Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday January 8, 2020
The Trump We Did Not Want to See
Much of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, an American horror and science fiction writer who worked during the first decades of the 20th century, is defined by individual encounters with the incomprehensible, with sights, sounds and ideas that undermine and disturb reality as his characters understand it. Faced with things too monstrous to be real, but which exist nonetheless, Lovecraftian protagonists either reject their senses or descend into madness, unable to live with what they’ve learned.
It feels, at times, that when it comes to Donald Trump, our political class is this Lovecraftian protagonist, struggling to understand an incomprehensibly abnormal president. The reality of Donald Trump — an amoral narcissist with no capacity for reflection or personal growth — is evident from his decades in public life. But rather than face this, too many people have rejected the facts in front of them, choosing an illusion instead of the disturbing truth.
The past week has been a prime example of this phenomenon. On Thursday night, the United States killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran leader of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force and one of the most powerful military leaders in the region. The strike was sudden and unexpected. The White House notified Congress only after the fact, with a brief, classified document.
The assassination of Suleimani was tantamount to a declaration of war and has escalated tensions between the United States and Iran. Tehran has already promised “harsh revenge” against the United States, while Trump said he would “HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” if Iran made good on its threat, vowing an attack on “52 Iranian sites” including locations “important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”
This standoff, which in its latest incarnation saw Iranian missiles sailing toward bases in western Iraq on Tuesday night, is so consequential that it’s been hard not to impute some logic to the president’s actions, even as many observers acknowledge the lies and dysfunction surrounding the attack. It’s only natural. As humans, we want to impose order on what we see. As Americans, we want to believe our leaders understand the gravity of war. Traditional news outlets published detailed descriptions of the president’s decision-making process. Sympathetic observers, like Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon, hailed the strike as a “stunning blow to international terrorism and a reassertion of American might.” Cable news analysts spoke as if this was part of a considered plan for challenging the Iranian government. (Continued: New York Times)