Coming up trumps

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks in front of a crowd on Jan 19 at the  Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center. At the rally, not only did Trump talk about economic and healthcare reforms, but as was also endorsed by former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

The Donald gets up the noses of exactly the kind of people whose squirming gives me such joy. Specifically the neocons sputter spittle and rant incoherently at the very mention of Trump’s name. He must be doing something right.

The other day Niall Ferguson, the Briton who has discovered that buttering up US neocons butters his own bread on the right side, produced the article Trump Won’t Wreck America – the Rest of the World is Another Matter.

Reading it brought back fond memories of 1980, when I lived in Texas. I was having a beer at the tennis club with my doubles partner Ross, whose politics were rather to the left of mine. We chatted about the upcoming presidential election, which Ronald Reagan looked like winning. That, opined Ross, would be a global disaster. We’d have World War III a month after his inauguration.

Now the same scaremongering is in full swing about Trump, with Prof. Ferguson doing his bit in England, by long distance. One can see droplets of spittle all over his piece in The Sunday Times, with no thought worthy of the name to be seen anywhere.

Prof. Ferguson generously accepts that presidential power in the US is limited by other branches of government, such as Congress and the Supreme Court. Hence every planned attempt by the Donald to reduce the good old US of A to cinders would be frustrated by vigilant legislators, especially the neocons among them.

Having thus demonstrated his intimate knowledge of the US Constitution, Prof. Ferguson then undoes all his good work by implying that, though limited domestically, presidential power suffers from no such restrictions in foreign policy. Therefore President Trump would be able to perpetrate singlehandedly such calamities on the outside world that it will be, well, wrecked.

Congress, especially if the Democrats regain the Senate, would be able to block such diabolical Trump initiatives as slapping punitive tariffs on China, building a wall along the 2,000 miles of the Mexican border and banning Muslim immigration.

Actually, these particular initiatives don’t strike me as all bad. Punishing China is a good idea – not to protect US industry but to express moral outrage at the communists’ use of de facto slave labour.

A wall to keep illegal immigrants out may be ill-advised, but one doesn’t hear of any competing ideas with a sporting chance of success – all one hears is bien pensant waffle. Yet the problem of illegal Mexican immigration is real, and already was when I lived in Texas. At that time the entire length of the border was patrolled by 200 officers – one for every 10 miles (!). Surely any country has a right to protect its borders… oops, sorry, I’m not writing about the EU referendum.

Trump’s idea of keeping Muslims out strikes me as praiseworthy. I wish someone in government seriously proposed a similar measure here.

Anyway, Prof. Ferguson trusts Congress to paralyse Trump’s presidency domestically, while mysteriously relinquishing its influence on foreign policy, including its constitutional prerogative to declare war. Left unfettered, the Donald will then unleash hell on the world.

Prof. Ferguson’s sole justification for such a macabre prognosis is that Putin seems to like Trump, and Trump says he quite likes Putin: “The prospect of Donald and Vlad consummating their bromance in Moscow next year freezes the blood.” (A word of avuncular advice to Niall: avoid jarring portmanteau coinages. And the whole thing about a bromance is that it remains unconsummated.)

One assumes that by consummation Prof. Ferguson means a treaty akin to the Soviet-Nazi pact dividing the world. By waving his magic wand, Trump will then get around the need for congressional ratification, customary – nay mandatory – with international treaties.

Anyway, I wouldn’t take Trump’s protestations of love for Putin too seriously. A few days ago, for example, the Donald vowed to shoot down Russian jets approaching American planes should Putin fail to heed calls to stop. That could hardly have been regarded as a friendly overture, and Putin didn’t take it as such.

What Putin likes about Trump, opines Prof. Ferguson, is that his “foreign policy would… break the transatlantic alliance”. I’d suggest that this alliance is more under threat from Dave, who once suggested banning the presidential candidate from ever entering the UK. And world peace, presumably to be wrecked by Trump, is in far greater danger from the aggressive policies promoted by Ferguson’s neocon friends.

Now – are you ready for this? Trump expresses “his enthusiasm for Brexit”. Crikey. Is there no limit to the man’s evil? Why, he’s almost as wicked as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Ian Duncan Smith and about half of all Brits – and far less virtuous than the neocons who, true to their Trotskyist DNA, are all confirmed internationalists.

No one knows exactly what a Trump presidency would bring, which broad group includes both Prof. Ferguson and me. Unlike him, however, I refrain from mouthing manifest nonsense inspired by party loyalty, of which I have none and he has plenty.

In the same article Prof. Ferguson gives himself a piece of flirtatious advice: “stick to history”. I second the motion, with a small amendment: “…or ideally not even that”.

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