I live in a country whose 24-hour news cycle demands to be fed. So there is an endless–and I do mean endless–parade of talking heads offering up their “insights” into the latest political moment. There were months of analysis of the Mueller investigation and lots of prognosticating about impeachment, among other topics.
But here’s the thing: it’s all quite easy. If you paid five minutes of attention to who and what the malignancy known as Trump is, none of what the talking heads blather on about could possibly be surprising. His entire life has been about fakery, avoiding accountability, egoism, and cruelty. That is the noxious cocktail that millions of Americans thought was good for America. Actually, I correct myself: I don’t think they thought Trump was good for America; he was their way to take revenge on the America and Americans they despise. Even the ones who claim they voted for Obama last time. Even them. But I digress…
So we have a malignant, lying, egotistical, cruel, blame deflector at the helm of the U.S. government and more significantly, atop its military. What could possibly go wrong? Well if you’re Putin, everything’s gone right, because the more undone America becomes, the happier that little beady-eyed sadist is. And he is deliriously happy now. If you’re the Kurds, you’re on the receiving end of shameful abandonment by a military whose members you thought were your comrades-in-arms in the fight against the cruelest of foes. But never mind; Trump has some real estate deals left to consummate in Istanbul, so tossing the Kurds into the Turkish maw was just good business for him. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the ONLY thing that matters.
Well, that and the malignancy’s tragically fragile ego. It’s frankly hilarious to hear conservatives drone on about liberal “snowflakes” when their man is perhaps the most thin-skinned creature ever to walk the earth. Combine that with his naturally cruel and vindictive nature, and things are not coming up roses. Which gets us to Iran. The nuclear deal negotiated with Iran was always going to be imperfect, but those screaming about its shortcomings and calling for its end never articulated how they would have negotiated something better. So Trump, the man who sold millions on the snake oil of his “negotiating” skills, pulls out of the deal with not the least concern for actually negotiating something better. His approach apparently was to try to bring the Iranians to their knees, and then have them beg to give us a better deal.
All of which shows the rank ignorance and amateur-hour nature of this administration. Iran isn’t some impoverished country created in the last 50 years, struggling to figure out a way forward. Iran is a powerful nation with thousands of years of rich, complex history. It is a nation of proud, educated people. It was never going to being cowed by a raging ignoramus. But Trump likes nothing more than fake shows of strength. He’s like the boy in the airplane cockpit, pressing all the buttons to see what will happen. Only he has a military seemingly unwilling to say “no,” which makes them accomplices to might what have been a war crime, in the killing of Soleimani. And even if, upon closer scrutiny, killing Soleimani was not a war crime, it was a brazen act for which you can bet your life the consequences were not thought through. How do I know? That’s easy: “thinking” and “through” are concepts alien to a man so steeped in ignorance that just the effort to know something in a detailed, serious, and nuanced way would probably induce an aneurism, since the effort would be so alien and overwhelming.
Why does any of this matter? Trump’s just being Trump, his rage-fueled supporters will say. To them, nothing matters. The more nihilistic and reckless Trump is, the louder they cheer. They are gleeful, it seems, at his burning down the house. With all of us inside. I don’t have the medical credentials to assess that kind of crazy, but that’s where we are in Trump’s America.
But Trump’s America still exists in a wider world, even if it doesn’t want to. And it’s been interesting to see how that world is responding to what is being politely described as a “provocation.” I shed no tears over the death of someone as dangerous and deadly as Soleimani, but you know Trump’s move will not earn him the Nobel Prize, among other accolades. How do I know? Even Benjamin Netanyahu, who fairly jumped up and down for years, screaming for the end of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which Trump recklessly pulled out of, didn’t applaud the killing of Soleimani. More than that, he distanced himself from his American love interest by declaring that Israel had nothing to do with the killing, that this was a U.S. decision. So much for enduring friendships between egomaniacs.
No one–and certainly not the army of talking heads on TV and elsewhere–knows how this will play out. But I’ll make some predictions. Now that Iran has declared American service members to be terrorists (in response to Trump’s embrace of war crimes in his tweets), our military is now in greater-than-usual harm’s way. I actually think the Al-Shebab attack in Kenya was the first salvo. There will be more. And if an impeachment trial happens in the Senate, Trump will go newly ballistic, especially if there are real witnesses who tell the truth (not sham witnesses like Hunter Biden). And even more so if any Republican Senators seriously consider voting to remove him. He will become ever more unhinged. In which case our only hope is in having the guy with the nuclear launch codes spirited as far away from Trump as humanly possible. Because anyone who thinks that he won’t try to launch nukes at Iran hasn’t been watching or listening closely enough to this casually vindictive imbecile. If it won’t put a dent in the value of his real estate holdings, he just doesn’t care. Though if things get really out of control, even the kickback I am confident he was promised from the Saudis for playing down bin Salman’s butchering of Kashoggi might be at risk. (Someone should follow the money from the Saudi IPO for Aramco and see what percentage finds its way into Trump’s hands.) I’ll bet some seriously hard currency that he was promised a piece of that IPO for not defending a U.S resident and father of three American children who was slaughtered on the Crown Prince’s orders. And really, why bother, when there are Americans convicted of committing war crimes to pardon and/or ensure get to keep their military rank.
If these are now our American values, then we have none worth defending.