Monday, April 10, 2017

Launching missiles from 'Oppositeville'

Wilbur Ross was misinformed, and he was sitting right next to the guy.

To watch the missiles fly, Donald Trump had assembled his inner circle to a cramped room that looked like a banquet nook at Benihana. Please pass the sak√©.

It was Mar-a-Lago, actually. Being at the new nerve center of western civilization, you'd have thought those assembled would get an accurate picture.

Ross, our new commerce secretary, was in the room. Here's what he said: The Missiles of April had taken out 20 percent of Syria's air capability.

Maybe the commerce guy doesn't have to be a numbers guy in this administration.

Because, it appears we took out not even one operative warplane with our 59 Tomahawks. We did, however, send several structures to Quonset hut heaven.

Indeed, the reports two days after the attack had Syria launching flights once again from the stricken airfield.

OK, it was for show. Apparently of the eight people we killed, none was Russian. Whew. This is because we warned Russia, which warned Syria.

Say what you will about what it will accomplish. John Kerry applauded it. He and President Obama had asked Congress for authorization to do it. Congress refused.

Among those urging Congress to refuse was Citizen Donald Trump. Over and over, he tweeted we shouldn't do exactly what President Donald Trump ordered, along with the chicken chou mein.

What a fine state of affairs. The least credible, most ethically bereft individual ever to have such authority now finds flinging missiles at sovereign nations to his liking, and the liking of cable news.

Months ago Citizen Trump said Obama should ask Congress to do exactly what Trump did without asking Congress. He didn't consult with other nations, either, except to advise that it would be done.

Boston Globe columnist Indira Kakshaman uses the term "Oppositeville," for the region between Trump's two ears. Saying one thing, doing the opposite.

Writes David Frum in The Atlantic, many will call Trump a hypocrite for this, but that's not accurate. The situation is far worse. A hypocrite says one thing "while inwardly believing another." Trump's words, he said, are "no guide" whatsoever to what Trump means.

Trump ran as an isolationist who railed against overseas military encumbrances. The problem for inflamed alt-right followers at the moment is that they listened to him.

In less than three months in office, Trump has ramped up bombing in Yemen after a botched raid involving special forces in which a Navy SEAL and dozens of civilians died. He's increased troop levels in Iraq and Syria.

Forget what he said. He has lethal toys, and he likes them.

Observed Phyllis Bennis, analyst for the Institute for Public Policy, Trump is an "interventionalist-isolationist" now.

The obvious contradiction in terms isn't what she means. She means that Trump is inclined to do his interventions in isolation. Solo. No diplomacy, no working with Congress or the United Nations or NATO. That's what she means.

Maybe we can hope henceforth that Trump will be consistent in a Trump way, reversing course: turning the Trump Wall into open space, welcoming desperate Muslim families to our shores, and finding room in his budget and his heart for things that actually help people not in his own income bracket.

As it is, we are to assume that massive cuts in environmental protection, transportation, the national parks, schools, climate science and medical science – all are money the military needs.

Maybe he has a point. The 59 missiles fired to destroy almost nothing cost $60 million, which is roughly a third of what Trump says we can't afford ($1.6 billion) for after-school programs for the nation's children.

Once again, however, we could all hope that we're being misinformed as to what the man is doing, like those in the room with him.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

No comments: