Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
3 April 2017, 13:33
The US president has put pressure on China to act on North Korea ahead of a summit this week. David Mellor says this is dangerous for the whole world.
Donald Trump needs to make his mind up whether he’s a blogger, or the President of the United States. He can’t be both. What he has just said about North Korea is beyond a joke.
The blogger Donald Trump can perfectly readily say that the Chinese government should take action against the rogue regime in North Korea, and if they don’t, the Americans should.
But as President, Trump is a fool, and a dangerous one, to say that publicly, in advance of the visit of China’s President Xi to the US later this week.
Of course Trump is right. Kim Jong-Un is a threat to the safety of the world. And, at some point soon, will have the capability to deliver nuclear missiles almost anywhere he wants. This unstable young man is plainly crazy. He reminds me of one of the madder Roman Emperors, all of whom were put down quite quickly. And it’s not wrong for Trump to want to do same thing to Kim.
What is wrong – almost criminally wrong actually – is to throw down a public gauntlet to the Chinese as he did in his FT interview, demanding they take action, or America will take action unilaterally.
This is foolish at so many levels. First of all, President Xi is a proud Chinese leader. He cannot appear to be bossed around by Donald Trump. For the Chinese, face is all important. Trump has all but determined, by his stupid, blustering words, that nothing will be achieved on North Korea at this summit.
Why couldn’t he just sit down with President Xi, and say to him, between us privately, we’ve got to do something about Kim.
After all, what if President Xi had said to Trump, that unless the US does something about the Bahamas, the Chinese are going to take unilateral action?
China is attached to North Korea, with an almost 1000 mile border. It’s not possible for unilateral action to be taken by Trump that wouldn’t have serious consequences for the Chinese, and just as America couldn’t allow the Russians to interfere in Cuba, so the Chinese can’t allow the Americans to unilaterally attack North Korea.
Secondly, Trump’s blustering about an American attack forgets the fact that for decades now the North Koreans have been putting all their military and strategic assets deep underground, or in the midst of mountains. So the idea that Trump can just order a few bombers to take off and sort everything out is crass even by Trump’s own standards.
This is typical of the Trump administration. You may recall that his Secretary of State, a full time oilman and part time Putin arse-licker Rex Tillerson, said early on that America would deny the Chinese access to their militarised atolls in the South China sea. Only if you want to start a war, Rex.
When will Trump and his gang learn that brutish bluster like this will get them nowhere?
It all puts me in mind of the early days of George W Bush. Bush side-lined experienced voices in the State Department. Trump has sacked most of the leading officials in the State Department, and not replaced them.
So policy is being run by a small clique of Trump insiders who know little or nothing about the world outside Manhattan, big money, and fashionable holiday resorts. Allegedly his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a Manhattan property developer, is leading the preliminary talks with the Chinese Ambassador about the summit. That’s reassuring, isn’t it?
But back to George W Bush. A bunch of neo-cons, with ideological convictions not matched by experience, side-lined the State Department experts, and got Bush, assisted by the wretched Tony Blair, to invade Iraq. What were the consequences of that? Absolutely disastrous.
What will the consequences be of a unilateral attack on North Korea? Frankly, too dreadful to contemplate.
Donald Trump is amusing, when clumsily dealing with Congress over Russia, or with his inept attempts to ban perfectly innocent visitors from the Middle East.
But make no mistake, with these North Korea threats, he has become a serious danger to global peace and security.
He’s like an immature kid in a fireworks factory with a box of matches.