Sunday 23 July 2017

Trump could 'ironically' make world a safer place - UK expert

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets patrons at Love's Barber Shop in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets patrons at Love's Barber Shop in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Getty Images
Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets audience members at a campaign rally at Pitt Community College in Winterville, North Carolina. Photo: Reuters
Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally at Pitt Community College in Winterville, North Carolina. Photo: Reuters
Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gives a thumbs up to audience members at a campaign rally at Pitt Community College in Winterville, North Carolina. Photo: Reuters
Democratic US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally at Pitt Community College in Winterville, North Carolina. Photo: Reuters
President Barack Obama speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Florida International University Arena on Thursday. Photo: AP
Melania Trump speaks at the Main Line Sports Center in Berwyn. Photo: AP
Douglas Robinson, 20, wears a patriotic suit with Donald Trump pins while waiting in line outside before Melania Trump, wife to the Republican Presidential nominee, holds an event at Main Line Sports in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Photo: Reuters
A Donald Trump supporter holds a modified campaign bumper sticker in favor of Melania Trump, wife to the Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, who spoke during an event at Main Line Sports in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway speaks to the media after Melania Trump, wife to the Republican Presidential nominee, delivered a speech at Main Line Sports in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Photo: Reuters
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo: Reuters

Ben Farmer in London

A former head of the British armed forces has rejected claims a Donald Trump presidency could make the world more dangerous and suggested the Republican candidate could "reinvigorate" relations with Russia.

David Richards said he was disappointed with the candidates running in the American presidential election next week, but said Mr Trump "might make the world, ironically, safer".

The UK's former chief of the defence staff also told 'The House' magazine that "there is a strong case" for allowing Bashar al-Assad's forces to retake the Syrian city of Aleppo to alleviate humanitarian suffering from the siege.

The crossbench peer said the biggest threats to Western security were from non-state groups like Isil in Iraq and Levant.

He said the world had been missing "big power politics".

He told the magazine: "In the Cold War era, states coalesced and they had this understanding and it worked - even though there was a massive amount at stake, communications and mutual understanding between Russia and America wasn't too bad.

"It's non-state actors like Isil that are the biggest threat to our security. If countries and states could coalesce better to deal with these people - and I think Trump's instinct is to go down that route - then I think there's the case for saying that the world certainly won't be any less safe.

"It's that lack of understanding and empathy with each other as big power players that is a risk to us all at the moment.

"Therefore I think he would reinvigorate big power relationships, which might make the world, ironically, safer."

He said he was "a bit sorry" that Mr Trump and Hillary Clinton were "the best candidates that can be put up in a country as great and as huge and powerful as America".

But he said he thought Mr Trump was "wise enough to get good people round him and probably knows that he's got to listen to them, and therefore I think we should not automatically think it will be less safe".

Mr Richards, who was chief of the defence staff from 2010 to 2013, spoke as the British foreign secretary condemned Russia for shielding Mr Assad.

Boris Johnson said the dictator's forces had repeatedly used poison gas and Britain was pressing for a UN resolution "to hold accountable those who use such horrific weapons in defiance of the rules of war".

He said: "If Russia chooses once again to protect Assad by casting its veto then it will be shielding someone whose forces have been found guilty over and over again by a UN investigation, which the Kremlin itself supported, of killing their own people with poison gas.

"I say that vetoing such a resolution would be unconscionable."

Mr Johnson said Russia could win "the acclaim of the world" by halting the bombing and bringing Mr Assad to the negotiating table.

But Mr Richards said if the West was interested mainly in the humanitarian plight of civilians, then "I believe there is a strong case for allowing Assad to get in there and take the city back".

"The opposition groups - many of whom are not friends of ours, they're extremists - are now intermingled with the original good opposition groups, are fighting from amongst the people," he said.

"The only quick way of solving it is to allow Assad to win. There's no way the opposition groups are going to win."

He said Hillary Clinton should not raise the prospect of no-fly zones over Syria to stop air strikes.

He said: "Unless she's prepared to do this properly and go to war with Russia, she shouldn't talk about no-fly zones and nor should we.

"We would have to shoot down Russian aircraft in order to impose it. Do we really want to go to a shooting war over Aleppo?

"We want the humanitarian horror of Aleppo to come to a rapid halt. The best and quickest way of doing that is to encourage the opposition groups to leave.

"The alternative is for the West to declare a no-fly zone and that means you've got to be prepared to go to war with Russia ultimately.

"I see no appetite for that and nor, frankly, do I see much sense in it. It sticks in my throat to say it because I have no love for Assad."

Irish Independent

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