He can wrap kings and imams, rabbis and popes around his travels, as if they were robes in his wardrobe. He can promise “hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans” generated by the $350 BILLION arms contract over ten years with the Saudi regime. He can “pray” at the Western Wall, and genuflect before cameras upon arriving in Israel, and then add another genuflection, no doubt, upon meeting the Holy Father.
He can even surmise that, as his presidency cries out in agony as investigations grab it by the throat, he alone will bring peace to the Middle East, lead the extermination of Islamic terrorists, and rejuvenate the economies of both the Middle East and the United States. Now imposing his massive (and hollow) ego on the world’s media as the sole saviour of problems that have so far eluded hundreds of dedicated minds, the U.S. president is like a mannequin programmed to walk ponderously, speak cavernously from the teleprompter and repeatedly wrap his suit jacket from blowing in the wind to expose his considerable girth.
Nevertheless, at base, he is following one of the oldest and most fatigued maxims of American political life: war is the best engine to rev up the economy, solve all problems and sustain American dominance and hegemony. Its corollary, that arms production and sale, and subsequent deployment is one of the principal hallmarks of the American identity.
To finish each and every sentence with a gun, a bullet, a missile, a bomb and a fighter jet and then ride off into the horizon preening on the wings of wall-to-wall reports of “presidential leadership” is a wonderful kind of drug with which to medicate the pain of the reality being exported as high moral value. It may also be a dose of political methamphetamine to kill the pain of those circling sheriffs like Robert Mueller and various elected committees pursuing his acolytes and sycophants.
It is, however, not an effective ruse to distract world opinion that has firmed up into a conviction that the narcissist now, at this moment, meeting with Netanyahu and shortly to meet with Abbas, is a dangerous, vacuous and self-serving puppet of profit, servant of the 1% and high priest of none of the major world religions but rather of bigotry, racism, sexism and deception.
Verbs like “Drive out” the terrorists, as if a single-minded militarized act of violence will not directly recruit more terrorists, without even mentioning how they came to be radicalized, or where they might go if and when they were driven out demonstrate an emptiness of thought, vision and the capacity to “partner”.
It takes two to “partner,” and pouring cash even into a terrorist de-radicalizing messaging machine in Saudi, and into a de-funding-the-terrorists organization, in addition to the military behemoth promised, even taken together, are no assurance that the Saudi’s will deconstruct their “education” machine that purports to sow venomous seeds in Islamic youth around the world. The majority of Muslims, now numbering some 1.6 billion, do not live in the Middle East; they are scattered throughout the world. And, thumbing his nose so flagrantly at the Shiite Iranians, the historic enemy of the Sunni Saudis, and publicly shaming them for their sponsorship of terror in many region, is likely to enflame and enrage the hardline Iranians, in spite of the re-election of a moderate leader.
Also missing from the trump chest-thumping parade is the obvious calculation of the Russian response to the American “arming” the Saudis, as an open defiance of the Russian ally, Iran.
Silver bullet proposals to highly complex messes may work, when needing to “fire” those no longer subservient to the personal ambitions of the master. They are not even modestly appropriate to resolve such conflicts as currently taking place in Yemen, or in Syria, or in Iraq, or Afghanistan. And, as a history of massive military infusions of military might including nuclear weapons to Israel has demonstrated, another massive military infusion into Saudi Arabia will not lead to peace in the Middle East. In fact, they serve a single and less-than-honourable purpose: the inflation of the reputation of the master leader. And those weapons will also embolden the Saudis to ramp up their military efforts in Yemen, and potentially thereby embolden the Iranians to respond with increased ferocity.
There is no evidence to dispute the historic truth that war solves nothing, leaves many persons dead, dismembered, and societies in ruin. If trump were to ramp up training and deployment of a band of negotiators, peace-keepers, humanitarian assistance and foreign aid, as well as military hospitals and health-care workers to war theatres, at the level of his military addiction and salesmanship, the world, while shocked might come to view his presidency with a degree of calm and confidence that has long since dissipated into ether.
Even the messaging machine, an important intervention to attempt to combat the propaganda machine of the terrorists, while valid, and long overdue, given the American failure to mount this counter-terrorist initiative, will take time to mount and even longer to measure its effectiveness.
There is a kind of immediate urgency to the presidential trip that suggests a desperate need to both escape the mess he has made for himself in Washington and to generate more favourable media coverage. Behind the trip, there is also a glaring lack of substantive thought, reflection and long-term planning, almost as if the act of world leadership is more analogous to the construction of another elaborate and sumptuous hotel, for the purpose of vacuuming cash from the world’s wealthy. It exposes a superficiality, a self-addiction and a manipulation of the world’s most complex and intransigent exigencies into a personal political agenda that reeks of the desperate need to survive.
Chris Hedges writes of the “death of the American empire” in his most recent column (truthdig.com) arguing that even the removal of trump will not remediate the long list of abuses facing the American people. Hedges American perspective comes from a long history of reporting, researching and reflecting on the decline of empires from the Roman to the American. As a concerned neighbouring observer, his view deserves much more thought, reflection and public comment from the American people who have the levers of power to bring about the kind of changes they need.
We will continue to observer, listen, reflect and opine on what we see on our screens.
The whole world can no longer put our head in the sand, given the current swirling vortex that encircles Washington.