We need maximum opposition to Trump’s state visit next week to build a movement to save the environment, writes KEN LIVINGSTONE.
With Donald Trump coming here on a state visit next week, it’s worth restating just what a threat to humanity he is.
In particular, it is important to raise how his stance on two issues — climate change and nuclear weapons — illustrates clearly how reactionary and dangerous his presidency is to us all.
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that the world’s climate is changing, the Trump has long been on the side of the deniers, and his actions in office have gone alongside this.
Back in 2012 he went as far as to say that climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese, tweeting 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.”
In office he has ripped up Barack Obama’s Climate Plan, which represented the small measures Obama took in a positive direction, and Trump’s own policies in this area are nothing short of an unmitigated disaster, from early approval of the Dakota pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline that Obama said no to, to putting a climate change denier in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Internationally, on June 1 2017, Trump announced that the US would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, stating that “the Paris accord will undermine [the] economy,” and “put [the US] at a permanent disadvantage.”
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.
As socialists concerned about the future of humanity, we need to be clear that this is not a technical matter. The difference between 1.5°C and 2°C warming, for example, is the difference between life and death for millions of people — mostly in developing countries.
And then we come to Trump’s stance on nuclear weapons and the possibility of a new arms race.
Early in his presidency, Trump tweeted that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
Then in October last year he announced that he plans to “terminate” the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
On the international stage, this has raised massive concerns about the return of cold-war-style tensions over US and Russian deployments of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and elsewhere and the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New Start).
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.
There is then absolutely no need to further build up this arsenal of destruction, and such moves represent a real escalation of the nuclear danger.
Trump also kept to his election promise to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran, and now seems to be building up to war on the country.
And of course Iran is not the only place in the world where Trump is aggressively pursuing war threats, illegal sanctions and other means of intervention with the aim of “regime change” in line with US corporate interests.
In neighbouring Latin America, he has dramatically tightened the blockade on Cuba, introduced sanctions on Nicaragua, and promoted coup and war threats, plus sanctions that have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Venezuela.
It also now appears that the Evo Morales left-wing government of Bolivia is also on the expanding US “regime change” hit list.
But we also need to be clear that there is an alternative and that is why it is worth standing up to Trump around the world.
Opposition to Trump is now growing in the US, globally, and here in Britain, on a range of issues.
In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn has shown real leadership on this issue since Theresa May first floated the idea of a state visit for Trump, and spoke at the massive demonstration last year.
This year again he has been at the forefront of opposition to the state visit, saying: “Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a state visit to honour a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric,” and adding that “maintaining an important relationship with the United States does not require the pomp and ceremony of a state visit. It is disappointing that the Prime Minister has again opted to kowtow to this US administration.”
This Tuesday in London, tens of thousands of us will be demonstrating again — let’s make sure protesting against Trump’s international agenda of war and climate change denial, alongside his fanning of the flames of fear, is at the centre of these actions.
First published by the Morning Star.