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The Pressing Destiny of Humanity

At one of his victory laps, I mean rallies, in Iowa on Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump was scarier than ever, all the more so because his threats were between the lines.

When a protester began to shout just as he was making an obligatory paean to John Glenn, Trump ominously said, “They will soon be with us…It starts with respecting our flag…we’re going to do something about that…you know what I mean, you know what I mean…” Yeah, we know what you mean.

Though he’s still in office, I already miss Obama’s understated, smart, graceful style. But has Barack Obama just been a placeholder between the lesser evil of Bush-Cheney and the greater evil of Donald Trump?

The director of the Center for Military and Diplomatic History, Mark Moyer, says, “Mr. Trump has indeed terrified foreign leaders with his ‘America first’ mantra, his promises to enlarge the American military and his tough talk on everything from the Islamic State to Air Force One. The good news is that his administration can turn this fear to the benefit of the United States.”

Only a military mindset could utter such a stupid thing. The notion that this authoritarian-in-waiting will unite fortress America behind his silly wall in some delusion of bygone greatness is truly frightening.

Moyer speaks of President Obama not living in “the real world of geopolitics.” The phrase ‘real world’ always contains a put down, with an unmistakable whiff of arrogance. But just what does it refer to?

It purportedly pertains to the world as it is, as opposed to some idealistic or pollyannaish conception of the world. Given President Obama’s stubborn refusal to take action with respect to the real world in Syria, it’s a strange accusation to make of him.

Besides, the Obama Administration drove a truck (or rather a fleet of drones) through a two-word clause in the 9/11 use of force declaration, which targeted al-Qaida, the Taliban and “associated forces” in Afghanistan.

That didn’t include invading Iraq, the biggest foreign policy blunder in US history, much less the 80 countries to which American Special Forces are now deployed, places like Yemen, Somalia and many others we the people never hear about.

A worldview that maintains, “the world lived without fear of a strong America under Jimmy Carter, whose timidity caused nations to fall to Communism and the United States Embassy in Iran to fall to anti-American extremists” is archaic, indeed atavistic.

Empires and their spheres of power, as well as nation-states and their Machiavellian games, have always been juvenile. But in a global society, the intricate, internecine machinations of nation-states have become as relevant as city-states.

Pax Americana is dead and gone. The idea that “the United States, as the world’s most powerful country [read military], is the only one whose leadership can safeguard the world order,” is out of touch with reality—the definition of lunacy. Besides, if this is world order, then I don’t know what disorder is.

The international order that the United States built as the only intact major power after World II is history. The world, not to mention humankind, has moved beyond “the post-1945 saga that has been dominated by international fear of the United States, or lack thereof.”

The only question now is how much more disorder, how much more war, and how great the catastrophe will be under the egomaniac Donald Trump.

The founders of the United States worried about the influence that a military with too much power has on democracy. That’s why they made the president commander-in-chief.

But just as the law is no guarantee of order, and only the basic decency and fairness of a people are, so too civilian oversight of the military only works if the military is kept in its place.

After 16 years of veneration of the armed forces, including the media’s nonstop sop to ‘heroes’ and ‘the fallen,’ the worship of military guts has gutted what was left of American democracy.

Barack Obama has contributed to the present state of affairs. He assumed his greatest weakness—the ability to bend policies to suit the immediate situation—was his greatest strength. As president he believed, as most Americans believe, that he could have things both ways.

When Obama didn’t want to act, such as after Assad crossed his “red line” in the use of chemical weapons, or to close Guantanamo by executive order, he deferred to Congress. When he decided to act, such as finally tightening gun regulations or regulating coal-fired power plants, Obama issued executive orders to circumvent a paralyzed Congress.

In short, Barack Obama’s lack of philosophical principles, humanitarian conscience, and political vision have not only allowed the humanitarian disaster of Syria to fester and indict our age; they have paved the way for the tyrannical tendencies President-elect Trump confirms more every day.

I don’t think all of Trump’s supporters are willfully ignorant, but decent, thinking Americans now have no choice except to psychologically leave America and live in the world. Even before the Great Wall of Trump is built, the borders of the United States have become far too constricting.

Though we have to work for the time when America recovers its soul, and its mind, there is a much more pressing reality—the immediate destiny of humanity on our imperiled earth.

Martin LeFevre

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