Forever war and inhumanity, delusional raging narcissist-in-chief style

Migration

27_10:04:55-1The Washington Post caption: “In a photo first published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, are seen on the banks of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Tex. (Julia Le Duc/AP)” Image via the Washington Post, June 27, 2019, fair use.[1]

Philip Kennicott, “We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-used-to-think-photos-like-this-could-change-the-world-what-needs-to-change-is-who-we-are/2019/06/26/53c9087a-982d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html

Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969


Iran

Where have we heard this[2] before? Oh yes, here it is:

July 11, 2002 – “Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse after the first whiff of gunpowder.” – Richard Perle, then Pentagon Defense Policy Board chairman. . . .

November 14, 2002 – “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” – Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. . . .

March 16, 2003 – “I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to U.S. television network NBC. . . .

May 1, 2003 – “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” – U.S. President George W. Bush, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished”.[3]

I am also recalling David Halberstam’s description of the “Five O’Clock Follies” in which military officials daily delivered rosy assessments of the war effort in Vietnam.[4]

So okay, let’s play. According the CIA World Factbook:[5]

  1. Afghanistan has a land surface area of 652,230 sq km and a population of 34,940,837 (July 2018 est.).[6] We are still at war there.
  2. Iraq has a land surface area of 437,367 sq km and a population of 40,194,216 (July 2018 est.).[7] The war with the Islamic State has mostly wound down, but I haven’t heard anyone say we’re finished with the war in Iraq.
  3. So now, drum roll, please: Iran has a land surface area of 1,531,595 sq km and a population of 83,024,745 (July 2018 est.).[8] That is, over twice the land area of Afghanistan and nearly four times the area of Iraq. And something approaching three times the population of Afghanistan and over double that of Iraq. “President Trump said Wednesday [June 26] that a war with Iran would not ‘last very long’ or involve ground troops, as he seemingly dismissed warnings that limited U.S. military action could spiral into a larger conflict.”[9] He proposes this while we are still embroiled in George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (even if we don’t call it that anymore).

Oh yeah, hubris, baby!

John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


Donald Trump

I am remembering Jürgen Habermas’ description of a conflict between business leaders and royalty in which the latter felt ordinary people too ignorant, idiotic, and ill-informed to judge discussions with foreign leaders.[10] Of course, a lot of people think the “ignorant, idiotic, and informed” description would apply to Donald Trump himself and so when we see Trump saying that what he says to Vladimir Putin is “none of your business,”[11] what we see is how deep the gulf is between Trump with his sycophants and many of the rest of us.

Meanwhile, I’m remembering another photograph:
27_10:29:43-12The Time caption: “A handout photograph from the German government shows a group of leaders at the Group of Seven summit, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump, in Canada on June 9, 2018.” Via Time, June 10, 2018, fair use.[12]

I can’t help but think that foreign leaders on the one hand understand they must deal with Trump due to U.S. military and economic heft. And I’ll grant that Putin probably sees a man he can take advantage of. But for the rest, that must somehow still fail to answer the question, why are they dealing with this man?

Brett Samuels, “Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business,” Hill, June 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/450465-trump-to-reporter-what-i-say-to-putin-at-g20-is-none-of-your-business

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm, “Twitter adds labels for tweets that break its rules — a move with potentially stark implications for Trump’s account,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/06/27/twitter-adds-labels-tweets-that-break-its-rules-putting-president-trump-companys-crosshairs/


Israel

It’s hard to say who is more shameless: Donald Trump or Binyamin Netanyahu.

In yesterday’s installment, we learned that Netanyahu was reconsidering the move to a second election after having failed to form a coalition to govern.[13] It turns out that the basic law which controls how Israel is governed is much, much easier to amend than, say, the U.S. Constitution. So guess what Likud’s plan is?[14] Anything, it seems, is legitimate, so long as it keeps Netanyahu in power. Netanyahu may match Trump in shamelessness, but Trump probably can’t match Netanyahu’s execution.

Jacob Magid, “After leading vote to dissolve Knesset, PM’s looking at a redo. Is that allowed?” Times of Israel, June 26, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-leading-vote-to-dissolve-knesset-pms-looking-at-a-redo-is-that-allowed/


Gerrymandering

In which a conservative Supreme Court decides it can’t do anything (so, sorry!) about conservatives rigging electoral districts to keep conservatives in power.[15]

David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html


  1. [1]Philip Kennicott, “We used to think photos like this could change the world. What needs to change is who we are,” Washington Post, June 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-used-to-think-photos-like-this-could-change-the-world-what-needs-to-change-is-who-we-are/2019/06/26/53c9087a-982d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  2. [2]John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  3. [3]Dean Yates, “Iraq war, the notable quotes,” March 11, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-quotes/factbox-iraq-war-the-notable-quotes-idUSL212762520080311
  4. [4]David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2000).
  5. [5]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  6. [6]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  7. [7]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  8. [8]Central Intelligence Agency, “World Factbook,” n.d., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/
  9. [9]John Wagner and Dan Lamothe, “Trump says war with Iran would not involve ground troops or last long,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-war-with-iran-would-not-involve-ground-troops-and-not-last-long/2019/06/26/9a0e9918-9813-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  10. [10]Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991).
  11. [11]Donald Trump, quoted in Brett Samuels, “Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business,” Hill, June 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/450465-trump-to-reporter-what-i-say-to-putin-at-g20-is-none-of-your-business
  12. [12]Andrew Katz, “A Single Photo Captured President Trump’s Approach to the G7 Summit,” Time, June 10, 2018, https://time.com/5307314/donald-trump-angela-merkel-g-7-photograph/
  13. [13]Ruth Eglash, “Netanyahu reportedly trying to undo Israel’s election redo,” Washington Post, June 26, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/netanyahu-reportedly-trying-to-undo-israels-election-redo/2019/06/26/e2742366-97f1-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html
  14. [14]Jacob Magid, “After leading vote to dissolve Knesset, PM’s looking at a redo. Is that allowed?” Times of Israel, June 26, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/after-leading-vote-to-dissolve-knesset-pms-looking-at-a-redo-is-that-allowed/
  15. [15]David G. Savage and Mark Z. Barabak, “Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes,” Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-partisan-gerrymandering-republicans-20190627-story.html

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