Donald Trump loves terrorism

Trump won’t show you this image.

As we struggle to find the right response to modern terrorism we must face a politically incorrect fact: Lots of our people and institutions love terrorism. They thrive on it, cultivate it, promote it, and provide it with the oxygen it needs to proliferate. Donald Trump is one of those people. Know your enemy.

The purpose of terrorism is to spread fear in a target population. Terrorism usually conceals weakness. By frightening a target population, an organization creates an illusion of power. That illusion of power becomes a weapon that the target population unleashes on themselves.

Job One for a leader fighting terrorism is to tamp down public fear by introducing a sense of perspective. Terror isn’t terror if people are not afraid.

Job Two is to quietly build a counter-terror infrastructure capable of identifying and stopping perpetrators. I lived in London in the 90’s at the height of The Troubles. Life in London was punctuated by almost daily terror threats. Brits responded with unflappable indifference. In the news, bomb warnings and explosions were relegated to a space on between traffic and weather. The British in the 90’s benefited from a leadership that understood how to fight terrorism and, more importantly, wanted to win. Meanwhile, police and military worked constantly to pressure these groups, placing them in a tightening vice between ineffective tactics and tightening enforcement.

There are people and institutions that benefit from terrorism. Terror tactics undermine free markets, trade, tourism, pluralism, and every institution that thrives on trust-based interactions. An atmosphere soaked in indiscriminate violence is fantastic for authoritarians. Unlike the British government in the 90’s, Donald Trump fosters terrorism because it furthers his political goals.

Trump’s tactics in promoting foreign terrorism differ from his methods for fostering domestic terror. At home, he spreads white supremacist terrorism by legitimizing their themes and goals, promoting their leadership, and downplaying their activities. One of his first acts as president was to end federal monitoring of domestic terror groups. When domestic terrorists attack non-whites and religious minorities, he makes no mention of their actions. Even without Trump’s megaphone, immigrant groups and minorities targeted for marginalization still get the message. In fact, when it comes to domestic terror, Trump’s silence acts as promotion, amping up the fear. It communicates to minority communities that they can’t count on protection while suggesting to white terrorists that he supports their objectives.

By contrast, Trump is the world’s foremost promoter of Islamist terrorism. No one in ISIS works as hard or as successfully as Donald Trump to tout the group’s achievements and overstate their reach. Trump has invested far more energy in promoting ISIS than in getting any domestic legislation passed. Donald Trump is determined to help ISIS achieve its primary strategic goal in the west – terrorizing you.

When the Mayor of London took the strategically appropriate move of calming the public after the latest attack, Trump undermined him in the most public way possible. He did this because Trump shares more strategic goals with ISIS than he does with the Mayor of London. Trump cannot afford to have ISIS demeaned or defeated. Like other ambitious authoritarians, Trump depends for his political survival on a terrified public. Groups like ISIS are Trump’s critical partners in promoting a narrative of neurotic fear among a western population otherwise deprived of existential enemies. Donald Trump needs ISIS like he needs oxygen. That’s why he does their publicity work for them.

Here are a few facts about modern terrorism.

More Americans are killed every year by their furniture than by terrorists. An American is statistically more likely to be killed this year by a gun-wielding toddler than by a terrorist. Terrorism is as much of a threat to US interests as we decide to make it. Donald Trump wants that threat to be enormous, so he lies about it.

Of those few terrorism deaths in the US, the overwhelming majority are committed by non-Muslim white people. White domestic terrorism is growing under Donald Trump, because he has fostered and protected it.

Islamist terrorism is a very small threat to Americans, or to Europe. Domestic terrorism is a larger, but still small threat. Terrorism is ineffective against a confident, courageous population that refuses to wet their pants in fear.

Know your enemy. Know yourself. Win.

 

*Post-script: There’s another institution that loves terrorism that deserves some attention. A profit-driven 24-hour cable news industry thrives on anything scary, especially if it features footage of explosions. If cable news had proliferated to the current degree in Britain back in the 90’s, it would have been far more difficult for the government to fight the IRA successfully. Profit-driven endless news is a sump of neurotic, context-free fear.

91 Comments

    1. The NYMag has an interesting approach, in that the conservative wings of the Republican Party support Trump because he is doing what they want. That of course is true and would have considerable impact on any move towards impeachment. Ryan is certainly in that comp. That is in addition to the institutional barriers both from the Constitution. I’ve gone into detail on that in previous posts. Chris has also mentioned that.

      Sadly, it appears that Trump’s death continues to be the most likely path towards him not completing his term.

    1. In light of the arrest of the alleged leaker, I have serious concerns regarding the classification of this knowledge. While I can understand that certain information in the report regarding means and methods should be classified, that is not a reason to classify public knowledge of Russian hacking. The sensitive information could easily have been scrubbed and a public release of the knowledge of the hacking been made.

      The arrest raises two serious questions to me:
      1. Is this a case of punishing the messenger?
      2. Is the administration deliberately suppressing knowledge of the extent of Russian hacking? If it is suppressing this information, why?

      I suspect this is another case of overclassification of information. Certainly, the American people should have full knowledge of the extent and scope of Russian interference in our electoral systems.

      1. Wow – I just posted Forbes version of the same article. What’s infuriating is, NOTHING HAPPENS to them!! Where is all the righteous indignation of conservatives who had so much to say about the Clintons? This family is rotten to the core, and as long as they are not held accountable for it – they appear to not even care.

        My only hope is that Preet Bharara is going to be able to use his position with the NY AG office to continue his digging into the Trump clan affairs – at least those which are domiciled in NY. I have nothing but disgust for this man and his sons appear as rotten as he is. We shall see what Kushner has been up to.

      2. As far as I am concerned, the term conservatives applies to those who put the Republican party before country, who adhere to the conservative GOP agenda in lock-step except when it is inconvenient. That would include the vast majority of MOC.

      3. Mime – With all due respect, such a definition lies athwart the OED and about any reference I can think of. The entire theme of this forum is that the GOP no longer represents us. Communication requires a common lexicon, and that’s a pretty uncommon usage.

  1. I’m in London right now. We had dinner tonight with some British cousins who said that polls have tightened since the last two terrorist attacks, especially since May was essentially Britain’s head of homeland security for six years and apparently called for cuts to the police.

    Corbyn may likely still lose, but it’s interesting that the right wingers don’t automatically get a boost in the polls after an attack like they probably would in America.

    Overall, one gets a strong sense here of keeping calm and carrying on. They seem to lack the faux outrage we Americans are so good at peddling.

    1. Brits are tough. I used to date a guy whose parents were kids during the bombing of london during WW2. The stories they could tell. IMO that’s the real difference between Americans and Europeans. Americans can drop bombs and not feel it personally because no American has ever suffered what Europeans have as far as destruction during war during our life times.

  2. In discussing the Trump, we should not overlook his Rasputin, Stephen Bannon. The recent tweets, bad behavior in Europe and walking away from the Paris Accord are all from Bannon’s playbook. With Trump in so much political trouble, we will see more of this behavior. Afterall, it appeals to the hardcore Trump supporter. Trump is turning back to Bannon, because he figures Bannon was the genius who got him elected.

  3. Tyrants and authoritarians require an enemy. History has so many examples of this I needn’t mention any. Now the enemy doesn’t have to be an actual threat. In fact, the more impotent, the less resources need to be spent on the actual threat, and the more resources are available for, well, authoritarianism. Looked at the DHS lately? Flown lately? Is the threat proportional? Are you in existential danger of being killed by your couch? (Thanks, Chris!)

    Humans are very, very poor at risk assessment. Terrorists and tyrants exploit this flaw. It is entirely possible that the current president is too stupid to grasp this, and his actions simply reactionary, (though I’m certain his henchmen are not). But we should all remember that the results are, and will be the same.

    1. Conroe, TX is fast becoming a prison city. GEO Corporation, a for-profit private prison national business, is firmly lodged in Montgomery County and received $100 Million under DHS to build an immigration detention center.

      I attended a forum in which there was an attorney who has represented some of the detainees as well as an immigrant who was held there for over a year. He was raped as have been others being housed there until their cases can be heard. He asserts he is not illegal, has committed no crime, yet was held without medical assistance for injuries received and worked at the prevailing (only) wage paid for labor, $1/day.

      This is what one would expect in a third world country, but, in the fastest growing city in America? Oversight is nil because GEO offers generous campaign contributions and is padding county revenues through its agreement. Who loses? The detainees who are under lock and key; the taxpayers, and our guarantee of justice under the law to all.

      Let me be clear: I understand and do not support illegal entry into the U.S. However, the adjudication process should be fair and humane. Everyone is looking the other way. So, ICE and the DHS are little more than government thugs given what I have seen and heard of how they operate.

      1. Yup. I have a huge problem with private prisons. And don’t get me started on idiot-mittens Jeff Sessions directive to stuff them even more through mandatory sentencing.

        And now I hear the ass-clown-in-chief wants to privatize ATC. As an aviator for my entire adult life, I am pleased to report that our air traffic control system is not broken, is the best in the world, and should not be fucked with no matter how deep the knowledge of the president on the subject might be. (*cough*)

      2. So, why is Trump pushing privatization of the ATC? Because it is an example of a government agency that “does” work?

        Fifty – there is so much more I could share on the Conroe/GEO contract but you’ll likely read it in the news first.

        There should NEVER be a profit incentive for imprisonment. Period.

      3. First to ATC: The word “privatization” is a simple one that even the simplest can understand. I think Trump’s “plan” to privatize the ATC system is based solely on such a superficial understanding. Nothing more. In a word, it’s “easy”.

        Now in contrast, take a thing like “healthcare”. First, it has more letters. Second, it is much more complex, and therefore requires a modicum on intellectual discipline to form a coherent idea about. (Not that intellectual coherence has been much of an issue with this president.)

        On prisons: Private prisons are, at their core, immoral. First, the profit motive, so essential for driving the wheels of industry, is completely at odds with the ideas of rehabilitation, Reducing recidivism, and reducing prison populations – which are, (or at least should be), society’s goals. You could make the statement that private prisons are little more than warehouses for people, but even this analogy breaks down in that commercial warehouses are designed for efficient *temporary* storage, and the fast and efficient movement of good out is a primary objective. There isn’t even a close approximation to this twisted notion in the commercial world. Police, firefighters, and our military are public employees for good reasons. (I’d add ATC here, but admittedly that’s my predilection.)

        The larger picture is that we absolutely must address this gross, racist abomination that is our ridiculous prison population. Far from any sort of solution to that, private prisons serve only to exacerbate the problem. (Along with ass-hats like our AG.)

        https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/es_20161021_private_prisons_economics.pdf

  4. Hi all, I’ve not been here a while. I was one of the receiving medics for the victims of the Manchester bomb, and, aside from a few opportunistic vandals, the way Manchester citizens have responded has been textbook, as in, this is how a community should respond to terrorism, by presenting a solid front from all ethnicities and faith groups, denouncing the attack, but refusing to allow any community to be scapegoated.

    And I’d like to say to all the folks here, in typical Manc fashion, they raised £12 000 to buy all the docs and nurses treating the victims a pint of beer at the pub serving the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

    Long live Manchester, I’m so proud of my city

    1. You have a right to be proud. Good response to a tragedy.

      I do not advocate making Muslims scapegoats. I do think it prudent to carefully vet immigrants and visitors and keep track of those who might become radicalized.

      What is the current mood toward immigration from terror-prone countries at this time? Does England want to tighten vetting procedures and limit immigration from some areas of the world?

    2. Hoonteo, congrats on your dedication. You and people like you are the reason that Britain is resilient and has such a great reputation. Heaven knows Britain has survived many crises and always bounces back. Manchester can be amodel for the world.

      The American people have that dedication and resilience as well. Unfortunately it is frequently not acknowledged. There is no profit for the MSM or talk radio or cable news in focusing on the resilience. So we tend to forget about it. We discuss it in a historical context such as following Pearl Harbor. Nevertheless, it is still there.

      Hoonteo, your dedication is highly appreciated.

      1. I just finished reading a great book about the resilience of the Brits during WWII – Citizens of London, by Lynne Olsen. Great non-fiction account of this period. You couldn’t help but admire how the English people maintained their courage and resolve despite famine, continual bombardment, loss of life, and very little support from the US until Pearl Harbor forced Roosevelt’s hand. I was surprised at Roosevelt’s depiction – very reluctant, very hard nosed. Good read about England and its people. They have a long history of courage.

    3. Good to know that in a crisis, most people will do the right thing. You should be proud of your city! It’s pretty cool that the people of Manchester banded together to give a thank-you gift to the first responders–often they get forgotten in the anguish.

  5. Chris, aren’t you making the same type of argument as the anti-vaxxer crowd?

    They believe that since there haven’t been major outbreaks of measles in the last decades that they can safely do without vaccinating their children.

    Unless, I’m completely misunderstanding you, you seem to be saying that since we haven’t had much terrorism in the years since 9/11, we do not have to worry about terrorism in the future.

    Admittedly, we’ve had outbreaks of domestic terrorism and no shortage of mentally disturbed individuals in our own country. However, why would we want to add to the pool of people who feel that violence and killing people is the way to make their point?

    Is your hatred of Trump blinding you to the carnage a few radical religious extremists can inflict? Don’t we have enough problems already?

      1. The problem is that Trump is very selective in the terrorism examples he wants to use. He had very little to say about the Portland incident, but he’s engaging in a childish stream of Twitter taunts at the mayor of London. It doesn’t matter who that Portland scumbag said he voted for. A President doing a proper job would make it much more emphatically clear that these kind of hate crimes are not acceptable.

      2. Yes, Fly, Trump’s behavior is childish. No argument there.

        However, aren’t some also profiling those on the right? Every time a liberal crackpot goes berserk, it’s automatically assumed that their actions are tied to the right wing of the Republican party.

        The left has no less shortage of people with mental instability than the right.

        Now, Trump’s rhetoric is being blamed for the actions of every looney, disturbed, off-the-wall weirdo who does something violent.

        I don’t even like Trump, but darn it all, the obsession of the media with painting him as evil incarnate, has started to generate sympathy for him as the underdog. Isn’t that ironic?

      3. “Now, Trump’s rhetoric is being blamed for the actions of every looney, disturbed, off-the-wall weirdo who does something violent.”

        No, he’s being blamed for failure to take a firm stand against hate crimes and for egging on some of the bigots with his decisive speech. A racist scumbag in Kansas city murdered two innocent people just because they were from India. Do you remember how long it took the White House to even COMMENT on that crime?

    1. “Unless, I’m completely misunderstanding you, you seem to be saying that since we haven’t had much terrorism in the years since 9/11, we do not have to worry about terrorism in the future.”

      You are completely misunderstanding the whole point of the article. You should reread it.

      You can also enlighten us as to exactly what actions Trump has taken that would actually help with terrorism.

      1. Fly, read the last section including …

        “Islamist terrorism is a very small threat to Americans, or to Europe.”

        Since Chris is saying that the threat of terrorism is minimal and that furniture poses a bigger danger, he is like the anti-vaxxers in denying that the threat could potentially be huge.

        Think back to 9/11. Even though only around 3,000 lives were lost, the country was practically paralyzed as far as air travel was concerned for days afterward with people afraid to fly for months. The economic impact was enormous. While my husband was living in New Jersey, he spoke to many people who were affected by the loss of loved ones, friends, or acquaintances.

        True, the people of New York were brave and heroic like the people, but terrorism took its toll on their lives.

        Trump’s actions so far have been to try to vet refugees more carefully and limit access from some majority Muslim countries for a few months until procedures are in place to do a better job in checking backgrounds.

        Is this such a bad idea or do people on the left hate Trump so much that they would object to anything that he puts forward?

      2. Fly, read the last section including …

        “Islamist terrorism is a very small threat to Americans, or to Europe.”

        Since Chris is saying that the threat of terrorism is minimal and that furniture poses a bigger danger, he is like the anti-vaxxers in denying that the threat could potentially be huge.

        ==================

        Bullshit. All you have to do is look at the data. Here’s some risk analysis right here:

        https://www.buzzfeed.com/andyneuenschwander/13-things-more-likely-to-kill-you-than-a-refugee-terrorist?utm_term=.svzdK6Azm#.koyBDomal

        You could have googled that before you made that bogus comparison. A cat4 hurricane hitting the Houston metro area is potentially huger (think energy industry damage) AND more likely. Yet I see no action towards getting FEMA fully staffed or hardening the infrastructure.

        Think back to 9/11. Even though only around 3,000 lives were lost, the country was practically paralyzed as far as air travel was concerned for days afterward with people afraid to fly for months. The economic impact was enormous. While my husband was living in New Jersey, he spoke to many people who were affected by the loss of loved ones, friends, or acquaintances.

        True, the people of New York were brave and heroic like the people, but terrorism took its toll on their lives.
        ====================

        There was a very simple fix for preventing future 9/11 type attacks- hardening the cockpits so that terrorists could no longer take over the plane. You also forget what happened not long after 9/11- when the idiot shoe bomber tried to blow up a plane. People didn’t panic, they acted. You can cover in fear or you can realistically deal with the risks. The people you describe were not being realistic.

        Trump’s actions so far have been to try to vet refugees more carefully and limit access from some majority Muslim countries for a few months until procedures are in place to do a better job in checking backgrounds.
        ===============

        More bullshit. You are conveniently forgetting how the first travel ban screwed over people with green cards, including people who risked their lives to work as translators for the US military. That’s the version Trump just Tweeted he prefers, BTW, so I’m holding him to it. You honestly think that made us safer? Sending a message that we’ll screw over people who help us? Not to mention much of the immigrant terrorism comes from the 2nd generation. Did you ever stop to think that all this hysteria and scapegoating and marginalizing of certain groups of people just might contribute to alienating the young people in these immigrant communities?

        Is this such a bad idea or do people on the left hate Trump so much that they would object to anything that he puts forward?
        =====================

        I object to stupid and counterproductive ideas, and that’s pretty much the only type of idea that Trump is trying to implement here.

      3. Horsefeathers, Fly.

        You’re a scientist and you say you are objective.

        ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim have said they want to kill Americans. They are willing to die themselves if it will mean “Death to America.”

        Don’t you believe what they say?

        They are willing to find new and unique ways to cause destruction, death and terror.

        We secured the cockpits on planes AFTER 9/11. We also made people use up precious time waiting in long TSA lines. Older people (if they have any metal implants), the handicapped, people with medical problems and babies with full diapers were the ones most likely to end up being pulled over for screening.

        It is true that non-radical Muslim people do not deserve to be profiled or discriminated against. However, minimizing the threat caused by the extremists who want to destroy America is absurd.

      4. Objv-

        No, I don’t think Chris is saying we should ignore terrorism. He’s saying that the solutions peddled by Trump et al are worse than the disease. 9/11 is a great example. Yes, 3,000 Americans died that day. But our response, invading Iraq and Afghanistan, has resulted in twice as many American deaths (not to mention enormous numbers of civilian casualties and misery), while doing nothing to reduce the risk of future attacks. I’d hardly call that a victory.

        Does that mean we do nothing? Of course not. Chris’s example of London is a great example. The fact that IRA bombings did not generate mass hysteria among the London population didn’t mean they were ignored. Rather, Britain put its faith in a more low-intensity policing process to root out the terrorists while engaging in a political process to reduce civilian support for the IRA’s violent tactics. They didn’t declare war on Northern Ireland and “bomb them back to the stone age”, which likely would have resulted in even more support for the IRA and most likely, cont’d terrorist attacks in London to this day.

        Raising hysteria and fear among a population, the way Trump does about “Radical Islamic Terrorism”, nearly guarantees that the population falls in line supporting aggressive solutions like the Global War on Terrorism, which has wasted thousands of American lives, millions of Iraqi & Afghanistani lives, and trillions of dollars while flooding Europe with the very people that Europeans have been told to fear.

        This benefits *someone*, mainly people like George W Bush, who was on his way to losing the 2004 election until 9/11 happened, when, in the country’s eyes, the idiot son who couldn’t talk right somehow was transformed into a fearless leader, and guys like Trump who rise to the top amidst that fear, which is why he couldn’t be a better ISIS propagandist if he started wearing a mask and started calling himself Jihadi John.

        So what’s the appropriate response? The same thing the Brits did in Northern Ireland: a low-level policing approach (in this case, likely using drones and small, targeted special operations) to kill or capture the most dangerous threats, forensic finance to root out and block their money supply, an espionage program to infiltrate the most dangerous groups so we can keep an eye on them, diplomacy to reduce state support of terrorists (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) and a political process to drain civilian support for terrorist groups and increase support for legitimate forms of airing grievances like democracy and free speech.

        Unfortunately, these forms of interventions won’t fill cable news shows with leaked video footage of “smart bombs” (aren’t those classified? How come no one goes to jail leaking those videos?) or fighter jets streaking off aircraft carriers. They also won’t fill military contractors’ pockets or allow politicians to hide their incompetence behind “Mission Accomplished” banners. Which is why the CEOs of Lockheed, Boeing, General Dynamics, etc. probably include ISIS in their bedtime prayers every night.

        P.S.
        Trump’s middle east trip was a disaster for fighting terrorism. After years of working on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to reduce their support for sunni terrorist groups, Trump basically told them they have the green light to do whatever they want as long as they buy billions of American weapons. This ensures conflicts like Yemen and Syria will be prolonged, and more starving civilians will become terrorist supporters.

        This also gave Saudi Arabia the confidence to go after Qatar who had the temerity to seek a pragmatic reconciliation with Iran rather than simply suffer Saudi domination, which means a new proxy war between these two rich rivals with deep links to terrorist groups is likely to develop, potentially in another small middle eastern country.

        And Trump taking Saudi’s side in this battle for local influence, and essentially calling Qatar a terrorist state? Does he not realize 10,000 American troops + our Central Command, which runs our entire middle east operation, is based in Qatar? I bet our Ambassador in Doha has already been told that he needs to rein in Trump or prepare to evacuate every last American soldier from their base in 24hrs. I’m sure running the Iraq and Afghani operations without a functioning headquarters will do wonders for our soldiers there. ISIS doesn’t even have to bomb our HQ if Trump’s careless tweets manage to get us kicked out of Qatar anyway. Based on his actions, I’d suspect Trump is an ISIS agent if he wasn’t already a Russian spy 🙂

      5. Well put!!

        The appropriate response to the terrorism is policing, finance, diplomacy, espionage, political and where appropriate limited special operations as you cite above and regarding the British experience in Northern Ireland. That is more in line with Petraeus’ approach to fighting insurgencies. This approach has the disadvantage of being slow and requires a significant commitment but low level commitment over many years. It is also a low casualty approach. The difficulty is that it does not make for great satisfying cable news coverage and does not satisfy many Americans’ yearning for quick decisive action, i.e. does not satisfy the testosterone requirements.

        IMO, Obama was trying to follow that approach as much as possible in the GWOT (I know that term is poor, but nevertheless is accurate for my uses)

      6. Again, I inadvertently posted. Let me continue, by deleting the last paragraph and rephrasing.

        IMO, Obama was trying the follow the soft power approach as much as possible in the struggle against terrorism. However, political pressures in the US as well as military pressures made strictly following that approach difficult. The hysteria resulting from the occasional terrorist attacks largely in Europe but also the correlated but self radicalized attacks in the US, created a difficult political milieu. However, in the long term such an approach would have paid immense dividends.

        We’ll never know, but I suspect if the US had kept its focus on Afghanistan, adopted more of a soft power approach rather than a hard power approach and avoided the temptation to invade Iraq in 2003, the Middle East would not be as severe a problem it is today. It would still be a big problem, largely because the driving cause in the Middle East is the rise of Iran and Shiism. Even that might have been less confrontational.

        We would certainly have avoided hundreds of thousands of American casualties, millions of civilian deaths and trillions of dollars of damages and future costs. Perhaps even the militarization and polarization of American society might have been avoided.

      7. Tmerritt-

        FWIW, I have a love-hate relationship with Obama’s foreign policy. I agree that he had the right idea WRT to afghanistan, Iraq, and secondary countries like Pakistan. For example, as much as I believe Pakistan plays a central role in the Taliban’s success, an overt war in Pakistan would just help the Taliban. A semi-covert, low-intensity drone-based operation along with extensive political pressure on Pakistan to give up their ties to terrorists is probably the best, albeit frustratingly slow, solution.

        However, he was also responsible for joining the war in Libya which created another failed state that’s now fertile grounds for jihadists and radicals. Furthermore, while I give him credit for avoiding putting boots on the ground in Syria (with a masterful jujitsu maneuver of asking the Republicans to give him that authority), his policy there has been otherwise incoherent: working to topple Assad, which means supporting groups like ISIS, but then working with groups to weaken ISIS like al-Nusra aka Al-Qaeda in Syria, while weakening other, potentially better allies like the Kurds because it would antagonize Turkey, etc. etc. That’s exactly the type of intractable, ethnic and sectarian-based mess that we should avoid.

        Also, regardless of what I think of his foreign policy, he was absolutely awful in using the GWOT to trample our civil liberties and constitutional protections, far worse than Bush ever did. He crossed my personal line in the sand when he ordered the assassination of a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, by drone without due process — indeed, without *any* process, not even a FISA court trial, not even allowing his father the opportunity to contest the accusations in a court of law. He then, in a separate assassination, killed al-Awlaki’s underage son. That he sees nothing wrong with giving such gross violations of his duties a “cute” name like “Terror Tuesdays” makes it all the more appalling.

        IMHO, regardless of whatever policies of his I may support, Obama should have been impeached for that, and then stand trial for his unconstitutional and illegal extrajudicial killings of American citizens. When I say that to my Democratic friends, they look at my like I’m crazy. Would he rather that the next President put him on his own Kill List?

      8. WX WAll,

        I don’t have any real disagreement with your comments, except in regard to the Awlaki’s. In that case there should have at least been a FISA trial. Awlaki would easily have been convicted of treason. I can not concur with impeachment of Obama. If that was the standard almost every president we have had, particularly war time presidents, would have been impeached and convicted.
        I do not think Americans would concur with that. Almost every president has had to make those tough decisions.

        Obama did make some efforts to establish some rules for the drone program and to place it under regular military control and not the control of the CIA. The efforts were nuanced and not as successful as I would like. But then again, there were a lot of political considerations. That is always the case.

        As far as civil liberties, I feel Obama was far better than Bush. Bush overreached regarding travel restrictions and IMO used the TSA as an agency to keep the American people frightened or if one wishes “terrorized”, at least in the initial post 9/11 period. Later things were relaxed.

        Regardless, in general, I feel that Obama’s foreign policy was lacking. He did not seem to have a coherent goal, except to reduce America’s combat footprint. Nevertheless, Obama’s foreign policy was one hell of a lot better than GWB’s initial foreign policy while it was heavily under the influence of the Neo-Cons and Cheney. During the 2nd Administration, after Condoleza Rice displaced Cheney and Iraq proved to be a huge disaster, the foreign policy and domestic policy improved considerably.

        Needless, to say the Foreign Policy of Trump after 4 1/2 months is far worse than either Bush or Obama.

      9. “Horsefeathers, Fly.
        You’re a scientist and you say you are objective.
        ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim have said they want to kill Americans. They are willing to die themselves if it will mean “Death to America.”
        Don’t you believe what they say?”

        There’s this thing called “risk assessment”, which you apparently do not get. I am quite aware that these people exist and wish to kill Americans. But I’m also aware that I’m at a much greater risk of getting killed by some fool who texts while driving. Or being unlucky enough to cross paths with a home grown criminal. I don’t deal with mosquitos by grabbing a bazooka, even though they too are a bigger threat to me than foreign terrorists. You don’t deal with terrorists by marginalizing and discriminating against people who are not terrorists.

        “They are willing to find new and unique ways to cause destruction, death and terror.
        We secured the cockpits on planes AFTER 9/11. We also made people use up precious time waiting in long TSA lines. Older people (if they have any metal implants), the handicapped, people with medical problems and babies with full diapers were the ones most likely to end up being pulled over for screening.”

        I brought up securing cockpits because it was a realistic, effective response based on accurate observation, not hype and hysteria. The TSA stuff you cite is a classic example of just the opposite, in the same class with Trump’s counterproductive travel ban. In fact I cited a specific example of why it’s counterproductive, and since you seemed to have missed it, here it is again:
        ‘You are conveniently forgetting how the first travel ban screwed over people with green cards, including people who risked their lives to work as translators for the US military. That’s the version Trump just Tweeted he prefers, BTW, so I’m holding him to it. You honestly think that made us safer? Sending a message that we’ll screw over people who help us?’
        So please tell us why Trump’s ban is going to make America safer when it has consequences like that.

        ‘It is true that non-radical Muslim people do not deserve to be profiled or discriminated against. However, minimizing the threat caused by the extremists who want to destroy America is absurd.’

        Perspective is not minimizing. Calling out what should be obvious flaws in Trump’s approach is not minimizing. You say that non-radical Muslim people do not deserve to be profiled or discriminated against, yet you are supporting a policy that DOES JUST THAT.

      10. tmerritt-

        I respect your opinion, but I humbly disagree. I do agree that rights are often trampled during wartime, but I disagree that that’s a good thing or something we should put up with. In hindsight, it’s not even necessary for winning the war. Did the Japanese internment resolve WWII any quicker? Did it save soldier’s lives? And why did we intern Japanese and not German-origin Americans, even though Nazi support in the U.S. was much higher than any support of Japan’s monarchy?

        In hindsight, we all realize that was a shameful mistake. I’m nearly 100% certain history will judge us the same way (probably worse, since we’ve carried on the madness longer, and it entails killing people vs. interning them). Dismissing it as just an inevitable byproduct of war means we will do it again in the future, probably against some other singled out ethnic group.

        As for impeachment, I recognize I’m firmly in the minority 🙂 I thought Reagan should have been impeached for Iran-Contra, GWB impeached for lying about Iraqi WMDs to mislead us into war, and Obama impeached for al-awlaki (who, BTW, probably did commit treason; but since no independent judge saw the evidence, we can’t assume that). Heck, maybe even Kennedy for the Gulf of Tonkin (although I don’t know enough about that to say for sure 🙂 )

        Just about the only recent Presidents who IMHO don’t deserve impeachment are GHWB, and (ironically 🙂 ) Clinton, who perhaps should have resigned if he had any self-respect, but otherwise, didn’t do anything to merit actual impeachment.

        In a parliamentary system, the Prime Minister always faces the threat of losing a no-confidence motion. Our President faces no such threat. If the primary thing that motivates politicians is a thirst for power, then making impeachment a real threat rather than just a theoretical, but remote possibility, may just keep them from violating the constitution and the laws so flagrantly all the time.

    2. When the average citizen is “worried” about terrorism, the terrorists have won.

      That’s the point.

      Unless you’re prepared to give up every aspect of freedom so that you can be somewhat safer from a lunatic, terrorism is only successful when you’re cowering in a safe space worried about an almost-zero threat, waiting for the Strongman to tell you that he’ll protect you and that only with him are you truly safe.

      There are two options:

      Keep calm and carry on.

      Be terrorized.

      Pick one.

      1. No question for me – Keep calm and carry on. I felt that way on 9/11 and still do. I’ve seen that attitude with many if not most people with which I associate numerous times. That was the reason, i wrote earlier that Americans still have resilience. I feel that America’s biggest problems at this time are two fold:

        1. Leaders that for their own purposes promote fear. That was true of GWB and Cheney. They promoted fear to secure power. Right now it is extremely true of Trump, Banon and their gang. These people are not really leaders. Rather they are cowards and are personnally scared stiff. You could see that in GWB on 9/11 and the days following. It is obvious with Trump.

        Actually, I feel that Barack through his calm, collected reasoning approach showed considerable courage. He perhaps could have done a better job of communicating that to the American people, but that was difficult partly due to the news media.

        2. The “profit-driven 24-hour cable news industry that thrives on anything scary, especially if it features footage of explosions.” This promotes unreasoning fear among Americans that could perhaps be terrorized, particularly those who whose lifestyle is somewhat insulated as has been discussed elsewhere in these comments. That is one reason why my news sources are primarily print (WA Post, NY Times, LA Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, Atlantic, New Yorker, etc), NPR and PBS. These sources tend to have actual reasoned analysis. Additionally, I have an active lifestyle which includes frequently getting out and enjoying this beautiful planet, of which our Maker has commanded that we exercise good stewardship. That gives me considerable perspective.

        That is the reason that my choice was and is “keep calm and carry on”.

      2. Yes, keep calm and carry on … but don’t be stupid.

        I flew in October after 9/11. I’m normally a skittish traveler, but I felt it important to help send a message that Americans weren’t intimidated.

        That said, I don’t think it wise to take foolish risks.

        Let’s say that in the last ten years no one has been bitten by a pit bull in city where you live. Statistically, you are unlikely to be bitten by a pit bull.

        Does that mean you can leave your child with a family who has a growling pit bull roaming around the house?

        The extremists are making no secret of the fact that they want to destroy the “Great Satan” … us. Should we ignore the message they are sending or should we take them seriously.

        Again, most Muslims pose no threat, but until we are able to sort out the bad ones, we have to remain calm but cautious.

      3. I do feel that we should do our utmost to treat those of the Muslim faith fairly and do as little profiling as possible. However, if threats are identified from certain countries, we should take them seriously. If intelligence says that terrorists plan on disguising themselves as refugees to gain entrance into western countries, shouldn’t we take them at their word?

      4. Being prudent and careful is wise. That is what the careful vetting of refugees does. Also the screening of travelers and the use of the various tools the TSA uses also accomplishes.

        However, what Trump is trying to accomplish with the two executive orders goes beyond being prudent and careful. Both the 4th and the 9th Circuit Courts have ruled the orders to be unconstitutional. Trump himself has tweeted that he wants a “TRAVEL BAN”.

      5. I accidentally hit the enter button. This will continue the above.

        These travel orders are more comparable to the Japanese Internment Camps during WWII as well as the refusal to admit the Jewish refugees from the St. Louis in 1939. Both of these actions occurred during periods of public hysteria and extensive nativism. The history of the Japanese internment reveals that initially the consensus was that the Japanese Americans did not pose a threat.
        However certain business people who saw the opportunity to profit from the forced sale of their property, then started whipping up public hysteria particularly through the press. That is similar to the 24×7 cable news of today.
        The internment of the Japanese, eventually resulted in payment of reparations and a national apology. Regarding the Jewish refugees, many of the people turned back eventually died in the Holocaust and and the US has regretted that action.

        The orders are also comparable to the internment of German-Americans during both WWI & WWII. And the Chinese Exclusion acts. These actions have later been regretted and judged to be unnecessary. They were actually prompted by mass hysteria and nativism.

        We are in a similar situation today with mass hysteria against people of the Muslim faith and extensive nativism. This is not consistent with American ideals and will ultimately be regretted. These actions are really prompted by xenophobia and are aggravated by the 24×7 cable news cycle as discussed earlier. Behind this are no doubt nefarious actors who wish to make a major monetary profit as was the case with the Japanese internment.

  6. Off topic but offered as an counterpoint to the discussion of terrorism. If it weren’t for our national parks and public spaces, people would have no place to escape the realities we are living with daily. Part of the GOP agenda is to return millions of national public land to the states. What will be done with this heretofore public property? Will it be plumbed for every ounce of minerals and energy sources it can yield, sold to the highest bidder, developed to the max? The Guardian, US division, is running a series of weekly pieces on the Republican agenda to dispose of national lands. Budgets for our national parks have been slashed while billions are allocated for defense. The incongruity in value is striking to me. Here’s the first installment in the Guardian series.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/05/public-lands-project-description

    1. Mime, my condolences on the loss of your husband. I’ve missed your comments during the time you were gone. Hopefully, you can visit some of our country’s wonderful parks, monuments and forests. They are indeed soothing to the soul. (Put some state parks on your list as well. Many of them are managed as well or better than the national parks.)

    2. Here’s another piece on an issue that threatens the Grand Canyon. There is great concern for pollutants being released into rivers and streams. Recall the problems experienced in the last couple of years when the EPA accidently released pollutants into the CO river from a shut down gold mine? With the stroke of a pen, the Clean Water Act has been ended. What is to protect our waterways from toxic discharge now? Is there any wonder that people are concerned about uranium mining in the Grand Canyon?
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/05/public-lands-uranium-mining-arizona-grand-canyon?

  7. I am struck by the fact that Fox News, Breitbart, Limbaugh, Alex Jones, etc – all hew conservative. The Republican base has swallowed their elixir of fear and anger for so long that it has become ingrained in their thinking and voting patterns. This appears to afflict the majority of Republicans while the left fringe doesn’t appear to have such a choke-hold on Democrats. Why do you think that is so?

    1. I don’t have an answer to that question, but I ask it myself when I debate with select members of my extended family. There’s only so far you can go before the talking points from Rush and FOX get circular. My best guess which I am not going to back up with any evidence is that people are most prone to being mislead regarding things they fear, and conservatives and liberals (or divide it however you like) simply fear different things. Stories on how horrible “illegals” are will get traction from a wide segment of the Republican base in a way that they just won’t from Democrats. I suspect Democrats “fall for stuff” but they don’t fear government the way a lot of the Republican base do, so we may see this disparity more when it comes to overtly political discourse.

      I’m a person who values good food and I’m generally fearful of Big Agra, but I still am somewhat amazed at some of the crackpot theories that crunchy folks are quick to embrace. And I suspect there are a lot of such things that get shared around lefty circles more than on the right. But I haven’t looked at data on the matter, so that’s just guesswork.

      On a somewhat related note, I think outrage plays a role. The failure of Air America and the general lack of “outrage” from the left at the same decibels as from the right drives the corporate engine and politics in general (as outlined here:

      https://theintercept.com/2017/06/02/jared-kushner-still-has-a-job-because-washington-only-fears-republicans/

      But at the same time, there is still some market for the same slop on both sides, so what do I know:

      http://www.wnyc.org/story/segment-will-make-you-angry

    1. EJ

      – Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull
      – Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May
      – Pope of the Vatican State, Francis I

      Let’s also remember the people that he’s gone out of his way not to insult:
      – President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte
      – President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
      – President of Syria, Bashir Assad
      – Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban
      – King of Saudi Arabia, Salman al-Saud

      That’s a fairly interesting choice of friends and enemies. It’s almost the exact converse of the list I would have chosen.

  8. Sorry for the duplicate post. Bizarre. What I wanted to say to Stephen in response to:

    “I think Trump’s appeal is more for those who fear their culture being overwhelmed by the others.”

    Trump appeals to those people who fear anyone not white Anglo Protestant. These are his “deplorables” and more and more hate crimes and video clips of white people haranguing other ethnicities are cropping up.

  9. People in the United States have lived under much worst living conditions and terrorism in our history. People in my hometown of Orlando are not allowing the recent shooting of a co-workers or the shooting of the Pulse nightclub change how we live our lives. Most realize you are much more likely to die from an automobile accident than be killed by a terrorist. I think Trump’s appeal is more for those who fear their culture being overwhelmed by the others. The truth is our culture is living and breathing and constantly changing. Nothing to fear in that. It is our greatest strength as a nation and I doubt Trump can destroy that.

    1. I don’t have a subscription to WaPo. Can you give a brief synopsis on what it says?

      I cannot believe no one has taken this idiot’s phone away from him yet. So undignified and unpresidential. Total embarrassment to everyone but his hard core fan base.

      1. Here’s one opinion from a legal expert that’s quoted:

        “First, they give atmospheric support to the plaintiffs’ arguments, in the various immigration cases, that the immigration executive orders are motivated by invidious discrimination. Second, the attack on courts makes it much harder for courts, including the Supreme Court, to rule for Trump even when the law is otherwise on his side. Courts will want to avoid the appearance of having been bullied into ruling for Trump. The Trump tweets are thus entirely self-defeating for his litigation strategy, assuming he wants to win those cases.”

        I’m sure some Trump apologists will claim he’s really playing 12-dimensional chess and he’s setting up the courts and all those libs to get played. I’m going with “attention span of a caffeinated fruit fly.”

      2. Speaking of getting down to real basic worries – we are officially in hurricane season. We have no director of NOAA or FEMA. Before you get to national security, there are other real problems that have to be dealt with. I alternate between being relieved Trump hasn’t made appointments to wondering how these agencies can do their jobs without leadership.

      3. I’ll also add that while Trump’s immature and ignorant Twitter rants are indeed embarrassing and even potentially dangerous, they are the rope he’s presently using to hang himself. We’re not getting out if this without at last a few scars, so let him undermine himself.

      4. KayKay, if you have a library card, most libraries subscribe to national journals/newspapers, and if they offer their membership access, you can use your library number to read the WaPo. Check it out! It gets expensive to subscribe to everything; however, I admit to being a supporter of subscriptions not only for the convenience and access to good writing, but to support the free press. It’s a small thing I can do to keep the truth from being buried.

  10. I am right there with you on every point… except that I think you bite off more than you can chew here: “Trump is the world’s foremost promoter of Islamist terrorism.”

    That may be difficult to disprove – I am somewhat inclined to agree with it, even, but it’s the kind of claim that can’t be substantiated and IMO will allow critics of your basic conclusion ammo to shoot down your valid and well written argument.

    We happen to not have an FBI director and drugs overdoses are killing something on the order of 50,000 people per year. My mind boggles trying to understand why we should care about a “travel ban”. Tweeting about how the U.K. needs to arm itself, while today a disgruntled employee in Florida manages to shoot dead almost the same number people killed in London terror incident? Where is the debate about perspective and reasonable gun control laws (never mind the strict laws they have in the U.K. that likely prevented many more deaths)? That’s why I think your piece is thoughtful and important but I’m hesitating sharing it on Facebook, because I try very hard not to encourage hyperbole publicly, and I think I see your foot on the line there.

    1. KayKay – Chris Ladd has several pieces on gun violence in the archives. Speaking for myself, I respect the right to bear arms and support a national registry and closing gun show loopholes.
      There are a wealth of serious issues to draw upon in this space which are equally demanding of our attention. The blog attempts to stay current while using history to remain accurate. Stick around and you’ll benefit from that. The forum is appreciative of well-sourced, credibly stated, individual opinions but expect to be challenged which adds spice to the discussion.

    2. “Tweeting about how the U.K. needs to arm itself, while today a disgruntled employee in Florida manages to shoot dead almost the same number people killed in London terror incident?”

      I have no problem with owning handguns or hunting rifles and most of the men in my life have guns but some sensible restrictions are needed. Cletus out in the backwoods might need a hunting rifle but he doesn’t need an entire arsenal of high tech weaponry. Trump is a moron.

      The pro-gun fanatics are people who think carrying a gun will assist in situations like the London incident but if everyone is armed who is the bad guy? You see another guy with a gun in a chaotic situation and do you think friend or foe or does it depend on skin color (sorry, but you know Cletus will likely think darker skin = bad guy)? In situations like that, the first few minutes are chaotic and most people don’t even realize what’s going on but the armchair warriors think if they’d been there with their gun they would have saved the day. Don’t even get me started on open carry idiots.

  11. Several comments, 1st, if we’re going to worry about things, let’s base these worries on reality. For example, this:

    http://theweek.com/speedreads/703425/trump-calls-smarter-terrorism-strategies-national-security-vacancies-stand

    Add to that lots of unfilled positions in the State Dept and FEMA and the CDC. We are so totally boned if we have a major hurricane strike or a bad flu epidemic or a terrorist attack.

    2nd, I realize there really is no limit to how embarrassed I am by this ignorant clown. He taunting the mayor of London with a degree of cattiness that would make most Jr High students blush.

    Last, I just cannot grok the mindset of those who still believe that Trump is going to protect us from anything. All he seems capable of doing is beating his chest and bellowing about what a big bad alpha male he is. This is reptilian-brained tribalism at its worst and scariest and most dangerous.

    1. Fly – Let us hope that the Obama holdovers in staffing in these critical agencies will be able to keep the ships afloat. Given some of the appointments Trump HAS made, I’m conflicted as to whether I want them to remain without his pick leading the agencies. Who wants another Brownie?

  12. Yes, you’ve nailed Trump and cable news perfectly. Unfortunately, it’s easy for Trump and his minions to foment fear due to the fact that so many Americans don’t possess passports, compared to foreigners, and many of our fellow citizens live in perpetual fear of “others, thanks in large part to Faux Noise 24/7 on their tvs, and many have never even traveled out of their own state and live very insulated lives among only their own “kind”. Throw in some good old fashioned religiosity and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a paranoid, fearful population.

    The “deplorables” view Obama as weak on terrorism but I believe he was just trying to keep it in perspective.

    I did not realize that Hair Fuhrer had ended monitoring domestic terrorism which convinces me that he’s a supporter of white supremacy and, remember, the man supposedly kept a copy of Mein Kampf by his bedside.

    1. You’ve hit on something that I noticed some time ago and that is that so many American’s do not travel. That is true both domestically and internationally. It leads to a great deal of isolationism.

      Long ago I noticed that people who have never left the US have different outlooks compared to those who have travelled internationally. Recently I’ve noticed that the same applies domestically. As most of you know, I live in Seattle. But just this year, I have been to Eastern Washington several times. Eastern Washington is almost a different state. It has more in common with the mountain states and with the pains states, than with the urban area of “Pugetopolis”. I have also been to Southeastern Oregon (again SE Oregon is totally different from the urban areas on the coast) and to Northern and Northwestern Oklahoma including the Panhandle.

      I have not travelled internationally since going to Panama in 2015, but will likely be making another international trip within 1-2 years. I have made several international trips over the years, all of which have been enlightening.

      The one thing I have noticed regarding travel either domestic or international, is that one sees other people who are not of one’s own group and hopefully see them through a different perspective. One gets a much broader perspective. That broadening of perspective hopefully gives one a different outlook and hopefully less susceptible to demagoguery, including unreasoning paranoia and fear.

      1. I think if one is exposed to people of other cultures you get the sense that we all want the same basic things in life.

        On a lighter not, I’m always shocked when I come back from traveling at how fat Americans are. 🙂

      2. My few travels outside the US have been limited to Mexico and Canada; I would like to rectify that someday soon. But a lot of the rest of the world has come to visit/work/live in the Houston metro region, so I do have that. I also have visited many of the lower 48 states.

      3. Kayray & Fly,

        Getting the sense that we all want the same things in life after one has been exposed to other cultures is true whether the exposure is through domestic travel, international travel or even interacting with people from different cultures in the local area.

        The key thing is attitude however. One has to be curious, empathetic and approach others with respect. Unfortunately, frequently that is not the case. I’ve met people, who’ve traveled extensively, but still had no appreciation or sensitivity to others.

      4. “I’ve met people, who’ve traveled extensively, but still had no appreciation or sensitivity to others.”

        Hence, the “ugly American” stereotype. One of the complaints I’ve heard of my fellow Americans is too many of them expect the same exact food, service, etc. that they get in the States. Why travel if you aren’t open to new experiences? One story my mother has is one American couple who refused to change their money over to the foreign currency while she was in Europe back the early 70’s. They gave American money to the waiter for their bill and the waiter said “we cannot take this” and the ugly Americans became enraged and started screaming “we’re AMERICANS and our money is good all over the world” while the waiter and manager tried to politely tell them that they needed to change over to whatever the Austrians used back then. They continued screaming in outrage about their exceptionalism and superior status due to being American while the hotel staff rolled their eyes and insisted they change their money over.

        To be fair, I’ve met plenty of British ex-pats still complaining about how the US isn’t like “back home”.

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