Yesterday, I shared a video of the first GOP debate, voiced-over to appear as though the candidates were speaking of snack-time, barn animals, and genital warts. It received its due response through numerous likes and shares, mostly from other members of the Swarthmore community. At the time, I was oblivious to my contribution to the predicament this country is already in. Despite the intellectually stimulating environment that surrounds us, we at Swarthmore encourage the abject sensationalization of politicians. Undoubtedly, this is quality entertainment: what we tend to forget, though, is the ease with which incorrect information is conveyed, facts turn erroneous, and sarcastic banter turns into strong political stances. As constituents of an enlightened community, it is essential that we set precedent and pay close attention to actuality, in the face of abundant distraction.
Even the Shakespearean fool, perhaps, is not as amusing as Donald Trump and the absurd strategies he seems to draw out of a magic hat. Unsurprisingly, the front-running Republican presidential hopeful has done it again, albeit directed a new way this time. Who’s complaining, though? He brings humor to uneventful debates and color to seemingly monotone matters. Like a herd, we follow our friends, relatives and peers, and laugh at a man consistently transforming into a real problem affecting real people and their very real lives.
Succeeding a long list of predecessors including powerful names such as Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, Baba O’ Reilly, and Rich Rowly, Pakistan presently finds itself at the receiving end of heavy bullets this month.
Last Monday night saw Trump referring to the South Asian country as ‘probably the most dangerous’ in the world due to its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and ‘a lot of them.’ Following a comparison to North Korea, he suggested that the bordering country of India is the ‘only real check to Pakistan.’ Further, in his Trump-esque manner, his policy proposal centered around closely involving the US with India to ‘deal with’ Pakistan. When asked to further clarify, the self-assured businessman turned reality television star turned politician seemed to jump to his own defense by suggesting that he hoped to be unpredictable with his plans.
The information conveyed by the presidential hopeful in this particular exchange is, simply put, incorrect. To begin with, it is despicable for a presidential candidate to make sweeping statements such as Pakistan being the world’s most dangerous country, without proper evidence, figures, or claims to substantiate it. Trump’s statements were uncorroborated by any facts, presumably because a majority of globally accepted peace studies (such as the Global Peace Index) rate Pakistan as being nowhere close to the most dangerous countries of the world. Second, India is in no position to act as a check against Pakistan without succumbing to internal strife for years to come. Third, diplomacy, as a concept, is steeped in the same dependency and consistency that Trump is quick to dismiss, preferring unpredictability, which he not only encourages, but commits his prospective incumbency to.
It is important for Washington to realize that today’s India and today’s Pakistan, much like the India and Pakistan of 1965, will benefit from withdrawal of the United States’ security interest in the region. In the Indo-Pak war of the same year, a combination of the absence of U.S. involvement and the post-Khrushchev Soviet Union’s neutral stance led to restoration of peace through the 1966 Tashkent Declaration. In a replicated situation in the present day, there is much to gain from the US no longer acting as an exit strategy for either of the two nations. In summary, neutral third parties that facilitate conversation are the keys to success, and Washington must take the lead.
As a speaker, Trump seems convincing, provided you know nothing of the issues he speaks of prior. If you are, however, aware of the drawbacks to his policy proposals regarding India and Pakistan, they reek of absurdity. The downsides to the US getting ‘involved’ with India are multifarious, risky and hazardous. On the Indian side, for one, it is completely uncertain how New Delhi will react. The growing power is not likely to engage with the US in a manner that undermines its strategic independence or targets China. Second, India may choose to further influence in Kashmir assuming it has U.S. support. This would have long-lasting consequences for US-Pakistan relations. Strong involvement with India would not only alienate Pakistan, but also support Islamabad’s involvement in the militant activities of already-raging Afghanistan. Not unlike his other proposed policies, this, too, fails at a constructive approach (one that might involve revitalizing Pakistan’s economy, strengthening its security, and partnering with it for counterterrorism efforts) and instead neglects real concerns in exchange for the ability to make extravagant statements that mislead the uninformed voter and provide humor for the rest.
Engulfed by the (usually) unadulterated comedy that is Donald Trump, we have laughed away his ignorant statements and ridiculed his hazardous propositions. Plainly, we ourselves have provided the armor he needs to most successfully make a mockery of the system.