More and more states around the world have been reconfiguring their governments and staffing it full with generals and ex-military. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has appointed more than sixty former high ranking military and police officials into highly sensitive bureaucratic posts. Several European states, with new administrations, have also seen changes in their bureaucracies, an obvious indication that more states are focusing on national security than fixing their failed economies.
Pakistan has just recently ousted its Prime Minister upon the instigation of its military. Japan just convened its National Security Council (NSC) after the North Koreans test-fired its second Intercontinental Ballistic Missile into its Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) while South Korea is busy preparing for any untoward eventuality after its counterpart just showed the world it’s recklessness in handling nuclear power.
Is Donald Trump creating his war cabinet? Seems like it as he recently replaced Priebus with an ex-general as his Chief of Staff. And he did so mainly for two (2) reasons: his skinny repeal bill failed to pass Congress and the North Koreans just taunted him with another ICBM launch which could hit any city in mainland USA. When Trump was forming his cabinet, many observed that he surrounded himself with generals and ex-military, which Democracy Now termed as “dangerous“. Trump is the first post-WWII president to have appointed at least three (3) ex-military into positions of power.
However, look closely and you’ll see that the appointments are related to national security. Ex-General Michael Flynn, accused of being Islamaphobic, is National Security Adviser. General James “Mad dog” Maddis is defense secretary while Kelly sat as homeland security chief before his ascension as Trump’s Chief of Staff.
What these appointments suggest is that the Trump administration will be extremely harsh in dealing with extreme Islamist groups based in the Middle East and elsewhere while using state diplomacy in other problematic regions of the world. Unlike his predecessor, Trump seems to want to project a “tough guy” image, that the US will not allow rogue states to get away with murder.
The US is militarizing and for the right reasons—several of its enemies are well in advance on developing weapons of mass destruction. Iran is busy on its nuclear program which it claims as part of its plan to further increase its power generating capacity. China has already a developed nuclear strike capability. Military structures built at the disputed islands within the EEZ of the Philippines, are part of China’s efforts to secure its claimed borders, which analysts say, serve two (2) purposes: secure and strike. Like the North Koreans, China has ICBMs which could hit any city of the mainland.
Yet, the most serious threat against US interests in the world seemed to be its traditional Cold War nemesis Russia. Anytime now, the US will pass a bill penalizing Russia. Russia has already expressed its opposition to this bill, and it would be quite interesting how these two countries would resolve this. Trump has always maintained his desire to reform US-Russia ties, yet, members of the US government, particularly those in the defense department are pressuring him to maintain a tougher than usual stance against Russia. US news media continues to picture Russian president Vladimir Putin as a despot, a view which harkens back to how former State secretary Madelaine Albright described him.
Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State, seems to agree and this could be the prevailing if not the imposing view from the White House. Shortly after his meeting with Russia, Tillerson was quoted as saying that the US seemed to differ with Russia on major issues, such as the treatment to President Al-Assad of Syria. Tillerson even described US-Russian relations is at its “low point” because both countries seemed to suspect each other and there is “distrust” especially on how to treat rogue states such as Iran, North Korea and Syria. Russia, though condemning the latest missile testing of North Korea, is expected to oppose UN sanctions against the only Communist dictatorship in the world, which the US wants.
While governments and states are busy protecting their borders, several democratic states are also toying with applying stricter restrictions on individual freedoms. With militarization as the paramount policies of major governments around the world, expect a worsening of other social problems which are being left in the sidelines, as leaders go on war-footing.