Choosing fights
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - December 7, 2017 - 4:00pm

US President Donald Trump does not have to go looking for more trouble. He has enough troubles at home already. And he has a pesky problem with North Korea to contend with. His intention, if he has not done so already, to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a tacit recognition of the latter as the capital of Israel is both provocative and unnecessary.

It is provocative because that will only serve to further inflame the Muslim countries in the neighborhood that surround Israel and could further heighten the violence against that country. It is unnecessary because with or without American recognition, Jerusalem is already the de facto capital of Israel, even if the Muslims do not think so.

Except for a few sporadic incidents, there is a relative if uneasy peace in Jerusalem. And that is because the three great religions –Christianity, Judaism and Islam– all recognize Jerusalem as one of their holiest cities. Sites held sacred by Christians, Jews, and Muslims are found in close proximity to one another in Jerusalem.

Why Trump feels he has to rock the boat in Israel is not exactly clear. Except for the Muslim countries, most other nations already recognize Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel even if they may pretend not to. Not going ahead with his plan is not going to change anything. It is what it is in Israel. But if he makes the stupid mistake as he intends to, then he will place not only Israel but America as well in a situation he will only regret later.

North Korea presents the more pressing problem for America and the free world right now. Not to belittle the Middle East, but that region has been in a state of constant conflict it may very well have learned to take care of itself without any intervention from anyone, including the United States. America cannot forever remain the world’s policeman. It needs to choose its battles if it has to ultimately protect its own interests.

On the domestic front, America faces many problems, many of them not having to deal with security. All of these problems must be very taxing for any American president, but most especially so for someone like Trump who is not a political person but a businessman used to having his own way with things. Sometimes even the American president needs to push back to get a better perspective.

Between the Middle East and North Korea in the next five years, I would pick North Korea as the most challenging for any American president. I would even throw in the South China Sea to really up the ante. It is here in this region where the American leadership will be truly tested. At least in the Middle East the options and the consequences are predictable and clear. In this part of the world, with North Korea looming large in the forefront, no one really knows where the chips may fall.

Another thing, if Trump concentrates on North Korea, the chance is great that Kim Jong Un will eventually force Americans to grudgingly fall behind their president. Right now, I have never seen so many Americans actually willing to side with anybody else but their own president. But all that will change once Kim Jong Un begins to really shove his nukes up America’s behind. Then and only then will Americans accept Trump. That is why, before it is too late, he needs to be very wise.

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