If you wish to understand Donald Trump, you will have to understand collective consciousness of common Americans
The writer is an academic and political analyst on Pakistan affairs, American foreign policy, international relations and economic matters. He can be reached at [email protected]
If you wish to understand Donald Trump, you will have to understand the collective consciousness of the common Americans in the context of an overall national psyche. There are two fundamentals to the American psyche, that is, of the majority of Americans, barring a few of them invaded by multi-culturalism and a global wave of wider and expansive universal political awareness. But this is a rare commodity and, by and large, the entire nation is ‘one-dimensional’, sharing rigid and determined social and political attitudes that have remained untiredly unchanged over the decades of American existence, specifically in the aftermath of the WWII and the emergence of the US as the dominant global military and economic power.
The first fundamental is that the majority are overly obsessed by the idea of ‘appearance’, and this is of a psychological-political dimension: Americans wish to be seen as generous, kind and charitable, democratic and tolerant, politically correct and global in their political-cultural outlook. Hence, America has a culture of social-cultural conformity that is unshakably voluntary — nearly everyone shares the same views and attitudes over almost every social and political norm: “We’re number one!” There are hardly any diametrically opposed opinions on most political or social issues.
The second is the unmitigated desire for ‘power’. Americans on an individual level are fiercely egotistical and uncompromisingly ‘individualistic’. This, in fact, reinforces the culture of conformity. These two factors are intertwined because one supports the other making it impossible to have simple compromises on any social or political issues. There is rigidity in the overall American individual and collective behaviour which is uniquely American in character and is impossible for outsiders to understand.
Thus, the resultant national geo-political perspective on world affairs is that the US must be the dominant economic and military power in the world. If attaining this requires war, covert interventions, propaganda and psychological warfare, political and economic destabilisation of other countries, or regime changes, so be it! American citizens stand behind their successive governments to do their duty for ‘American democracy’, capitalism and in the service of white nations and neo-imperialism.
That brings us to the understanding of Trump as the beholder of the promise to his nation: Make America Great Again. Restore lost American prestige in the changing world of the 21st century. Demonise Islam and destabilise Muslim countries. For others, use tactical strategies to pressure them into compliance with American goals. Contain China and Russia. Sabotage the Palestinians by political deception and supporting brutal aggression. Raise Narendra Modi to the level of political sainthood irrespective of the Indian genocide of Kashmiri Muslims — so that India can be used to contain China and help America steal Afghan natural resources. Bribe the Middle Eastern and Egyptian leaderships. Bomb Africa. Keep promoting military conflicts in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America so the US can sell more arms and get richer, and continue to be the dominant power in control of international political and economic institutions.
Hence, we can understand why Trump is all charged up over North Korea: to assure his troubled citizens that their president is a tough military commander-in-chief. The president will destroy a dictator who dares to challenge American hegemony. The president will restore American dominance even if it entails killing a million people and wiping a nation off the face of the earth. The president knows what the American people want and will surely ‘Make America Great Again’. (Just remember to vote Trump into the White House again in 2020.)
This is another uniquely American phenomenon: hardly a year in office and preparations are already underway to win the next presidential election. Again and again, the world suffers the consequences of the American democratic system wholly focused on raising political campaign funds from wealthy donors who expect political favours, often impacting government policy. And then there are the other policy decisions made to placate the ‘base’ so that they vote favourably once more. There is a Trump on every street of America, all bent on ‘Making America Great Again’ at the cost of violence against global humanity. This silent majority doesn’t wish to come out vocally in favour of Trump, fearful of the ‘appearance’ of being racists, reactionaries or ultra-right wing political activists.
Imagine the rationality of Trump’s assumed threat of the North Korean nuclear threshold of a few warheads against American military might and massive nuclear power. It is so simple to conceptualise that the North Korean leadership’s drive for nuclear capability is only meant to insure their country’s territorial safety, security and existence. The concept is called ‘Mutual Deterrence’. The logical question is: would the US have invaded Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria if all of these countries had acquired a nuclear threshold and weapons of mass destruction? Indeed, Pakistan has been spared the same fate because it acquired a nuclear threshold at an appropriate time.
And a question directly to the incumbent US president: What about Israel? Why did the Americans secretly arm Israel with nuclear weapons? So by the same token, why can’t North Korea and Iran equip themselves with the kind of military and nuclear power that has proven to be a military deterrent? Peace at an affordable cost, isn’t it so?
In view of this discussion, consider the enormity of the military power and the massive nuclear arsenal at the disposal of the US president. Among its fleet, the US Navy has 10 Nimitz class aircraft carriers (nuclear-powered) with 50-year life spans. Consequently, these aircraft carriers are operational 24 hours a day around the world, giving them the military capability of destroying the entire world 17 times over. Each of these has approximately 3,140 military personnel, 2,800 air crew and around 90 state-of-the-art aircraft on them. Not only that. The 2017 Estimated Nuclear Warhead Inventory indicates that the US has a stockpile of 4,018 nuclear warheads. Out of them, 1,393 are deployed. Imagine that the US has nearly 800 military installations in more than 70 countries and territories abroad. In addition, there are more than 200 army, air force, marine and naval bases in the US itself.
Ironically, the US military-industrial complex also sells more arms around the world than the entire world together. Obviously, this has direct military-political repercussions vis-à-vis the American role in interstate conflicts and their resolution. Global peace has been subjected to US economic and business interests since the emergence of the US military-industrial complex and its world-wide reach.
Make no mistake: Trump is in the driver’s seat with his eyes on the next presidential election. He is fully cognisant of the psyche of the American people. He is aware that his slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ rings a bell in the hearts and minds of the majority. Trump is playing the cards of hidden racism implicit in the American psyche and demonstrating a muscular military approach against its fabricated adversaries to show that the US’s global military political dominance is at the core of his political career consistent with the nation’s emotional domain.
Expect no mercy. Humanity is in for another rough era. The Jerusalem move is just an indication of what is to come. Wait to see the coming fate of the Palestinians, Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis, Syrians, and the people of Africa and Latin America. The American president is all out to ‘Make America Great Again’ in his own particular way: full of hatred, aggression and bullying dominance directed at will against all at home and abroad — unless the world is prepared to do what the Pakistani Air Force Chief recently said: If a US drone flies over Pakistan, we will shoot it down.
Donald Trump does not need allies. He deserves nemeses — for his political behavioural reform and discipline.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2017.
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