August 22, 2017

Under Donald Trump’s leadership, the USA is speeding up world’s geopolitical developments

Corneliu Pivariu. Photographer: Ionus Paraschiv.

By Corneliu Pivariu.

Things look like that after president Donald Trump’s participation to the “Three Seas Initiative” – Warsaw, G20 Hamburg Summit and France’s National Day – 14th of July in Paris. Yet we must underline that the period of the Cold War when the two superpowers were deciding most of the global geopolitic developments is over and so is the short period after the fall of the Iron Curtain when the USA was prevailing. Currently, we are in a period of a much more complexity then those we just mentioned, whereby each important geopolitical player seeks to position itself as well as it can from the perspective of the emergence of a new architecture of world power, although until that time it is very likely we will witness the intensification of rivalries among the main competitors globally, an unwanted accentuation of the negative consequences of some still unsolved global problems, without totally excluding the possibility of the occurence of a new and ample world conflict until a new setting of the world order is in place.

It is under these circumstances that we witnessed president Donald Trump’s participation on 6th of July in Warsaw at the “Three Seas Initiative” (a re-adaptation of the Polish project launched between the two World Wars – Intermarium, a plan drawn up by the Polish Josef Pilsudski, yet a never implemented idea) which is currently grouping 12 countries: Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

The White House noticed the potential of this initiative especially under the prevailing circumstances in the European Union and the Russian Federation’s expansionism and president Trump’s participation increased its value and importance. In his speech delivered on that occasion, the American president emphasized especially the interest and the possibility of developing the energy markets of this area through the USA’s export (the first delivery of US LNG to Poland was made in June 2017), commissioning a LNG terminal on the Croatian Island of Krk, as well as other gas and oil pipelines projects in the area. The president Trump underlined that: “The United States will never use energy in order to coerce our nations and will not permit to others to do so”. (A more than transparent reference to Moscow’s use of what some call the energy weapon, something the Kremlin permanently denied). “The USA strongly support the establishment of the Three Seas Commercial Forum” president Trump added and stressed the importance of the economic component of the initiative that will secure finally prosperity sovereignity, security and freedom for the countries joining the initiative as well as a positive influence for the whole of Europe.

The next Three Seas Summit will take place, upon Romania’s president proposal and offer, in Bucharest in 2018 (the preceding one took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia on 25th of August, 2016).

G20 Hamburg Summit was followed very attentively mainly due to the fact that it brought about the first direct meeting between the presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. We notice here an open letter addressed to the two leaders by four important personalities (Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger – Chairman of Munchen Security Conference, the former British Secretary of Defense, Des Browne, the former Russian minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov, and the former American Senator Sam Nunn), whereby they suggested four fundamental steps for “improving the security situation for all the peoples living in the Euro-Atlantic region”.

In brief, the suggestions were: declaring that a nuclear war cannot have any winner and therefore it should not be waged; setting up a new crises management group NATO- Russia; cooperation in order that ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorist groups be prevented from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials through a joint initiative to prevent the terrorism with WMD happen; reaching informal understandings at least concerning the cyber threats linked to interfering the strategic nuclear warning, command and control systems.

These are, indeed more than maximal requests for a first Trump-Putin meeting as it has been seen and as we present in Points of view (page 16). It is likely that it has been wanted that the open letter be an emphasis of fundamental threats to the society undergoing globalisation is confronted with.

Nevertheless, we notice quite different attitudes (as seen in media broadcasts) of Vladimir Putin towards Donald Trump, as compared to the former first meeting with Barack Obama. These are not only the results of the experience gained and, most probably, we will have much to add after the following bilaterals White House-the Kremlin.

G20 Hamburg Summit was essentialy a reunion that represented a dispute between multilateralism and multipolarity. Multilateralism was certainly adopted by Germany with the help of many European nations that consider that the legitimity of G20 is given by the contribution to achieving of a durable development, to a socio-economic progress, to protecting the environment and climate.

In America’s vision, G20 has, during Donald Trump’s mandate, the meaning of an instrument for reaching its national interests (America first). At the same time, China, that has its own agenda, seeks to gain advantages from the current state of the relations between Europe and the USA. Germany understands China’s game and the fact that during the summit a basic agreement was reached concerning the commercial exchanges between the EU and Japan, which can be considered a good point in the evolution of the relationship with China, yet without impressing the USA that is obviously aware of China’s obsession concerning the relations between Washington and Tokyo.

There are other important players that should not be ignored: Turkey, a country ready to reintroduce the death penalty and to suspend negotiations of acceeding to the EU or to obtain S-400 systems from Russia; North Korea’s nuclear program (to which it was not to give up as Russia served a refusal reason by annexing Ukraine’s Crimea at a time when Ukraine was covered by international guarantees concerning its territorial integrity in order to give up its nuclear arsenal). G20 represents a great playing ground for power and gaining an as favourable as possible position globally.

Probably one of the most certain and palpable future results of G20 is the agenda of next summits: Argentine in 2018, Japan in 2019 and Saudi Arabia in 2020.

After the disappointment caused to France by the rejection, in Hamburg, of the Paris Agreement concerning climate changes (about which he promised to think over), president Trump was the first American one who, after 1989, participated at France’s national celebration of July 14th, upon his counterpart’s invitation, Emmanuel Macron. Washington is thus trying to bring closer the only EU’s member which is also a member to the UN’s Security Council and a nuclear power too, (having Brexit in mind) and seeking, at the same time, to weaken the French-German relationship. If, according to a French official who kept his annonimity, there is a consensus between the USA and France that fighting terrorism “is the No.1 priority”, adding that “the continuation of the USA’s effort of fighting terrorism, especially in the Middle East, has a capital importance for us… We must be sure that fighting Daesh (IS) continues… everybody understands that this struggle will continue for another generation”.

Under president Donald Trump, the USA becomes a force trying to move more decisively the developments on the international arena. If the domestic opposition lets him, it is probably that the American president can do more towards the evolution of a less dangerous and better world.

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About the author:

Corneliu Pivariu, former first deputy for military intelligence (two stars general) in the Romanian MoD, retired 2003. Member of IISS – London, alumni of Harvard – Kennedy School Executive Education and others international organizations. Founder of INGEPO Consulting, and bimonthly Bulletin, Geostrategic Pulse”. Main areas of expertise – geopolitics, intelligence and security.

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