Not a warm homecoming: Can Trump restrain himself?


The security dilemma at display.

President Trump of the United States has caused enormous damage to American interests: Trump has systematically undermined his (domestic) political reputation and the already fragile international order. His positive achievements are meagre; a fact his bragging cannot disguise.

Currently, the System – the United Nations international order – is in its final stage and (increasingly) dysfunctional. Typically for the last phase of an international order – as four preceding war cycles show – tensions and unsolved issues accumulate in the System, instead of being released. This behaviour can be attributed to a network effect that now hinders the System’s dynamics.

The accumulating tensions and issues become increasingly connected and reinforce each other. Consequently, feelings of insecurity and fear (further) increase; the ideal ‘playing field’ for politicians that base their popularity on the exploitation and reinforcement of these fears.

Trump himself – and we must realise, everything is about Trump himself – has not much to lose with fear and conflict; he thrives on the attention it gives him. Conflict – war – will ensure Trump will be centre stage, and – what history also shows – war gives (American) presidents (initial) support and popularity: The state is at stake!

Returning home – and it will not be a warm welcome, because numerous disturbing issues (including Robert Mueller) await Trump at home – after an unsuccessful visit to Asia – where Trump contributed to the further rise of China as the dominant power – Trump will again catch headlines by provoking North Korea.

Not only is the aim of these provocations to shape the news and avoid attention for the multiple controversies Trump is entangled in, but also to shape an upcoming confrontation with North Korea as unavoidable and a noble cause for the United States. For Trump it is an opportunity.

The problem with anarchistic systems is – and the current System is anarchistic, and furthermore in a dire condition – that the so-called security dilemma works as a stimulus for more tensions and more issues.

In an anarchistic system, one state’s security (for example the security of the US or of North Korea) is – causes – other states’ insecurity  (for example, in this example, of North Korea or of the US); typically, security is achieved through the build-up of military capabilities and alliances.

The US can only increase its security at the expense of the insecurity of North Korea, and vice versa. The security dilemma is a positive (self-reinforcing) mechanism that at this stage of the international order (see above) works at full speed: Because Kim Jong-Un will take countermeasures – he considers logical and unavoidable from his perspective – Trump’s ‘prediction’ (and aggressive actions) will be confirmed, and vice versa.

This powerful mechanism also prepares societies for war. By means of the security dilemma, the anarchistic System ensures ‘you’ – in this case the United States and North Korea – get the threat and enemy you ‘want’. In my research, I refer to this mechanism as ‘interacting self-fulfilling prophecies‘.

The security dilemma and ‘interacting self-fulfilling prophecies’ work as a war trap.

More constraint – especially from the United States – is urgently required.