Last week was another where it is impossible to select the biggest American political story of the week. Today I want to explore a few occurrences that when taken together could have a huge impact. Please come along.
The possibility of a shooting war developing and/or an impactful trade war escalated because of Donald Trump’s actions. Trump is much more of a person who reacts without any thought than a cerebral person who sets out a strategic plan and goes about executing it. This would not be the first time in recent history that a corrupt Republican administration started a shooting war to “bury” a bad story. My prime example is the Reagan administration who invaded Grenada two days after the Marine barracks in Lebanon was blown up. At least they had the good sense to pick on the relatively defenseless Grenada; Iran is a “real country” with a much stronger military. In either case you are dealing with a first term Republican administration that has a PR nightmare on its hands and an election approaching.
Early in the week we learned the USS Lincoln battle group was being moved to the waters near Iran two weeks ahead of schedule. (The two weeks part barely got any mention and the administration portrayed it as much more of a saber rattling move.) This is both a threat to Iran and a convenient target for its armed forces. What if a game of Chicken goes awry or a commander makes a bad decision?
Wednesday Iran announced it would no longer abide by some provisions of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Wednesday was, not coincidentally, the one year anniversary of the Trump administration unilaterally breaking the deal. As far as anyone can tell the Iranians lived up to their end of the bargain for its entire life including that year. In the process the world was a safer place. So let me set the scene for you: America, by order of Trump, reneges on an international deal, pressures it allies to do the same, sends a naval battle group to intimidate a sovereign country while simultaneously trying to economically starve it and if they should happen to have a “too close encounter” with one of our ships or airplanes Trump, John Bolton and the other assorted “geniuses” in the White House will portray them as the bad guys.
One of the bad news items Trump is trying to bury is the disaster of the American “efforts” in Venezuela. It appears we mislead the forces attempting to oust the Venezuelan President and then abandoned them. (Interestingly in close proximity to a Trump-Putin phone call.) While that situation is far from completely over, I am not too concerned about American military troops being deployed to Venezuela; Trump got his orders from his boss – a/k/a Vladimir Putin.
This is another ugly American episode in Latin America. In fairness, many of them have preceded Trump but is it any wonder we have credibility issues in the Caribbean, South and Central America? Of late I’ve liked to use musical metaphors. Considering Trump and Putin are involved how about the Monster Mash?
If you are looking for Congress to come to America’s rescue I’d suggest you think again. Consider that the Senate just failed to override Trump’s veto of a bill prohibiting American financial military aid in Yemen. The “civil war” in Yemen is basically a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis are major financiers of the Trump and Kushner families. People don’t make bad loans and or investments without an incentive.
On the economic front the Trump administration has just increased the tariff on about half the imports from China. Does anyone want to take my bet that the goods the Trump family imports and exports aren’t involved and will not be involved in China’s inevitable and predictable retaliation? Tariffs may well be additional revenue for the Treasury Department but they are paid for by the ultimate purchaser, in this case the American consumer. So when Trump talks about the additional money taken in he is effectively talking about an additional tax on the American consumer.
An incompetent and self-serving President coupled with a mostly spineless and unpatriotic Republican congressional delegation makes not a pretty picture. I hope I am incorrect on a lingering and harmful trade war with China. I am even more hopeful that we don’t end up in a shooting war with Iran. In either event many American families will needlessly suffer.
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