“The thing to fear from the Trump presidency is not the bold overthrow of the Constitution, but the stealthy paralysis of governance; not the open defiance of law, but an accumulating subversion of norms; not the deployment of state power to intimidate dissidents, but the incitement of private violence to radicalize supporters… Trump gambled that Americans resent each other’ s differences more than they cherish their shared democracy. So far, that gamble has paid off.”
– David Frum
“Never listen to fear! Fear makes you stupid.”
– Nina George
“You can’t fix ‘stupid.”
– Carol Christianson
“Even a blind pig can sometimes find an acorn.”
– Kenny Boyle
Blessed are the peacemakers, whatever their intentions – a thought for the nuclear age if there ever was one.
President Donald Trump’s motives for accepting overtures by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for a meeting between the two of them in May might be suspect, but South Korea’s motives certainly are not. Kim Jong Un’s genuine dictatorship next door is a nuclear arms horror South Koreans have, perhaps, learned to live with. Donald Trump’s fantasy dictatorship is an unfamiliar horror they would avoid at all costs, except, perhaps, that of their freedom.
Old world citizens of Asia, Africa and Europe are familiar with war as a traditional sport of kings, emperors and empires, both ancient and modern. American media make a mistake, I think, in trying to compare President Trump to previous American Presidents. He sees himself, instead, in the magic mirror of FOX News as “Emperor Donald, the First.” Trump is not well enough read to know this, but Emperor Louis Napoleon of France, first got him himself elected President before seizing power as Napoleon III in 1852.
He succeeded only in fooling his own French people. Italy’s Camillo Benso di Cavour tricked him into underwriting Italian unification in 1859. The victory of Union forces in the American Civil War doomed his Mexican adventure in 1867, and Prince Otto von Bismarck finished him off in wars of German Unification in 1870-71.
Trump is best compared, however, to another Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who came to grief as one of the perpetrators of World War I, the catastrophe that created the mess we are still trying to clean up in places like the Korean Peninsula.
Insights abound in the media that, the man who would be Donald I, designates as “fake news,” but I also have consulted my canny canine KGB experts in snowbound Mandan, North Dakota. I had dispatched them to the Capitol to penetrate the West Wing and report back.
High Plains Reader: Hello dear friends. Did you have much trouble getting information out of the West Wing?
Putin: Not at all. We just hung out with German Shepherds at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and they sniffed out the rest for us. Now that Chancellor Angela Merkel has become the default leader of the free world, we were more than welcome.
HPR: I suppose Trump’s Bromance with Putin, and Great Britain’s Brexit mess have put Germany in that position. What about France?
Rasputin: The French and Germans in West Germany patched things up in 1950s while no one over here, except New Deal policy makers, was looking. “Geniuses” at the CIA in the age of McCarthyism were busy overthrowing representative governments in Iran and Guatemala.
Lena: Germans never forgot the generosity of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, and in the 1960’s they began a serious soul searching, with the aid of their historians and public media, into their responsibility for the Holocaust. Along with construction of the economic colossus of the European Union, Germans adopted many measures to, as best they could, make sure that such a horror could never happen again in their part of the world.
The presence in Munich recently of National Security Council Chief, H.R. McMaster, a sane and well qualified American representative, is both recognition and reassurance to our brothers and sisters in freedom in Europe, that the wackiness in the West Wing does not speak for all, or even most, of the Executive Branch.
German leaders are still painfully aware of the colossal weaknesses of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914, who was way too stubborn in carrying out his bad ideas, like antagonizing the British on the High Seas as well as in the Middle East, and way too weak in defending his really good ideas, like not going to war with France and Russia at the same time.
HPR: Kaiser Bill certainly does sound like Trump! But good for the Germans! Tolerance instead of hatred. Acceptance rather than fear. A distrust, rather than a worshiping, of power. My goodness! Those are significant changes for any nation, or individual. Ignorance CAN be overcome, as long as it is admitted.
Kim Dog Un: That is the problem, of course. Some people, and all too many leaders, fail to acknowledge ignorance, which is curable, and, instead, use all of their intelligence to graduate into stupidity, which is not curable. The good will of the Winter Olympics of 2018 will not be enough to get us beyond past fears and loathing in the Korean Peninsula, for example.
Lena: World Wars I and II taught some very hard lessons in Europe and Asia, at the cost of many millions of lives. Many Americans, however, as the imagined “victors,” in a war which ushered in a nuclear age which can have no victors, are still under the illusion that military might, possession of superior fire power, alone is a guarantee of security and supremacy.
HPR: That means that the current parade of fools in and about the Trump presidency have a good deal of company in the past. Like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, who thought that lying about bogus “weapons of mass destruction” would bring such great results in Iraq and the Middle East. Or Robert McNamara, who thought, along with way too many others in the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations, that lying about conditions in Vietnam would bring about great results in East Asia.
Putin: Current serial liars include Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. The racism of their rabid nationalism is reminiscent of the America First movement before Pearl Harbor, which paralyzed our country in so many ways before the onslaught of the Nazis and the Japanese Empire.
HPR: Yes, but Bannon at least saw how stupid it was for Trump and his family to get mixed up with Putin’s money-laundering pals.
Rasputin: One could argue, nevertheless, that Bannon and Miller, while not engaging in anything that might cause Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to put them in the slammer, are the worst of all in doing Russia’s dirty work. In their picking at our scabs of violent racism in American society, they have done more to advance Putin’s agenda of weakening our democracy than morons like Carter Page or “debt princes” like Jared Kushner, who may go to jail for their follies.
Lena: Vladimir Putin doesn’t care who Mueller puts in jail for such criminal activity as he considers the cost of doing business in Russia. He is desperate to bring down the U.S. and the West to Russia’s level as much as he can. He has big problems in Asia as well. Richard Engel’s reporting for MSNBC has exposed Russia’s role in perfecting Kim Jong Un’s missile and nuclear program.
Kim Dog Un: Naturally. The North Korean dictator is the logical pawn to use against the West and South Korea, just as Communist China’s Mao Tse Tung was a natural pawn for Stalin to use against us in the Korean War of 1950-1953. Western commentators often neglect Russia’s multi-war fronts, especially in eastern Asia. In August, 1939, for example, Stalin made a non-aggression pact with Hitler, so that he could avoid a two front war while his Siberian divisions under Marshall Zhukov were already in action against the Japanese in Manchuria.
HPR: And turn Japan towards Singapore and Pearl Harbor, which is where the U.S. comes in. But Putin now has to deal with a resurgent China and a democratic Japan, whose economies dwarf Russia’s as much as do Europe and America.
Putin: Don’t forget democratic stirrings in Russia itself, like the fans of “Pussy Riot.” There is a reason 1968 in the U.S. is that group’s favorite year. 1968 symbolizes America’s grappling with its wrenching problems of racism, sexism, and economic unfairness. The U.S. became stronger in the long run, and a shining example to the world of its continuing dedication to freedom and justice.
HPR: Can such strivings succeed in 2018?
Rasputin: That is Vladimir Putin’s greatest fear. His experts likely tell him that high voter turnouts can defeat dark money and organized lying. If Americans vote “no” against Big Brother Russians and Big Money Republicans, Putin’s hand-picked Pinocchio will not last that long.
No matter how lengthy Trump’s make-believe nose, he will be but a wooden titan, to be chopped down by due process.