Trump’s threats of action against Syria to N. Korea need more than force

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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North Korea’s foreign minister longs for Barack Obama’s days, as he recently said that his successor Donald Trump seems to be evil judging by his tweets and statements. Irans Supreme Leader feels the same as he’s criticized Trump and said it was a bad shift that he assumed power.

When Trump warned Tehran that it was playing with fire, Ayatollah Khamenei defiantly said Trump’s statements did not scare them. This was before the US strike on the Syrian al-Shayrat air base.

It’s normal for North Korea’s foreign minister to long for Obama’s days. Obama’s term was more like an eight year nap during which evil regimes, like North Korea and Iran relaxed, developed their capabilities and expanded at the expense of others. The result was that North Korea dared to strike Japan for the first time in its history since World War II, as well as develop its nuclear weapons and missiles, so posing horrific threats to the world. Meanwhile Iran took over Iraq and Syria and is trying to do the same in Yemen.

Washington is trying to protect its most important allies in the East, Japan and South Korea. This is why it dispatched the vice president to Seoul and sent an aircraft carrier there. Despite its political weakness, the US is still the biggest power in the world. It possesses around 19 aircraft carriers and 10 of them are huge. Russia and China only have one each.

It’s normal for North Korea’s foreign minister to long for Obama’s days. Obama’s term was more like an eight year nap during which evil regimes, like North Korea and Iran relaxed, developed their capabilities and expanded at the expense of others

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

But military power alone is not enough. America is fighting away from its territories, before countries that are geographically close and are willing to sacrifice a million soldiers without being held accountable by their own people or governments. This week, China improved its military readiness and sent 150,000 soldiers to the borders with its ally North Korea that also shares borders with Russia.

Geopolitically speaking, defending South Korea is a difficult task. Its capital Seoul is only 30 kilometers away from the borders of the evil northern neighbor that threatens to bury the capital with a population is 11 million. This is why the Americans established the most fortified buffer zone in the world on the borders. There are around 38,000 soldiers in this zone.

Protecting their interests

This American-Korean struggle has a lot of similarities in terms of challenges that the international community currently confronts. North Korea looks a lot like Iran. Both countries are ideological and under a totalitarian rule which policies are mostly based on establishing a massive regional power against neighboring countries.

South Korea improved on social and economic levels and became one of the most developed and industrialized countries in the world. Meanwhile, its neighbor, North Korea, is very poor and lives under the governance of an obsessed man who spends everything the state has to fulfill his military ambitions.

This is also the case in Iran. Tehran is as rich as its Gulf neighbors in terms of natural resources. But instead of following in their footsteps and developing its economy, Iran chose to squander its capabilities and establish its policies based on domination and regional power.

The US wants to protect its interests and zones of influence, but it turned out that it neglected that a lot during Obama’s term. Today though, the US believes it must set limits to Syria’s and North Korea’s behavior and send a frank message which stipulates that it’s willing to defend its interests and regions against Russian and Chinese orientations.

Let’s keep in mind that the US has been struggling to restore its image as a strong country ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks. However, it hasn’t achieved much since then. Managing the Iraq war was a failure, and Washington’s role regressed during Obama’s eight years in power. And today, Washington is before a world which borders and influence are changing.

This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on April 18, 2017.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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