Why Diffuse When Escalation is an Option?
The Shrinking Department of State
If there had been one small ray of hope for the MAGA presidency, it was based on the hints of reducing the the United States never ending military escapades over the globe. He—Mr. MAGA—said time after time during the campaign he was against the invasion and occupation of Iraq (though the timing and sincerity of his commitment on this is questionable if one views the timing and wording of the clips); and he warned against repeating the same mistake by interfering in the Syrian civil war; and he posed the rhetorical "what's wrong with trying to get along with Russian?" He was an "economic national populist", dedicated to creating jobs at home by cutting bad trade deals and making sure big corporations kept their money here in America (somehow, building a border wall to keep out the low-wage seeking hoards would help, too). Hillary was the war hawk; she was the neoliberal globalist promising to exercise the "Big Stick" policy against Russia and all others that didn't understand the Project for the New American Century or the Bush Doctrine.
You could have wondered, then, what the purpose was for increasing the proposed budget for the Department of Defense by 10 percent, when the only “military” action candidate Trump talked about was removing ISIS, “very rapidly”. Military or defense spending, already at over 50% of the discretionary spending allocation, almost 20% of the total budget, and more than is spent by the seven next countries..combined. ISIS, cooler heads have reminded us, doesn't even have a rowboat.
Thursday’s shit storm of Tomahawk missiles launched as a curious retribution for the alleged use of chemical weapons in civilian populated areas contested by rebel forces exposed the "mettle" of the MAGA regime's resolve, or lack thereof in getting involved in a civil war in an already very unstable Middle East. It turns out that his isolated small coalition of radical ideologues, moderate Republicans, neocons, silver spoon-sucking daughter and in-law-in-training, with the straw-topped, empty headed scarecrow leading the way were either 1) desperate for a positive bump in job approval polls, 2) in agreement on at least one thing in an otherwise chaotic West Wing, 3) found themselves powerless in the face of pressure from the Deep State of corporatist-special interest-military-and evangelical religious power nexus that lies at the heart of the federal government, or (very unlikely) 4) assumed the uneven application of the international R2P.
The frail (read: unbalanced) emotional constitution of the commander-in-chief was pushed over the tipping point in his decision to unleash the explosive payback for disturbing his sense of decency. The sight (on TV, of course) of the babies sent him over the edge. Nothing amusing, of course, about the horror of poison gas attacks on civilians and babies, but it was a rare glimpse of the soft side of Trump that probably doesn't really exist. (This is the same person vowing to ban refugees from that war; the image of the four-year old, face down dead who seemed to have drowned in the shallow tide receding from the beach beamed across the world must have aired on TV one of the few times he wasn't watching.) The hypocrisy is disturbing, but the decision to make decisions on acts of war based on emotions rather than a thoroughly rational evaluation after the initial shock to one’s system is more likely to have negative consequences, not the least of which is that we have now engaged in military strikes against both sides of this conflict.
This episode hopefully ends here—but don’t count on it. And any glimmers of hope envisioned by his doubters and supporters alike about this POTUS making “greatness” are just superficial flashes of ritz and glitz from the imperial First Family. This was all only about getting there and whatever it took to do it. The kleptocrats will be the only winners.