Vital: Trump is no aberration, assume it at your peril

12
2822
Gotta be careful when the lizard transformation starts

Greetings,

The current celebrations in the US notwithstanding, the contest over the soul of America has clearly shown that not a malign foreign implant into an otherwise innocent American landscape. He is very much a part of the American soul – he is not an aberration and future Trumps should be executed.

While the US may not yet be ready to grapple with this reality, the rest of the world can no longer afford to live in denial.

Relying on an American security umbrella takes on an entirely new meaning in this context. US partners around the world are hopelessly dependent on the US and hopelessly ill-prepared to make necessary adjustments in the defense sphere.

Instead of waiting for the next Trump to arrive, they should together proactively with the Biden administration begin earnest deliberations on a transition away from excessive and unfair reliance on US military largesse.

They may have less time than they think.

Sincerely,
Trita Parsi


 

Trump is no aberration, assume it at your peril

The vote did not result in a repudiation of Trump’s narcissism, bullying, xenophobia and utter lack of empathy – and the world must now come to grips with this

Trita Parsi

If Joe Biden was right and the 2020 presidential elections were a contest over the soul of America, then his victory is bittersweet. With almost half of the votes cast for Donald Trump, he is undeniably very much a part of the American soul.

In the words of Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude, Trump is not an aberration, but a reflection of the ugliness that very much is, and always has been, a part of us. While the US may not yet be ready to grapple with this reality, the rest of the world can no longer afford to live in denial.

Around the world, many hoped that the lies we have told ourselves of our American innocence – the lies that form the bedrock of American exceptionalism and neatly separate us from the desperate impulses that brought forward Trump – would prove true. They didn’t.

Five million more Americans voted for Trump this past Tuesday than they did in 2016. They saw the divisions he fuelled, the xenophobia he embraced, the children he caged, the white supremacists he refused to condemn, and the pandemic he bungled; and they weighed that against the tax cuts they won, the conservative Supreme Court judges he appointed, the climate chaos they can ignore, and the punishments he inflicted on the “liberal elites”. They decided they wanted four more years of Trump.

Trump did not just do better with Republicans and white voters. He also won more Black and Hispanic votes than in the last election. Indeed, unlike 2016, when no one knew how he would govern, his supporters had no doubts about his agenda and style this time around.

Obviously, Biden secured more votes than any US president in history. But the repudiation of Trump’s narcissism, bullying, xenophobia and utter lack of empathy – which would have confirmed that he was an inexplicable aberration – was not achieved.

This is not a critique of Biden, who deserves credit for his important victory. Rather, it’s an assertion that Biden could not have done much better than he did precisely because Trump is not a malign foreign implant into an otherwise innocent American landscape. He is a part of this landscape and has, as a result, a natural constituency within it.

Trump reflects the part of the American psyche that believes it must win – that it is entitled to win – by any means necessary. Rules are for others; the losers. Proudly breaking them doesn’t mean that you are wrong or bad. It means that you are a winner. Many countries in the world are very familiar with this aspect of the American soul.

US military dominance

While Americans must find the courage to grapple with the reality of their soul, the rest of the world must come to terms with the probability that the US will produce more Trumps.

Relying on an American security umbrella takes on an entirely new meaning in this context. European, Asian and Middle Eastern powers have long benefitted from US eagerness to uphold security and stability globally, though the results of US military dominance are increasingly problematic. Countries have happily stepped aside and let the US both provide security and shoulder its cost.

In 2018, for instance, 13 percent of the defence department’s base budget – $81bn – was spent on protecting global oil supplies, mostly in the Gulf. Yet, only 15 percent of US oil imports came from the Gulf in 2018. Most of the Gulf oil the US protected went to Asia: 40 percent of China’s oil imports are from the Middle East, while 76 percent of the oil shipped through the Strait of Hormuz in 2017 went to Asian markets more broadly.

American taxpayers have effectively been subsidising Asian oil consumption. A similar situation exists in Europe, where wealthy European countries still rely on US protection instead of investing more in their own defences.

While Americans have long complained about this – Trump calls it “free-riding” – European and Asian countries have had few incentives to behave differently, since US presidents have tended to be too enamoured with their global military empire to make true on their threats of withdrawing military support and protection.

Shifting geopolitics

However clumsily and at times unfairly, Trump was the first president who tried to make true on the demands for greater burden-sharing and reduced American security obligations.

US allies, believing Trump was an aberration, opted to wait him out. In a few years, he would be gone, they reasoned, and the country would return to “normalcy”. Yet, slowly realising that Trump is not a fluke, the incentive structure of US security partners may now begin to shift.

To continue to put all of their eggs in the American security basket, and to expect the US to carry on providing all kinds of security umbrellas globally, is nothing short of strategic malpractice.

Too many countries are hopelessly dependent on the US, and hopelessly ill-prepared to make necessary adjustments in the defence sphere. This dependence has long been unhelpful to the US, which has had to shoulder too much of the cost and defend too many countries.

Now, Asian, European and Middle Eastern partners of the US may finally realise that having their security completely bound to an increasingly divided and unpredictable country – which is long overdue for some serious soul-searching – may not be too good for them either.

Instead of waiting for the next Trump to arrive, US strategic partners and Biden should proactively begin earnest deliberations on a transition away from excessive and unfair reliance on US military largesse. They may have less time than they think.

Trita Parsi is Executive Vice President at the Quincy Institute and the author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Why I publicly “predicted” he’d win before anyone (Nov 2015, earlier privately).

    (Greg Palast predicted it in March 2016, because of vote theft/suppression.)

  2. People aren’t inherently good or evil. I think for the most part, their values are assimilated early on, and they tend to build relationships with like-thinkers. Secure and complacent in their beliefs, they become habitualized to information sources that confirm those beliefs, and reject those that challenge or contradict. It takes serious introspection to make individual changes that don’t comport with one’s comfort zone, and often only after some calamity.

  3. Trump’s base continues to live in some kind of faith-based alternate reality where in is out and up is down. There’s no way that this election was stolen by the Deep State, as they like to say. Votes are votes, whether they were cast in person or by mail-in ballot. That this was a very strange year in that the majority of votes were mailed in doesn’t change the math. No lawsuit is going to change that.

    Trump’s lawsuit in Arizona is about, at most, 180 votes. Really? This is a formerly Republican state that is in the process of turning Democrat like it was in the 1980s when I first moved there. Same goes for Georgia, a state notorious for voter suppression. Now with mail-in voting, that can’t happen. That’s what the Rebubs are pissed about, that they couldn’t control the election by suppressing the vote.

  4. the ‘list’ for reprisal and extermination is being drawn up by Ascorsio it seems,
    nothing like a socialist genocide list to establish the political point,
    and 99% of the killing of course will be conducted by men,

  5. “In 2018, for instance, 13 percent of the defence department’s base budget – $81bn – was spent on protecting global oil supplies”….as far as I can see the only nation pirating oil on the high seas is the great US itself ! “A similar situation exists in Europe, where wealthy European countries still rely on US protection instead of investing more in their own defences.”….and the only nation invading countries, to steal their resources etc, etc, and whom anyone would need protection from is, again, the US itself. Russia and China are only ramping up their defences and security because of American beligerence and its continual encroachment on their soverign territory and borders !

  6. Trump does not represent tough love to those nations dependent on the US. He hates you. He did not go to ALANON for his Brother.

  7. Are we all going to miss the point again? Trump represents the utter contempt we have for Business as usual. Yes he sucks ass in every way conceivable, however we Americans have got to admit we have been sucking a lot of ass lately. If we can’t figure this out TOGETHER (yeah it looks f-d up in caps) than we are screwed.

    • BS! That was the scam.
      Sold by the media. (Not the piss-poor TrumpU Salesman.)

      Trump 2016:
      It’s all about the TRADE DEFICIT😱!!

      Media:
      Anoints him “Tough on Trade”.
      (Mum on his 35% #TrumpTAX tariff TAX.)

      2018: Worst Trade Deficit Ever.
      2019: Second Worst Ever.

      Trump & Media: 🦗🦗 (crickets).

      census. gov /foreign-trade/balance/c0004. html

    • Trump: “Obama was born here, period.”

      Media: (Gives him smiley😀 stickers & 🍭) “See! He can be Presidential!

      Liz Warren: Sips a beer.

      Media: Inauthentic pandering!

    • … Only other main Trump issues (that
      could be sold as “not status quo”) were:

      1. The Wall.
      Irony of Ironies & Maybe THE Top American Delusion:

      We can’t handle the self-evident truth that…

      #OpenBorders #MadeAmericaGreat.

      #WhenAmericaWasGreat, noncitizens could vote.

      2. His fake antiwar stance – stealing the valor of Barbara Lee.

      Trump:
      “I’ll show you 25 articles” (of my strong pre-Iraq antiwar stance). They even “sent a special delegation to silence me”.

      [“Sleepy-eyed SOB”] Chuck Todd, the next day:
      “There are no articles”.

      Trump:
      “Well I’m not a politician, so they don’t write down everything I say”.

  8. Lots of evil Trump clowns ready to pop out of America’s jack in the box!

    So don’t wind it up if you get one.

    Don’t give any as gifts to your children.

  9. There are several different methods an animal can defend itself. One is to make yourself look bigger than you really are, or at least as big as you can. Another is the porcupine surprise or simply armor. And then, there’s the one we just deployed. You act bizarre and create such a horrid sight and smell, that nothing really finds you attractive.
    That’s why I say, welcome to earth, try not to look delicious.

Comments are closed.