Donald Trump 'might actually make the world safer' if he is elected president, says former Armed Forces chief
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.
Lord Richards of Herstmonceux 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 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 Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil).
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 Isis 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.”
Lord Richards, who was Chief of the Defence Staff from 2010 to 2013, spoke as the 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 bombing and bringing Mr Assad to the negotiating table.
But Lord 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.
“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, “unless she’s prepared to do this properly and go to war with Russia”.
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.”