Saturday 18 November 2017

Trump's first 100 days: The crazier he is, the more seriously the world seems to take him

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a signing ceremony with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a signing ceremony with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Donald Trump meets with Sarah Palin, Kid Rock, and Ted Nugent in the White House for dinner (Photo:Sarah Palin on Facebook)
Donald Trump said progress was being made on health care reform
US President Donald Trump returns a salute as he steps from Marine One to board Air Force One as he departs Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

Robert Fisk

The more dangerous America’s crackpot President becomes, the saner the world believes him to be. Just look back at the initial half of his first 100 days: the crazed tweeting, the lies, the fantasies and self-regard of this misogynist leader of the Western world appalled all of us.

But the moment he went to war in Yemen, fired missiles at Syria and bombed Afghanistan, even the US media Mr Trump had so ferociously condemned began to treat him with respect. And so did the rest of the world.

It’s one thing to have a lunatic in the White House who watches late-night television and tweets all day. But when the same lunatic goes to war, it now emerges, he’s a safer bet for democracy, a strong president who stands up to tyrants (unless they happen to be Saudis, Turks or Egyptians) and who acts out of human emotion rather than cynicism.

How else can one account for the extraordinary report in ‘The New York Times’ which recorded how Mr Trump’s “anguish” at the film of dying Syrian babies had led him to abandon “isolationism”?

The normally sane US columnist David Ignatius suddenly compared Mr Trump to Harry Truman and praises his demented president for his “flexibility” and “pragmatism”?

This is preposterous. A madman who goofs off at something he doesn’t like on CNN is just plain wacky. A man of unsound mind who attacks three Muslim countries – two of which were included in his seven Muslim nation refugee ban – is a danger to the world. Yet the moment he fires 59 missiles at Syria after more than 60 civilians die in an apparent chemical attack which he blames on Assad – but none after far more are massacred by a Syrian suicide bomber – even Angela Merkel takes leave of her senses and praises Mr Trump, along with the Matron of Downing Street, Signora Mogherini and sundry other potentates.

US President Donald Trump at the White House . Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump at the White House . Photo: AP

Handing more power to the Pentagon – about the most perilous act of any US president – means that Defence Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis is now encouraging the head-chopping Saudis to bomb Yemen – adding even more American intelligence ‘assets’ to this criminal enterprise — and encouraging the Gulf Arabs’ delusional idea that Iran wants to conquer the Arab world.

Is that the case with Egypt, then, now under Isil attack as its president ‘disappears’ thousands of his own people? Is that the case in Turkey whose even more crazed president has now locked up tens of thousands of his own people while turning himself into a dictator-by-law?

And after the referendum which gave Recep Tayyip Erdogan a narrow (if very dubious) majority to legitimise Turkey’s many human rights outrages, Mr Trump called the Turkish president to congratulate him on his victory. Just as he continues to congratulate Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in his “battle” against “terror”, a war which al-Sisi – whose coup d’etat against Egypt’s first elected president originally brought him to power – appears to be losing. Al-Sisi, Mr Trump enthused, would be someone “very close to him”.

We know that the US Special Forces raid on Yemen, in which Navy Seal William Owens died, killed more civilians than al-Qa’ida members. We don’t know (or, I suspect, care) very much what the “mother of all bombs” did in the Nangahar province of Afghanistan. First it killed 60 Isil fighters. Then it killed 100 Isil fighters and not a single civilian – surely a first in US military history? But then, weirdly, nobody has been allowed to go to the site of this monster bomb’s explosion. Because civilians were indeed killed? Or because – and this is a fact – Isil survivors went on fighting American ground troops after the bombing?

Donald Trump meets with Sarah Palin, Kid Rock, and Ted Nugent in the White House for dinner (Photo:Sarah Palin on Facebook)
Donald Trump meets with Sarah Palin, Kid Rock, and Ted Nugent in the White House for dinner (Photo:Sarah Palin on Facebook)

Now Mr Trump is sending a naval battle group to threaten North Korea, a past master at childish threats itself. Ye gods! And this is a man who is now “flexible” and “pragmatic”? It’s instructive to note that after its first edition, ‘The New York Times’ changed its headline about Mr Trump’s Syrian “anguish” to “Trump Upends His Own Foreign Policy”, still gifting him with a “foreign policy” (which doesn’t exist) while cutting the “anguish”.

Now we await the battle for Korea, forgetting that earlier war which drowned the peninsula in blood, American and British, as well as Korean and Chinese. Maybe Mr Trump, in his vague, frightening way, has decided that Southeast Asia will be his real war. And there, of course, the comparison with former president Harry Truman gets rather too close to home. For Mr Truman only came in at the end of World War II, after Franklin Roosevelt’s death, and his crowning wartime achievement was also in Southeast Asia: the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Heaven spare us the next 100 days. (©Independent News Service)

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as U.S. first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron listen at the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as U.S. first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron listen at the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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