FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump Moves the World Closer to Wars

President Trump has recently flown out of Hanoi, having failed to reach any agreement in negotiations with President Kim of North Korea, who went back home by train, with his tail up and wagging — having laid a wreath at the mausoleum commemorating Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese leader who led his country’s fight for independence for so many years.

Trump’s aerial departure from Hanoi wasn’t on the same lines as America’s well-publicized flight from Vietnam in April 1975, when the last frantic evacuees were helicoptered out to sea from the US Embassy roof and President Gerald Ford told the American people and the world that after twenty years of hideous conflict, the Vietnam War was “finished as far as America is concerned.”

The exit from Vietnam was a departure of defeat, to be sure, but at least it signaled the end of US wars for a while, at least until Washington’s muscles flexed in 1983 and it invaded the Island of Grenada (population 90,000) because it didn’t like its government and wanted, in the words of President Reagan, “to restore order and democracy.” The UN called the attack “a flagrant violation of international law” and the Security Council tried to stop it, but Washington used its veto to get out of that and then invaded Panama (population 2.3 million) in 1989, with President GHW Bush saying the main reason was “The Panamanian people want democracy, peace, and the chance for a better life in dignity and freedom.”

America’s invasive commitment to democracy and freedom has been reiterated over the years, most notably before and during the catastrophes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and has been eerily echoed by President Trump’s declaration that he “stands with the people of Venezuela as they demand democracy, human rights, and prosperity denied to them by Maduro” the president who is likely to die like other leaders in the unfortunate countries invaded by the freedom-loving military-industrial state in Washington.

We can’t tell for sure if Donald Trump likes wars quite as much as his predecessors, because as with every other important policy matter he flicks from side to side, leaps backwards and forwards, and thoroughly confuses his country and the rest of the world about his intentions.

As a presidential candidate in 2016, Trump was asked in a TV interview “Have we wasted too much money over the past decade fighting wars? Has that been one of the biggest . . .”  whereupon he interrupted and replied “I don’t mind fighting, but you have got to win and number one, we don’t win wars, we just fight, we just fight. It’s like a big — like you’re vomiting, just fight, fight, fight [laughter from audience].  We don’t win anything. I mean, if you’re going to fight, you win and you get back to rebuilding the country. We don’t win. It’s really a terrible thing. I mean, our country used to win all the time. We don’t win at all anymore.”

The fact that he was voted into power after that piece of aggressive vulgarity is astonishing, but unfortunately it has to be taken seriously, because his statement seems to mean he would like to show that under his presidency the Washington-Pentagon nexus will have his full backing to “win all the time.”

At the 55th Munich Security Conference, on 16-18 February, the Trump message to the world was not delivered directly, because he was at that time declaring a national emergency back home, stating “We fight wars that are 6,000 miles away, wars that we should have never been in in many cases, but we don’t control our own border. So we are going to confront the national-security crisis on our southern border.”  His speech then descended into rambling baloney, but the message was that he couldn’t build a wall along the Mexican border because Congress would not allocate money, so he sent 6,000 troops to the border and announced that the situation merited declaration of a National Emergency. Little wonder that when his vice president told his Munich audience that Trump was a great man, there was a degree of shock.  As the Washington Post reported, German Chancellor Merkel “was followed to the podium by Vice President Pence, who was met with only tepid applause — and some incredulous looks — when he proclaimed Trump “the leader of the free world.”

Governments rolled their collective eyes at Pence’s Cold War reference to “free world”, but the declaration was even more bizarre than being an old-fashioned malevolent jab at Russia, because many of Washington’s closest allies could not possibly be referred to as “free”.  At the time of the Trump and Pence performances a UK Parliamentary panel was reported as stating that “Female activists in Saudi Arabia are being detained in cruel and inhumane conditions that could be classified as torture under both international and Saudi law”, a few days after Human Rights Watch observed that “Saudi Arabia stands out for its extraordinarily high levels of repression.”

But President Trump will not invade Saudi Arabia over human rights or anything else. Unfortunately he might decide to commit troops elsewhere, like Iran or Venezuela, if only to deflect attention from his failure at the Hanoi talks, the announcement on March 6 that last year “America’s trade deficit in goods with the rest of the world rose to its highest level in history” and his puerile tomfoolery concerning the State of Emergency.  Like all narcissists he craves approval and, above all, admiration. It is essential for him that his malevolence and arrogance are recognised as superiority, and there are few better means for a political leader to do this than by demonstrating military virility.

Trump’s pronouncement that “We fight wars that are 6,000 miles away, wars that we should have never been in in many cases . . .” is compelling in some ways, not the least being the mention of distance, as Venezuela is only 1300 miles from Miami .  But his reasons for withdrawing from these conflicts are not based on international law or concern for human rights — he’s doing it because he thinks it proves him to be a better leader than his presidential predecessors.

The only reason Trump would not engage in yet another catastrophic war is that such action might reflect badly on him.  If he imagines there would be instant acclamation, gales of approving publicity, and an opportunity to strut the world stage as a knight in shining armor, then there will be a war somewhere.

On March 2, he gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, and was reported as having basked in adulation when he said “You know I’m totally off script right now and this is how I got elected, by being off script. And if we don’t go off script, our country’s in big trouble, folks, because we have to get it back.”

The President of the United States likes being “off script” which means he prefers to make up speeches as he goes along (as was painfully obvious during his ludicrous “national emergency” harangue) but his public avowal to continue being off-script goes further than that, because it means his actions and not just his words will continue to be unplanned.

Trump is not only narcissistic, blustering and foul-mouthed, he is a malevolent, poisonous posturer with a sense of neither decency nor moderation.  War, to him, is merely another international venture whose success is gauged by his approval ratings.

The whole word, and not just Iran and Venezuela, should be prepared for the next erratic foray, because there is little doubt that the world is closer to war with Trump in the White House.

A version of this piece appeared on Strategic Culture Foundation on March 4.

More articles by:

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

March 20, 2019
T.J. Coles
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”
W. T. Whitney
Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show
Kenneth Surin
Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist
Howard Lisnoff
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party
Walter Clemens
Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together
George Ochenski
Failing Students on Climate Change
Cesar Chelala
The Sweet Smell of Madeleine
Binoy Kampmark
Global Kids Strike
Nicky Reid
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party
Elliot Sperber
Empedocles and You and Me 
March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail