by D.J. McGuire
Over the past year, it has become clear that the Stalinist regime in northern Korea has no intention of slowing – let alone reversing – its build-up of nuclear weapons and missiles. Yet with each act of provocation, Donald Trump responds by backing down or explaining away the danger (Time)…
As the Chinese Communist regime continues to constrain the people of Hong Kong while slaughtering the people of occupied East Turkestan, Trump refuses to make any criticism (Bloomberg)…
As the anniversary of 9/11 approached, Trump considered a full withdrawal from Afghanistan (New York Times)…
Just last week, Trump removed American troops from a position that would have blocked Turkey from invading northeastern Syria …
… and yesterday, when the Turkish invasion was far bloodier and closer to American troops than promised, Trump simply withdrew our troops from northeast Syria entirely (Washington Post).
Much of this could have been chalked up to the president’s narcissism and refusal to acknowledge when things go wrong, or to his long-held isolationist worldview (he’s been like this since the 1980s). More than a few are wondering about Trump’s investments in Turkey – after all, he has himself admitted to “a little conflict of interest” (New York).
There is, however, a simpler explanation: one that explains Trump’s slavish treatment of dictatorships and the continuing retreat of American power under his tenure in office.
I humbly submit before you this proposition: Donald Trump is a coward.
All of his talk about being “tough” is simply that – talk. When push comes to shove, and he has to do more than hire lawyers, lie to the press, or bully elected Republicans, he folds like a cheap suit. Rather than face the consequences of his business mistakes, he sought Russian funding to keep his empire afloat. Rather than acknowledge mistakes and accept the consequences, he lies, sues, and blames others. When he believes he is more powerful, he punches down. But when someone – anyone – appears able to square up against him, he appeases and surrenders, all the while pretending that he isn’t.
As a result, he is manifestly unfit for office. His refusal to acknowledge his own failings has led him to be used by tyrants repeatedly (see above). His psychological need to compensate for that has led to abuses of power and other high crimes.
As for the consequences to the rest of us, Max Boot put it better than I ever could:
Most of the time, the costs of the Trump presidency are inchoate — laws are broken, norms transgressed. But when it came to immigrant children in cages or Kurds in the line of fire, the costs are all too human and horrifying. Are you happy now, Trump supporters?
That last question is not for me to answer, of course, but I also ask it, with an addendum: Did you, Trump supporters, know you were supporting a coward? Is it worth it so long as he is “your” coward?
It will be tempting to presume this is just a debate among Americans – or even just among conservatives. It isn’t. Trump’s cowardice, to the rest of the world, is America’s cowardice. All Americans will share this stain, including brave men and women such as the special forces soldier who told Fox News, “I am ashamed for the first time in my career.”
Americans can wash ourselves clean, but only if we begin by cleansing the office of the presidency. Every day Donald Trump continues in that office incurs greater shame and greater danger. If he survives impeachment and wins re-election, the damage his cowardice will do to American interests, American prestige, and American lives themselves will grow exponentially.