How Trump can win Nobel Peace Prize

Donald Trump (Reuters File Photo)

Exactly 10 years ago, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “vision of, and work for, a world without nuclear weapons.” In April 2009, Obama gave his famous Prague speech where he put forth his idea for a world free of nuclear weapons. Obama was also careful to mention that this goal may not be achieved in his lifetime.

Yet, back in the present day, the world seems to have taken a backtrack from where it started a decade ago. The United States and Russia have gone back to a new era of arms race, Iran is now free to build nuclear weapons, North Korea has ICBMs capable of reaching the US mainland and tensions between India and Pakistan remain high.

President Donald Trump, however, insists that he deserves one, too, citing that Obama got his just nine months after being elected. Indeed, it is certainly true that Trump has achieved a historical first — meeting with North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

Despite the two summits since last year and a flurry of exchange of letters, the Trump administration is more embroiled in activity than achieving any real outcomes. At the same time, the withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Iran deal have closed, at least for now, the doors for any chance of Trump winning a Nobel.

Read More: I deserve Nobel Prize, no idea why Obama got it: Trump

But let’s ask a serious question. How can Trump reverse all of this and get a Nobel? What can he do like Obama? How can the perils of the withdrawal from INF treaty, Iran deal and the doubtful New START treaty be resolved?

I suggest that President Trump must make serious efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear war and put an end to the possibility of an arms race spiralling out of control — first by declaring a nuclear No First Use (NFU) policy, a pledge never to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict and never to threaten the use of nuclear weapons against any country. Second, Trump must convince the other States to do the same and make nuclear weapons a subject on the margins of world politics.

This is not the first time that such a suggestion has been made. Many others have previously proposed the idea of a global No First Use as a first step towards achieving global nuclear disarmament. Back in 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) made the push for a nuclear weapons ban treaty. No country in possession of nuclear weapons came on board, leaving the treaty somewhat meaningless.

The global nuclear order is changing, primarily because of the changing technologies and changing circumstances in geopolitics.

Advances in offensive cyber capabilities makes nuclear command-and-control infrastructure vulnerable to attack, therefore increasing the risk of accidental launches or nuclear launches due to misperception if countries threaten to retaliate with nuclear weapons against non-nuclear attacks. New types of weapons such as hypersonic missiles increase the chances of an accidental nuclear confrontation. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to dissuade countries from committing aggression, hiding behind the threat of nuclear use.

The invasion of the Crimea demonstrates this as a perfect example. Similarly, the use of social media and the internet to meddle with elections and information warfare also pose new challenge to countries that cannot be solved by threatening to use nuclear weapons. New developments in space weapons technologies have also increased the risk of nuclear conflict.

All the threats mentioned above pose threat to the United States, and therefore a No First Use pledge will not only secure the national interest but also help set new norms for all nuclear powers.

Calls for nuclear disarmament by themselves will by no means resolve these issues. The two superpowers have for long argued that the threat of nuclear first use is necessary to maintain deterrence. But as the number of non-nuclear threats increase, the role of nuclear weapons in deterring aggression becomes limited.

Moving towards a Global No First Use (GNFU) regime seems to be the only plausible approach to reducing the dangers of nuclear conflict, and ultimately eliminating these weapons of annihilation.

Achieving this, however, will by no means be an easy task and will require serious efforts to restructure the US nuclear forces. Previous efforts to push for an NFU declaration, even by President Obama and more recent efforts by the Democrats, have not gained any traction as they do not provide any solution to credibly declare an NFU policy by making major changes to the US nuclear forces.

As the end of the New START treaty approaches, it opens up the doors to new negotiations for arms control, where NFU might very well be put on the table. If Donald Trump manages to pull this off, it will not only be monumental and worthy of a Nobel, but also contribute to moving the world towards nuclear peace that his predecessor was unable to achieve in its truest form.

(The writer is a researcher with Takshashila Institution)

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