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‘Moron-in-Chief’

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It’s not everyday that someone would call the most powerful leader in the world a “moron” or anything close to that.  But that’s what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did.  And for those who don’t know what it means, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “moron” as a “very stupid person” or “a person affected with mild mental retardation,” which then begs the question: Is Donald J. Trump a moron? 
 
But whatever you might think about it, the real reason Tillerson called Trump a moron is actually “terrifying” as the Daily Beast reported the incident on October 4, 2017.  It reported that the insult came one day after "a meeting about Afghanistan in which Trump compared the process of reviewing strategy in the country to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant." It then said that NBC News reported that “Tillerson called Trump a ‘moron’ after a meeting concerning the US' nuclear arsenal in which Trump asked for 10 times more nuclear weapons.”
 
According to NBC News, the meeting was in July and Trump’s “insane request” was apparently in response to information Trump was given about the US’ steady decrease in nuclear weapons since the late 60’s. The officials at the meeting were said to be surprised by his request, and had to explain to Trump “the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup.” 
 
The NBC News reported further that Trump said several times that he also wanted more troops and military equipment.  But officials told NBC News that no increase in the nuclear arsenal is planned.  Soon after the meeting ended, the officials who stayed behind overheard Tillerson say that Trump was a “moron.”  When a reporter asked Tillerson to confirm if he called Trump a “moron,” he didn’t dispute it.  
 
But what might sound “petty” is a serious problem… a very serious problem, considering that the person referred to as a “moron” is the most powerful man on earth who has at his disposal more than 5,000 nuclear warheads.  And he wanted to increase that number tenfold?  This man is not only a “moron,” he is the “Moron-in-Chief.” And he must be crazy, too! 
 
Dr. Strangelove
 
Which reminds me of the 1964 movie, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”  It is a political satire black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.
 
Although the Cold War is now over, the specter of a nuclear war is still very real.  With North Korea threatening to attack the U.S. with a barrage of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, it has driven Trump closer to the brink of madness and self-destruction.  The sad part of it is that the whole humankind would suffer, nay perish.
 
In less than a year in the presidency, Trump has reduced the world’s only superpower to an impotent eunuch denigrated by rogue states like North Korea and Iran.   
 
When Trump addressed the U.N. General Assembly with a threat to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un responded: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”  Kim’s personal response marked an escalation of the word war between Trump and Kim.  North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA then released the following statement: “The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.”  
 
So, where is all this hyperbole leading?  With North Korea conducting 19 missile tests and one nuclear test in 2017, North Korea is getting closer to its goal of developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the U.S.  North Korea is now believed to possess 60 nuclear weapons. 
 
Trump’s miscalculations
 
But North Korea’s nuclear blackmail is only the tip of the iceberg.  While the threat can be neutralized at a very high cost in lives and resources, there are a number of Trump miscalculations that could change the world order.
 
In my column, “Trump’s geopolitical miscalculations,” (May 12, 2017), I wrote: “But the worst in Trump’s miscalculations in Asia was his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a security and economic agreement between 12 countries led by the U.S.  Seven of the member-countries hail from the Asia-Pacific: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam, of which four are ASEAN members (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam). Collectively, the TPP member-countries account for 40% of world trade.  Ironically, it was the U.S. under the presidency of Obama who started the negotiations among the 12 countries.  Unfortunately, while 11 countries ratified TPP in 2016, the U.S. Congress under Republican control failed – or refused – to ratify it in the last few months of Obama’s presidency.  When Trump took over, withdrawal from TPP was one of his first acts – victims of his vindictive assault on policies and programs that Obama implemented.”
 
China fills the void
 
 With the U.S. out of the “big picture,” it is anticipated that China would step in to take the place of the U.S. in the TPP.  It’s ironic that TPP, which the U.S. was instrumental in forming as a counterbalance China’s dominance in world trade, would end up circling in China’s orbit.
 
But while the TPP might hurt the U.S.’s trade relations, there is nothing more destructive than Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement last June.  The agreement was adopted by consensus by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC in Paris on December 12, 2015.  To date, 195 members have signed the agreement, 168 of which have ratified it.  By Trump’s withdrawal, the U.S. will join two other U.N. member countries – Syria and Nicaragua -- that haven’t signed on.
 
On October12, 2017, Trump brought his war to the home front, launching an assault on Obamacare.  He issued an executive order that stopped payments worth billions of dollars to health insurers to subsidize low-income Americans.   It was a move health insurers have warned will cause chaos in insurance markets and a spike in premiums.   
 
The following day, Trump did what he’d been threatening to do and that is: pull out of a deal freezing and reversing Iran’s nuclear program if Congress and U.S. allies do not agree to strengthen it.  In trying to justify his decision, Trump said: “As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."  
 
Sad to say, what Obama put together in the eight years he was president, Trump dismantled them in eight months.  And it would probably take another eight years –maybe more -- to put them back together. As someone once said, “Rome wasn’t built in one day, but they were laying bricks every hour.”  In the case of the U.S., Trump is burning it, day after day.  And he fiddled while doing it.
 
 
 
 

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