What If Trump Goes To War

(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

At the end of his first mandate as POTUS [1] Donald Trump is shifting gears in the foreign policy of the USA, playing hardball on four different tables.


The first is about a multilevel confrontation with China; taxes and financial restrictions are only the beginning. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are boosting their military expenditures, and the growing presence of the Chinese Navy in critical areas of the Pacific Ocean is calling for a direct response from the US and its allies. Space will become the next frontier of this match, both countries have the final goal to achieve dominance in that sector.

The second is about a change of attitude towards the South America sector; the rise of friendly leaders like Bolsonaro in Brasil and the concurrent economic crisis in Venezuela sets up the stage for another round of direct involvement in the area, with a not-so-hidden idea of cutting away a lot of unwanted external influences (Iran, Russia, China again). If the US manages to get rid of the current leadership in Venezuela, the game is over for at least ten years.

The third is about a new approach to the European allies; all the grumpy remarks towards Germany (for its business with Russia), Italy (for its newfound relationship with China) and France (for its activities in Africa) are there to show that the US will not resign from its pivotal role in the Old Continent. It’s likely that Greece will be the next cornerstone in the Mediterranean Sea (Turkey is not a priority for this administration).

The fourth is, once again, the Persian Gulf area. Combined actions from Saudi Arabia and Israel put Iran (and Qatar, by the way) in the crosshairs. The reasons for military operations against Iran are many, but it looks like that Trump will not put boots on the ground. Past experience in other administrations (Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama) show that even a hard bombing strike is ineffective against hostile countries and triggers every possible kind of asymmetric actions in the whole area (and beyond!).

I’m old enough to think cynically. Starting a war in the second half of this year could be a significant game changer in the 2020 elections. It also could be a boomerang for the ambitions of this administration. It’s easy to anticipate that such a war will compact all the opposing faction in the Republican party and force the Dems to get together their resources to push harder for a moderate candidate (Biden?).

The best choice for Trump is and will be for the months to come, to rattle his sword and wave fingers for the awe of the global media. A pity that his allies are more than willing to fabricate a replica of the Tonkin Incident [2].

If I have to take a look in my crystal sphere, I’m gonna tell you that we will have more proxy wars (current wars will go on, at least for this year). The darkest shadow in the said sphere is also telling me that some significant act of terrorism will occur before the end of this Summer, I really hope to get this wrong.

[1] Trump will run for a second term, and it’s likely that he will be elected, given the poor condition of the Democrats. Like it or not, this is the most probable scenario so far.
[2] A famous casus belli, linked here.

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