The United States has built a strong coalition recently—against itself
Ninety days into the new executive branch, and hard lines have already been drawn by the United States and North Korea. The U.S. ultimatum: no more nuclear or missile tests by Pyongyang. North Korea’s line: not a “single bullet” directed at them by the U.S.
For its part, North Korea hasn’t promised to go it alone. Forces as formidable as Russia and China might well decide that now is as good a time as any to join in against the United States. Syria has its full-blown civil war to deal with, but it could see a declaration of war against the U.S. as a way to gain favor with dissident factions. ISIL, meanwhile, hasn’t the size nor power to offer a Russia and China-led coalition anything of much value. Nor would the eastern superpowers likely want to be associated with the terrorist group.
In a scenario where the U.S. puts significant boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Syria, we might be at a significant disadvantage were North Korea then to follow through on its threats. If Russia and China sided with the North Koreans, it would be certainly set the stage for World War III.
For the first time since NATO was founded, the U.S. can’t be at all sure that other member nations would fight alongside it. Especially because of all the unilateral action the executive branch has ordered already. NATO member nations would face a hard sell to their citizens in what, to many, would look like a cleanup job for the United States.
In 2017 America, we find ourselves in a foreign policy season where both coalition-building and diplomacy are out of fashion among the most ardent supporters of the new executive. If the polls of the day are to be believed, those supporters are fewer and farther between than on election day.
I’ve often asked this question here on my ULTIMATE ERROR blog: How do so many power-hungry psychopaths make it to the highest seats of government? A part of it, in my estimation, is the lack of discernment among the populations that elect them. In other words, we’re not at all proficient in determining whether a person is merely strong-willed or is afflicted with narcissistic psychopathy.
Of course, countries without democracy—including Syria, North Korea and, to some extent, Russia and China—end up with even more pathological power-grabbers than the average. ISIL, a “wanna-be” nation, is about as undemocratic as it gets. So, we look at Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Bashar al-Assad and we think about why it is that our executive wants to tangle with this crowd.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about imbalances of power that put humankind on the edge of extinction. Will we rise to the challenge of greater discernment in our democratic choices? Or will we sink to the lowest levels humanity has ever seen by continuing to give more and more power to the power-mad.