The Quest Goes On

sand

The search proceeds apace. The quest goes on. We have not yet reached our goal.

Understandably, many want to bury their hands in the sane rather than continue to practice amateur abnormal psychology. The thought that the most powerful man on earth suffers from deep mental deficiencies does not please.

If, faced with this circumstance, you choose to emulate the ostrich, then I feel your pain and I understand your attitude. But I do not applaud your stance. I would, instead, recommend continued attention to, and curiosity about, the calamity we face.

IMHO, worth a read today is Ezra Klein’s post, Why is Trump undermining NATO and the EU? He just told us. To sum up,

Trump looks at Europe and he sees a scary vision of America’s possible future: a continent overrun by immigrants, nations giving up their borders to a continental super-government, cultures collapsing under the weight of migration and assimilation and political correctness. …

And then Trump looks around, and he’s told America needs to be spending money to defend Europe when the true threat he feels is the very immigrants it’s letting in, that our great allies are in NATO even though Trump doesn’t find any sympathetic voices when he attends those meetings, that America needs to protecting a continent and culture that won’t even protect itself.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman analyzes it this way:

So Donald Trump went to a NATO summit, insulted our allies, then made the absurd demand not just that they increase defense spending — which they should — but that they raise it to 4 percent of G.D.P., much higher than the bloated military spending in his own budget. He then claimed, falsely, to have won major concessions, and graciously declared that it is “presently unnecessary” to consider quitting the alliance.

Was there anything our allies could have done that would have mollified him? The answer, surely, is no. For Trump, disrupting NATO doesn’t seem to be a means to an end; it’s an end in itself.

Does all of this sound familiar? It’s basically the same as the story of the escalating trade war. While Trump rants about other countries’ unfair trade practices — a complaint that has some validity for China, although virtually none for Canada or the European Union — he hasn’t made any coherent demands. That is, he has given no indication what any of the countries hit by his tariffs could do to satisfy him, leaving them with no option except retaliation.

So he isn’t acting like someone threatening a trade war to win concessions; he’s acting like someone who just wants a trade war. …

What’s his motivation? Part of the answer is that anything that weakens the Western alliance helps Vladimir Putin; if Trump isn’t literally a Russian agent, he certainly behaves like one on every possible occasion.

Beyond that, Trump obviously dislikes anything that smacks of rule of law applying equally to the weak and the strong. At home, he pardons criminal bigots while ripping children away from their parents. In international relations, he consistently praises brutal strongmen while heaping scorn on democratic leaders.

So of course he hates the international institutions created by an infinitely wiser generation of U.S. statesmen, who understood that it was in America’s own interest to use its power with respect and restraint, to bind itself by rules in order to win the world’s trust.

He may complain that other countries are cheating and taking advantage of America, that they’re imposing unfair tariffs or failing to pay their share of defense costs. But as I said, those claims are made in bad faith — they’re excuses, not real grievances. He doesn’t want to fix these institutions. He wants to destroy them.

Aardvark’s Addendum

All true, in my opinion. But, in the pieces quoted above, Klein and Krugman both leave out another key aspect of this madness: his tendency to create a crisis and then pretend to believe he has solved them. Viz his continued delusion that North Korea has already reached an historic agreement on nuclear weapons. Viz, his crowing about have extracted billions in new NATO spending, a claim that was false and was promptly denied by leading European statesmen. One could go on.

So let me ask this: if he has a rooted desire to destroy NATO, as Krugman argues and as much evidence suggests, then why does he announce that the allies have caved to his demand and the problem is now solved?

These are not the actions of a sane bad person, or even the actions of a sane Russian agent. They are the actions of a mad Catherine the Great who, without any help from Grigory Potemkin, orders the creation of her own pretend villages.

Trump’s love for gradiosity is getting in the way of his love of destruction, and his love of destruction tends to thwart his grandiose superhero act. Where does this go from here:? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.

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Greetings to readers today from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Sweden. And congratulations to some of you for living in a sane country.

enquiring