Trump’s Troubling Frivolity

The unpredictability with which America is acting abroad is troubling, especially because it gives the impression that, right now in the White House, there is very little geopolitical strategy and a rather large dose of frivolity. The launch on Afghanistan of the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the American arsenal – or the second, according to some military experts –has surprised the world once more, just days after Washington staged its first attack on the Syrian regime. This is a big demonstration of strength, a display of muscle; but it is difficult to tell if the episode is more than just propaganda.

The Pentagon states that the launch of what is known as the mother of all bombs has managed to destroy an area of tunnels and caves that served as a hiding place for the Islamic State in the eastern part of Afghanistan. Yesterday the authorities in Kabul reported that at least 34 jihadis have died, which was denied in the usual Islamic State group rhetoric. The operation, in any case, presents doubts. Firstly, because it is difficult to know what real effects the explosion of the GBY-43 bomb has had – the blast wave of which is recorded as having a radius larger than an area twice the size of Barcelona. Secondly, we are dealing with a device that began production in 2003, but one that the U.S. had never used. Obama refused to use it because it is a very controversial weapon due to its unpredictable impact. In fact, it is considered, above all, a means of psychological pressure. The Kabul government, as this newspaper has learned, is outraged because it believes that Washington has chosen its country as a laboratory for testing such debauched and “inhuman” military weaponry, as former President Karzai called it.

It seems that the order to launch the bomb did not come directly from Trump, who after describing it as “a new success of the army,” acknowledged that he has given free reign to the Pentagon high command to act in the area. What is clear is that Washington has decided to exercise hard power and, with the latest attacks in the Middle East, warns that it will not hesitate to use force in the face of any security threat. This is a warning that is also directed at the North Korean regime, sounding alarm bells because the tension in Southeast Asia is already at a maximum.

Pyongyang seems ready to carry out a new nuclear test immediately – which would be the sixth one – and Trump has sent an aircraft carrier to the region, determined to stop the dictator of the last Stalinist regime on the planet. China has called for maximum containment, asking the U.S. not to trigger a total crisis, and, for its part, Washington blames Beijing for being too patronizing in recent years with Pyongyang, thus allowing the nuclear scandal to get out of hand. It is true that the immobility of China, the only major power that has a strong relationship with North Korea, has done nothing to pacify the situation. But the issue is so delicate that it demands, above all, concerted action by the international community, rather than unilateral responses from any actor.

U.S. allies, primarily NATO, have the responsibility to make Trump understand that global security requires cooperation. But first and foremost, what must be demanded of the first power is a medium and long-term strategy. There is no room for the frivolity with which the president ordered the attack on Syria while he relaxed with “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake,” nor can he continue to give the impression that destabilizing the fragile world order is a game for him.

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