As Emeritus Chair of the Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations and former board member and officer of the American Committees on Foreign Relations, I have been privileged over many years to hear the best and the brightest experts talk extensively on U.S. foreign policy. It is not news to any readers of this editorial that America has been a steady leader in world affairs since WWII.
When President Trump was elected, I worried about his bombastic speaking and how his approach to governance and world affairs might play out. I felt whatever he proposed in domestic policy, whether I liked or not, the country would survive because of our checks and balances put into law and basic constitutional principles. With one year into his presidency, I think those principles have pretty much held true. In some instances, Congress has stepped up (not as much as I would like, but stepped up a bit nevertheless) and the courts have reigned Trump in on a series of domestic policy issues such as immigration.
What I feared most was his brash and very ego-driven approach to foreign policy. Major errors in that world could easily end up fomenting major conflicts and even take us into another war.
Although I have plenty of concerns about his positions on the Israel/Palestine issue, his loss of support among European Allies, my head scratching of his support of Putin, plus a dozen other issues, the overriding concern is and always has been nuclear war.
His most recent tweets about the size of our nuclear trigger vs. North Korea’s, and of course a double entendre over the size, gives me grave cause for concern. Experts debate the position of Kim Jung Un as he moves toward even greater irrational behavior. Taunting and irritating a person who seems irrational is worse then stupid behavior, it is down right nuts and puts the entire world in danger.
We are closer to nuclear war than any time since the Kennedy/Khrushchev standoff over the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. During that conflict, it became apparent neither leader wanted a war to start because the Russians were basing their decisions not so much on ego as an advancement of Russian foreign policy objectives.
It seems to me, we are now in a situation where both leaders, each armed with nuclear weapons, are acting out of ego and impulse. That is an extraordinary problem. One can only hope and pray that the former military men surrounding Trump are in a position to have some control over him.
by Dick Goodson
Photo via Gage Skidmore