Both Clinton and Trump promise a continuation of the notion that America can kill its way to a better world.
OK world, it is time for a wake-up call. It sure looks like “the greatest nation on Earth” is going to be led in the coming four years by either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. This will be good news for those in the greatest nation on Earth who drink the “greatness” Kool-Aid because that greatness is about the only thing the two of them agree upon. For those not living in the greatest nation on Earth, watch out. Each of these candidates has a plan for you, and neither plan includes asking you what you think about all of this.
So let me help out a bit. Let’s take Hillary first because she is easier to understand and has a long history of meddling in the affairs of other nations. She also sounds better when she says she is going to continue doing this, because she can say with that sly smile of hers: “America knows what is best for you; we will help you try to see it our way, but if you don’t, our military will be at the ready to make sure that you do.” Somehow this always yields a coalition of the willing. Hillary is also easier to swallow because when her foreign adventures don’t work out, she seems very apologetic.
Now, as for Trump, the first problem is figuring out what he is talking about, and then figuring out how long it will take one of his “advisors” to tell him that he has to change his mind. As a clear example, Trump was quick to opine that “torture” to meet US security objectives was a good idea before and would be revived with new vigor if he were elected. Then, just to make sure our enemies got the message, he seemed to say that he would order reluctant torturers to get on with it or get out of the way. On the next day came the inevitable correction.
These days, Trump is getting better at assuring an anxious nation that he is “so good” at everything that he undertakes that he will even be “so good” at things he knows nothing about. It seems that many Republicans from trailer parks to country clubs can’t get enough of this stuff.
Since Trump may actually know a lot about construction contracting, finding a company to build a big US border wall should not be much of a challenge. (Finding workers to do the work will be more of a challenge since Trump will have most of the Latinos who do this work in cattle cars headed to Mexico.) Trump also seems to know a lot about getting other people to finance his projects, so getting the Mexican government to pay for the wall might work out OK.
The whole wall project is problematic but at least it has Trump playing with money and mortar, a couple of the things that he says he is “so good” at. But let’s move on to nuclear weapons—this one would require Trump to be “so good” at something about which he seems to know nothing. Leaving aside for the moment Trump’s historically ignorant notions about nuclear proliferation, perhaps most enlightening is his repeated assertion that he would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons to defeat the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), preferring to remain “unpredictable” on this point.
To be sure, since Trump only seems willing to use nuclear weapons in someplace far away from the homeland and only when really necessary, Americans can sleep fairly well knowing that those in the Middle East are most at risk from catastrophic destruction. Even the prevailing winds work in our favor, since the nuclear fallout would blow on Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A small wind shift could create problems for Jordan and Lebanon, and then for Trump’s beloved Israel, where he says he has “many friends” and to which he will be “very good.”
In Trump world, the surest sign for the rest of us that nuclear destruction is on the way will be the reverse surge withdrawal of all of our troops from the Middle East. Remember, Trump will be “so good” for military personnel and their families, hardly possible if nuclear weapons are about to be deployed in their proximity.
But let’s not forget Europe where ISIS has already shown a brutal willingness to attack Western (Christian) values and surely might do so again. The Donald wants ISIS leaders to know that doing so again could result in Trump blowing up some mighty fine cathedrals and vineyards, not to mention tens of thousands of Europeans, in order to teach ISIS a lesson. Hard as it is to imagine, Trump has repeatedly refused to take the use of nuclear weapons in Europe off of the table.
The way I see this working out in Trump think, he tells a bunch of suicide bombers if they keep attacking Western values in Europe, he will drop a nuclear bomb on them in Europe. ISIS then dials back on terrorism against America because they don’t want to see those cathedrals and vineyards destroyed. If this sounds good to you, you are probably on the Trump bandwagon already.
So this is where our world is headed in the next four years—a continuation of the notion that America can kill its way to a better world. In Hillary’s hands, there will be ramped up US diplomatic and military efforts to remake countries that don’t want to be remade by us, resulting in the predictable catastrophic consequences of more war, more dead and wounded, more refugees and more motivated enemies.
With Trump at the helm, his unpredictable international roadmap will have many of the same predictable consequences as America “again” marches to greatness. But also, and more importantly, there will be a palpable concern that a woefully uninformed egomaniac is in charge of America’s war machine.
Wake up world! We are headed for more dangerous and more deadly times either way.
*[A version of this article was also featured on Larry Beck’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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