September 29, 2018

This was hell week in New York City. Traffic was paralyzed from one end of the narrow island to the other as bigwigs and their entourages flocked to the city for the fall opening of the United Nations.

Making matters worse, President Donald Trump chose the occasion to lambaste nations he does not like in a crude display of boorishness not seen since Soviet boss Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on his desk at the General Assembly back in 1960.

Trump reserved special venom for his pet bêtes noirs, Iran and China. His jeremiad against Iran was reportedly written by senior aide Stephen Miller, a rabidly anti-Muslim extremist who speaks with the voice of Israel’s expansionist far right.

Trump reiterated his doctrine of American ultra-nationalism. Political and economic nationalism are his credo. The president claimed he had indeed made America great again, whatever that means.

The president’s speech was greeted by derisive laughter from the General Assembly, a first in UN history.

I was reminded of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s famous bon mot, ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.’ Indeed it is.

And of the words of the late British professor, A.P. Thornton: ‘Patriotism is the first platform of fools.’

Patriotism is poison. Dictators, despots, lunatics – and too many democratic politicians – use it to inflame popular passions to enhance their power. There is nothing wrong with loving and respecting one’s homeland. Canadians offer a fine example of quiet national pride without obnoxious flag-waving and bullying.

But everything is wrong with unleashing toxic nationalist emotions to promote empire-building or eradicating whole peoples. Look at the current horrors in Burma and the recent mass crimes in Bosnia.

As a former soldier and war correspondent, I cringe when I see all the faux patriotism of sports events, chants of ‘USA, ‘USA,’ and pro-war propaganda on TV. Having walked many of the battlefields of World War I, on which millions died, I detest the kind of patriotic cant that ended the civilized glories of pre-war, 19th Century Europe. The idiotic cries in 1914 of ‘on to Berlin’ and ‘on to Paris’ haunt us. Their modern version was ‘Get Saddam’ and ‘bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.’

Trump, who sees himself as more an emperor than democratic president, continues to press for war with Iran, egged on by the cabal of pro-Israel advisors that surround him. Billionaire gambling king Sheldon Adelson pulls the strings from just backstage.

Now, in a new eruption of paranoia, President Trump just claimed that China was trying to rig this fall’s elections. How? By placing tariffs on US agricultural exports to China to punish Trump’s many supporters in the farm belt.

Add Trump’s economic war against Turkey which had locked up an American evangelical pastor accused of involvement in the attempted 2016 coup against the elected government. This contrived furor was clearly aimed at pleasing Trump’s core evangelical supporters. No matter that America was spitting in the face of old ally Turkey whose soldiers had saved many American GI’s during the 1950-53 Korean War and allows the US to keep nuclear weapons at its Incirlik air base.

Unfortunately, many Americans who have never known war at home since 1865 are all too eager to follow a path to war provided it’s far away and a turkey shoot. But now, having bombed all the usual Muslims and ravaged the Mideast, our national security state has to face the ominous reality that the US may have to confront real, big-time enemies, Russia and China. This clearly invokes the nightmare threat of a nuclear confrontation.

President Trump, who thundered at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, ‘my nuclear button is bigger than yours,’ is not the best pilot to guide his nation through dangerous waters. While Trump has some solid advisors – generals Mattis and Kelly – he is also surrounded by a coterie of political fanatics, many plucked from the political gutter. Trump’s unnecessary trade wars and embargoes could easily lead to shooting wars.

We don’t need nationalism, we need wise, cautious leadership.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2018

This post is in: USA

16 Responses to “AMERIKA UBER ALLES”

  1. I had a terrible thought this morning. It started with the likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, and Trump being more interested in the billion$ of arms to be sold to them. An American resident lured to the Saudi embassy in Turkey and ‘executed’, and this is the response of the American President.
    I’ve had difficulty understanding how 30% to 35% of Americans can be loyal to the Donald and a terrible realisation flashed across my mind. I was thinking that it was due to their faltering education system.
    Could it be that the Donald is not the problem, but, only a symptom of something far more sinister. I hope this is not the case, because, the Americans (and the world) are in for a much greater ‘pile of hurt’ and the loss of their coveted democracy. Unfettered corporate capitalism may have ‘done in’ the Americas.

    • Mike Smith says:

      Slam Trump… but how would Hillary have been different. The Clintons have been in the Saudis pocket for decades. Think of it like this… Hillary represented the establishment, the people who have been behind the curtain in the US for decades… Trump was the protest vote. Only problem is the establishment were very effective in attacking Trump, then corrupting him… His advisors all seem to have their own agendas which affect their advice… I don’t think the voters were wrong putting Trump in over Hillary… but am put off by looking at how the game is rigged, and change an impossibility. Really Obama had the same happen to him… look at his Cairo speech, then at his actual foreign policy… fix is always in.

    • Trump is really just a symptom of a very troubled and faltering democracy. For any democratic system to work well, there should be a well-informed and reasonably well-educated electorate to support it. By that standard, the US is a highly dysfunctional democracy, because most of its electors are neither well-informed nor well educated.

  2. solum temptare possumus says:

    One wonders why POTUS does not act wisely?
    “Whenever you do a thing, act as if the whole world is watching”
    Thomas Jefferson
    Cautious wisdom should be a pre-requisite for being POTUS.

  3. It’s hard to respond to Eric’s article without writing a book.
    The first thing that springs to mind is the term ‘dotard’. Kim’s use of the term indicated that he was well read, and if educated at a private school in Switzerland, he was likely a serious student. It surprised me that he was so well educated. I hadn’t heard the term for maybe five decades; it stuck in my memory because it was a word that you could picture the meaning; it sounded like the term it meant. There is likely a literary term for this, but, it escapes me. I immediately thought that of the anecdote that I looked up the term in a dictionary, and accompanying it, as an example, was a picture of ‘the Donald’.
    The Donald is bringing the Republic to the edge of the abyss. He has the potential for taking the US as well as the rest of the world to the New Dark Ages. I have never seen so much ignorance packed into such a small package. Even more surprising is that he has a popularity of 30% of Americans. So much for their education system. A teacher can be fired in Florida for giving a ‘fail grade’ to students that failed to complete their assignment. In Texas, a student was expelled for refusing to ‘spout’ the pledge. This was held up by the court.
    Time for the UN to move from New York to a more friendly environment and re-draft its charter. Once this has been accomplished, time to ‘yank’ Donald’s security clearance and to put him on a ‘no fly list’ to keep him from spreading his good cheer. We have an up and coming imitator in Ontario, Canada, Dug Ford, a real titular individual.

  4. Economic warfare should have a wider response, for example the Canadian response to the way the NAFTA disputes have gone has been too lightweight. One of the first things Canada should do is pull our training mission out of Iraq… one… the US invaded they can fix it, and two it is likely a civil war will breakout there any time now and we have no horse in that race. Another is pull out of the NATO mission in Lithuania… they call Russia the aggressor there but it is past time somebody calls out the US for their role in the Ukrainian debacle… We can look at countries with US sanctions as opportunity… Bombardier could sell aircraft to Iran as easy as anywhere else… Better relations with Russia could find some trade deals… Even further maybe NORAD should be reconsidered as well… the Cold War is over, and if we are not friends… well maybe we have to shut the door and rethink things.

  5. Excellent analysis. As for Iran, I think it’s highly unlikely that the US will launch a ground assault against the country, since it would certainly lead to far more American soldiers being killed or maimed than was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Even the threat of an air assault might not amount to much, if Russia sternly warns the US to back off. Otherwise, if the US decides to launch air strikes against Iran, we would then see whether the Russians have any real dirt that could ruin Trump.

  6. What got me about #45’s speech was how everything he said about Iran was not true, however is you took the same speech and changed Iran to America is would be 100% true.

    Then there is the absolute silence from all the media except for RT’s Lee Cam over this issue. Not one Western media outlet said a word about it.

    • Truth doesn’t seem to matter… Trump is so full of sh*t that his eyes are brown; the American populace does’t seem to care. See my recent comment at the top.
      There used to be a time when parents could say that they would like to see their children grow up to be President; I cannot imagine that being the case any more. My children are honest and have integrity, and, I’m proud of that.

  7. What got me about #45’s speech was how everything he said about Iran was not true, however is you took the same speech and changed Iran to America is would be 100% true.

  8. Eric,you have such clarity of vision.I think America has lost it’s collective mind.They say “desperate times call for desperate measures”,this is the only way Trump could have got elected president.
    It was the desperation of a people confused about their place in the world and the endless promises of politicians willing to sell their soul for votes and power.
    I would like to see America return to the days of Teddy Roosevelt “walk softly and carry a big stick” or Dwight Eisenhower. These men were true statesmen who used diplomacy first and military force last.
    An America that was concerned firstly with Domestic affairs and then foreign affairs,an America that was admired and respected around the world,an America that was always first to come to the aid of other countries in times of natural disasters.
    That is the America I remember and loved.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.