A quick glance at Donald Trump’s Twitter feed Friday morning reveals that the current level of his psychotic anxiety is exceeding any that he has suffered since his inauguration. He posted twenty-five tweets or retweets in a span of two hours. And nine of those were related to just one subject: the disastrous tariffs that he imposed on China.
Trump is still deliberately lying about how tariffs work. He insists that they produce revenue that goes straight from China into the U.S. treasury. The truth – which he has been told repeatedly – is that tariffs are charged to the importer (the U.S. company) and then passed on to American citizens. But he is frantically trying to make excuses for the harm he’s doing to American businesses and consumers, as well as to the stock market that lost more than 500 points since his renewed tariff threats.
The Trump administration appears to be manufacturing international controversy at a time when his approval ratings are sinking and his legal jeopardy is exploding. These negative trends were triggered by the release of the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia and his obstruction of justice. Subsequent to that release, Democrats in Congress have escalated their investigations into Trump’s criminality. Their issuance of lawful subpoenas has resulted in a presidential tantrum wherein he has declared that he will refuse to cooperate in defiance of the law. That is setting up what many are calling a constitutional crisis.
However, Trump is also engaging in a foreign policy adventure that is ultimately far more troubling and dangerous. On Friday his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made some comments that are unambiguously hostile toward Iran. Fox News reported these comments (video below) complete with the overtones of doom that they imply:
“Secretary of State Pompeo says that any attack on U.S, interests by Iran, or U.S. citizens, will be met with a swift and decisive US response. The Secretary says in a statement that ‘We do not seek war. But Iran’s 40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.'” […]
“Citing an unspecified threat, the administration set up a deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group for the Persian Gulf. Four B-52 bombers have also landed in the region.”
It hardly seems necessary to say that “any attack on U.S, interests” would not be tolerated. That goes for Canada as much as it does for Iran. So why did Pompeo feel it was necessary to make such a pointless and obvious comment at this time?
The Fox News reporter spoke of “an unspecified threat” as provoking this action. But any prelude to war should be predicated on something more substantial than “an unspecified threat.” At least George Bush’s Secretary of State, Colin Powell, pretended to have a vial of Iraqi anthrax as evidence to declare a phony war. What’s more, Congress has to pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force before the President can march American soldiers off to war.
What makes these circumstance even more disturbing today than they were in 2003 is that Trump has demonstrated that he doesn’t give a fig about the Constitution or any other democratic principle. He denigrates the First Amendment by constantly referring to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” He’s trying to burn down the wall between church and state, while erecting a wall on the southern border to deny asylum seekers refuge. He orchestrated the horrendous policy of separating families and imprisoning children in cages. He sought to ban immigrants based on their religion. And his claims of executive privilege to prevent investigators from getting his tax returns or talking to his associates are brazenly illegal.
Trump’s mental health has long been the subject of speculation as fitting the description of a malignant narcissist. Everything is about him and his perceived awesomeness. No lie is too over the top. And his frothing paranoia stirs incessant fears of “witch hunts” and conspiracies and harassment. And all of that leads to a twisted temperament that is likely to become unhinged as the law catches up with him. That’s when psychologists say that a patient like Trump can be most dangerous.
Consequently, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine that Trump might contrive crises if he believes it will help him escape accountability for his crimes. They might involve trade disputes with China. Or caravans of murderers, rapists, and drug dealers, invading America from the south. Or nuclear standoffs with North Korea. Or even a fabricated war with Iran that arises out of nowhere, for no reason, but demands an immediate and deadly response.
This is a time that Americans need to be vigilant and steadfast to deny Trump any possibility of entangling the country in yet another pointless war that only serves the interests of a self-serving, authoritarian regime. Trump has laid to rest the old comforting platitude that “it can’t happen here.” It can. But only if the American people allow it.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.