Friday open thread—War, not war
Noted Tweeter LOLGOP asked this question yesterday:
Well, now we know.
Reports this morning confirm that Donald Trump gave the order to bomb the shit out of Iran, only to rescind the order soon after. John “boys go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran” Bolton, national insecurity advisor, got cockblocked in his blood lust by Vladimir Putin.
Of course, I’m not arguing that Trump is a wimp for backing down against Iran. This is a mess of his own making. Had he not pulled out of the nuclear deal, the Persian Gulf would be a much quieter place.
But let’s survey the wasteland he’s created.
For two years he’s kowtowed to the likes of Sheldon Adelson, Bibi Netanyahu, and Mohamed bin Salman. (What a group of odd bedfellows.) From the status of Jerusalem to saber-rattling against Iran, he’s been nothing but a patsy for the fevered dreams of revanchist Israelis and the Saudi-UAE nexus which wants to dominate the Gulf. But just as he was—literally—about to pull the trigger and sink the US into an even worse quagmire, he hesitated. It beggars belief that he didn’t get a call on his unsecured iPhone from Putin telling him to cool his heels.
The US, right now, doesn’t have a foreign policy. It barely has a functioning government. The executive is rudderless, listing in the water, at the mercy of whatever winds arise, rather than setting the agenda. The only two things which animate Trump are jailing refugees and his farcical July 4th blowout. American leadership has receded all over the globe, with other actors filling the void. When in 2016 some cavalierly said “How bad could it be?”, this is what we envisioned. A lazy slob of a man in charge of the world’s only empire frittering away power accumulated over a century. No wonder the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey love Trump; they see American power and its exercise as inherently immoral; its diminution is all to the good.
While I’m relieved that the war was called off, this seesawing from one extreme to another serves to diminish American power to a point where it’s a laughingstock. The world wasn’t laughing at us when Barack Obama was in office. Now it is, with tears rolling down its face.
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