Wargaming Donald Trump

Wargaming Donald Trump Featured

Last of 3 parts

IN retrospect, Trump was an enigma when he descended that golden Trump Towers escalator throwing his hat into the ring in 2015. He was already a public figure, a businessman, projecting an image as a brilliant dealmaker and a self-made billionaire. He was to leverage this for a shot at the presidency. And if he failed, nonetheless, it would enhance his brand. Either way, it was a win-win for the Donald. None had any inkling on how he would impact the political scene, least of all the GOP bigwigs who tolerated him as a lightweight political carpetbagger. How wrong they all were!

His entrance into the political stage was timely. American hegemony was at its zenith. But to the Cassandras and naysayers who had been prophesying it all along — the crest before the trough. But what was America really like when Trump burst into the scene?

Bush-Obama and the rise of China

The Obama years were coming to a close. Reelected in 2012, America's first Black president who came in with a bang may be bowing out with a whimper. In the international arena, Obama's good vibes, popularly known as the "Obama Bump," particularly among allies in Europe, were waning in the wake of Bush's unpopular entanglements in the Middle East. Americans were no longer enthusiastic about international engagements, growing wary of its government's capability of handling global problems — terrorism threats, for one.

To those internationalists that advocate a rules-based order, the role the US took on as the world's self-proclaimed policeman with its tolerance was a tight fit; stoking up the fires of democracy and freedom which are linked to continued growth in global trading. It may have pretensions to be the guardian of its morals but as the world's largest economy, the projection of its military might in the global arena ensures that world markets are open, expansion is not curtailed, to the benefit of all — and eventually, of course, to America. But at Obama's exit, more than half of Americans believe that the sacrosanct free trade and global economy may be a bad thing for Americans as it lowers their wages and costs them their jobs.

America's confidence in itself, taking upon its shoulders the world's burdens becomes thankless over time. The many conflicts and wars it went through, from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq to Afghanistan; various invasions, Bay of Pigs, Grenada, Panama; and a host of other pretexts, interventions and involvement in low-intensity conflicts in Syria, Somalia, Yemen etc. — resulted in different outcomes, victory and defeat. Except that there is no longer any clear dichotomy as to who the winners and losers are. All these are taking their toll on America.

In a book by Yan Xuetong, "Leadership, and the Rise of Great Powers" (Princeton University Press) he posits that since the end of the Cold War in late 1991 the world became unipolar with America ascendant. But during the post-Clinton years, the Bush and Obama administrations failed to introduce basic reforms that would allow America to maintain its superpower status for the long term. America was in stasis. The Iraq war damaged America's standing internationally. Domestically, Obama failed to enact reforms after the 2008 financial crisis. Meantime China in the last three decades has been embracing economic pragmatism and enacted free-market reforms raising its stature on the international stage. A bipolar world was emerging with China now on the cusp of challenging the hegemony of America, while the US has been on a slow path to political decline.

Enter the Donald

In the midst of these, we have the Donald coming into the picture with a compelling message. Bring America back to America and make America Great Again (MAGA). Although this is not original, it resonated and struck a chord particularly among a certain segment of Americans that Hillary Clinton so aptly described — the "basket of deplorables" (BOD). Ignorant of international ramifications, the Donald caused America to turn inward taking the path of economic nationalism. Trump proceeded to pull out of international commitments, severed ties and distanced the US from old allies pursuing his America First policy; fragmenting the old international order and ceding the ground to a rising power. Big mistake! Even under new leadership, it will almost be impossible to alter course and reconnect with the allies as Trump tore to shred America's credibility.

Post Trump

As elicited from several books that came out during and immediately after his presidency, Trump was a profoundly unsophisticated un-nuanced linear thinker that people, pundits, friends and enemies can read through, transparent in his appetites in a weird sort of way. First, he is a creature of mass media, a reality TV star and, I quote from the book, "The Making of Donald Trump": "Donald Trump has spent decades in the public spotlight and has masterfully created a public image that is quite different from the man behind it." We mostly see a fictionalized version of himself, but sometimes the man behind the image appears through the cracks as one lacking in knowledge, refusing to see facts as objective truths; and therefore, prone to telling lies — numerous lies. The Washington Post came up with a study that "President Trump has made at least 30,529 false claims in 1,455 days, which is about 21 lies a day as president."

Stolen election

These lies continued, culminating in his infamous claim of having won the 2021 elections against Joe Biden. His repeated assertion of widespread fraud before the elections and declaring himself the winner even before all the votes were counted gained currency mostly among the MAGA-BOD. All 50 states certified the results in Biden's favor and court after court threw out Trump's claims. With the formality of Congress certifying Biden's win on Jan 6, 2021, the MAGA-BOD, sufficiently motivated by Trump stormed the capitol. Trump's last stand ended in a bloody riot, leaving in its wake dead people and almost the death of America's ideals of democracy.

President Joe Biden is the president of the United States of America. But America was as much disunited then as never before since their civil war. Trump in ignominy was impeached the second time, the only American president to have been thus dishonored.

A warning

Authored anonymously, this book was based on a New York Times op-ed titled "I am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration." Its main thesis is that Trump is uniquely unfit for the US presidency. He has no compunction pushing the limits of decency and decorum, refuses to listen to his experienced officials and gives in to his worst impulses. Over the four years these people who were within the penumbra of power, the adults in the room, failed to rein in these urges. The case of pulling US forces out of Syria, mentioned in Part 1 of this series, is one such illustration of the president's dangerously erratic behavior. He institutes policies on the fly using Twitter as his medium for one-way communication with his administration and allies.

And amid a dangerously volatile world, this man could again be allowed by America to be president?


Read 250 times Last modified on Saturday, 13 May 2023 12:51
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