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losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily in its military [already the most powerful and most expensive in the world], that they needed to crush isis at any cost with their military might, that he would blow iranian ships out of the water if they strayed too close to american ones, and that he didn't understand why the united states bothered keeping nuclear weapons if they weren't ready to use them.

and then there was the peculiar affinity he had for russian president vladimir putin.

while figuring out trump's plans for healthcare, immigration, and the admission of refugees might have been simple, getting a handle on his foreign policy plans was a more complicated thing, and was driven chiefly by the mindset of the interpreter: were we seeing the demure lady retiring to her quarters, or the death's head of impending war?

i went with the latter. i always thought trump seemed unhinged and highly susceptible to following those who flattered him. and it didn't take much of a glance around the republican round table to see what way that would push him. furthermore, he's been suffering a meltdown of support in the last few weeks, accompanied by the very real possibility of a criminal investigation. nothing makes the drums of war beat louder than the need to point and yell "look over there!"

the arguments that the americans should elect trump because hawkish hillary clinton would ignite world war iii never did anything to persuade me that trump was a better option. [exactly how many countries need to be involved in a conflict before it counts as a world war? because there are a lot of dangerous places right now. -ed.] the chief difference to me was that trump hadn't been given the chance to be a military aggressor, whereas hillary clinton had. put him in power, i reasoned, and he'd close that gap in a hurry.

but i'm not here to be smug. i'm not saying "i told you so" to anyone, because, unlike those who are furious that trump is doing exactly what he promised, i completely understand why voters might have believed that such an unconventional candidate could augur an unconventional approach to world politics. whatever trump you believed in the election was the one you wanted to see. sure, i saw the skull, but that doesn't mean i couldn't see the lovely lady.

the thing that sent the greatest shudder down my spine last night was watching trump do his agonising stint in front of the teleprompters. it wasn't just that he looked stiff or unprepared for the burden he'd taken on, but that he looked terrified. everyone knew that he was a world politics neophyte, but i, for one, though that his handlers would be able to keep him a little more polished. hell, they've been able to do so before.

the tragic irony here, of course, is that america will bomb syria in order to protect innocent syrians from their own government, but they won't let those same syrians into their country. alternatively, the tragic irony is that america blew up tens of millions of dollars worth of missiles [more than half of which landed off-target] at a time when they're cutting off services for the elderly, the disabled and children living in poverty. and yes, i know that the missiles were already paid for, but rest assured that someone is going to come to congress and say that they need money to replace the ones that they fired off last night.

there's a lot of tragedy and a lot of uncomfortable truth to be found here.

sadly, when you look at the about face of the so-called liberal media into a trump cheering section, it's a safe bet that the syrian bombing will accomplish its domestic goal, which is to make trump more popular. no one is talking about the russian pee videos now. that would be unpatriotic. instead, it's a parade of white men with earnest faces, talking about how it's probably going to be necessary to partition syria, like that's their decision to make. [white men partitioning the middle east is how we ended up here to begin with. -ed.]

to those people who really believed that trump would be different: i feel for you. he gave you reasons to think that way and scrapped that rhetoric at the first opportunity. now we're stuck with the worst of both worlds, where he's governing in exactly the hateful, petty way he said he would on the domestic front, and in the most aggressive, most warlike way he said he might on foreign policy. sure, there are things about him that disqualified him as a president for me aside from the global role question. doesn't mean that there was no reason whatsoever to be hopeful. what kind of shitty person tells people that they made a huge mistake by having hope?

"the creatures outside looked from pig to man, from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

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