Recently Trump has made some rather insane foreign policy boasts, that have to say the least terrified many. A group of 50 or so national security experts (quite a few of them Republican war hawk types) have declared Trump as unfit for office. It is worth looking into this, as it demonstrates not only that they may have a point, but how he would likely achieve the opposite result of what his supporters claim.
Trump has talked about abandoning long standing commitments to fellow NATO members. This is worrying given his prior statements in which he claims to admire Putin. Not to mention links between his campaign and Putin. As if to make matters worse, his daughter was recently snapped holidaying with Putin’s girlfriend. So one is forced to wonder if Trump is some sort of Manchurian candidate for Putin….and in which gulag does the moron who set this one up currently reside!
But seriously, what would be the consequences of this? We’ll already EU leaders are talking about a European Army. Now there’s numerous obstacles to this (e.g. nations like Ireland and Sweden who are neutral and non-NATO members), so my guess is that this is more of a hedge against a possible collapse of NATO thanks to Brexit and/or Trump. Although it does serve to prove a point I made sometime ago, that Brexit threatens the future of NATO.
A NATO without the Americans could hold its own against Russia. The combined NATO forces outnumber the Russians in several key areas (notably fighter aircraft, Russia has barely a hundred of the latest 4.5 generation fighters, the European arm of NATO has thousands of them!). However, the Europeans would need to pull back in many other key sectors of the world, i.e. the Americans would lose the contribution of NATO allies, they would lose access to strategic European airbases and ports, dramatically undermining America’s ability to defend itself.
Also in a NATO sans-America and the UK, only France has nuclear weapons and they have only a relatively small arsenal which is concentrated in sub’s. My guess is that there would probably be a review of this policy. Other NATO countries may end up developing their own arsenals, or are given nuke’s by the French, some of those mounted on other platforms (cruise missiles, aircraft, SRBM’s, etc.).
What Trump doesn’t get about nukes
Of course this would be very destabilising to the world, we’d be basically reversing several decades of nuclear arms limitation treaties. And to make matters worse, Trump has shown a complete lack of understanding of how nuclear weapons policy works. He’s threatened to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear armed states, like Assad or ISIS or the Iranians.
Obviously the consequences of this would be many other states (not just in Europe) would go away and either develop their own nuclear weapons, or they would do a deal with an existing nuclear power (Pakistan, China, Russia, etc.) to station nuclear weapons in their country. The end consequence of threatening Iran could be a Russian (or Chinese or Pakistani) nuclear weapons base in Iran, with Israel now only a few minutes flying time away from those missiles. Hardly progress!
Note that while Israel has nuclear weapons of its own, they are more of a national suicide weapon, a last ditch means of stopping the country being overrun. They can not be launched quickly enough to counter a threat like this and would likely be destroyed on the ground by such a strike before they could be made ready for launch (some Israeli bloggers claim their missiles are buried so deep they can’t be destroyed, this is unlikely as its virtually impossible to defend against a direct hit from a nuclear weapon, and in any event the missiles would end up being buried or entombed by a strike. Also, storing them that deep merely slows down the launch process, making it more likely they’ll be caught on the ground). Israel’s missile defence system would also struggle to deal with the likes of anti-ABM missiles like the Russian Topol-M or similar missiles the Chinese are adding to their arsenal as we speak.
In short, Trump threatening Iran could make Israel very vulnerable and it could destabilise the entire region (as Iran’s enemies in the region would look to develop their own arsenals of WMD’s….some of which would also be pointed at Israel!). And Trump’s dangerous anti-Muslim rhetoric would likely promote the Arab states who are friendly to the US at the moment, to throw in their lot with another global power (and sell their oil to them instead….and buy their military hardware….hope none of Trump’s supporters work in the US defence industry!).
What Trump doesn’t get is that a world with more nuclear weapons in the hands of more countries, many of them forward deployed and in the hands of forces in a constant state of high readiness creates a very dangerous situation. The very sort of scenario 50 years of detente has been focused on avoiding. In such a world the possibility of war starting is higher (either through accident or an escalation of tensions). And the time governments will have to decide on a retaliatory strike will be increasingly short.
If Russia and China were to start patrolling their subs off the US Eastern seaboard for example (which they will do if provoked by Trump), Washington will have about 5 minutes warning in which to decide whether or not to launch a counter strike. NATO SRBM’s in the Baltic states would reach Moscow in about the same time frame. Again the whole point of nuclear weapons treaties signed over the last few decades have been to avoid this sort of scenario, where rival leaders might have to make a quick and hasty decision.
Consider for example, the infamous Norwegian rocket incident, back in 1995, in which a sounding rocket launched off the Norwegian coast was mistaken for a US trident launch against Moscow. Yelstin’s nuclear briefcase actually activated, although fortunately as US/Russian relations were very good at the time, it was correctly concluded that it couldn’t be a real attack. Can you imagine what would happen if the same thing happened with Trump in charge?
So Trump is not only dangerously unqualified to be a national leader, his actions could well destroy America’s post-world war standing in the world. And the world that would emerge would be a very dangerous place….if indeed there is a post-Trump world.