Trump’s Bully America

Back in September, 2015, when Donald Trump was thought to be just a crank candidate, a political outlier who will quickly implode, he said this on the Capitol steps not far from where he will take the oath of office of President of the United States in just 15 days.

We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning. Believe me, I agree, you’ll never get bored with winning. We never get bored. We are going to turn this country around. We are going to start winning big on trade. Militarily, we’re going to build up our military. We’re going to have such a strong military that nobody, nobody is going to mess with us. We’re not going to have to use it.

If you look at Trump’s actions since the election, if you look at his cabinet appointments, it’s reasonable to believe that he meant what he said not as metaphor or bombast, but to be taken at his word. I believe President Obama, for one, takes Trump at his word, which is why Obama is so busy trying to sabotage Trump at every opportunity as the moving vans pack away his last eight years.

Obama believes that America is simply a stakeholder in a global quest for human survival, coexistence, and mutual respect. He can’t stand anyone who claims a special status on the Earth. For example, Obama despises Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because Netanyahu dares to claim a Biblical mandate for the land Israel has as its own, as the exclusive Jewish homeland. To Obama, this is no better than the British imposing imperial rule on India.

In Obama’s (and most globalists’) world, nobody “wins” unless everybody wins together. Quite simply, Trump is anathema to that view. Not only does he believe in American exceptionalism, he also believes that America has a right to use its inherent advantages to remain exceptional in all ways, even as other countries are disadvantaged.

There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy nationalism. People don’t fight and die for the white flag of surrender, or the pale blue U.N. standard. Americans, almost uniquely, fight under our flag so others can enjoy our way of life–liberty and opportunity, and freedom from despotism.

Given his statements and actions at face value, Trump intends to implement “America First” in all its possible meanings. He’s starting with incredible assets, isn’t he?

America is number 1 in military strength, raw economic potential (though China has a larger price-adjusted GDP), higher education, and enterprise/commerce.  And not just a little bit–by far.

We have:

  • More than 10 (up to 19) aircraft carriers, where Russia and China together have two.
  • More and better military aircraft and fighters than Russia and China combined.
  • 75 submarines, including 14 Ohio class Trident subs capable of striking anywhere in the world without warning.
  • A GDP of $18.5 trillion with a depressed growth rate of 1.5 percent, projected to increase to over 2 percent in 2017.
  • 30 of the 40 top-ranked universities in the world. Japan’s top-ranked school is #44. China’s is #52, and Russia’s is #271.
  • The #1 retailer in the world (Walmart), #3 energy (not state-owned either, Exxon Mobil), #1 technology (Apple).

In short, America is the only superpower. We are the 800 pound gorilla in any situation. We cannot be ignored. But over the past 16 years, the American political establishment has treated our country like the hostess at a royal tea. When necessary, we have used our might to bring others to the table, but then we’ve served.

Trump is about to change this, and pursue a strategy the Russian potentate Vladimir Putin would find familiar. We will win by hegemony and use our military where it counts against our rivals. There will be no “nation building” or spreading democracy under Trump, only deals and winning.

The sooner everyone takes Trump at his word, the more we can deal with the implications of a bully America. And by bully America, I mean America as a world bully, which much of the world sees us as anyway. Trump will simply be transparent and ruthless about it.

The first among these is that America will no longer set a moral standard for the world. We will not oppose evil regimes because they are evil. Look at how Trump embraces Russia. Look at how he appeases Wikileaks. The definition of “enemy” will change from who doesn’t like America for who we are, to who stands in the way of “winning.”

That means we will tilt mostly against China. They are America’s biggest economic, and in their own sphere of influence, our biggest military rival. We won’t see a new cold war against Mother Russia. Communism is dead there, and Putin is better used as a friend to keep us out of the Middle East and Southwest Asia where we waste spend so much blood and treasure. Trump will get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, on his terms.

In exchange for that, we’ll get a cold war with flash points in Taiwan, the South China Sea, Japan and the Korean peninsula. If Vietnam and the Sandinistas were the proxy wars against Russian communism, we have no idea what proxy wars we will have with the Chinese. A breakdown of the Korean armistice (technically they’re still at war) could be a worst-case scenario.

Trump will only use military force where it can be effective in an overpowering way, with clear objectives and a timeline to end any hostilities quickly. Little things like collateral damage, restrictive rules of engagement, or civilian casualties will take a back seat as the generals will be taken off their leashes and given license to blow stuff up. We will win.

But Trump would rather we didn’t have to fight, because everyone knows we can’t be beaten unless we lose political will and public support for fighting. President Reagan went in to Panama. We weren’t going to lose there. Bush 41 went into Iraq but halted the war before Hussein was ousted. Clinton went into Mogadishu and managed to muck it up. He did better in Bosnia.

None of this is intended to give Obama a pass. In fact, Obama enabled this to happen. His truly awful, paralyzing, feckless and flaccid leadership of America, his misuse of our moral authority, and his kowtowing to despots in the name of globalism put us where we are. Much of America’s moral authority evaporated on Obama’s watch. But Trump will not rebuild America the good–he will make America great by dispensing with good.

Under Trump, America won’t be intervening in places where there’s genocide, like Rwanda. We won’t do much to stop Russian Spetznaz from disrupting Ukraine, or the Baltic states. We’d be more likely to make a deal with Putin to split things up between NATO and Russia–reminiscent of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of August 1939. We may get defensive missile systems in Russia-friendly Turkey, and they get the Baltics, NATO be damned, because “winning.”

Where Obama bullied Israel and used the UN to enforce his will, Trump will bully countries and industries who compete with American industries, using economic blackmail, punitive tariffs, and sanctions at perceived imbalances to get his way. He will use the prodigious negotiating abilities of men like Rex Tillerson to make these deals, and will have his Goldman Sachs brigade find ways to enforce them. And also the big stick of our “global reach” military.

And where Americans suffer at home from higher prices or lost jobs, he’ll throw some federal money their way. Earmarks, pork barrel and quid pro quo is not part of the “drain the swamp” battle cry. That effort is to remove the influence of traditional lobbying interests. Policy argument has no effect on Trump, who isn’t anywhere close to a policy wonk. It’s all about getting the public win.

When Ford closed a plant in Mexico and moved 700 jobs to Flat Rock in Michigan, Trump took credit. But the Washington Post reported that the closing had little to do with Trump. No matter, the price of dealing with Trump the friendly versus Trump the enemy is letting him take credit. We will see this over and over again. Trump is right–we’ll get bored from all his “winning.”

The new paradigm of winning will come at the expense of American morality, which Trump never claimed to buy into. In fact, there’s an official political-sciency term for governments that coerce industries, companies, and other nations to bend to a singular “winning” will. The word is often associated with a bundle of sticks, and dictators who impose their cupidity on their own people.

Trump doesn’t want to be a dictator in the traditional way, where his will is enforced on his own people by edict. That’s the Obama way of demagoguery. Trump’s demagoguery is more inclusive. He wants everyone to eventually like him, even those he vanquishes. He will divide and conquer by working with Democrats instead of against them. Just like Dale Carnegie and Abraham Lincoln believed, the best way to eliminate an enemy is to make them a friend.

But of course, if they refuse the courtship, then Trump will crush them.

This honey-and-baseball bat (Mexicans call it plata o plomo; literally “silver or lead”) approach to “winning” is nothing more than abuse, of course. It’s morally reprehensible, and at times, even evil. But Trump never promised a moral government. He never promised America would promote goodness or God. He promised that we’d “win.”

As for Christians who tout Trump’s commitment to protect religious liberty in America, you’re being bought for the same price. In exchange for your loyalty, you get to watch America enable other countries to crush liberty. You get to watch men like Putin crack down on churches and religious freedom while you have yours. You get to see real Blood and Soil racists in places like Greece and Germany have their way while Trump salutes them because they side with him on Muslim immigration. These people are no friends of liberty.

Trumpists presented a binary choice throughout the campaign, but it was never a binary choice. It still isn’t. We don’t have to demonstrate our support of Trump by falling prostrate at the feet of vile enemies.

We don’t have to choose between the liar and enemy of America Julian Assange and the liar Hillary Clinton, with lame duck Obama thrown in for good measure. None of them have an ounce of commitment to the truth. I’d rather side with our intelligence community and support those people who protect America daily from real external threats than any of them. But Trump’s demagoguery creates bullies of its own.

Trump has shown no intention to leash his bullies. He continues to empower them. He does some brilliant things to expose the hypocrisy of the left, then has the right dive into worse hypocrisy to agree with him. It’s maddening at times, because I want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, and the benefit of my support.

However, I have to take Trump at his word. America will be committed to winning under his firm hand. And win we shall. We shall triumph as victors and bullies over a battered world bent to our supremacy as Americans.

Let me let you in on a secret. That’s not really winning at all.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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