Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat
THE favourite animal in Atlanticist societies is the domesticated dog. The animal is wholly dependent for its sustenance and indeed survival on the human master (or mistress). It shows the deep springs of its (actual or feigned) gratitude by wagging its tail and repeatedly licking the master at every opportunity. The domesticated dog is slavish and wholly non-threatening, an ideal companion for tens of millions across both sides of Atlantic Ocean. The operative word is non-threatening. Both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi rendered themselves so by surrendering the WMD in their possession. However, they still behaved as though they were equals of the members of Atlantic Alliance who took away their deadly weaponry.
Saddam Hussein had (most probably falsely, according to “Reporter”, the autobiography of the brilliant journalist Seymour Hersh) been accused by British and US intelligence agencies of having launched a conspiracy to assassinate “Poppy”, not the plant grown in such profusion in Afghanistan but the term used by George W Bush when referring to his father George H W Bush. Hence, although distracted by about a year because of 9/11, once President of the United States, George W Bush made it his life’s mission to eliminate Saddam Hussein, which he finally did in a couple of years, the hanging of the man having been conveniently recorded through a cellphone. Saddam was not obsequious enough, and did not act in the slavish manner expected of him once he had been disarmed after he foolishly invaded Kuwait, so it was without dissent that he was eliminated. As for Kaddafy, even after giving up his WMD stockpile and being at the mercy of NATO thereafter, he used to growl at Atlantic Alliance, including at the United Nations. Such lese majesty had to be punished and it was.
Gaddafi and his regime were bombed out of office and the man himself was (again to the accompaniment of video recordings) sent to the Day of Judgment in a manner that would make the word “barbaric” appear to be a severe understatement. Images of his capture and execution were met by cackles from Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy, the three responsible for the Libyan change of regime which took place in 2011. While the operation was going on, this columnist had on several occasions warned that NATO’s action in Libya would provoke a flood of refugees into Europe, together with hundreds of individuals radicalised enough to set up terror modules within the EU. Such warnings were ignored, as views coming from outside the Atlanticist lobby usually are by the incestuous, navel gazing planners and strategists of an alliance that has lost its primacy to Asia since 1997.
John Bolton is a US patriot but has had far too much exposure to Europe and way too little to Asia. Hence the disconnect from reality of some of his views, such as on North Korea, the only way to get Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to irretrievably surrender his nuclear and missile assets and capability would be war. While such a conflict would have been relatively painless during the period in office of President Bill Clinton, the potential cost in human lives and treasure climbed steeply by the close of the second term of President George W Bush. His successor ducked the issue, refusing both war as well as peace, thereby leaving a very limited menu of choices for President Donald J Trump. Although Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe apparently believes that going to war against Pyongyang is still a desirable option, it is doubtful of millions of those who voted for the LDP in previous elections would support that party under Abe were they to realize that close to 500,000 Japanese would be casualties of a war with North Korea.
Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has shown extraordinary skill in accelerating his country’s nuclear and missile programme to a stage where an attack on the DPRK by the US and Japan (South Korea under Moon Jae-in is unlikely to join such an effort) would lead to a minimum of two million casualties in the region, including hundreds of thousands of US citizens in Guam and the Philippines. Shrewd number cruncher that he is, President Trump has given primacy to an effort to convert the DPRK from a threat to an opportunity, by signalling peace and friendship rather than war. If the US and Japan (South Korea has already made that choice) wish to avoid a war that could over time ( given the effects of radiation) push casualty figures to 3.5 million, the only option is to establish a friendly relationship with Pyongyang. Prime Minister Abe, a fervent patriot devoted to making Japan great again, should encourage Japanese companies to invest in North Korea, thereby lowering to insignificant levels any situation where Japan could face a second nuclear strike after 1945, this time from the forces commanded by Supreme Leader Kim. John Bolton forgot that he was not talking as a television talk show star but as the National Security Advisor of the United States when he spoke of the “Libyan solution” being applied in the case of North Korea.
From that moment onwards, any chance that the Kim regime would agree to surrender its WMD stockpile fell to a level indistinguishable from zero. The US NSA still seems to be living in a pre-2011 world. Where promises of safety made by the US in exchange for WMD stockpiles was believed. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton destroyed that trust by the manner in which she went after Gaddafi despite the loss of trust in US promises created by George W Bush going after Saddam Hussein in a gesture to “Poppy”. President Trump can ensure that Pyongyang morph from a threat into an opportunity by ensuring that obstacles are not placed in the way of South Korea (and hopefully Japan and India, besides other countries) entering into business linkages with Pyongyang. The more these are, the lower the risk of a conflagration that could turn nuclear within days.
The period in history when Asian rulers behaved the way domesticated dogs do to their masters is over, especially in East Asia, where the countries of the region are now equal to Europe in their commercial prowess. The defining quality about Donald Trump is that he understands the real world. While taking ultra-tough positions in the beginning stages of a negotiation, he moves from that with finesse, the way he has on North Korea. As Trump’s National Security Advisor, it is time for John Bolton to get real and understand that the path he claims is possible has been shut by the mistakes made by the Sarkozy-Clinton-Cameron trio. These are the three responsible for the migration crisis that is overwhelming Europe, and yet few understand their responsibility for the deeds which resulted in the flood of refugees into Europe from North Africa and the Middle East.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.