Paddy: Trump’s tweets could trigger war

Paddy Ashdown has been speaking to PoliticsHome about the development of UK foreign policy in the age of Trump and how the US President’s unpredictable actions have an unsettling impact on the world.

“It does not mean that the Atlantic axis is going to be less important, but it ceases to be our primary axis on which to base our defence and probably our foreign policy as well.”

“That relationship must be much more mature, where both sides realise that there will be times when their interests in the world diverge,” he explains, citing US policy on Iran and Israel as two examples.

Beyond these ‘differing interests’ Ashdown presses the Government to  distance itself from the “irrational” Trump approach on “tinder pile” issues like North Korea.

He says the Trump tactic – of mocking and baiting Kim Jong Un on Twitter, alongside battle-cry threats of “fire and fury” – simply creates a space for North Korea to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, as shown by its offer of talks and participation in the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea.

“We are used to a US president who is careful, thoughtful, intelligent and well informed, and we don’t have that now at the moment at all,” Ashdown laments.

“I can see five piles of tinder around the world, any one of which through inadvertence, stupidity or just blundering could be set alight… any one of which could have the capacity to ignite a much wider conflagration. And you want somebody blundering around the world, firing off tweets? In these very difficult circumstances I don’t think that’s the way to make a safer world. In a world as fragile, turbulent and close to war on several fronts as ours, I don’t think that’s a balanced and wise strategy.”

Ashdown berates Theresa May for getting into bed with the US president too quickly when she went to Washington a year ago, holding his hand on the White House grounds and offering him a state visit to Britain with all the trimmings. He says those who “took seriously the idea that Mr Trump was genuinely going to be producing a great trade deal” for Britain after Brexit were “really clinging to every straw on the Government side”. Damningly, he says he would not be surprised if the quality of that hoped-for trade deal is in fact affected by the shelving of the state visit plans. “I don’t think it’s at all beyond the expectation one has of Mr Trump’s actions that he will actually give us a bad trade deal particularly because he hasn’t had a state visit or a state banquet,” the peer predicts. “I think that’s what we are getting to.”

You can read the whole interview here.

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  • Geoffrey Payne 19th Jan '18 - 12:38pm

    It is worse than “driving a wedge”. Trump has been playing a game of chicken with North Korea. In the game of chicken, imagine you are in a car hurtling towards an edge of a cliff. The first one who jumps off is called “chicken” and so loses. The danger is that the winner gets killed. Or maybe both.
    That is how it is with the nuclear confrontation taking place right now. It is temporary suspended for the winter Olympics which North Korea highly values. And then after that it may well start again.

  • Arnold Kiel 19th Jan '18 - 1:22pm

    Luckily, in this game between Trump and Kim Jong Un one player is rational.

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '18 - 2:38pm

    Arnold Kiel says that “luckily in this game between Trump and Kim Jong Un one player is rational”. But which one?

  • Arnold Kiel 19th Jan '18 - 3:18pm

    Not the one who refers to the other by reference to his height.

  • John Marriott 19th Jan '18 - 4:06pm

    Nor the one who brags about the size of his ‘nuclear button’, I assume. You couldn’t make it up, could you?

  • Why look at Trump – we have problems in the UK. Jo Cox was killed here and the media and politicians like Farage were not censured and have continued to throw around abusive terms.

  • John Marriott 20th Jan '18 - 10:02am

    Alistair. Sadly you are correct. Had Hitler triumphed over us in 1940 there would have been plenty of people over here willing to man the gas ovens! Thank goodness, in a way, that their modern equivalents seem to confine themselves largely to social media, which I intend to continue to avoid.

  • I am not a Trump fan by any stretch of the imagination, but holding him at the same level as Kim is embarrassing. Get a grip people.

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