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Friday, January 27, 2017


A cavalcade of chaos

by Tom Sullivan

Ronald Reagan, Mr. "Morning in America," must be rolling over in his grave. The first week of the Donald Trump administration has been a cavalcade of chaos. From bringing a cheering section to his embarrassing speech to the CIA, to pressuring the Park Service to support boasts about his crowd size, to his press secretary's bratdown of the press (the typo works; leave it), to calling for torture, more torture, to Kellyanne Conway's tantrum on "Meet the Press," to hinting at blowing up the regime of international trade with an import tax on Mexico, to ... what did I miss? It's damned hard to keep up.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been watching too. The group has moved up the hands on their famous Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes from midnight based, unpresidentally, on the words of one man: Donald Trump.

Ah, yes, and the coming Muslim ban. CNN's Resa Aslan has a few choice words on that. His family fled Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. People on the streets here shouted at them to "go back home":

It didn't matter that we had no home; we had abandoned everything and everyone we knew for an uncertain life in a foreign land precisely because we were fleeing the same repressive regime that our neighbors were so frightened of. What mattered was that we looked different. We seemed different. And so we became the enemy.

And yet we knew that no matter what happened, we had the law on our side. That was, after all, the entire reason we had come to the United States. While many of our friends and family members in Iran fled to France, Germany and the United Kingdom, we chose America because we knew what America meant. We knew what it stood for. We were certain we could weather any attack on our faith or ethnicity because the US Constitution -- which we had heard so much about in Iran -- would be our shield against the fears and prejudice of our neighbors.

Today, the man whose job it is to enforce that Constitution is taking yet another step toward abandoning the principles upon which it was written. Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that will effectively bar citizens of a number of Muslim countries -- including Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Syria -- from entering the United States. The reported plan would be a first step in Trump's repeated promise of a ban on all Muslim immigrants.
But not from "Muslim-majority countries where his Trump Organization has done business or pursued potential deals." The man-child does have his priorities.

At The Atlantic, Richard Stengel ponders whether we are witnessing the end of the American Century. Trump exhibits no devotion to American ideals, no thirst for America to retain its role as moral beacon:
No, Trump’s vision does not spell the end of American power, but a retraction of American influence. It suspends American involvement as a global leader on global decision-making for a resolute policy of non-interference. At the State Department, when I traveled abroad for discussions with another nation’s government, I talked not only about agreements and exchanges and trade deals, but also about freedom of religion and expression, transparency, and rule of law. I sat in diplomatic “pull-asides” with President Obama and Secretary Kerry and foreign heads of state where they talked not only about America’s interests but universal values—free expression, religious liberty, rule of law. I sat next to Kerry as he demanded the release of political prisoners and journalists who were behind bars. These were uncomfortable discussions. I once had an African foreign minister say to me with a touch of annoyance: “You come and talk to me about transparency, but the Chinese come and build a super-highway.”

And that was often the case. And no other nation, I promise you, ever talked to that foreign minister about transparency. That is America’s strength, not its weakness. The Chinese, and now the Trump administration, will resolutely practice non-interference in other nations’ affairs. America First is not a policy that any of our allies around the world want to hear. Our adversaries are delighted. Our power and influence with our friends and adversaries came in large part because we were the one nation that did not always put ourselves first.
Welcome to the new abnormal:
Donald Trump’s “emotional maturity [and] stability” are being discussed in private by senior members of his own political party, according to veteran Washington journalist Carl Bernstein, in a turn of events he has described as unprecedented.
Unprecedented, unpresidented, whatever.