By Owei Lakemfa
HURRICANE Maria made a landfall on the Caribbean on Tuesday, tearing homes and towns, leaving so massive destruction, that humanity is still trying to comprehend it.
The Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, could not make it to the United Nations in New York where fellow world leaders were gathered for the General Assembly. He sent out a May Day message: “ My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding…I have been rescued…So far, we have lost all money can buy and replace”.
Hurricanes, also known as typhoons and cyclones, have no room for protocols and niceties; once water evaporates in the ocean, dark clouds gather and winds rise above and propel them, they become a furious force characterised by high the winds, speed and rotation, noisily sweeping through the ocean and making landfall leaving devastation and sorrow, injuries and death.
Maria was not the only hurricane that made a landfall on Tuesday, another Category Five typhoon, Hurricane Trump, also did, but it was at the UN General Assembly. Exhibiting the characteristics of the hurricane with a mind on massive destruction, United States President, Donald Trump, infamously declared before the world body which was established in 1945 to prevent war that he may have no choice but to “totally destroy North Korea” and its 25.4 million people!
He had started his maiden speech at the General Assembly by awarding himself high grades for his leadership of his country. Where the UN is supposed to be a citadel for world peace, Trump, like an excited schoolboy, announced with flourish: “it has just been announced that we (US) will be spending almost 700 billion dollars on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been (sic).”
Then he talked about American youths fighting alongside their allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. A point here is that despite its participation in many wars, none, except its own civil war has ever been fought on American soil. So it can be concluded that Americans have not truly experienced war and its devastation. For Trump, the civil war in Ukraine and China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea are not issues for mediation and dialogue, but for war until victory because “if the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”
Trump’s harshest words were reserved for what he called “the depraved regime in North Korea.” His characterisation may not be objective as America in the three-year Korean Civil War from June 25, 1950, lost at least 55,000 soldiers. Trump might not have forgotten this and the fact that it was unable to over-run North Korea despite such huge loss.
His primary focus is how to deal with the North Korean leadership whom he characterised as a “band of criminals”. Threatening the country with annihilation, he declared: “It is time for North Korea to realise that the denuclearisation is its only acceptable future.” The irony is that the most nuclearised country in the world is the US itself with 6,970 nuclear weapons in contrast to the four North Korea has. Aside the two, only seven other countries have nuclear weapons: Russia, Israel, China, France, Pakistan, United Kingdom (UK) and India. But rather than canvass for a nuclear-free world like President Muhammadu Buhari advocated, Trump wants America and its allies to have nuclear capability.
The only country in world history to voluntarily agree to virtually restrict its nuclear activities, is Iran. In an historic 109-Page Agreement signed with the US, China, Germany, France, UK and Russia on behalf of the UN on July14, 2015 in Vienna, Iran agreed to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent and limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67% non-military nuclear power. Also the signatories are to strictly monitor the Agreement.
Over ninety countries endorsed this agreement. The then American President, Barack Obama proclaimed the agreement “meets every single one of the bottom lines we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off.” Since then, Iran has kept to its side of the Agreement and the monitoring countries express satisfaction with this.
However, Trump this week decided he was going to rip the Agreement into shreds. Employing un-parliamentary language which is strange in UN culture, Trump described the elected Iranian government as a “reckless” and “murderous” regime which “masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” and Iran as “an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
It accused Iran of funding terrorists “that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbours.” He claimed that Iran also shores up “Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship (in Syria) fuels Yemen’s civil war and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.” These are essentially value judgments as President al-Assad was democratically elected and but for his government’s tenacity, the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist organisations like the al-Nusra Front would have taken over Syria and established their first government. The irony is that the United States, back in 2014 recognised ISIS and al-Nustra as ‘freedom fighters’ fighting to overthrow the al-Assad ‘dictatorship’.
Trump also mentioned al-Qaeda, but anybody with a basic knowledge of that organisation knows that neither the Iranians nor the Russians would ally with it. But it was under such false claims that America invaded Iraq and overthrew Sadam Hussein. Having splashed Iran with tar, Trump demanded the abrogation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement. He claimed: “that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”
Trump’s lack of seriousness can be gleaned from his speech which sought international consensus to deal with North Korea over nuclear weapons, and in another breathe repudiates the international agreement with Iran endorsed by most countries of the world, over the same nuclear issue. This is not surprising since he is doing same with the Paris Climate Change Agreement endorsed by the rest of the world.
Trump added the comical; he claimed: “We are guided by outcomes, not ideology,” giving the impression ideology is unimportant. Then proceeds to attack countries that do not practice the capitalist ideology of the US. In this Cold War mind frame, he denounced Venezuela, China, Cuba and Russia (successor country to the Soviet Union) claiming: “ wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.” It is truly difficult to decide who is more a statesman and less dangerous to world peace; Kim Jong Un of North Korea whom Trump called the “Rocket man” or Hurricane Trump.
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