I bow (in case you were wondering) to no one in my loathing for the Clintons, the Establishment, the Beltway Insulates, political correctness, BLM, radical feminists, the controlled media, Obama, Wall Street, neocons, Social-Justice Look-at-Mes, and the New York Oligarchs. After the election, I figured, having no choice anyway, to see what Trump actually did. I have seen. America elected a dangerous curiosity.
Listen to Trump’s Secretary of State Tillerson, his representative, addressing Congress and ordering China around like a misbehaving twelve-year-old: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
This amounts to “Do what I say, or else.” It is an ultimatum, a thing to be used gingerly among big powers. The only “else” is war. Yes, he was speaking unofficially, but his interventions are clear.
Ultimata are dangerous. They are insulting. They leave no room for preservation of dignity by compromise, by finding a way to give in without seeming to. They are a way to look for a fight. A Secretary of State who casually issues ultimata to huge and nuclear powers is a symptom of an executive branch utterly out of control.
Tillerson’s combativeness is not a fluke. Vice President Bannon in The Independent “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we?” Mr Bannon said on his radio show in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that.”
It also shows the danger of a President with no restrictions on his power to make war. In this respect, current Presidents are as autonomous as Roman emperors, having established that they can wage war at will. Whether the country wants to go to war makes no difference.
FoxNews The US is officially putting Iran “on notice” after its missile test.
The same truculence. The same sense of entitlement. Another war coming up. We would find out about it the day after it began.
A point apparently lost on the President is that we do not live in 1955. Then, it was a bully’s world. The carriers could easily have prevented sampans from going to islands and China had no hope of attacking the US navy or engaging in nuclear war. Today it can do both. While the US would “win” a conventional war, assuming that it remained conventional, the consequences would be unpredictable and the economic effects catastrophic.
Trump is extremely combative, erratic, apparently a bully, and responds to resistance by doubling down. To many of us, including me, this was immensely satisfying when he told the press to bugger off, defied the Clinton-Wall Street-Beltway elites, and talked of putting the interests of America before those of big business. The campaign was fine entertainment. Because so many were sick of the elites, he is President. Fun as a candidate, but in a President?
The same psychology of the gas-station lout appears in his approach to Mexico, where I live. In particular his insistence that Mexico pay for his wall is insulting, and deliberately so. He very evidently does not like Mexico.
He got screwed in a business deal in Mexico and has been hostile to the country ever since. Time published a list of Trump’s tweets on Mexico, a remarkable number of which expressed personal anger. For example, here he conflates foreign policy and his personal affairs:
I have a lawsuit in Mexico’s corrupt court system that I won but so far can’t collect. Don’t do business with Mexico!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2015
The Mexican legal system is corrupt, as is much of Mexico. Pay me the money that is owed me now – and stop sending criminals over our border
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2015
Note the order of the demands.
This sounds like the pique–I won’t say “hissyfit”–of a man who does not respond well to not getting his way. And his relentless hostility to Mexico looks a lot like a quest for revenge.
The desire to humiliate and punish Mexico plays well with Americans angry at immigration and themselves hostile to Latinos. Personal vendettas do not seem a desirable basis for foreign policy.
More of his hostility seems to spring from failed developments in Mexico, the Trump Ocean Resort Baja California, in which purchasers of expensive apartments lost large down payments when the developments were not built.
“All told, two years of aggressive marketing yielded $32.5 million in buyer deposits, every bit of it spent by the time Trump and his partners abandoned the project in early 2009 as the global economy was reeling. Most of the buyers sued them for fraud.”
Whether the reason for the failure was incompetence or a deliberate scam depends on who you talk to.
There was also Punta Arrecifes Resort that he wanted to build in Cozumel. It was to be a very high-dollar, exclusive place with airport, golf couture, and the like and, among other things, would have devastated an ecologically protected zone. Protests erupted, the mayor wanted an excessive bribe, and he didn’t get his way.
“Para “acelerar” los trámites, el alcalde panista les pidió un “moche” de 20 millones de dólares. Directo, sin rodeos, el alcalde panista les indicó que ese era el precio para lograr el cambio de uso de suelo, pese a las protestas de los grupos ambientalistas.”
“To speed up” the paperwork, the Panista mayor asked them for a bribe of $20 million. Directly, without beating around the bush, the mayor indicated that this was the price for changing the use of the land despite the protests of environmentalists.” My translation.
The bribe was more than Trump was willing to play. He took his football and went home. He is not above fraud or corruption, but didn’t like the price.
Wall Street Journal: “Trump settles fraud case against Trump University for $25M”
His blaming these failures on Mexican corruption doesn’t hold water. The corruption exists, yet countless American firms successfully do business in Mexico.
Petulant, self-interested, and childish. Much of what he says is adolescent. Over and over he speaks of Mexico sending criminals to America. How precisely does Mexico send criminals? By “Mexico” he presumably means the Mexican government, as who else might he mean? Does Presidente Peña Nieto go to a penitentiary and say, “You, Pepe, and Kike and, yeah, you, Luis, take these bus tickets, you criminal bastardos, and go to the United States and wreak havoc”? Is there a cabinet-level body to send criminals? El Departamento de Empaquetamiento de Cabrones? Perhaps “Mexico” puts stamps on criminals and drops them off at the post office.
The repeated assertion that Mexico is cheating the US, exploiting it, being unfair, (Oh! Poor widdle Colossus of the North) is either garishly ignorant, personally vindictive or, more likely, both. Mexico is governmentally weak, corrupt, and utterly under the thumb of the United States. Is NAFTA a Mexican plot against the US? Actually it forced Mexican farmers into competition with hopelessly superior American agriculture and drove them into the cities, where there are no jobs. Along the border American maquiladoras pay poor Mexicans miserably low wages. Mexico crawls with DEA agents forced on it from the north and loses countless lives fighting Americal’ls drug war. On and on.
We seem to have as President an unpredictable warlike draft dodger with a history of fraud suits who cannot distinguish between his personal grudges and foreign policy. Is this going to work?
Fred can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put the letters “pdq” somewhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion.