The Trump anomaly is over. But Trumpism and the post-American society that the anti-trump coalition represents cannot coexist. One must extinguish the other. Trump is a “leader”. Someone on whom people can project their dreams. Neither Macron nor Merkel has the ability to demolish the norms and customs of governance to embed their own agenda. In Japanese Haiku, Trump’s immigration policy was – “America is full”. With confidence he left behind all rhetorical niceties. Americans live in his Towers. Others lose their money in his Casinos. Rulers lounge at his Mar-a-Lago members-only club in Palm Beach. He is ubiquitous. Thieves pilfer from state treasuries to live in a contrived parallel opulence. His diplomacy was – no diplomacy. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And that is it. His “siloing” of America has left Americans incomprehensible to each other.
Trump was “Made in America”. His presidency has ended. But America remains. In 1996, Madeline Albright, then US ambassador to the UN, was asked what she felt about the fact that five hundred thousand Iraqi children died as a result of US-led economic sanctions. She responded that it was ‘a very hard choice’ but that, all things considered, ‘we think the price is worth it’. So there you have it. The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. The equivocating distancing between savagery and civilization. How many innocent dead Muslims will it take to make the world a safer place? Biden, who stands against the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang has also warned that Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi can expect no more blank cheques.
The signal killing of a nuclear scientist on the roadside outside Tehran has two target audiences. One is Joe Biden who will try to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. The other is Israel. Israelis must choose a leader who can thrive in dysfunction. Someone with grit. Someone who can do what it takes to keep them safe. Biden stated that he would keep the US embassy in Israel in Jerusalem even though he did not agree with the circumstance under which Trump moved it from Tel Aviv.
The move should have happened in the context of a larger deal to achieve important concessions for peace. Congress authorised the embassy move to Jerusalem in 1995 – with Biden voting for the measure as a Delaware senator – but a succession of presidents from both major parties delayed the shift, setting conditions as part of ongoing peace negotiations with Palestine, Israel and Iran. In December 2018, transactions between Iran’s Skycom and Huawei resulted in the arrest of Meng Wenzhou.
Prosecutors allege that Huawei and Meng deceived the banks into clearing millions of dollars in transactions with Skycom in violation of US sanctions prohibiting business transactions with Iran. Meng, the CEO for Huawei Technologies, whose father Ren Zhengfei founded Huawei, the world’s largest technology manufacturer was arrested in Vancouver at the behest of US officials seeking her extradition. Since then, she has been sequestered in a multimillion-dollar mansion in Canada. Her house arrest to resolve US criminal fraud charges has strained relations among Ottawa, Beijing and Washington. European nations have since reconsidered using Huawei gear in their advanced wireless networks and Jamaica was advised.
After 19 years in Afghanistan – nothing. Mike Pompeo met with the Taliban in Doha to negotiate the withdrawal of troops during the last days of Trump’s reign which ends on January 20. America must plan its exit. The military units left behind in 2021 may face acute vulnerabilities reminiscent of Dien Bien Phu and even Benghazi. Nation after nation have failed to pacify what is today the modern territory of Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains the “Graveyard of Empires.” The British learned their lesson from 1839 to 1842.
In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and the CIA set out to harness the energy of the Afghan resistance and to export Jihad into Muslim countries within the Communist regime and eventually destabilize them. Afghanistan was to be the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. In 1989, after being bloodied for ten years of relentless conflict against tens of thousands of radicalized Mujahedeen from forty counties, Russia withdrew.
But by then extremism was exported to Chechnya, Kosovo and Kashmir. “Talibanization,” the destabilizing export of Afghan-style radical Islam was no longer a local affair. It was a costly business. Military equipment and overheads were immense. The Mujahedeen ordered Afghan farmers to plant opium as a “revolutionary tax”. Under state protection, hundreds of heroin-processing plants and laboratories were set up across Afghanistan. The Pakistan- Afghanistan borderlands had become the largest producer of Heroin in the world.
The annual profit from Heroin was somewhere between one hundred and two hundred billion dollars. Most of it was ploughed back into arming militants, recruitment and further training. It was not long before the viral ideologies of the misguided Mujahedeen found a fertile field in Trinidad and Tobago. Eventually combatants would leave the archipelagic state to march under the Black Banner of ISIS. Now the pontiffs who backed their radicalization are at the forefront with vials of vaccine not for COVID-19, but with a miracle-cure to detoxify returning radicals.