Ashgabat, 23 January 2017 (nCa) — One man leaves the White House with the highest approval rating in four decades, the other enters with the approval rating that is among the lowest of all times. Welcome to the world of selective demonization, selective approbation. Welcome to the world according to Trump.
The inauguration speech of President Trump was 6920 characters in length, which is equivalent to about 50 tweets. In fact, it sounded much like a string of his Twitter rants. — Sound bites piled upon sound bites, some meaningless, some dangerously double-edged, and some simply ominous.
The ceremony, the Trump visit to CIA headquarters, and the first press conference at the White House put into bas-relief certain aspects of the Trump mindset.
He is fascinated with size — whether it is the size of his hands or the size of the crowd at his inauguration ceremony. He is willing to deny the facts passionately. This is a dangerous trait in the President of the United States.
Since Central Asia is located at the opposite end of the globe from Washington DC, we will just look at the passages of his speech that may come to haunt him, of this region, or perhaps both.
Here is what concerns us from his speech:
“Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.”
“Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because, today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”
“[T]his moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.”
“You came by the tens of millions to become part of an historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.”
“We’ve defended other nations’ borders, while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.”
“But, that is the past and now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today, are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”
“We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.”
“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”
“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.”
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
“It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”
What does Trump see when he looks at the world?
- He says tens of millions and actually settles on a figure of a million and half when speaking at the CIA headquarters but the crowd at his ceremony was about 250000, just a fraction of the people that attended Obama inauguration in 2009.
- He speaks of the red blood of black or brown or white patriots but the crowd at his ceremony was predominantly white – and male.
- He says that ‘we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military’ and in doing so not only simplifies but treacherously falsifies the facts. It is as if someone else bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and so many other countries back to the Stone Age.
- He says that ‘We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone,’ forgetting that at the start of his speech he had said ‘Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.’
At Langley, the CIA headquarters, there was more of Trump. It is remarkable that Langley was his first stop after taking the oath. He was visiting the community that he had derided just days ago.
“We have been restrained. We have got to get rid of ISIS,” he said. “We have not used the real abilities that we have, said Trump.
In a clumsy attempt to mend fences with CIA, he blamed everything on the media. He said about journalists, “They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” speaking in front of the wall where each star represents a fallen officer of the intelligence service.
Trump said, “We’ve been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we’ve ever fought.”
He hinted that he will allow more leeway and more powers to the intelligence community in fighting ISIS.
Accompanied by two of his most senior aides, Steve Bannon and Reince Preibus, the president said to 400 officers of CIA, unlike ‘wars between countries’ whose genesis can be easily understood, the depths of Islamist rage at the root of the ISIS terror campaign ‘is something nobody can even understand. This is a level of evil that we haven’t seen.
“I am with you 1,000 per cent,” Trump said, declaring that ‘a running war with the media’ led him to choose Langley as his first stop on his first full day at the White House.
Meanwhile, retired Marine General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis arrived at Pentagon to take over as the defense secretary, the first Trump nominee to take oath of office. He was received by Joint Chiefs Chairman ‘Fighting Joe’ Dunford, who had served under Mattis in Iraq.
“It is good to be back,” were the first words of Mattis to the department of defence
He was sworn in by Vice President Pence in the earliest possible minutes of Friday. The other person to take oath of office was the retired Marine General John Kelly, who has taken over as secretary for homeland security.
What do we have in the combination?
There is the chief executive Trump who says candidly that the ISIS terror campaign ‘is something nobody can even understand.’
We have a CIA that has been promised the powers of aggressive interrogation – read torture.
We have ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis who has no remorse in having ordered the murder of a wedding party of 30 without bothering to verify the initial reports.
We have John Kelly, who has questionable integrity because he failed to disclose at the time of nomination that he has financially profitable relations with the defence contractor lobbying firm Spectrum Group, and the defence contractors Micheal Baker International and Sallyport Global, both of which are doing business with the US government. After being outed, his biographies have been wiped out from the websites of these firms.
Surrounding all this is a circle of billionaires, the inner circle of Trump: Carl Icahn (net worth USD 20 billion), Wilbur Ross (USD 2.9 billion), Vincent Viola (USD 1.8 billion), Betsy DeVos (USD 1.5 billion), Todd Ricketts, Linda McMahon and others, each worth at least USD one billion. This is how the government has been handed back to the people, if we are to believe Trump.
Let’s sum up what awaits Central Asia ——- A billionaire in the White House who doesn’t understand a thing about ISIS but is willing to empower the intelligence community to use extreme means to eradicate it, a retired general who doesn’t care to distinguish between a wedding party and a gathering of terrorists but would bomb them anyway, another general who has questionable ethical composition and can impact the domestic policy in a big way, and a bunch of billionaires who have never lived a common man’s life but pretend to care for them.
When this crowd descends on Afghanistan, anything and everything can happen. With their selective demonization and selective approbation, sanity would be the first casualty.
Of course, this is extreme scenario. In a world where reality is a comparative state of existence, the reality would be what we can only speculate, depending on the degree of optimism we can muster.
Central Asia would be well advised to form alliances quickly with the countries which can and do understand this region and its problems.