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The shift in US policy

Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign for 2020 in Orlando, Florida. The procession was chanted with slogans like, “keep America first, a huge crowd was in attendance. Trump has managed to reduce taxes, for that matter, he has managed to provide the biggest tax cut since 1945. He has also reduced unemployment and the economy continues to grow. However, his shortcomings hide behind his stalemate policy in foreign relations, particularly when it comes to Asia, especially the Middle East.

When the rhetoric and point-scoring is over, it’s the numbers in the elections and the branding that matters. The republicans are in a fit to put up a show that displays achievement of significant milestones or status quo. As the world observes, wars and foreign policy are influenced not by national or global security but by public image of the largest political party of the great military might on the planet.

The first test case that has seen the tables turn on the eve of the re-election campaign is North Korea. In June, 2019, Trump became the first President of the United States to set foot on the territory of North Korea. In 2002, President Bush referred to Iran and North Korea as the “axis of Evil”. Since then, the deadlock on the development of nuclear weapons has seen no way forward. Donald Trump opened peace talks with Kim Jong of North Korea in 2017 but it seems that no concessions or agreements have been reached. North Korea continues to display its ballistic and nuclear capability, frequently, referring to the fact that its ballistic missiles can reach multiple targets in the United States with its hydrogen bomb, even upto New York.

According to a Survey by CNN, 70% Americans consider North Korea as an actual threat to United States security. After all invitations and call to negotiations, North Korea continues to blame the US, South Korea and its Western Allies of undue sanctions. Alternately, the US insists on phasing out of nuclear weapons for a systematic reduction in economic sanctions. Threats of military options being on the table are also used by both countries without any censorship. With no success in the North Korea conflict, Donald Trump invited Kim Jong to a visit in the DMZ, a border area between North Korea and South Korea and expressed his willingness to open a new series of dialogues. The event was covered by major United States news networks and even the North Korea state television. It was a typical Hollywood styled, television event, marking a milestone and an achievement towards peace by Donald Trump. It appears theatricals are now the need of the hour instead of military operation plans. For another event, Donald Trump invited the President of North Korea to visit Washington, which will again be a first of its kind event, a perceived victory of republicans on the foreign policy front.

Similar but not identical is the case of Iran. Donald Trump, on assuming office referred to the greatest diplomatic achievement of Obama as failure, which was, the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Iran had agreed in 2015 to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of sanctions. The deal was hailed as the victory of Barack Obama and the Democrats officially by the United States General Assembly. Comparable to Donald Trump’s crossing the border line into North Korea is the fact that Barack Obama had a telephone conversation with Iranian President, a first of its kind event since 1979.

In June, the Iranian guard shot down an American drone that they claim intruded into their airspace. Donald Trump on that very day tweeted, “Iran has committed a big mistake”.

An aircraft carrier with B-52 bombers was dispatched to the Middle East for a show of force. But all that seem to have changed as the International media reported that Donald Trump called off an air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities at the last moment. Speculations emerged that this was due to the reason that Iran had secretly entered into an arms deal with Russia purchasing the latest s-400 Anti-Air missile technology but later it appeared that the attack was called off to avoid a severe backlash in oil prices or a massive military conflict. Iran is one of the most influential countries when it comes to the Middle East. Iran is the main actor in keeping peace in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iranian fighters have been the winning hand in defeating extremist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and related terrorist bodies.

Further, Russia has played in as a variable in the equation. The 2003 invasion of Iraq has actually strengthened Iran and weakened U.S interests in the region. An attack on Iran would be nothing short of a disaster especially in the back drop of election campaign in the United States. Another war with no end in sight would be a deadly miscalculation for Donald Trump and the republicans at this point in time. So, the softening approach and a retreat towards isolation and sanctions is the safe card to play here. Till the decision of the elections, Iran is territory best left as it is. Already, Russia and China have rejected US policy towards the Middle East and have given indications of restraint. There is no telling what would be the outcome, in case US decides to venture into Iran. It could instigate a war bigger than the Second World War.

The United States is in a state of flux. These are dangerous and competitive times where there is no room for mistakes. Countries are re-aligning themselves to reap the maximum benefit out of power shifts. Pakistan, India, Brazil, Afghanistan, South Africa and Turkey are choosing sides. China and Russia are already creating a bi-polar world. In another remarkable step, the United States Government declared the military outfit Balochistan Liberation Army(BLA) and Jundullah as terrorist organizations. Pakistan army has been countering BLA and its benefactors for decades. This is a diplomatic victory for Pakistan and its foreign policy.

These two groups have been targeting Chinese nationals and development projects in Balochistan, supposedly having support from India and RAW. In July, 2019, Imran khan is to make his first visit to Washington, so ipso facto; the United States is warming up and reassuring its allegiances before the election.

Imran khan is set to meet Donald Trump with a detailed economic co-operation plan and an Afghanistan exit strategy proposal for the US If Pakistan is able to bolster its position as the emerging power in the region in wake of co-operation with China and CPEC, the United States and Donald Trump will offer everything they can, to post Pakistan as a close ally instead of an adversary on the eve of United States Presidential Elections 2020.