Will Trump go to war with Russia and China?

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Ricardo Saludo

In his first week as President of the United States after his inauguration at noon today, East Coast time, the most earth-shaking question he will ponder is: Do we go to war with Russia and China?

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Not this instant, of course, but as security advisers and hawking fellow Republicans have surely been telling him for several weeks now, Russia and China may be poised to test the golden-coiffed Commander-in-Chief’s mettle in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Surely, they may insinuate, the Donald won’t be the one to blink.

Ready to rumble with Russia
The Joint Chiefs of Staff would have reported that over the past year, the West and Russia have been gearing up for possible confrontation and even conflict in Europe and the Middle East.

Last year the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance moved four battle groups to Eastern Europe, closer to Russia. Now, American and British forces are entering NATO members Estonia and Poland, to counter possible Russian aggression, the Joint Chiefs would reason.

Western fears of Russia have been high since President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, and the covert involvement of his troops in the ethnic Russian secessionist uprising in Eastern Ukraine. Before the invasion, Moscow accused the West of undermining Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, who was ousted in a popular uprising months before Moscow’s military incursions.

Those actions, NATO believes, contravene the 1991 accord between Russia, Ukraine and the West guaranteeing Ukraine’s borders in exchange for granting Moscow control over Soviet-era nuclear missiles on Ukrainian territory. After Putin’s land grab, the US and its European allies imposed tough sanctions against Russia and its key leaders.

Moscow meanwhile moved nuclear-capable missiles into the sliver of Russian territory between Poland and Estonia. The government also staged a nationwide evacuation drill involving 40 million Russians, many of them in government, in preparation for possible nuclear attack. And in recent weeks, Russia deployed its advanced S400 anti-aircraft missiles on its borders and in Syria, where it has threatened to shoot down NATO aircraft that attack Russian forces and the Syrian government troops they back.

The latest bone of contention between Moscow and Washington — or at least, the exiting White House occupant — was over accusations by the US Central Intelligence Agency that hackers under Russian government control stole emails from the Democratic Party’s computer servers, and leaked the messages embarrassing top candidate Hillary Clinton to help Trump win.

In response, outgoing President Barack Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia and threatened unspecified retaliation. For weeks after being briefed by intelligence officials, Trump dismissed the accusations. Last week he finally allowed: “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” though he was quick to add: “But look at the things that were hacked, look at what was learned from that hacking.”

Russian President Putin has denied all US intelligence accusations, and made the brilliant gesture of not retaliating in kind against Obama’s sanctions. He and Trump are set to meet on security issues, including nuclear, hypersonic and space weapons.

The American leader had mused weeks ago about reviewing the US-Russia accord limiting atomic warheads — a move sure to stir nuclear-war fears in Moscow. His meeting with Putin, of whom he has expressed good impressions, would also likely tackle NATO military deployment, which is raising Russian fears of a fourth invasion from the West, after those of Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Adolf Hitler.

The challenge from China
What about China? Unlike tensions with Moscow, which are due to NATO moves and CIA accusations, troubles with Beijing come out of the Trump administration itself.

Trouble No. 1: Newly elected Trump’s remarks last November about reviewing the One-China policy, which recognizes Beijing as the rightful government for all of China, including self-ruling Taiwan. He raised that option after Beijing bristled over his phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, the first in decades between leaders of the two governments.

Trump thought the US could use the One-China policy as a bargaining chip for Chinese trade concessions. Seasoned diplomats and international affairs experts know, however, that any move to give formal independence or recognition to Taiwan would almost surely provoke military action to take over the island.

Last week Trump told the Wall Street Journal that the One-China policy could be subject to negotiation. On Monday, two leading state-run newspapers warned that China would take strong action if Trump continues his line on Taiwan after assuming office.

“If Trump is determined to use this gambit in taking office, … Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves,” admonished the China Daily, part of the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily paper.

The Global Times, backed by the People’s Liberation Army, went further: “The Chinese mainland will be prompted to speed up Taiwan reunification and mercilessly combat those who advocate Taiwan’s independence.”

In short, if Trump plays the Taiwan card, there will be war.

Trouble No. 2: His chosen Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Senate in his confirmation hearing: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building [in the South China Sea]stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

That provoked Beijing’s second war warning. “Prepare for a military clash,” the Global Times thundered. “Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”

And fighting can flare up fast: The US Army-sponsored RAND report “War with China.” warned last October that American and Chinese forces are so fearsome that each side has the incentive and capability to mount a devastating first strike.

As President Trump ponders whether to smile or snarl at Russia and China, Filipinos can breathe a small sigh of relief that President Rodrigo Duterte will hopefully end his predecessor’s suicidal policy of letting America use the Philippines as its military platform in Asia.

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7 Comments

  1. All these are rehashed news. What’s the point of repeating them here? I thought I was going to read some in-depth analysis of what happens if….oh well, moving on to NYTimes.

  2. MARIANO PATALINJUG on

    Yonkers, New York
    19 January 2017

    A President Donald Trump will very likely withdraw support from the NATO, fuming that the other 27 members have reneged on their responsibility and commitment to financially support it annually with an amount equal to 2% of their annual GDP. Without US support, NATO will quickly unravel–and that would be just fine with his good friend VLADIMIR PUTIN, who will then be free to gobble up European nations, one by one, till he succeeds in resurrecting the ill-fated USSR

    VLADIMIR PUTIN “has the goods” on DONALD TRUMP. These are those highly incriminating photographs and videos the KGB took of Trump using Russian prostitutes in a posh hotel in Moscow a few years back. His friend Putin thus is able to hold him “by his balls!” Trump will very likely do Putin’s bidding–and that explains why the US will not go to war against Russia.

    But China is altogether another matter for Trump. The Chinese have never done a RUSSIAN “Komromat” [“Compromise”] on Donald Trump–not even one compromising photo or video showing a macho sexually-active Donald Trump using Chinese prostitutes in a posh hotel in Beijing. Trump is set to levy a 45% tariff on all Chinese exports to the United States, plus he will continue to anger Beijing by in effect challenging China’s “One-China Policy” by cultivating relations with Taiwan, and especially with Taiwan’s President who happens to be a WOMAN!

    And that’s not all of it. His Sec-of-State nominee REX TILLERSON made it clear in his confirmation hearings before the US Senate, that HE WILL DENY CHINA ACCESS TO THOSE DISPUTED ISLANDS IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA, which China has already MILITARIZED! Chinese newspapers–of course with the go-signal of Beijing–quickly threatened NUCLEAR WAR against the US!

    Given this perspective, the odds clearly are in favor of the possibility that it will be CHINA AGAINST THE UNITED STATES in a first-ever Nuclear War.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    pataliinjugmar@gmail.com

  3. You are just repeating the American side of the propaganda war. How can Russia be the aggressor when its the NATO troops that are assembling right at it doorsteps? All these maneuverings by America are just moves designed to protect the tottering US Dollar. Please read Victor Corpus’ article. As for the one China policy, how sure are you that China and Taiwan are not playing the good cop, bad cop strategy against the Americans? China and Taiwan belong to the same tribe, Han, and speak the same language, Mandarin. What makes you think they will slit each others throats for the sake of the gringo who lives 10,000 miles away and has a proven record of speaking with a forked tongue? The Chinese are smarter than you think.

    • China and Taiwan playing good cop bad cop, you suggest? Keep smoking that high quality ganja man! They may be from the same tribe (doubtful), but they are opposite ends of the political spectrum.

      Who speaks with a forked tongue? Mainland Chinese leadership and their propaganda, that’s who.

  4. Whether Trump likes it or not, he can’t. There is a group of people in the government higher than him. Those are the people that are in shadow and decide in the end. –