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  Opinion   Columnists  02 May 2017  How long can Trump last as a bully?

How long can Trump last as a bully?

The writer is a former Pakistan high commissioner to India and ambassador to the US and China
Published : May 2, 2017, 1:49 am IST
Updated : May 2, 2017, 1:49 am IST

If the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight nobody will be there to record it.

US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)
 US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

In 1947 members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) developed the symbolic Doomsday Clock after the horrific US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — which remain the greatest single acts of terror in human history. If the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight nobody will be there to record it. Human history will have ended.

The clock was first set at seven minutes to midnight. The closest it came to midnight was in 1953 after the US and the USSR conducted hydrogen bomb tests. It was two minutes to midnight! Another close encounter was during the Cuban missile crisis. Since then, the most dangerous moment has been the election of an ignorant, belligerent and unstable person as President of the US. The clock today shows two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.

Mr Trump says human-generated climate change is a liberal hoax. He is de-funding and dismantling the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). He has effectively withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. Scientists are in almost unanimous agreement that if the global temperature rises more than two degrees Celsius above what it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution irreversible developments would cause irreparable damage to life systems on Earth.

Current reports of the US developing a global first-strike nuclear capability could herald the end of the world. Mr Trump says he will go to war to prevent Iran or North Korea developing nuclear weapons while abetting Israel’s illegal nuclear arsenal. He talks of keeping “all options on the table” including the threat of nuclear strikes against non-nuclear countries. Iran negotiated a nuclear deal that Mr Trump threatens to tear up. He also threatens Iran because of its alleged “terrorism” i.e., opposing US-Israeli-Saudi hegemony in the Middle East. The US supports Israel’s rejection of a nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East. This would eliminate any Iranian plans to develop nuclear weapons. Iran supports the proposal. But the US wants Israel to retain its monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This ensures no Middle East settlement will ever happen. It also ensures future wars and nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock continues to approximate midnight.

In Syria, Mr Trump has attacked a joint Syrian/Russian airbase on the basis of unproven allegations. Together with provocative US-led military exercises on Russia’s borders in the Baltic, these developments have compelled Moscow to anticipate and prepare for war. The US also dropped a 21,000 kilogramme “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan as a warning to Russia and China.

The most immediately dangerous situation, however, is North Korea. Mr Trump has sent an “armada” and is threatening a devastating military assault if North Korea continues to test nuclear-capable missiles. In turn, North Korea threatens a pre-emptive war. It prefers to threaten war if China cannot stop Pyongyang.

China is willing to cooperate and has taken measures against North Korea. But, despite American military supremacy, China has made clear it will resist an American military assault and/or engineered regime change in North Korea. Nor will China countenance North Korea’s absorption into South Korea as long as South Korea and Japan remain militarily allied to a belligerent US. This iron Chinese resolve has made Mr Trump blink.

China is ready to be a strategic partner of the US for global and regional peace. But the US must decide whether or not it accepts China as an equal strategic partner, especially in East Asia and the Western Pacific. Mr Trump cannot bully and threaten if the world is to move away from midnight on the Doomsday Clock.

Pakistan is among the countries most exposed to climate change, unmanageable population growth, leadership corruption, criminally irresponsible governance, economic collapse and nuclear catastrophe. With a Prime Minister temporarily reprieved but permanently discredited by the supreme judiciary, ask not for whom the Doomsday Clock shall toll.

Tick-tock.

By arrangement with the Dawn

Tags: nuclear weapon, donald trump, hiroshima and nagasaki