Donald Trump and foreign policy

This video from England says about itself:

Stop Trident rally: Jeremy Corbyn and celebrities join thousands in CND London demonstration

29 February 2016

Top politicians and celebrities join thousands of anti-nuclear weapons activists as they hold a mass rally in London.

By Carol Turner in Britain:

Foreign policy: It’s time for a fresh approach

Saturday 7th January 2017

While Trump’s contradictory views on international policy leave us all perplexed, an upcoming London and SOAS CND conference will explore the global challenges ahead. CAROL TURNER explains why the conference is not to be missed

WHAT exactly does the prospect of four years of a Donald Trump presidency hold? As his inauguration approaches, that question’s on all our lips.

Does January 20 2017 signal a dramatic about-turn in US foreign policy? Will Trump really increase America’s nuclear arsenal and kick-start another arms race?

With no past political offices to judge him by, it’s difficult to get a handle on what’s in store. Trump’s racism, misogyny and homophobia situate him squarely in the camp of social conservatism; his business interests permit no doubts about where he stands on the economy.

But his apparently contradictory views on international affairs leave many of us a bit perplexed. He might be a head-in-the-sand climate change denier, but whatever else he is, Trump’s no idiot. That’s not how you get to be president of the USA. And the pundits, who lined up throughout his campaign to tell us he was, have done no-one any favours.

By encouraging us to disregard him as a bigot or a moron, they diverted attention away from the real dangers Trump poses.

By reinforcing a view that his bid for the world’s top political spot could never succeed, they helped disarm his opponents — leaving Trump a free run to speak to voters over the heads of a failed political Establishment.

Amid all the election chatter, one of the most sensible comments I heard came from a US analyst on the day after the results were out. He argued that Trump had won because he reinforced what his supporters already believed.

Disregarding truth or reason, Trump told them what they wanted to hear. Preferring rational debate to the politics of the Twittersphere, I too found Trump offensive. His message wasn’t one I wanted to hear.

An American friend told me she’d blocked every one of her lifelong friends whose Facebook page gave the slightest hint of sympathy with his views.

Nevertheless, his campaign strategy served him well. And we’re all left wondering what a Trump world is going to look like.

Does he really want to reset US policy in the Middle East, focussing on Daesh (Isis) rather than ousting unsympathetic regional powers like Assad in Syria? Is praise for Vladimir Putin the admiration of a wannabe strong leader? And why court Russia but confront China? Over Taiwan too, the issue most likely to prompt a breach in Sino-US relations.

Russia remains the nearest thing to a military challenge the US faces. But strategically speaking, it’s a declining power with a weak economy skewed by an overreliance on petroleum.

China on the other hand, a rising power, is the United States’ real rival in the years ahead. Perhaps Trump’s not so lacking in political nous as not to see this. Is he after driving a wedge between China and Russia? Their relations have progressed apace since the turn of the new century with regional initiatives like the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation.

But if so, how likely is Trump to succeed? These are just a few of the million-dollar questions that New Approaches to Foreign Policy sets out to address. After a welcome from a new generation of nuclear disarmament campaigners, including Haleigh Copley from Peace Action USA, the first panel will discuss the international impact of Trump in the White House.

Ambassador Manuel Hassassian will reflect on Palestinian prospects under a president who’s “very strong on Israel.” He’ll be joined by Keith Bennett, former editor of Asian Times, who’ll examine China’s growing concerns and by Larry Sanders of the Green Party. Larry completes the trio with some brotherly insights into Bernie’s campaign for the Democratic nomination and the state of US opinion.

Reflecting on a different set of challenges ahead, a second panel will focus on the likely effects of new and emerging weapons on future security. Biologist Professor Steven Rose will talk about neuro-weapons. This field covers everything from stimulation devices to artificial drugs to natural toxins, some of which are already used by the military.

Chris Cole from Drone Wars will update us on unmanned vehicles, which nowadays include underwater as well as aerial drones.

During the debate on Trident replacement, advocates argued that susceptibility to drone attacks was decades away from reality. That lie was publicly laid to rest, when the Chinese navy seized just such a US drone operating in the South China Sea recently.

The final session ends on a more optimistic note, considering alternative approaches to human security.

CND’s Kate Hudson will celebrate the historic decision of the UN general assembly to open discussions about a global ban on nuclear weapons.

The initiative, led by African states, was voted through with a big majority but opposed by Britain and the US.

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, a vicechair of Parliamentary CND, will consider the fallout from Parliament’s shameful vote to replace Trident, and Ann Feltham, Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s parliamentary coordinator, will share her experiences of helping push British arms sales to Saudi Arabia up the political agenda.

With plenty of time for audience views on all these topics, this conference is sure to be a lively start to the political year. We hope you’ll join our debate next Saturday.

Carol Turner is chair of London Region CND and author of Corbyn and Trident: Labour’s continuing controversy, available from Public Reading Rooms at New Approaches to Foreign Policy will be held on January 14 at SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London from 12pm to 5pm.

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