IT’S been a rough week in Washington. After a right-wing, pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol in an unprecedented, deadly rampage, there is more bad news for the outgoing American president. While the Democrats are preparing an impeachment motion, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken to the US military’s top brass to ensure an “unhinged” Donald Trump does not have access to nuclear launch codes in his last days in office. The Trump presidency has of course been known for strange happenings both domestically and on the international front, and these developments are perhaps an apt denouement to an administration that has, to put it mildly, broken quite a few taboos of American politics. Jokes aside, it is indeed a matter of concern that senior members of the American political establishment are consulting their generals to ensure a sitting president does not abuse his authority where the use of nuclear weapons is concerned.
However, the irony here is inescapable. Not too long ago Pakistan used to receive lectures from the Americans regarding the security of this country’s nuclear weapons. Specifically, concerns were aired about Pakistan’s nukes falling into the hands of extremist groups. While that situation has not arisen, America’s political elites are now questioning their own president’s competency to handle the nuclear button. Frankly, after the Capitol storming anything can be expected from the US leader and it is hoped that America’s nukes remain in safe hands. Moreover, as Joe Biden’s inauguration draws closer — an event Mr Trump will not attend, again breaking with tradition — the American establishment must ensure that their outgoing leader does not indulge in any brinkmanship domestically or internationally. This includes provocations in the Middle East, specifically targeting Iran, Mr Trump’s favourite foreign bogeyman, as well as other rival states such as China. While Mr Biden may not bring revolutionary changes to Washington, many Americans, and most of the rest of the world, will breathe a sigh of relief when normality returns to the White House.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021