Well, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do since my last column, but first the question that rises from my lips as I step away from my sick bed is: what happened to all the wars President Trump was supposed to have started? Just before my recent illness the commentariat was filled with predictions of fire and brimstone as Trump called out Kim Jong Un, blustering, braying, and bloviating a mix of insults and warnings of imminent military action. And yet – nothing came of it.
Months after the “crisis” took center stage, it’s all talk, and no action – which is about par for the course with the Trump administration. Coming on a year into the Trump presidency, that the media still isn’t getting this shows just how dumb these people are: they really believe the noise, or, at least, they want to believe it, as it confirms their low opinion of the President. Pundits whose prejudices are usually in favor of war write pieces like “Can Anyone Stop Trump From, Attacking North Korea?” in which the President is depicted as a malevolent toddler playing with nuclear weapons that could go off at any moment – and yet it hasn’t happened. One can almost feel the disappointment of the Never Trumpers as the earth continues to spin on its axis and Doomsday fails to dawn.
We were told that if Trump decertified Iran compliance with the nuclear deal that the result would certainly be war – so where’s the fireworks? Gee, it looks like “decertification” is a less serious matter than we were led to believe: instead of signaling World War III, it merely meant that a bunch of US Senators would get to strike poses and utter complete nonsense while taking in money from the Israel lobby. Whoop de-doo!!!
And what, pray tell, has happened to the “Russia-gate” hoax? After all the supposedly secret meetings, the cloak-and-dagger, the evidence of “collusion” and hints of “treason” – and now, suddenly, the tables are turned and the very people hurling accusations of “treason” and “collusion” are now exposed as vulnerable to the very same charges. This song-and-dance about “Russian influence” over the 2016 election has been playing on the congressional jukebox for over a year and yet we seen not one iota of evidence that any of it is real: all we’ve got are a few Facebook ads that very few people saw and even fewer were swayed by. And what were these storied ads about, anyway? Not the election, or any candidate – just “divisive” issues like gay rights, race, and immigration, supposedly meant to simply cause “turmoil.” As if this could possibly represent a threat to a free society.
To reiterate: by this point, the Trumpocalypse – which one might visualize as a combination of nuclear winter, global warming, and the opening up of the mouth of Hell – should already have been well underway. And yet nothing of the kind has happened. Why not? Could it be that the hysterical response of the “mainstream” media to Trump’s victory at the polls was way out proportion to the actual threat? Is it possible that a national security Establishment with real policy differences with the President sought to poison his presidency from the beginning?
Despite the attempt to frame Trump as a madman capable of anything – a characterization of Richard Nixon that may have actually benefited the conduct of US foreign policy at the time – the reality is that I doubt he cares about foreign policy issues enough to provoke a real crisis. Before he was threatening Kim Jong Un, he was telling the South Koreans that maybe it’s time to reconsider the US troop presence and that they’ve got to start paying for their own defense. What Trump really cares about is domestic politics: immigration, taxes, and infrastructure. Wait until he gets his hands on the money he plans to spend on new roads, airports, etc.: then you’ll see the President in his element, wasting huge amounts of money on monuments to himself.
There was always the chance that Trump would allow himself to get dragged into yet another Mideastern war, or some conflict with either Russia or China, by our ever-present always-active War Party, as part of his initiation into the presidential club. As if to prove he didn’t really mean all that “America First” “isolationist” guff, and that it was all just talk for the benefit of the rubes. And that is still all too possible,– but it’s not very likely because it’s not his natural inclination. Here is a man who, above all, wants to be liked: starting wars at the drop of a hat seems the wrong road to that goal.
As the one year anniversary of Trump’s triumph approaches, the pathetic remnants of American liberalism still haven’t recognized its meaning, or reconciled themselves to their loss of State power. They dream of impeachment, or even an outright coup: their contempt for the Great American Middle – “the deplorables!” – defines their politics, which, by now, are almost entirely negative: anti-Trump, anti-Russia, anti-bourgeois.
The great hopes many of us had for Trump in the foreign policy realm – at least having a serious discussion about NATO and our Pacific alliances – have not come to fruition, and indeed have been frustrated by the internationalists (of both parties) who have wriggled their way back into the corridors of power. The big problem is that there aren’t enough good personnel, with the right “America First” credentials, to staff Trump’s foreign policy councils. The careerists are all internationalists, whether of the “liberal” variety or the neoconservative type.
On the other hand, while Trump’s more radical foreign policy proposals have been forgotten, or put on the back burner, he’s managed to avoid getting involved in any new conflicts. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, we would almost certainly be deep into a Cuba-missile-crisis type event with the Russians somewhere in eastern Europe.
While Democrats screech that we’re in a state of war with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, President Trump avoided a near head-on collision in Syria and has kept the diplomatic lines open despite the Democrats’ contention that peace with Russia is treasonous. Presidents rarely get credit for not starting World War III. It’s kind of taken for granted: but in today’s world it shouldn’t be. It’s to Trump’s credit that he hasn’t allowed himself to get pushed into a “crisis” with the Russians – at least not yet.
In any case, Trump is neither monster nor savior, and that is surely evident on this first anniversary of the Trump victory. Like with all successful demagogues, people see what they want to see in Trump. And that goes for his enemies as well as his friends. The former see a world-destroying Devil, while the latter thought he might restore the slogan and policy of “America First” in its original meaning. At the end of Year One, we can say that neither extreme has been observed or achieved.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.