Some of the statements coming out of the White House such as the idea that more countries should get nuclear weapons or that climate change is a Chinese hoax may appear deranged but actually do constitute a real threat that needs to be vigorously opposed, says KEN LIVINGSTONE.
Donald Trump’s stances on two issues — climate change and nuclear weapons — illustrate clearly how reactionary and dangerous to us all his presidency is.
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that the world’s climate is changing, the president-elect has long been on the side of the deniers.
In fact, he has even said climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, tweeting in 2012 that China had devised this hoax in order to secure an unfair trade advantage: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”
He also made a speech to business leaders saying he wanted to remove 75 per cent of all regulation and that environmental regulation was a particular problem — not only he would speed up getting environmental permits, but also that in most cases any development would be given a permit.
He has said he will rip up Barack Obama’s Climate Plan which represented the small measures Obama took in a positive directions.
Since 2012 Trump has said there may be some connection between human activity and climate change but the question is how much and, if this is a change of heart, it certainly isn’t affecting his policies in this area, which will be unmitigated disaster.
Already, in his short time in charge, he’s approved the Dakota pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline that Obama said no to.
He’s also put a climate denier in charge of EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency) and a leading representative of the fossil fuel industry in the form of Rex Tillerson, of Exxon Mobil fame, as secretary of state.
And to top it all of he wants to pursue fracking.
Internationally, he’s threatened to exit the Paris agreement. The impact of this would be disastrous. Having the US on board is essential in trying to meet the goal of keeping the future increase in global temperatures below 2°C as the US is the second-leading emitter of greenhouse gases after China.
Progressives need to be clear that this is not a technical matter. The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees warming, for example, is the difference between life and death for millions of people — mostly in developing countries.
And then we come to his stance on nuclear weapons and the possibility of a new arms race.
As Kate Hudson of CND recently put it: “In uncertain times the last thing anyone needs is the most powerful man on earth kicking off a new nuclear arms race. But that’s exactly what president-elect Trump did just before Christmas.”
Hudson was responding to Trump tweeting that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The scale of the US current nuclear arsenal is already astounding — it has 7,300 nuclear warheads and already has plans to spend over £282 billion modernising and maintaining them over the next 10 years.
As Hudson also said: “Some of these weapons are many, many times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, so the US already has the capacity to destroy all life on earth.”
There is then absolutely no need to further build up this arsenal of destruction, although perhaps hoping to get the Chinese to enter an arms race ties in with Trump’s overtly anti-China stances on the international stage.
Also, during the presidential election campaign, Trump promised to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran.
Again, this is no small matter. What is the alternative to this internationally negotiated deal to end sanctions and reduce nuclear facilities?
If Iran goes back to the nuclear route, what other countries may join them? Indeed, Trump has also said more countries should get nuclear weapons, saying he’d be OK about an arms race in Asia, mentioning Japan and South Korea.
And of course this also linked to the growing concern that Trump will be a president for war and George Bush style US-imposed “regime change.”
The now disgraced General Michael Flynn seemed to have had something of an axis of evil-style hit list when he said: “We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela,” adding that “along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organisations such as Iran, al-Qaida, the Taliban and Islamic State.”
This could be funny if it wasn’t so worrying.
But we also need to be clear that there is an alternative — the opposition to Trump is growing in the US and around the world, including here in Britain, on a range of issues on a daily basis.
In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn showed real leadership on this issue, being the first national political figure to call on Theresa May to withdraw her offer to Trump of a state visit, saying: “Let no-one be in doubt that I will oppose and the Labour Party will oppose all those who fan the flames of fear at home and abroad and that the Labour party stands unequivocally with those demonstrating [against Trump] and will do so until we are victorious.”
Today in London, hundreds of activists are organising a summit to protest at Trump’s visit and on Monday thousands will be demonstrating again — let’s make sure protesting against Trump’s international agenda, alongside his fanning of the flames of fear, is at the centre of these actions.
First published in the Morning Star