Friday, July 07, 2017

Trump’s Deranged Thirst for a Clash of Civilizations

If one looks at Donald Trump's business career, other than inherited wealth, his rise has depended in considerable measure in lying, cheating others, threats, seeking confrontation, being a bully, skirting the law and dealing with undesirable personages ranging from Mafia figures to Russian Mafia figures. Contracts mean nothing to the man - and by extension, the same seems to hold for international treaties - and his word means little.  The only thing that can be relied upon is that he will lie and boast about himself while feeding his insatiable ego.  Now, thanks to the dereliction of its duty by the Electoral College, Trump finds him holding the office of president of the United States and he seemed poised to bring all of his distasteful repertoire to the world stage.  Compounding the toxicity is his apparent embrace of the Christofascists' desire to impose their beliefs and "culture" on the rest of the world.  His current trip to Poland and the G20 summit is no exception.  A column in the Washington Post looks at Trump's alternate universe and thirst for conflict.  Here are highlights:
“A little learning is a dangerous thing,” wrote the poet Alexander Pope. Three centuries later, Pope’s aphorism perfectly — and dangerously — describes President Trump’s understanding of history as a zero-sum clash of civilizations in which “the West” can triumph by imposing its will.
The speech Trump delivered Thursday in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square might have been appropriate when Britannia ruled the waves and Europe’s great powers held dominion over “lesser” peoples around the globe. It had nothing useful to say about today’s interconnected world in which goods, people and ideas have contempt for borders.
 Trump added what he probably thought of as a Churchillian flourish: “I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.”
Triumph over whom? Trump mentioned “radical Islamic terrorism” as one of the enemies posing “dire threats to our security and to our way of life,” but he didn’t stop there. He went on to add Russia and — weirdly — “the steady creep of government bureaucracy” to the list.
But what does Trump mean when he speaks of “the West” and its civilization? “Americans, Poles and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” he said. “We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.
If the president read a few history books, he’d know that for most of the past 2,000 years, China and India were the world’s leading economic powers and Europe was a relatively primitive backwater. He’d know that Europe rose to dominance not by erecting walls but by opening itself to the rest of the world — its resources, products and people.
There is nothing pure about Western civilization. Its ability to absorb and incorporate outside influences has proved a great strength, not a weakness. Imagine Italy without tomato sauce, a gift from the New World — or the United States without the high-tech companies founded by immigrants, gifts from the Old.
Of course Trump is right to call for a united front against terrorism. But the solution, in a globalized world, cannot be to hunker behind walls . . . . Global issues, such as nuclear proliferation and climate change, demand global solutions. Like it or not, we are all in this together.
The correct response to the terrorism threat, which is real, is to isolate it as an abomination that is as much a grievous insult to Islam as to any other faith — and that has taken the lives of far more Muslims than non-Muslims. The wrong response is to posit that “the West” is besieged by, and therefore at war with, a hostile civilization.
But viewing the fight against terrorism as some kind of civilizational Armageddon is wrong. Trump seems to view himself as the West’s defender against 1.6 billion Muslims, almost all of whom want only to live in peace. We need a capable president, not a crusader in chief.
George W. Bush saw the Iraq War as a crusade of sorts.  In the end, it ended little better than some of the failed Crusades of the 11th and 13th Centuries but had one thing in common with the: thousands lost their lies needlessly.  One can only cringe in fear of what batshitery Trump may unleash.  

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