Donald Trump's return as US President would increase risk of Third World War – Scotsman comment

Following Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to run for US President again, it is worth considering what this might mean for the world.

Shortly before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, Trump praised Vladimir Putin for his “genius”. The move that impressed Trump so much was the Russian dictator’s decision to declare part of Ukraine to be independent, so he could “go in and be a peacekeeper”. “Oh, that’s wonderful,” he said, adding that Putin had assembled “the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen”.

Afterwards Trump said he had been “surprised”. “I thought he [Putin] was negotiating when he sent his troops to the border,” he said. “I thought it was a tough way to negotiate but a smart way...”

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Previously, at a summit in Finland in 2018, the then US President chose to believe Putin over his own intelligence agencies about Russian interference in American elections. “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be,” he said. This prompted leading Republican politician Paul Ryan to say Trump “must appreciate that Russia is not our ally” and “remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals”.

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So it should be obvious that Trump’s return would pose a serious threat to world peace. A military build-up mistaken for a negotiating tactic and the CIA and FBI’s advice dismissed on the say-so of a despot are catastrophic errors of judgement.

There is, however, another theory about Trump’s repeated praise for Putin: that he sees the destruction of Russian democracy as an equally “genius” move and one he hopes to emulate. Given he told a crowd of armed supporters “if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore”, that they should go to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when Joe Biden’s election was being formally certified, and then watched the subsequent violence unfold on television, without intervening until hours later, it’s a theory with considerable substance.

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Whatever his motivation, Trump’s volatility, stupidity and arrogance make a terrifying mix. Tuesday's reportedly Russian attack on Nato member Poland – now thought to be a wayward Ukrainian air-defence missile – represents the kind of incident that requires a US President with a calm, clear head if a Third World War is to be avoided.

Former US President Donald Trump has announced he wants to stand in the 2024 US presidential election (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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