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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 23, 2019
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail