Donald Trumps increasingly bizarre and unpredictable behaviour has created a new international circus, and this week, it came to Syria
Trump apologists claim everything is planned. So when the US president says avenging American rockets are heading imminently for Syria, then casually proclaims a day afterward that maybe they aren’t, a puzzled international audience is expected to believe the disarray is deliberate- a clever ploy to keep the bad guys off-balance.
In truth it’s Trump who is teetering on a high wire, wobbling and hesitating, with a big fell and gaping chasm below. Trump’s” tweet of the day” approach to the Syrian crisis suggests to a watching world that an unheeding, impulsive president is inducing it up as he goes along, has no further clue which way to jump and would really instead be golfing.
What has happened, they ask, to American leadership? What became of the Pax Americana ? For US allies and enemies alike, in these noxious days of anxiety and loathing across Europe and the Countries of the middle east, Trump more closely resembles a circus ringmaster than a commander-in-chief.
Similarities between Trump and PT Barnum, the 19 th-century showman and hoaxer who ran an internationally notorious traveling circus, are striking. Like Trump, Barnum was a New York-based entrepreneur. Like Trump, he fostered political ambitions and became embroiled in vexatious litigation. Like Trump perhaps, he subscribed to the old adage, which he supposedly coined, that” there’s a sucker born every minute “.
Trump’s increasingly bizarre and unpredictable behaviour- a Russian Tv commentator this week dubbed it “unbelievable”- has created a new international circus, and this week it is necessary to Syria.
It is currently also showing in London and Paris, where disconcerted allies struggle to discern what the US leader truly wants while trying to avoid the appearance of dancing to his raucous tune. With one notional cracking of the whip – his mention of “smart” missiles zooming towards Damascus- Trump sends a sizable chunk of Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces scurrying for encompas. Another cracking, and overexcited politicians in Russia are talking about the dangers of an escalating global showdown and a third world war.
In Israel and Lebanon, worryingly, they have a ringside seat. In Iran, unabashed hardliners are selling tickets.” Roll up, roll up: watch and marvel as we destroy the Great Satan !” Meanwhile, military men in Washington and Moscow reportedly conspire to choreograph a neo-Strangelove conflict in which nothing they value gets broken. It’s like ballet with bombs.
The diplomatic circus spawned by Trump’s shenanigans is something to watch. In New York, the UN security council, ostensibly the world’s premier political forum, fulfills in solemn session merely to descend into a shouting match. You unfeeling Russians are protecting a” gas killing animal “, Trump’s minions proclaim. You Americans are plotting to destroy the Soviet Union, the Putinistas scream back, forgetting( again) that it is already destroyed.
The media, marketplaces and pundits relish all the fun of the carnival. No sooner is there a mention of bombing a Middle East country than up goes petroleum, down run stocks. Out come the pious priests of the left, confiscating the moral high ground like an Iraqi tank brigade on the Golan in 1973. Just as fast, the right hits back. Bombing is good for you, say armchair veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and countless other conflicts. You have to kill people to save lives! Watching DJ Trump’s traveling circus of political panjandrums, diplomatic dunderheads and popular pandemonium is like watching bareback riders operating round and round a ring.
They chase each other in circles. They get nowhere fast. Nobody “wins”. But it’s a grand sight, with the pulse-racing prospect of an ear-splitting finale. Yet in their highfalutin fury and prepaid passion, the musicians seem to lose sight of the real issue- the succumbing people of Douma, sprawled in sand and sawdust where homes used to be.
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