I find it hard to talk about President Trump in any other than his preferred idiom, based on either gambling or trade.
Actually, in his business the difference between the two is often hazy, but so far he hasn’t bluffed in politics. Every measure he’s putting into effect is undoing what’s humorously called Obama’s legacy.
Now my expectations of modern politicians are low. If yours are different, just compare today’s foreign ministers with those attending the 1814-1815 Congress of Vienna. See how Steinmeier, Johnson, Lavrov or Ayrault stack up against Metternich, Talleyrand, Castlereagh and Humboldt.
Hence my favourite type of modern politician is someone who does nothing but does it well. George W. Bush got it wrong: he did a lot but none of it well. Obama got it half-right: he did next to nothing, but did it badly.
Doing nothing is clearly not Donald Trump: when the chips are down, he ups the ante. Though dealt a bad hand by the previous administration, so far he has been playing his cards right, or almost right.
I don’t like his economics, which I mentioned yesterday, but it’s hard to find fault with anything else he has done or said so far, as president. What’s especially satisfying is the effortless ease with which he gets up the nose of the spivocratic ancien régime, mostly made up of open and crypto-lefties (otherwise known as neocons).
For example, Trump is planning to block entry visas for people from the most objectionable Muslim countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Personally, I’d like to see Saudi Arabia added to this list, but perhaps Trump doesn’t want to overplay his hand.
That measure has caused an outburst of warm spittle from various quarters. Assorted idiots are screaming that America is a country of immigrants, huddled masses yearning to be free and all that.
Unfortunately some of the huddled masses these days yearn not so much to be free as to enslave others. Rather than building things, they have a pronounced tendency to blow them up. Given half the chance, they can create American versions of Malmö, where unwavering commitment to free movement of people has created such hell that the Swedish government is about to send the army in (the police can no longer cope).
Trump has further proved himself to be an inveterate monoculturalist by exempting Middle Eastern Christians from the ban – unlike European ‘leaders’, he seems to know the difference between friend and foe.
The 2,000-mile wall along the Mexican border is a bit of a joker in the pack, especially since the Mexicans said they wouldn’t pay for it. Then again, no other measure has ever managed to keep hordes of illegal arrivals from crossing the Rio Grande. In fact, the very first article I ever wrote in the West, some 40 years ago, was on that very subject.
I don’t know if Trump will make America great again, but he clearly wishes to make it American again – not an unreasonable desire, and one our ‘leaders’ should adapt to our own needs.
Then the president will withdraw funds from those NGOs that export abortions all over the world. How politically incorrect can one get?
Doesn’t he know that a foetus only becomes human the day he crawls out of his mother, not one minute before? Before long the president will give neocons and lefties apoplexy by insisting on the sanctity of human life, and where will we be then?
What else? Oh yes, waterboarding, which Trump said he would allow because it works, causing a moral outcry from exactly the kind of people who wouldn’t know morality if it bit them you know where (Boris Johnson, ring your office).
When weak-kneed liberals scream that torture is indefensible whatever the circumstances, it’s not their minds talking but their emotions or, worse still, ideology.
All they have to do is imagine a situation where a nuclear device is hidden somewhere in central London, and it’s set to go off in 48 hours. Our intelligence services have in their hands a terrorist who knows where the device is, but won’t tell. Unless he talks, hundreds of thousands will die a horrific death.
Under such circumstances, any intelligence outfit in the world would do anything it takes to make the chap more forthcoming. Electrodes, water, blow torches – you name it. Whatever works.
Hence no absolutist answer can be given to the question ‘Is the use of torture moral?’ The answer has to be a relativist ‘it depends’. When a country tortures terrorists to protect its citizens from mass murder, torture is moral, if distasteful. If a country tortures someone whose politics it doesn’t like, just to see that look on his face, it’s disgusting.
The same people who decry waterboarding see nothing wrong with carpet-bombing residential quarters for a dubious military gain. They should check their textbook on morality. It’ll probably say that torture is evil, but not when it can prevent evils immeasurably worse.
I don’t know what other cards Trump has up his sleeve, but so far he seems to hold all the aces. Watch this space.