I’m sure most progressives would disagree with me today, and in three months when I publish this, but I’m pretty happy with the pushback the Trump administration is getting. Don’t get me wrong, I want more. Democracy is not served well by a subservient press and citizenry. But I expected a honeymoon period, and I’m not really seeing it.
I just saw an article that said the Department of Energy is refusing the Trump administration’s request to have a list of names of people working on climate change. Let’s imagine a world where Trump’s folks were simply asking in order to give everyone a hearty congratulations for their good work. Hard to imagine, even if you’re a Trump supporter, right? Trump fans want those people gone. And those suspicious of Trump are pretty sure he wants those people gone.
The benefit of the doubt is an important tool for an administration. I’m not sure Trump will ever, even for a minute, get it. He’s made his intentions too clear, for too long, on some pretty controversial stuff. I have a feeling the DOE pushback is going to pale in comparison to all the other stories we’re going to see like this over four years.
I woke to see news that Allepo is failing. We had seen it coming for a few days, and now it’s really happening. I’m trying to suss out what Trump wants in terms of a new world order. Everyone, his supporters and his detractors both, are pretty sure he’s interested in business. Money. Deals.
But what about military force? He campaigned saying he disagreed with the Iraq war, although he did originally support it. Does he want to fight a land war in Asia? Unlikely. Does he want to fight with Russia? Doesn’t seem like it. But does he want to support allies? He’s signaled no. Does he think NATO and the UN are important? Not if you can believe his past statements.
As I see the horror unfold in Allepo, and wonder what in the world I could have done as a civilian, I feel pretty powerless. Obviously I have no bearing on what happens there. I don’t even understand what’s going on. I don’t think most people do. But it’s clear that Putin and Assad are allied and are committing war crimes against civilians. And Trump is ok with it. So while I can’t do anything to help, Trump’s mindset appears to be choosing to do nothing. He wants Assad to win, or at very least, he wants to align with Putin and his maneuvers in the middle east.
I think Trump’s policy so far may be described as Wars of Inaction. Allepo is falling. Ukraine will probably cease to exist. If Israel decides to attack Iran, I don’t see him stopping them. If China feels threatened and gets closer with North Korea, I don’t see Trump taking action to calm relations between the countries. If I were a country eyeing expansion, I’d be thrilled. America is asleep at the wheel, internationally speaking. Not by accident, but by design.
But what about Obama? He didn’t do anything in Allepo either. But that’s where the benefit of the doubt comes in. We at least knew that Obama disagreed with Assad and Putin. Maybe he was called on his bluff. Maybe he could have done more. But he appears to have decided that of all his horrible options, the option most closely aligned with US interests was to do nothing.
And maybe that’s exactly the same worldview as Trump’s. Maybe he isn’t as much of a puppet as he appears … but it sure looks like it. Maybe he’s as upset about Allepo as the international community … but it sure doesn’t look like it. Maybe he thinks prosperity in the world relies to some extent on America standing up for allies and alliances and having calm and steady leadership. If so, it’d be a good idea to start making that clear now.
But no one, friends and foes alike, are holding their breath for that.
One last detail: Rex was formally announced by Trump this morning. Someone said the news was going to distract from Russia. But I don’t see how that plays out. Against a backdrop of wondering if Trump is a Russian puppet, he nominates Putin’s friend. You’ve gotta imagine that leads as a story. And so far that’s exactly what’s happening.
Will Rex be confirmed? I have no way to guess, but I think it’s clear he’ll have a bumpy hearing. The timing couldn’t be worse for Trump’s team.
And speaking of which, Trump has postponed his big announcement about how he’s going to run his businesses while in office. An odd choice, since we all know he’s going to make some halfhearted steps, say that’s more than enough, and not address anyone’s deeper concerns. Why delay? Doesn’t he want to get it out of the way early?
Maybe he thinks his approval rating will spike nearer to inauguration day.