Saturday, May 26, 2018

Trump does not merit Nobel peace prize

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As the faithful chanted "Nobel, Nobel" at a recent Trump election-style rally, the US President couldn't have looked more self-satisfied as if he had planted a flag on the summit of Mount Everest and abseiled down. He basks in the warm glow of accolades and always likes to go one better than his predecessor Barack Obama who got one prematurely that was ultimately undeserved.

The idea that Trump has miraculously tamed 'Rocket Man' is gaining traction. At least 18 Republican lawmakers have pitched it to the Nobel Committee based on the President's "tireless work to bring peace to our world".

Forgive me if I am missing something but what has Trump done other than roll-out serial fire and fury tweets that could just as easily have sparked a nuclear conflict had the North Korean leader been as crazy as he was believed to be? Are we to suppose that Kim Jong-un has been beaten into submission, eager to offer up his nuclear deterrent on a plate without asking for anything in return?

Does the use of threats and personal insults constitute a new tool in America's peacemaking? Sure, the imposition of economic sanctions will have been a factor in Kim Jong-un's decision-making but without Beijing's compliance those sanctions could not have bitten.

All eyes on key meeting
Cutting through the dross, this mission is yet to be accomplished; far from it. Admittedly, the signs are hopeful. Optimism is in the air that the Korean Peninsula can at last be unified and denuclearised but the devil is very much in the details. Much depends on the upcoming historic meeting between the leader of the free world, so called, and the iron-fisted dictator. Trump has said on several occasions if he doesn't like what he hears, he will walk.

Putting aside the optics of the two Korean leaders behaving like long-lost brothers at the DMZ's Peace House and the historic declaration that resulted, Kim is not foolish enough to trust his country's arch enemy.

He will no doubt recall the fate of Saddam Hussain who destroyed Iraq's WMD during the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, not to mention that of Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi after he had disbanded his nuclear programme to regain his nation's place within the community of nations. He will remember the breakdown of a 1994 deal his grandfather made with the Clinton administration that collapsed when both sides accused the other of reneging on their pledges.

I would predict that assurances from the White House to the effect N. Korea would not be attacked once it was nuclear-free will not wash. The only player Kim could rely upon despite a recent cooling of relations is China. Beijing could be an effective guarantor were it to place its Korean neighbour under its nuclear weapons umbrella.

In fact, Trump initially slammed the efforts of South Korea's President Moon Jae-in to pursue detente with the North. He threatened to pull the US out a free-trade agreement without South Korea and tweeted, "South Korea is finding as I have told them that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work; they only understand one thing." Yet now that the leaders of the two Koreas have laid the groundwork, Trump has no qualms about taking all the credit.

And where is that wonderful Israel-Palestinian peace plan that the US president promised 17 months ago. Nobody has seen it. Chances are it doesn't exist. He has deployed National Guard troops on America's border with Mexico that is supposed to be a US ally and has closed the door on Cuba's emergence from isolation.

This is the man who according to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough once asked a foreign policy adviser "Why can't we use nuclear weapons?"

Trump is no Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. He is anything but a peacemaker and is only one of the several participants in the complex Korean equation, all of which have done far more than the US leader to get to this positive point. Hopefully, Nobel's decision-makers will resist making yet another mistake.

The writer is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East
Source: Gulf News

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