When the world is falling apart, Donald Trump is there to make sure it’s the best collapse ever.
Since his election in 2016, US President Donald Trump has never met a treaty or international agreement he didn’t want to rescind. He undoubtedly thinks of that method as the “art of the political deal.” Some call it brinksmanship. The basis of the strategy is to evoke a situation so catastrophic the other party will give in. This may work in the real estate market, where people can go on to other opportunities in a world that will remain pretty much the same with or without a deal, but it tends to be disastrous in the real world of diplomacy.
The New York Times reports on Trump’s latest initiative: the plan to unilaterally exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. To make sure no backtracking takes place, he has sent John Bolton, warmonger-in-chief, to Moscow to inform the Russians.
“The collapse of the treaty would likely open up a missile race in Europe and elsewhere,” said Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington. “It would signal a new phase where countries would compete to deploy and counterdeploy weapons.”
Europe considers the treaty “‘crucial’” to transatlantic security.” Nuclear expert Jon Wolfsthal, a member of the National Security Council under the Obama administration, said “a withdrawal would roil Europe,” which would be vulnerable to Russian intermediate-range missiles, whereas the US wouldn’t. That may help to explain what Trump meant in his speech at the UN in September, when he proclaimed, “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the ideology of patriotism.”
Here is today’s 3D definition:
1. A natural phenomenon when forces supporting a physical object or a mental notion are no longer capable of providing the energy to maintain it
2. An unnatural phenomenon when a politician arbitrarily changes the rules that underpin a system of cooperation designed to protect a diversity of parties
The “collapse of the treaty” can be seen as a particular instance of the collapse of a civilization that, once at least, paid lip service to the idea of mutual respect and collaborative management of the safeguards against the risk of total destruction. Donald Trump himself is less the agent than the symbol of the general acceptance of collapse by the world’s elite, as both the fragile geopolitical collaboration inherited from the past and the planet’s ecosystem are on the verge of catastrophic implosion.
The elite has always been more interested in developing its business than ensuring a safe and sustainable environment. With President Trump, it has simply become more aggressive. In the wake of growing criticism on all sides, aggression seems to be the most effective short-term response as the very notion of multilateral agreement is challenged by everything and everyone from Brexit to Bolsonaro in Brazil.
The article reminds us of the history of the treaty, which dates back to a 1986 summit meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Soviet leader at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev, had suggested a ban on all ballistic missiles. US President Ronald Reagan “demurred, intent on continuing work on the Strategic Defense Initiative, which he viewed as a shield against all attacks.”
Future historians will notice what only a few marginalized contemporary historians dare to point out today and what only one US president — Dwight D. Eisenhower — ever dared to mention: That the US economy and political system is in its entirety dependent on the logic of a “military-industrial complex.” Eisenhower gave his famous solemn warning days before leaving office, but there can be no doubt that the former general was aware of it for most of the eight years he spent in the White House.
The political law of omertà — paralleling that of the mafia — forbids any active chief executive to evoke in public the name and operational mode of the true system of government. Eisenhower was a true conservative, perhaps the last of the true conservatives, who believed that traditional values of decency, modesty and honesty were threatened by a cultural shift toward a new financially powerful, technocratic cynicism that used the logic of war not for defense — which the general understood to be the role of the military — but for control of the world economy.
Had he been president a quarter of century later, would Eisenhower have reacted differently than Reagan to Gorbachev’s gambit? We will never know. Most likely he would have remained as silent as he had during years his in office, when Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, Alan Dulles (head of the CIA), dictated and ran the foreign policy of the Eisenhower administration.
The logic has thus remained the same from Eisenhower’s 1950s to Reagan’s 1980s and on to the current Trump administration. What’s good for the defense industry is good for the country and, as Nancy Pelosi might say, referring to a form of capitalism that is structured around support for the military, “that’s just the way it is.” Trump is an accelerator, not an innovator.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
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