For much of Donald Trump’s presidency, he has been on the defensive. From Russiagate to the current impeachment process, Trump has often spent much of his time flailing about on the lawn of the White House, berating journalists and spewing lies, or pounding away on Twitter to the general detriment of the public discourse. It is when he acts however, that a fuller picture of the damage wrought comes to light. Whether he’s caging children, handing money to America’s wealthiest people, or turning his back on climate change his record is littered with immoral acts and a series of dangerous or foolish ones. Now, at the beginning of what is surely to be a volatile and ugly election year, Trump has fully waded into the waters of geopolitical chaos. Trump began 2020 by murdering Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. This act is without question the most decisive one of the Trump presidency, and it is the one most likely to have global ramifications. Leaving aside any moral judgment of the act itself, for that would require far more space than I have here, let’s instead consider what it reveals about the Trump presidency, and how the consequences of his administration’s behaviour will no doubt make matters even worse, even harder to parse.
To begin with, there’s Trump and his cronies’ justification for killing Soleimani. The claim is that the man was planning imminent attacks on Americans. Here we have a perfect illustration of the lack of moral authority and credibility of this White House and State Department. With the intelligence ‘failure’ that led to the Iraq war still casting a pall over any claims that might be made based on supposed information, the addition of Trump and his constant need to lie or hide the truth, makes knowing anything about the veracity of these claims utterly impossible. Trump has launched a full–scale assault on reality for years now, and its certainly come home to roost with this situation. Save his supporters and sycophants, who in this world actually trusts anything Donald Trump tells us? If he is willing to lie about knowing more about windmills than anyone else, how could one take him at his word about something this substantial?
Beyond the impossibility of knowing whether what is being said is true, there’s also a serious lack of trust in the competence of those making and carrying out these decisions. A great example was a letter sent from an American commander to the Iraqi military, declaring that the United States would withdraw its troops from Iraq, in accordance with the Iraqi government’s wishes. Then, the letter was said to be a fake. Then, it was declared real, but a mistake. A poorly worded explanation that troops weren’t leaving, but rather repositioning. It would be truly unbelievable at basically any other time that such a thing could happen as we’ve been told, but given the seeming lack of preparedness in response to its own actions, this nightmare somehow makes perfect sense.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, the fear that exists among so many people is based beyond the actual awful things that have taken place, but rather the horrifying possibilities that feel like they exist. How bad is this going to get? Seems to have been the prevailing thought among most throughout these first three years. Trump’s temperament, his refusal to accept constraints on his power, his narcissism, and his feeling that he’s always under threat, have fed into this feeling that all bad things are squarely possible. Now, we are at the most important moment of this relentless nightmare. Trump has acted, and in a manner that has stunned the world, and thrown the people of the Middle East into even greater turmoil and insecurity. Instead of making a prediction, it should simply be said that it is precisely those people who do not deserve this. The amount of pain, loss, and suffering endured by so many in this region for so long, is utterly unjust. Having the fear of even worse to come is unimaginable for people like me. Again, rather than a prediction, think of it this way; what would actually shock you at this point? Of all the horrifying ways that this may play out, which one genuinely seems beyond the realm of possibility. When you honestly come to terms with the fact that nothing seems out of the question, you can begin to understand how unhinged this all really is. V