Preorder Donald J. Trump’s new book now: “The Art of making Enemies”

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Trump is a master in creating ‘self-reinforcing diplomatic failure’

A self-reinforcing (positive feedback) mechanism is a mechanism that reinforces a certain effect, because of the ‘positive’ interplay between variables in a dynamical system.

The security dilemma is such a self-reinforcing mechanism: In an anarchistic system, the security of state A – accomplished through military capabilities and alliances – is the insecurity of state B, and vice versa.

Security in anarchistic systems is used as a justification for amassing military capabilities, but because of the security dilemma – the self-reinforcing mechanism that is activated – the military capabilities do not achieve security, but set in motion an arms race.

The security dilemma is a very powerful mechanism, that influences the threat perception and decisions of competing states in the System.

During the last phase of the life cycle of an international order, the accumulating issues and tensions in the System reinforce each other, and a self-reinforcing mechanism ‘pushes’ the System toward a critical point – s systemic crisis – when the accumulated tensions (energy) are released and are used for an ‘upgrade’ of the international order.

At present, the international order – the United Nations – is in the end phase of its life cycle. The current condition of the international order – when the security dilemma dominates the System’s dynamics – explains the inability of states and the international order to solve issues, and its volatile – irrational – dynamics.

The United States – especially the erratic behaviour of its president – to a high degree contribute to the volatility of the System’s dynamics; its policies towards North Korea and Iran illustrate this: Instead of de-escalating these issues, American policies negatively reinforce North Korea’s and Iran’s provocations (as the US defines them). ‘North Korea’ and ‘Iran’ become increasingly linked.

By continuously challenging Iran’s compliance with its nuclear deal, it becomes increasingly clear to North Korea, that agreements with the United States cannot be ‘trusted’, counted on. The US its erratic behaviour (further) convinces North Korea that a diplomatic solution – a North Korean nuclear deal – is not a viable option. Trump undermines US diplomacy, and the United Nations international order.

On the other hand – at the same time – Iran becomes more convinced, that to ensure its security from American aggression (as they perceive American actions), it must be capable to defend itself: North Korea shows that nuclear weapons deprive the United States of military options.

American responses to North Korea’s and Iran’s ‘provocations’ not only show how issues get (increasingly) linked in the System, but also how self-reinforcing mechanisms push the System towards criticality.

United States policies – and especially Trump’s uncontrolled actions – are an example of self-reinforcing diplomatic failure: Its responses/actions towards North Korea (further) complicate its dealings with Iran, and vice versa.

The title of Trump’s book – if it can ever be written – is not so difficult to guess: “The Art of making Enemies”. He is better at making enemies than deals, that is for sure.