When an American president undermines national security

When an American president undermines national security
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From his first day on the job, President Donald Trump has created impediments to American security. His disjointed policies have brought the United States unprecedented degradation and decline.

The president's gratuitous disregard for genuine nuclear threats is matched by his evident indifference to worldwide human rights.

Should we be most concerned with President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE's dismantling of America's foreign policy and national security establishment, or by his corollary legal impairments? How shall we assess his strange willingness to accept the views of sympathetic talk show hosts over the conclusions of America's intelligence community?

This president has demonstrably few original ideas.

To begin improving security matters at their core, Trump ought not continue clinging to clichéd claims of American "exceptionalism" and "America First." Wrapping oneself in the flag (or wrapping oneself around it) is no substitute for honest security appraisals and rational thought.

Another improvement would be to appoint capable officials on the basis of their relevant qualifications rather than on their presumed loyalty.


United States security policy requires serious thought. Across an entire planet, we Americans can care for one another as humans, but only after we have first accepted the basic commonality or "oneness" of all nations and peoples — at least from the markedly limited standpoint of simply deserving to live. In certain egregious instances, this American president seeks redemption largely in the reciprocal sufferings of other nations and peoples.

Using Trump’s preferred actual language — a parlance eagerly cheered by his stalwart followers — economic promises are denied to "shithole countries."

National security policies should not be about simplistic slogans stitched into red cheerleading caps.

Expedient wars, counter-terrorism conflicts and anti-genocide programs must always be fought with just cause, and as intricate contests of mind over mind, not as narrowly tactical struggles of mind over matter.

In the final analysis, only a dual awareness of our inescapably common human destination, which is death, and the associated futility of sacrificial violence can offer accessible security "medicine."

Only the difficult awareness of human "oneness" and mutual dependence in the "state of nature" can ever relieve an otherwise incessant war of "all against all," a remorseless global anarchy still best explained by 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who warned of "continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

Now, such an intolerable "state of war" could be brought about by an America operating under the misguided tutelage of Donald Trump. As Sigmund Freud once noted: "Fools, visionaries, sufferers from delusions, neurotics an lunatics have played great roles in all times in the history of mankind, and not merely when the accident of birth had bequeathed them sovereignty. Usually, they have wreaked havoc."

Louis René Beres, Ph.D. Princeton, is emeritus professor of international law at Purdue University. He is the author of 12 books and several hundred articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest book is “Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd ed. 2018)