Monday, January 9, 2017

More thoughts on Trump's presidency

I'm not suicidal, but if there were some painless, effortless way of de-materializing soon to exit the planet, I would certainly give it due consideration. Call me a coward, but between climate change and politics we could be entering a time of potential pain and chaos that I am not sure I want to see first hand.

I am a historian by training. During my university years I made it my goal to study the history of the Western world from the time of the Greeks to the modern era. The general idea was to have a time-line and an overview. I also threw some international relations into the mix and had the pleasure and honour to study with Janice Stein. While I do not claim to have great depth of knowledge, I do have breadth, and what I see happening in the world today scares me.

I am not the only one to perceive the birth pangs of a New World Order that will supersede the one that has kept us safe from nuclear war since the end of World War II. The U.S. and Russia seem to be lining up against China, and China is feeling justly threatened. If you have ever seen the movie "Hero", or even if you just know anything about China, you would have a frisson run down your back at the prospect. And if you studied enough history, you will know that humanity has never managed to forge a New World Order, even a better one, without first getting into a major war. After millions are killed and the dust settles, the participating countries agree to sit down and negotiate an agreement to create lasting peace. While that may be great for the survivors, it's not so useful for the millions that died in the meantime. In the gap between the death of the old order and the birth of the new there is scope for a lot of human suffering. There is also no guarantee that most of us will survive the next Great War or even that the world will be a place fit to live in after it's done.

It doesn't help that we are living in an era of reckless leaders. Putin has been an adventurist for a while, but now we are adding Trump to the mix. Since November 8th the new president elect has been busy provoking China through tweets and through overtures to Taiwan. China has now twice in official media proposed teaching Trump "respect" and just today vowed "revenge" if Taiwan is recognized. This is from a country that has been so reticent in expressing criticism that it usually just "regrets" whatever it disapproves of. Many people see Chinese retaliation in the form of a trade war, but Chinese actions (the snagging of the U.S. drone, flying a nuclear bomber over the South China sea) say otherwise.

While people are focusing on Trump's tweets about SNL, or Hamilton, or Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech, or even on the national peril created by his antediluvian advisers, there is real peril afoot internationally that's more pressing even than the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade. I note that the last person to realize the graveness of any situation would be Trump himself, who has shown every sign of not being willing to listen to the experts and whose chief talent seems to be to make any situation that arises exponentially worse.

As of January 20th he will have the nuclear launch codes and the absolute authority to declare war. So yes, I am worried.