the level of farce.

Even prior to assuming office, Trump’s tweets have moved markets, cowed corporations into making wrong decisions, provoked official démarches from China, evoked praise from Vladimir Putin, and created disagreement between the incoming US President and the US Intel “community”.


If Trump’s tweeted prescriptions are translated into policy, it could yield disasters for America. Here are some examples.

  • Build a wall on the US-Mexican border to halt illegal immigrants. It is now to be funded ($20 billion) from the US federal budget. The wall is likely to be beaten by tunnels and bribery.
  • Question the “One China” policy as a means of coercing trade concessions from China. This crude proposal would destroy the foundation of the Sino-US relationship. It could spark a crisis in the Taiwan straits and an unwanted war.
  • Impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports. This would increase prices for American consumers and fail in reviving outdated US manufacturing jobs.
  • Coerce China to reverse North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship. This may end Chinese cooperation and embolden Pyongyang to accelerate its nuclear and missile programmes.
  • Take military action against Pyongyang. Another Korean war would devastate both North and South Korea. The possibility of North Korea’s collapse will lead to Chinese intervention.
  • Align with Russia in Syria to fight the Islamic State (not Assad). Unless the US is prepared to induct ground troops, this alignment also implies acceptance of Iran’s influence in Syria and Iraq. This would contradict Trump’s endeavour to limit Iran’s role and to strengthen the Iran nuclear deal. It will also alienate Saudi Arabia and Arab allies.
  • Lift US sanctions imposed on Russia (for its takeover of Crimea and role in eastern Ukraine). This will face strong opposition from both the Democrats and Republicans like Senators McCain.
  • Engage in a nuclear arms race (with Russia). This tweet appears to contradict the desire for normalisation with Moscow. In any case, both Russia and the US are already engaged in significant nuclear modernisation. The real bone of contention is the US plan to deploy a anti-missile system in E. Europe.
  • Reduce subsidies for Nato and Japan. This could reduce US influence in Europe; intensify the vulnerability of the Baltic states, and enhance Russia’s influence in Europe. Japan may turn to greater militarisation or seek accommodation with China.
  • Align with anti-EU parties in Europe, like France’s Front National. This may contribute to the swing under way in Europe towards the right-wing. It could erode the EU and divide Europe.
  • Support Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, thus undermining the two-state solution, the only viable prospect for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The proposal to move the US embassy to Jerusalem would confirm US alignment with Israel’s occupation and confirm the narrative of terrorist groups, like IS and Al Qaeda, that Muslims can secure justice only through the force of arms.

Trump’s approach to foreign policy is a reversion to the ruthless use of US military power and economic coercion in the 19th and 20th centuries to secure the strategic advantages that made America “great”. But the world is no longer one where the US can dictate its will. Military and economic power is more widely distributed today, between the US, China, Europe, Russia and several emerging nations.


Ignorant aggression has caused the downfall of many great nations and empires in the past. Does Donald Trump herald the decline and fall of the American empire?

By arrangement with Dawn.