Donald Trump Risked National Security Trying to Look Cool

He’s going to get a lot of people killed

Andrew Dobbs
May 19, 2017 · 7 min read


“It’s not the crime, it’s a cover up” is a pithy way of saying that nothing makes news like obstruction of justice. Pres. Donald Trump’s hamfisted and doltish attempts to abuse his power by suppressing investigations into his campaign’s collusion with Russian intelligence have made for some thrilling news days.

They are all so compelling that we’ve started to forget about the bombshell Washington Post story that Trump revealed code word-level military intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States — all in an apparent bid to impress them with all the cool shit he knows.

The intel, The New York Times later reported, was provided to the United States by Israel, which seems to have a spy connection somewhere inside Islamic State. And according to the Post, the way he let this cat out of the bag is such that Russian intelligence could determine a great deal about how and where the Israelis are operating in ISIS.

Seeing that Russia’s two closest allies in the region are Syria and Iran — two sworn enemies technically at war with Israel — this blunder put U.S. national security at tremendous risk.

Know that I use the term “national security” in the same way U.S. media and policymakers use it — referring not to the safety of the American people, but rather to our “national interests,” which have everything to do with the interests of multinational corporations and America’s wealthiest individuals and families.

Blowing up what probably amounts to one of the most sensitive and important espionage campaigns by the American empire’s most crucial strategic ally in the region is a real pain in the ass for the international billionaire class, even if they will get over it pretty quickly.

Yet even if typically the things that undermine U.S. imperialism or the Israeli apartheid project are good for the rest of the world, this episode should still give us pause. We’ve always known as a matter of principle that Trump could accidentally cause widespread death and destruction, or that he might do it for petulant, egotistical reasons on a whim. This leak, however, was the first concrete instance of him actually doing it.

The blunder combined immense power with a legitimate stupidity, a need for approval and a fragile, volatile international order. Syria is the central theater for the grand game of world domination, with a complex and dangerous web of conflicts and alliances all intersecting to either help the Western powers secure their empire or to undermine it.

Both photos — Pres. Donald Trump Meets with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. White House photos

The scenario is very much like southeast Europe just prior to World War I, where the Balkan wars and a variety of lower-grade national conflicts going back a decade or more made what should have been isolated internal squabbles into major points of principle for the world’s most powerful states.

A single unpredictable act of defiant violence was able to cascade into a war that killed tens of millions of people and toppled the previous world order entirely.

Israel is gasoline on the fires of Middle East conflicts. Wherever Israel is mobilizing within ISIS — that is to say, whatever immediate military or intelligence presence the country has in Syria — is the point of greatest potential instability inside of what is arguably the world’s most dangerous and unstable conflict.

Any specific intelligence about how and where Israel is spying on ISIS could provoke shifts in the conflict with deadly and unpredictable consequences.

And Trump just blurted that shit out to people literally on the other side of the conflict. Trump clearly had no idea how big of a deal it was, meaning that he didn’t know that saying, “Yeah, Israel has a spy inside of ISIS and they are located in … ” was a bad idea.

The average high-school debate nerd reading The Economist every week knows that this is stupid, and now we have objective evidence that they would all be better, safer presidents than Trump is.

If Trump had simply combined that danger with stupidity, it’d be bad enough but there would be hope of preventing it from happening again. His stupid act, however, was committed by way of “boasting” about all the “great intel” he gets every day, suggesting what we’ve already known forever — that his ego matters more than any other outside interest, even national security.

If his ego is bruised somehow vis-a-vis North Korea or in some way between India and Pakistan do we end up with a nuclear war? The only thing preventing it at this point is dumb luck.

On a long enough timeline, of course, your bad luck is guaranteed to get up and bite you in the ass. Certain factors can raise your risks and accelerate the reckoning, factors like Trump’s nine day foreign trip replete with diplomatic traps strewn about his path.

Even this isn’t bad enough, as he’s clearly cranky about the whole thing. Reports are that he wanted to cut the trip almost in half. He hasn’t been able to work a full week since he came into office in January. His real stupidity seems to be exacerbated when he’s in a bad mood and come Monday he’s liable to be in a perpetual bad mood on the other side of the world.

The final fecal cherry on the whole shit sundae. His “address to the Islamic world” to be delivered in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — home of the holiest sites in Islam — is being written by actual Nazi creepmeister Stephen Miller.

This is the world political equivalent of getting your girlfriend’s name tattooed on your neck — it’s going to look really dumb sooner than you’d think. Miller is furthermore a confirmed Alex Jones-style opponent of “globalism” and he’s also writing Trump’s address to NATO, a crucial imperialist alliance that Trump has repeatedly demonstrated he does not understand.

Oh, and remember how Trump has left the State Department without dozens of crucial appointments and hires? Those are the very folks that would normally scrub these speeches and head off any potential disasters at the pass. This is one more consequence of Trump’s incompetence.

The bottom line is that Trump is liable to create dangerous situations on accident and by way of puffing himself up — trying to look cool — while his inelegant abuses of power and reckless acts of corruption indicate that he’ll go out of his way to fuck things up if he perceives an angle in it, even if he’s obviously wrong.

This plus nuclear weapons and a mighty military force seem to pose a question of not if he’ll do something that kills thousands for no reason, but when.

The only thing that can possibly resist this is a responsible and mature citizenry organized to fight back. The bad news is that the very same culture of perpetual breaking news that delivered this story is bombarding us with so much data that we can’t maintain even the briefest of historical perspectives. Wait three to five days and almost any story will go away.

FBI director James Comey getting fired has different kinds of legs, but it’s incredible how one of the most outrageous security breaches in history slipped from the front page simply because Trump has inadvertently flooded the zone with his criminality and incompetence.

This very phenomenon of relentless news interruptions followed by hot takes followed by panics and fads measured in hours, not months or years made Trump president in the first place. Now the shoe looks to be on the other foot, but don’t be so sure that he can’t take advantage of the pace of crisis.

He’s had a very bad week, but by the end of it we aren’t even really talking about the shit that kicked it off. If he has a good week, will we forget it all?

Not if we stay defiant and stay organized. We must hone in on the most important facts, and we must organize to remove Trump and all the fools and crooks foul and craven enough to join with him in his ridiculous regime.

We must stay calm and balanced and remember our own history — even from week to week. We must work towards it like our lives depend on it — because as this blunder proves, they probably do.

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We are the loyal opposition

Andrew Dobbs

Written by

Activist, organizer, and writer based in Austin, Texas.



We are the loyal opposition

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