APD Review: U.S. illusion of guarding world peace



By APD writer Lu Jiafei

Washington, Oct. 24(APD) -- Unwittingly or not, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is having an illusion of itself acting as the guardian of global stability.

Hours after China pledged to continue its opening up to the outside world and not to seek hegemony or engage in expansion, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said provocatively and falsely in a speech at a Washington think tank last week that China, “while rising alongside India, had done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rule-based order.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“Our nations (America and India) are two bookends of stability standing on either sides of the globe,” Tillerson claimed.

While Tillerson’s unfounded criticism of China represented a sanctimonious Washington’s perpetual prejudice against a peacefully rising power, it also served to distract attention away from serious questions of how controversial policies of the Trump administration have so far upended global stability.

To begin with, Trump’s fateful decision early this month to decertify Iran’ compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal put in peril the striking diplomatic success that has so far kept nukes off Tehran’s hand.

While Trump’s decertification claim did not pull the United States out of the deal at the moment, it opened a 60-day window in which the U.S. Congress could re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, a step amounting to violation of the nuclear deal on the U.S. side.

With its ambiguous intention to chip away at the Iran nuclear deal without scuttling it, the Trump administration was playing with fire on a nuclear-related issue by handing Congress an unrealistic wish list to work with. This not only placed Congress in a confusing dilemma but, more importantly, risked taking the world peace into uncharted territory.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate have already expressed difficulty in finding a path forward if it is going to pass changes to the deal favored by Trump but loathed by Iranians and U.S. allies, such as unilaterally imposing new “trigger points” for re-imposing nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

Secondly, the Trump administration has so far displayed an alarming inconsistency in handling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear issue, with the commander-in-chief blatantly undercutting his secretary of state’s diplomacy and publicly questioning whether diplomatic approach should give way to military action.

Many observers chose to believe that instead of impulsively lashing out at the DPRK, Trump was playing “good cop, bad cop.” However, the tactic- if there is one- does not appear to work, and his military threats have spurred Pyongyang to advance its nuclear weapon programs.

When it comes to the DPRK nuclear issue, diplomatic maneuvering- not military bluff- should always come first. But what should concern us most is the possibility that there might never be the “good cop, bad cop” ploy, and what we are witnessing is chaos and confusion deliberately created by the reality TV show celebrity turned president who, according to one of his advisers, “enjoys a little bit of chaos” in his management style.

Despite this U.S. administration’s insistence that the whole administration is “on the same page” on how to deal with the DPRK nuclear issue, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently offered us a brief glimpse into the grim reality of how Trump’s impulsiveness has pushed U.S. diplomacy to its limit.

In a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine, Tillerson acknowledged that Trump’s tweets often catch him off guard, but he tries to include Trump’s remarks online “into my strategies and my tactics.”

I cannot help wondering how Tillerson could manage to incorporate Trump’s military threats and apparent disdain for diplomacy into his diplomatic efforts, and how Trump’s apocalyptic vision of the Korean peninsula nuclear issue could reconcile itself with his generals’ stark warnings of the catastrophe of a war.

In that interview, Tillerson said that U.S. foreign policy is “resilient enough to accommodate unknowns,” including Trump’s fateful tweets. However, the message is not reassuring at all.

Lu Jiafei, researcher of APD Institute. After spending one year in Palestine covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between 2013 and 2014, Lu moved to Washignton, D.C. and covered the 2016 U.S. presidential election till the very end of Donald Trump’s upset victory. He is a political contributor to APD.