One year into office : Trump, an absurd spectacle

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Da sitzt er nun und kann nicht anders: Der amerikanische Präsident Donald Trump im Oval Office. Bild: Reuters

One year into his presidency, and the „victories“ of Donald Trump are calculable. But the harm his clownish and cruel presidency has inflicted to the U.S. and the world is incalculable.

          First, the good.

          By revising the military’s rules of engagement and allowing generals to make battlefield decisions in the theater of combat, the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has largely won its war against the terrorist would-be state. At its peak, ISIS held vast swathes of territory across both Iraq and Syria, ruled over 8 million people, and printed its own currency. Today, the major cities once under its control have been liberated, the flow of European Islamists to the Middle East has slowed, and its titular leader is believed to be injured and in hiding. Lest one object that this was all the doing of President Barack Obama, consider that, asked in May whether gains against ISIS could be attributed to specific moves made by the Trump administration or were simply the “natural progression of what should have happened,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis replied that, “no longer will we have slowed decision cycles because Washington D.C. has to authorize tactical movements on the ground.” 

          Also in the realm of international affairs, the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy offers a robust approach to revitalizing American military strength, so depleted by Obama. Aside from some “America First” rhetorical flourishes, its text could have been written by staffers working under a President Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. So too is recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital right and just; it may also play a significant role in bringing about peace between the two sides by sending a strong message to the Palestinians that the Jewish State isn’t going away. The United States will now permit the sale of defensive weaponry to Ukraine, something it should have done long ago. Though his juvenile tweets about North Korea’s mad ruler have put the world on edge, Trump has rightly rejected the “strategic patience” of his predecessor, an approach to the hermit kingdom so patient that, allowed to continue, it would have ended with a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.  

          On the domestic front, while Republicans and Democrats are making farfetched claims about either the unalloyed good or apocalyptic harm sure to be caused by the recently-passed tax bill, there is at least one aspect they all ought to rally around: reducing the absurdly high corporate tax rate. Expect businesses to invest more, unemployment to fall, and the economy to grow. The same can be said of Trump’s reversal of onerous business regulations. Finally, Education Secretary Betsy Devos’s rescinding an Obama-era campus sexual assault guidance that unfairly burdened the accused is a step in the right direction of restoring sanity and justice at American colleges, many of which have been greatly in need of both. 

          To be sure, much of this positive record is attributable not because but rather in spite of the president. We should count our blessings that Steve Bannon, the most nefarious individual influence on Trump, had the political street-fighting skills to match his bad ideas. For some reason this man, who makes a point of letting every journalist who meets him know just how many tomes of history he’s read, thought it would be a good idea to wage war against the daughter and son-in-law of a man who prizes family and loyalty above all else. Then, after being fired, he burned whatever remaining bridges he had to Trump’s inner sanctum by bad-mouthing him to an unscrupulous reporter.

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