This article was written for the Unz Review
Late this morning, outraged emails started pouring in. My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”. The cause of all that? They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN. I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself. Yeah, it was painful.
You can read the full (rush,not official) text here or watch the video here. Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing. But there are a few interesting moments including those:
“We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been“
This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars. Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military. This is completely false, of course. If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over. In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.
Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important. This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the USA that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war. Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.
[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is. There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory. But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies. Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]
America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.
The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at? Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this? If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay. But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?! Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium? Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices. My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”. This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then. It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the USA of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.
The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.
Wow! Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all). Totally destroy North Korea. I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and Japan. No, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people. Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified. I bet for the former reaction. It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat. And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea. For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeat that today. That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK. There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah). The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close. In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul. At the very least, they can totally destroy it. Along with much of Japan. I wonder if the USA decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?
Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection. Why do I say that? Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy. In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really. What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking. Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved? No? Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything. They really don’t have it. The amazing reality is that they don’t have a goal even defined. How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.
[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia. Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan. This may not be what the USA would want, but this is the reality. Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]
In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.
When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump. First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories with the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA! The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years. The USA also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination. And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the USA in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?! Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement. And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack. Wow! For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions. The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…
Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:
The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.
Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway? Who does he think he is lecturing? Yet another US middle school classroom?! Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?! Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet. Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the USA, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.
I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect. Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:
In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.
Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world. The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this). Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness. Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense? Probably not. My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously. Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.
[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama. This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya. The reason why this is a joke is that when Duya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him. Oh boy were we wrong! Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya. I do. I really do. Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was. Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].
In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the USA. Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill. Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing. That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done. Because, and make no mistake here, if the USA cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like. But for as long as the USA remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary President would have been infinitely worse!). However, the USA themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindicative and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC. Step by step the USA is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being. It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war. The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead. As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down!”.