I am learning to love Donald Trump, his Foreign Policy at least. And this is why.
In mythology, I love the Hero-Trickster the best.
Coyote (Maii’) is the most contradictory of the Navajo pantheon. He is a shadowy figure that can be funny or fearsome. Coyote is greedy, vain, foolish, cunning and also occasionally displays a degree of power. “In common with Tricksters generally, he serves to test the bounds of possibilities and order”.
Loki of Norse mythology has the same traits. Generalized malice, chaotic behavior, and doing good works only by accident.
Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes behaves in a malicious manner towards them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, a mare, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman named Þökk (Old Norse ‘thanks’). Loki’s positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr and Loki is eventually bound by Váli with the entrails of one of his sons.
IOW, servants of chaos, disruptors of order…like DJT.
I worked very hard on Obama’s 2012 campaign. On Obama’s election night someone told me that the victory was “magic in a bottle”– but it turns out to have been poison in a bottle for the rest of the world. Over the years I watched in horror as Obama amped up droning and bombing and increased weapons sales to tyrants and dictators and military aid to juntas and Israel. Something I never could understand was his Syria policy– until I read this Tablet Magazine article. Obama is the servant of order– he tried to re-establish the equilibrium system broken by the Bush’s Folly (OIF) and the Arab Spring uprisings. Obama’s plan was containment: to turn the Middle East into a giant steel cage death match with all the players locked in a forever conflict, but with Israel and the US watching complacently from the sidelines as weapons brokers. How delightful to watch all their enemies rip each other to shreds: Assad, Putin, Iran, ISIS, al-Q, other islamic insurgencies, Turkey, Kurds, KSA and the Gulf States, Alawhites, Shia and Sunni, etc. Too bad about the half million dead civilians and the 12 million syrian refugees though.
America’s settled policy of standing by while half a million Syrians have been killed, millions have become refugees, and large swaths of their country have been reduced to rubble is not a simple “mistake,” as critics like Nicholas D. Kristof and Roger Cohen have lately claimed. Nor is it the product of any deeper-seated American impotence or of Vladimir Putin’s more recent aggressions. Rather, it is a byproduct of America’s overriding desire to clinch a nuclear deal with Iran, which was meant to allow America to permanently remove itself from a war footing with that country and to shed its old allies and entanglements in the Middle East, which might also draw us into war. By allowing Iran and its allies to kill Syrians with impunity, America could demonstrate the corresponding firmness of its resolve to let Iran protect what President Barack Obama called its “equities” in Syria, which are every bit as important to Iran as pallets of cash.
America’s Syria policy can, therefore, be best understood not in the terms most familiar to Mideast analysts, such as “getting Assad to step aside” or “supporting the moderate opposition” or “paving the way to a peaceful transition and elections.” Rather, it is a strategic-communications campaign tightly run from the White House, whose purpose was and is to serve as a smokescreen for an entirely coherent and purposeful policy that comes directly from the president himself, but which he and his aides did not wish to publicly own. The goal of the president and his closest aides is to convince the Iranians that we would meet our commitments to them while confusing and obscuring the real reasons behind the president’s set decision of nonintervention in Syria from American legislators and the public alike.
I would add concealing his purpose from our NATO allies as well, who will suffer enormously from the burgeoning Islamic Diaspora.
In a recent interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon revealed that in 2013, Iran told President Obama that if he were to strike the regime of Bashar Assad following the latter’s chemical-weapons attack, the Iranians would collapse the talks over their nuclear program. Obama canceled the strike, of course, and later reassured Iran that the United States would not touch Assad. Solomon’s reporting confirms a critical fact about Obama’s Iran and Syria policies: They are one and the same. Or, stated differently, Syria is part of the price for the president’s deal with Iran.
For five-and-a-half years, Obama has maintained an unwavering position against intervention on the side of Assad’s enemies in order to set the stage for a U.S. realignment in the Middle East. To shield this ambition from view, and therefore from criticism, the White House launched an elaborate spin campaign whose purpose was to deflect and manage domestic and allied criticism while the president pursued his objective. In partnership with Russia, Obama has directly shaped the course of the Syrian war while single-mindedly working to actualize his vision of a new American alliance with Russia and Iran that will allow America to take a permanent vacation from the Middle East. While the end result of this effort may not be what Obama and his closest advisers hope, his actions are clear, and their consequences now appear to be locked in, no matter who comes after him in the White House.
But because of Trump, I think the policy may no longer be “locked in”. The generals may ally with Trump– because the ones hes surrounded himself with believe US military power can solve any problem. And Trump will be able to exploit bombing “ISIS” to raise his dismal popularity polling. A popular misconception is that Putin wanted Trump to be elected– like everyone, Putin didn’t think Trump could be elected. Putin wanted to deligitimize US democracy…and Trumps advisors were venal and inexperienced enough to fall into Putins web. Putin and Obama both viewed Trump as a buffoon. But he may not be…Trump may be an avatar of the Trickster God, a servant of chaos and a disruptor of order. Like Nadim Shehadi said– deterrence by uncertainty. I study complexity, especially non-equilibrium systems, what John Von Neuman called non-elephants…and I love chaos unconditionally.
See the resemblance?