Green Global Wreck ~ Changing the topic ~ August 2017

When I started this series of posts entitled Green Global Wreck, at the start of the Trump Presidency, I had few illusions about the trajectory of US foreign policy, military entanglements abroad and the overall “brand” of US Democracy.  It was merely a matter of chronicling the inevitable missteps or wrong headed moves that this Presidency would take.

 

A few months ago, a few posts ago, I made the  case that a dwindling Presidency would seek ultimate refuge in playing the “war card”.  A war, any war, would likely deliver this President a positive bump in the polls, as there is a long standing practice in the U.S. of “standing with your President”, when at war.  And of course the steady stream of justification before going to war would no doubt ensnare some who may lack the historical or geographic background or interest and would react to the theatrics of flexing the US military muscle.

 

There were multiple options for a war to become the next “change the topic” tool of choice, changing the topic from the one and only significant topic out there, namely the increasingly recognized facts around a Presidency that was in essence a Russian Intelligence play that went horribly right (for them).  They perhaps only intended to divide and reduce the US brand by supporting a clown who would do what he does and in the process make a mockery of the US democractic process.  But this intelligence play, well, it went way beyond the Kremlin’s expectations, and Trump won.  The purpose here is not to re-prosecute the Russian intelligence operation – the very able and still in charge Robert Mueller has deployed an army of lawyers and financial forensic experts to gather the necessary supporting details, to go down the many rabbit holes, to set the stage for unscrupulous traitors to start devouring each other.  Mueller is still standing and his team’s work will be revealed in due time.

 

But in the meantime, the Trump play is to change the topic.  He does so daily, by playing the media and the populace like a fiddle.  He knows that the nation’s attention span is measured in 140 characters and possibly hours, not days, and certainly not weeks.  One of the more amusing/pathetic one was to throw out there on a day that had strong evidence of yet another Russian influence angle the non policy “policy” that trans-sexuals could not serve in the military.  Never mind that the DoD quickly corrected that there was in fact no such policy change, but… it did not matter.  This simple tweet occupied the airwaves long enough to obliterate the less “sexy”/explosive topic of yet one more set of indications of successful Russian interference in our political process.

 

OK, so it is clearly established that changing the topic is a preferred modus operanti.  And the bigger the Russia news, the bigger the need to change the topic.  And so it follows in my mind that starting a war would be the ultimate topic changer.  I mused then, months ago now, that the US would probably tilt toward a war in North Korea.  After all, only 32% of Americans can point to where North Korea is on the world map and Kim Jong Un, like his father and his grand-father, offers such a caricatural picture of the “mad man” that it is simply irresistible from a “wag the dog” point of view.  On queue, Kim Jong Un accelerated North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, as if itching to play a role in Trump’s warmongering imperative.  And who could possibly fail to support a US President intent on eliminating a nuclear threat from North Korea?

 

The problem of course is that beyond the theatrics, there is reality.  And the reality, as anyone who knows anything about North Korea will quickly explain, is that crazy or not, the belief system in North Korea is that the regime’s ONLY chance at survival is indeed to go forward and to maintain – at ALL cost – the momentum toward establishing North Korea as a nuclear power.  And that’s kind of a problem.  Right below North Korea is South Korea – a historic US ally, a vibrant economy, a host to tens of thousands of US troops that are positioned there as a sort of “trip wire” – invade South Korea, you’ll be putting US Troops in harms’ way, and a US response is guaranteed.  This deterrence play has worked rather well for a few decades.  And of course, there is Japan, also within easy striking distance.  And not only are they a formidable economy, a critical part of the global economy and global supply chain of goods, but so far they are the only country to have actually experienced what a nuclear war’s effect is.

And so… the combination of these factors make North Korea a tempting target, but a very dangerous one indeed.  Trump plays the same game as Kim Jong Un – he plays the part of the unstable, unpredictable leader who may indeed be crazy enough to start a nuclear war.  And who doesn’t believe that both of these maniacs are indeed perfectly capable of leap frogging past any kind of human normalcy and to not voluntary plunge the world right into a nuclear abyss?

 

As of this writing, the US and North Korea are saber-rattling, and it seems as though the saner voices on each side are having some kind of impact at reigning in the “crazy”.  But… that is only perhaps because there has been a few days of quiet on the Russian front.  I remain committed to the notion that the psychological / emotional handicap of this US President makes it entirely possible that he will think only minimally about the difference between firing a 140 character tweet and a 140 megaton nuclear weapon.

So what would you do in this context? I know!  Quick, give him someone else to go after – if he is going to start a war for poll improvement purposes, he needs to be given another option than thermo-nuclear warfare.  After all, the Kim issue will be resolved either by a) accepting a nuclearized North Korea, which is then slowly merged into a reunified Korea or b) the mad leader will be given a few billion dollars in cash and a beautiful dacha in Russia and he will go on his merry way.  There is no need to start a nuclear war, to avoid a nuclear war!

And so last week, President Trump got a new toy:  He may just choose to invade… wait for it… Venezuela!  The economy is in shambles.  The people are unhappy.  There is wanton human rights abuses AND they have oil!  The fact of course that the U.S. continues to buy 90% of the oil output of this bankrupt oil producing nation doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the U.S.  The absurdity of it is just “business as usual”.  But now there is a beautiful new shiny object – maybe the US can invade Venezuela.  Crazy as this seems, if you consider that the alternative is to launch a nuclear war with North Korea, this might make for a perfectly rational plan B.

FInal point:  there may not be a need for a war quiet yet.  All he wants to do is change the conversation.  And voila… courtesy of the neo-Nazi and KKK movements in the U.S., re-coined the “white nationalists” or even more blandly the “alt-right”, topic changed!  No longer are CNN, MSNBC, ABC, Fox news talking about Russia – they are talking about those racist and anti-semitic mother fuckers who mowed down a peaceful counter-protester.  To the uninitiated in the art of Trumpism, this might all seem like bad, bad news.  But… please re-adjust your dial – this is good stuff for Trump.  No one is talking Russia.  And since his only priority is to get off the topic of Russia, lest it becomes widely accepted that he is essentially a small time New York mobster who got in with the wrong crowd as a money launderer for Russia’s axis of Kremlin kleptocracy… then fine, let everyone hyperventilate about the horrible, horrible descent of the US Presidency into the moral abyss of providing cover for the KKK.

So as of today, the choice on the menu is:

a) American Presidency as a tool of Russian intelligence

b) US war somewhere, anywhere

c) Moral collapse and official acceptance of the KKK and nazis as legitimate participants in the political discourse.

AND… we are not even one fourth of the way into his first term.

Welcome to our new world.  Optimists need not apply.  This is a one way downhill race to the bottom that only has destruction – either military, political or moral as outcomes.  Or maybe all three.

What do YOU think?

27 thoughts on “Green Global Wreck ~ Changing the topic ~ August 2017

  1. John Robertshaw

    Bravo. A clearer head prevails. We must all speak our minds, in times like these.

    One question is: Who exactly is cooking up these Distractions? How is North Korea suddenly a vital issue? Not that it isn’t, but that pot’s been on the boil for decades. Who brought it front and center? I don’t think President Chocolate-cake is that politically savvy, though it does serve to gratify the pathetic craving for ego-stroking that seems to drive his every thought word and deed. Is there some Gang of Four — that certainly does understand all that Russian interference entails — meeting in the White House to make sure he’s on-message? I think they can rely on him to be his own best distraction.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      John thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      To your point about North Korea having been “on the boil for decades”… what changed is not so much Trump, but the passing of power from the prior dictator to his son Kim Jong Un. He took over fairly recently and when he did, accelerating the nuclear program was a priority. So certainly Trump cannot be blamed for N. Korea’s own strategic choice to go full forth on its nuclear strategy. However, the issue is, how we respond to it. What is catastrophic is that the U.S. president has departed from a long practice of taking a deep breath and responding in a measured way to lunatic verbal attacks. Rather he has opted to up the ante, escalate the war of words, up to the laughable most recent comments that essentially amount to saying “we will nuke you if you just say something we don’t like.” That is a first in American history!

      The creation of the special counsel and Robert Mueller’s deep exploration into the Russia issue will deliver a thorough and substantiated account of the Russian relationship. Of course he may be fired, but the act of firing will only add fuel to the fire of the case of obstruction of justice, so either way, Trump is fucked, except that it will take time to unravel.

      Ben

  2. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    The distractions, stoking of our fears and anxieties and the everyday feelings of disbelief and out rage at what is occurring in the US is exhausting. If September 11th was the benchmark of the world before and after sixteen years ago, I’m afraid that January 20th, 1917, will be another touchstone. And you’re right, “optimists need not apply.”

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thank you Anita for your observation that it is “exhausting”. That in fact is precisely the point and strategy employed by this president. He is perfectly comfortable navigating through chaos and his strategy during the election has only been amplified since taking office and essentially boils down to … throwing so many balls into the air, sending the media to scurry in all directions and the public to pursue so many topics, that it all becomes a blur and people lose focus. On the real topic. Russia.

      If history winds up delivering a verdict that this was the first mentally and emotionally unstable president of the U.S., it will also no doubt, be remembered that he was adept at setting the media agenda and confusing the crowds.

      Ben

  3. Anabel Marsh

    I WAS an optimist.
    “He can’t be as bad as he seems”
    “The normal checks and balances will rein him in”
    No more! I could never have dreamed how bad he could be.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Anabel many people have that feeling, but I must say I am incredulous at the conclusion “I could never have seen it”… it was all out there in plain sight during the election. Perhaps more details are coming in focus now but it was very clear months before his election, that this man was a consummate liar, that he was a practiced bully, that he had no knowledge or interest in facts, that he was a racist and that there was something going on wth Russia. All this, was very clear. When he attacked a judge of Mexican descent during the election and he referred to him as a “so called judge”, that was a very early clue that he had little regard for the separation of power. When he appealed to Russia to delve into Hillary’s emails, that was a pretty clear clue that he was not going to play by any kind of previously adhered to rules about anything.

      The reality was so shocking that many just could not connect the dots of what was in plain sight, so horrific a picture it painted. In the same vein, I have had some feedback about my comments about starting a nuclear war from people saying something along the lines of “he would never start a nuclear war just for politics” and my answer is….. “Of course he would!”

      Ben

      Ben

  4. Shari Pratt

    Thank you for an articulate and comprehensive explanation of the current situation. My husband has been saying for 8 months – trumpeter doesn’t want anyone looking at Russia, so something must be there. We need to find a way to demand the release of the trumpeter’s tax returns – something more than common sleazy tactics to avoid paying his tax share lurks in those forms, though I suspect the IRS would be actively pursuing suspicions. He’s too stupid to do all this by himself and he clearly dislikes work. He’s being propped up by legal teams protecting him and making lots of money. We need to go after them as well. He’s benefited from voters, many quite stupid, with tunnel vision and limited education or historical information. He’s dismantling our democracy. Where in the Constitution is that allowed? This country does not belong to him exclusively. I’ve never been a Republican, but they used to believe in the values on which this country was founded. I used to find them selfish and slanted toward the rich and privileged white male. Now I find them slanted toward their own seats in Congress, and essentially ineffective in doing what they were elected to do – be one third of the responsible government protecting American democracy.

    Keep posting – we need you.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Shari, we don’t have to worry about “asking for the tax returns” anymore, as the special investigator, Mueller, has within his purview the authority to access these records. Either he has already, or he will.

      I hear the concern about his lining his pocket and the egregious conflicts of interest between is businesses and his role as president. One need only look at the absurd tab of paying for the security when he goes to one of the country’s most expensive golf resorts and his entourage is charged at the rate paid for by premium guests. And this is of course, just the tip of it. But frankly, at the end of the day this is “just money”, and while it is disgusting, it won’t change the fundamentals about what America is. Much more problematic is his purposeful dismantling of the institutions that allow the country to function. The failure to nominate hundreds of senior officials in top positions throughout the government is not the result of incompetence, it is a purposeful strategy to reduce the capability to function. For instance, as the North Korean threat bubbles up, there is an entire echelon of East Asia specialists in the state department that has simply not been staffed. On one level, it may be based on his absurd belief that “he is his own best advisor” as he said during the campaign, and one remembers his declarations that he had a half an hour conversation with premier Xi of China about the history of Chinese/Korean relations, and that he learned a lot. Somehow, this president a) rejects briefings by experts b) thins the ranks of experts (of course since he doesn’t need their input) c) gets his information from Cable news and d) values the opinion of foreign leaders (some of them the U.S.’s direct competitors/adversaries) over that of his own government.

      Shari, you ask where in the constitution is it okay to dismantle democracy. It is not of course. But it is a fundamental tenant of the U.S. democratic experiment that the populace remain informed and engaged. This is in part precisely why Trump has so viciously gone after the media trying to discredit any source of critical assessment of his actions so that the populace turn away from the fourth estate, i.e. the media, which is so critical to keep the population aware of what the government is doing. Steve Bannon, the president’s strategist, made it very explicit that his intention was, to dismantle the state. And it’s working.

      Thank you for your comments Shari.

      Ben

  5. Liesbet

    Although I rather not have to read them and wish the current US administration does not warrant your Global Wreck series, I enjoy reading these posts, Ben, because they are informative and well-written. They provide me with even more insights into what this clown is doing. It is so crazy and what surely boggles my mind is how he can keep getting away with it. As I told my husband recently, my worry goes beyond him being an awful president, causing destruction on many levels. It goes to the new climate where the population (especially the next generation) experiences what is allowed now. What happened to our values? This is a very dangerous time, for now and the future. With an “example” like Trump, everyone will think they can get away with anything, if even the president can…

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      You are quite correct Liesbet, on so many levels.

      What parent can teach children not to be bullies, not to lie, the importance of facts, empathy etc, when the president himself does all these things and more? How can a whole country recover and return to a trusted source of insight, ie newspapers after being told for four years about the fake media, around the clock? What is the point for children to go through a rigorous educational process to become scientists, when science is cast aside as irrelevant ~ we see that every day, in the context of climate change.

      The destructive power of this president will go well beyond his four years (or less if he selfs destructs before then). This is the very harsh reality that Americans are yet to fully digest. Other countries, with longer histories than the U.S. have cycled through a number of political regimes. The French for instance, not only went through different historical periods between kings and emperors, but even in an era of democracy, since the French Revolution in 1789, went through five distinct iterations, with the current system being the “so called fifth Republic”. What this means is that post Trump, there will be a reckoning that the entire system has to be rethought/reconstructed. This will be a first for America. So we are just at the begimning of a very long and very rocky process. Once American democracy as we currently understand it, is sufficiently damaged and dismantled, then what?

      Ben

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Disheartened, disoriented, disappointed, saddened, sick to my stomack, outraged, incensed… I am running out of adjectives in the thesaurus under WTF?!! But… not SURPRISED. It was very, very clear what would happen if one paid attention to the dynamics of the campaign. Another case of “you get what you ask for”. And definitely a case where the US malaise has repercussions anywhere and everywhere – regardless of what one generally thinks about the US, Americans or US Politics, I can’t think of any upside to a disintegrating America (except of course from the perspective of Russia, China and a handful of minor adversarial players)…

  6. Joanne Sisco

    I find your observations and analysis insightful and I agree that dismantling of the media has been, and continues to be, a primary objective of this administration.
    This is an extraordinarily dangerous man in his ability to attract and incite the uninformed and the outright stupid.

    The growing civil unrest frightens me. With the sides so deeply divided, is another civil war in the making? Sadly, pointing the war machine outside the country is a tactic that Trump has demonstrated he’s prepared to do in his arsenal of distractions.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      You make an important point, Joanne. I know that from the US perspective and most Americans’ concept that WWII is ancient history, if you take a more normal global perspective where history is measured in centuries, not in trimesters, the US Civil War is really not that long ago. The prospect of a different kind of civil war is not entirely unfeasible. It may be different in format, i.e. Federal gov versus states, or just a people against people free for all in what is the most armed populace in the world. And of course, it could be an issue of “semantics” – when does it become a “civil war”? What if, for instance, the next 9 scheduled demonstrations by the KKK/Nazis turn out to be bloody and counter-demonstrators come in prepared to stand up to the fascists who come to their rallies armed, with guns and baseball bats and full body armor? How many deaths, how many local battles does it take to be deemed a civil war?

      No matter how it plays out a culture of wanton weapons accumulation and easy purchase of firearms and ammunition + an energized extreme right (KKK/Nazis…) + an ambivalent response by the gov = a lot more trouble ahead.

      And the Republican Party will be shocked – SHOCKED! – that individuals, clearly mentally unstable, would take the course of violent action. If the country did not stand up to drastically curtail gun ownership rights or even curb the ability and complicate the process to buy semi-automatic weapons, after the multiple school shootings when innocent children were killed, is there any hope that clashes between emotionally charged protesters and counter-protesters will lead to a change in gun ownership laws? I think not.

      We go back to the basic premise – if legislators wanted to facilitate a massively armed populace, they will only have themselves to blame. As of now, some 33,000 deaths occur every year (i.e. 10 times 9/11 fatalities) as a result of privately owned guns. And this is before an organized, militarized campaign by the extreme right. Fasten your seatbelts, this will get a lot uglier.

      Ben

  7. Sue

    Ben your series has been fascinating to read , albeit painfully depressing. Sometimes the US extravaganza just seems like a fictional series because certainly this couldn’t be real life could it?
    The conflict with North Korea began to really hit home as I saw a map of where a nuclear war head if launched could hit. Western Canada shaded in completely.
    When I thought my revulsion could grow no stronger the statements post Charlottesville leave me actually nauseated and speechless. I’ve come to brace myself before reading the morning news.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Thanks Sue. Painfully depressing – indeed and we have another 3.5 years to look forward to.

      Re the projection of North Korean missile reach and capability, it is perhaps worth keeping in mind that there may be quite a gap between actual capability and the breathless reporting about cataclysmic risks associated with all the US vs North Korean rhetoric. Still, the topic of vulnerability to North Korean attacks is now on the table. One generation ago, the topic of Soviet nuclear reach was of course part of the normal discourse and they had (and still have) a much larger nuclear arsenal aimed at the US and Canada. But as they say, there is more risk in the guy who has one nuclear weapon than the one that has hundreds.

      Brace yourself indeed. This is just prelude to a broad range of possible crazy coming our way in the next months and few years.

      Ben

  8. Janis

    How did we go from a level-headed, kind, educated, introspective leader to this narcissistic madman? I will never understand those who voted for him (all the signs were there) and, especially, those who still support him. It is an ongoing wreck and we need to figure out how to get out of it.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Actually, Janis, we don’t have to figure out anything. It’s already all in play. As a result, mostly, of his own lack of understanding of how the US Gov works, by firing Comey, Trump accelerated the installment of a special counsel with wide reach and deep capabilities. He has sown the seeds of his own destruction. The Constitution and various articles anticipated pretty much all of nightmarish scenario and thus has a number of exit roads coming our way. The special counsel is only one gate. The other is the 2018 election when the American populace will again have a chance to voice its opinion. (My personal guestimate is that the true core will remain loyal, that Republicans will still prioritize staying in office and that the Democrats will still be unable to muster up an adequate platform and set of candidates).

      And of course there is the so called article 25 that allows or the removal of an incapacitated President.

      So the current best bet, I think, is for Mueller to start to bring in the smaller fishes (Ex Campaign chair Paul Manafort, ex national Security Advisor Michael Flynn) and let them squeal. The heat will rise at some point to Jared, who will probably face the prospect of jail. And when he does, his character will be tested. My bet is that he will turn on his father in law rather than face going to prison. (Maybe this is my personal fantasy, but I think the amoral bunch will start self- cannibalizing to self protect).

      Ben

  9. Patti

    There is a classic 1944 movie titled, “Gaslight” staring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Have you seen it?

    It’s how I see what he is doing… he is gaslighting the nation. And, he has just enough followers to fuel the fire.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Have not seen it, but just downloaded it.. so will watch with interest..

      Yup, his “base” has all the makings of an armed militia that can do his bidding of societal chaos, at the local level. Interesting to note that Putin’s Russia has been bankrolling the right wing fringe groups, both in the US and Europe. Their calculation: a divided populace makes for a weaker enemy. You gotta give it to Putin, he sure has figured out how to play the US system to his advantage.

      Thanks for the recommendation on Gaslight. I was more thinking “The Manchurian Candidate” meets “Dr Strangelove”…

      Ben

  10. Pamela

    I think you are right on all points. I think it’s difficult to be an optimist if you’re an American. But I think I still believe that there are more good, thinking, kind, sane people in this country than not. So I am optimistically hoping that Trump gets dumped.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      We are definitely on the same page Pamela. I don’t think Trump will get impeached or jailed, more like just retreat in the dark corners of the White House in solitude, as a more competent group emerges to take control of the ship.

      Ben

  11. dee

    Spot on! Wars are such convenient distractions when leaders are unable to do anything to solve bigger problems at home..

    It has to get worse to get better sometimes – or at least that’s what I tell myself.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Dee thanks for stopping by to read and comment. If you are correct, we are still a very long way from the “getting better” part of the equation.
      Just feels like it is getting worse.

      Ben

  12. Frank

    I was just watching Rachel Maddow talking about Trump abolishing DACA and sending an approximate 800,000 young immigrants back to their countries, young immigrants which just a few years ago Obama had given temporary legal status. Nope, no more. Add that to his comments on the Neo-Nazis, his pardoning of Sheriff Arpaio, his ban of Muslims…this is an overtly racist government fanning hatred in the US.
    I don’t think Trump with start wars in North Korea or Venezuela, it’s all bluster. But he is guilty on Russia, of colluding with them, of taking financing from a Kremlin-owned bank for the proposed building of Trump Tower in Moscow (just last year – and he lied throughout saying he had no connections with Russia), and for obstruction of justice, not just with Comey but also through bullying of Republican senators. The question is whether anyone in the Republican controlled Senate will ever do anything..
    Really, really ugly all around. And everyone thought George W was a disgrace…

    The worst thing? The Americans that still support him despite everything he stands for. Shame on them.

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