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Trump’s not so bad: the nuclear holocaust edition

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 am, September 15th, 2021 - 52 comments
Categories: covid-19, Donald Trump, us politics - Tags: , , , , ,

  1. There is this idea on both the left and the right that Trump was not so bad.  Minimising or being in denial of what happened in the US during the Trump years risks helping the rise of fascism. You can read the original post here, or the series here.

The Guardian are reporting on a new book due to be published next week,

Before and after the assault on the US Capitol on 6 January, the most senior US general took steps to prevent Donald Trump from “going rogue” and launching a nuclear war or an attack on China, according to excerpts of an eagerly awaited new book by the Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

Woodward and Costa portray Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, as “certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election”, which he insisted without evidence was fixed.

Trump going nuclear was the biggest threat and I always hoped if it came down to it that someone in the room with a firearm would act ethically to prevent him albeit at great personal cost. I’m relieved that there were senior military who were more proactive than that.

Milley was in contact with his Chinese counterpart, reassuring him that the US wouldn’t attack China, and that if Trump went rogue Milley would warn the Chinese.

The pre-release excerpts also look at broader concern about Trump’s state of mind and behaviour, including Nancy Pelosi’s concern about use of a nuclear strike, and the CIA’s position,

Woodward and Costa also report that concerns about Trump spread among other senior national security staff. Gina Haspel, then director of the CIA, reportedly told Milley: “We are on the way to a rightwing coup.”

In I Alone Can Fix It, by the Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Milley is described before the Capitol attack resisting Trump’s demands that the military be used against anti-racism protesters while fearing a “Reichstag moment”, a coup by supporters of a president preaching “the gospel of the Führer”.

All sorts of ironies in that of course, but here’s the crux. Why would left wing people who oppose the US’s role internationally in coup d’etat be so blind to it happening on US soil? It’s not like it’s difficult to construct a critique of the Democrats, Obama and Biden without supporting Trump.

I’m also mindful of the assertion during the 2016 Presidential election that Trump would be less warlike and thus better for people in other countries that Clinton. We can’t judge that now of course, because we didn’t get to see what Clinton would actually have done, and we are incredibly fortunate that Trump didn’t go full postal.

But we should probably look at what went on with left wing support for Trump, because this is unlikely to be the last time this happens. If we can’t conceived of a better future without supporting authoritarians, we will be doomed to repeat our mistakes.

52 comments on “Trump’s not so bad: the nuclear holocaust edition ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    I sort of miss waking up to the daily horror of what Trump had done overnight. This is both shocking but at the same time totally believable …

  2. Left wing support for Trump? No, in 2016 democrat voters preferred to stay at home and not vote for anyone given the choice between 2 despicable options

    • Andre 2.1

      Given Biden's political resemblance to a potted plant, it seems that by 2020 they had realised what a mistake that was.

      • woodart 2.1.1

        a potted plant cant do any harm . a potted plant doesnt tell lies and piss off allies. there are about another fifty ways a potted plant is way better in the oval office than a crackpot russian plant.

        • Jenny how to get there

          A potted plant wouldn't have launched a V-weapon in retaliation for the Kabul suicide bombing, raining wanton death and death and destruction on a civilian neighbourhood for zero tactical or strategic advantage.

          V-weapons, known in original German as Vergeltungswaffen (German pronunciation: [fɐˈgɛltʊŋsˌvafṇ], German: "retaliatory weapons", "reprisal weapons")…

          They comprised the V-1, a pulsejet-powered cruise missile; the V-2, a liquid-fueled ballistic missile….


          Drones UAVs and Cruise Missiles Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have a rich legacy – having evolved directiy from the Nazi V1 ( ‘Buzzbomb’) and V2 guided weapons. The primary difference between a UAV and a cruise missile or other similar vehicle is one of re-use….


    • Tricledrown 2.2

      So how come the US had the biggest turnout of voters for decades 5 million plus more democrat's than repugnants

      • roblogic 2.2.1

        In 2019 yes. Not in 2016

        • weka

          Is the implication that Biden was more acceptable than Clinton? Or that they’d come to their senses.

          • roblogic

            Trump's "China virus" should more accurately be named the "Trump virus" after he botched sabotaged the response, costing 600,000 lives. Voting him out became a matter of survival.

            And Biden was indeed more acceptable than Clinton

            • weka

              right. So the immediacy of covid woke people up, but the frog in the pot rising simmer of fascism didn't. My question is why? Why were some left wing people so slow to understand what was going on? People were writing about Trump and fascism during the primaries.

              • weka

                I have the same concern about covid and climate. Seeing the anger this week towards the Auckland absconders, I wish we had half that amount of energy directed into climate action.

              • roblogic

                TBH I think the American people have been fed so much horseshit in the last 50 years they have Stockholm syndrome and can't identify their true abusers (the 1% and the tech-military-corporate state) and half of them can't judge reality any more. Populists like Steve Bannon offer simplistic answers and give working class Americans easy scapegoats to blame.

                Problem is that Bannon, Alex Jones etc do have a point. The "establishment" left really is in bed with the abusive 1% leaving no real progressive alternative

              • Stuart Munro

                I would point to a cleavage in the party, between the pro-worker values the Left requires, and the 'causes of the moment' that attract the party or Washington elite.

                Trump was fairly clearly an outsider to Washington convention – but not really capable of reforming it, only spoiling some aspects of it. The same is observable in his foreign policy – he made little in the way of policy himself, and brokered few or no worthwhile rapprochements. But he spoiled a number of long term projects, lent confidence to scoundrels like Putin and the Rocket Man, and micturated away goodwill and soft power that had been decades in the making.

          • McFlock

            Bit of both, probably.

            The Clintons had been the focus of massive hate propaganda for 25 years or so. Some of it valid, most of it invented. But any truth was incidental to the campaign – which tended to make people ignore the true bits hidden amongst the bullshit.

            Coupled with missing out on Bernie, HRC was on the backfoot – solid, but conventional.

            Dolt45 yelled down the other contenders in the primaries, and that broke the mold for what followed. Things that would have killed other people's campaigns simply got doubled-down on and the braggadocio was far more inspiring than solid, conventional leadership. And gets billions of dollars in media coverage.

            And there's the electoral system, which was very well gamed, and the advertising for disarray – when people don't know what's going on, clear confidence wins.

            Would Biden have won against dolt45 in 2016? I'm not so sure. Or Bernie, for that matter.

            • Macro

              Actually the winner in the 2016 election was the bias in the US electroral college towards the right wing rural vote. HC won the popular vote by 3m+ votes but the Chump won the right wing states and sufficient swing states by enough to give him the votes in the electoral college.

              • McFlock

                sure, I mentioned the electoral system.

                But there's no way before 2016 that a candidate with even a few of dolt45's well-publicised failings would have won a presidential election. His own hot mic locker room talk, shitting on veterans, draft-dodging "bone spurs", financial shenanigans, tax record refusals, all of that should have been individually damaging and collectively kicked him out of the primaries.

                There was something spectacular there that "changed the game". Nobody else knew the rules of the new game.

                edit: heck, one dude apparently got terminal campaign damage in the 1980s because he looked funny in earmuffs even while riding in a tank.

    • weka 2.3

      Leaving aside for a moment that Dems =/= left wing, Dem voters staying home because they couldn’t even bring themselves to strategically vote Clinton to prevent fascism, IS an example of lw ‘Trump’s not so bad’

      otoh the series came about from watching actual left wing people in NZ argue a Trump’s not so bad position over a long period of time.

      • Macro 2.3.1

        watching actual left wing people in NZ argue a Trump’s not so bad position over a long period of time.

        Agree – it was so dishearting to witness some of the nonsense being served up here, even to the extent of repeating far right tropes denigrating Hillary Clinton. The consequence of the Trump win is regretably still being felt in the US, and will be for decades. The stacking of the Supreme Court and other courts across the nation with ultra conservatives is already having disasterous consequences for women. We know that Hillary would never have nominated the 3 Judges nominated by McConnell and Trump, and as such would never happen. Further Trump continues to foster the "Big Lie" undermining the legitimate election and endangering the democratic process. The new election laws just enacted in Texas being a case in point.

      • woodart 2.3.2

        dont forget there is still a huge amount of misogyny in the u.s. many voters just couldnt vote for a woman.

        • Macro

          True that. I think Biden is trying to address that issue by appointing a number of women to significant positions in the administration. But the backlash going on at the moment against women in the right wing southern states, fostered by trumpist politicians, and aided by a trump appointed ultra conservative judicary is deeply worrying to say the least.

  3. Gezza 3

    The biggest concern I always had with Trump – aside from his extreme narcissism – was his complete unpredictability. The guy was happy to fan the flames on all sorts of hot button issues for attention but one never knew which way he would jump. On anything.

    Chaotic seems to sum up his White House according to many who exited in time.

    And he hasn't disappeared from the scene – far from it. Republicans are still so fearful of him that they could put him or some sock puppet relative back in office. Especially with the jiggery-pokery that’s been going on over restricting some voting rights/options.

  4. Ad 4

    If a Presidential election were held this year in the United States between Biden and Trump I am not at all certain Trump would lose.

    Trump has already ensured that the Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia Governor General races will be for his candidates who approve over-ruling the 2020 election results. Trump has successfully instigated the California Governor recall process.

    Donald Trump's accelerated corrosion of American democracy is exceptionally bad for the remaining large democracies. It would be particularly devastating for it to slip from a full-but-difficult democracy to a flawed democracy as in Brazil, India, or Indonesia.


    That's a whole different world to live in.

    • Gezza 4.1

      My reaction, on Trump getting elected POTUS & it then becoming clear what he was going to be like was that – after seeing the US political descend over several decades into basically general moral bankruptcy – unfortunately they'd finally ended up with the amoral, shallow-thinking, narcissistic, jingoistic, bullying, bullshitting, lying, divide-and-rule, ratings-driven, Reality TV President they've been heading towards getting for some years.

      • francesca 4.1.1

        I agree with that .

        And is Biden any better than Bush or Trump when revenge pushes him to ok the droning of a man and his children in Kabul.A man who turned out to be totally innocent ,nothing to do with Isis, in fact an aid worker.

        This is now what the US seems to be about.

      • Ad 4.1.2

        Just pull your frame out a bit more.

        We've already seen how a new president has started the job of repair. That's quite different to actively making it worse – which it could have done.

        Democratic decline is not inevitable. Nor is it something to be celebrated.

        • Gezza

          I'm not celebrating it. Despair was all I felt.

          And it’s not clear to me how much chance Biden & the Dems are going to have to get 4 years of control of both houses, nor whether he’ll be physically & mentally up to the job of completing the repairs, Ad.

          The political landscape over there is still so blimmin toxic.

          • Ad

            It's not easy to be optimistic about the success of judicial checks and balances against the criminal acts of the Trump presidency.

            But Biden has made solid moves already inside his first term and certainly doesn't lack for ambition. He's no LBJ and will spend most of his time just repairing the damage. That does somewhat lower his ambit for change right there.

  5. Adrian Thornton 5

    Here we go yet again being told that life under Trump was singularly bad and dangerous…what a load of bullshit, except for climate change of course and if you were American , but even then a huge percentage of Americans liked Trump lets not forget.

    However for the rest of the world the US remains today, as it was under Trump, and as it was before Trump under Obama, the single biggest threat to world peace and democracy..that is the real story here folks, so don't get sidetracked yet again into this distraction, because that is all it is.
    Ultra aggressive US foreign policy is the tail that wags the dog in the US, no matter who is President, that is just a plain fact.

    US is seen as a bigger threat to democracy around the world than Russia or China


    Is US foreign policy the biggest obstacle to world peace?


    ‘U.S. Is Greatest Threat to World Peace’


    • Ad 5.1

      Those kinds of articles are a kind of mental flossing, because they encourage me to imagine a world in which the most powerful nations held themselves and each other to a set of rules approaching civility.

      Have you ever read Empire by Hardt and Negri? It was written in the late 1990s and came out in 2000 before 9/11. Oldie but a goodie if you haven't.

      It was trying to get its head around the concept of enemy; that (kinda like Francis Fukuyama doing The End of History and the Last Man), that the concept of enemy was no longer ideological or even national. The enemy was simply that which manifested as a challenge to the idea of law. It's the enemy as terrorist. That's the absolute threat to order.

      It's a complex book and it dated fast.

      But unlike Fukuyama, Empire was profoundly pessimistic about whether liberal democracy had proven to be a fundamentally better system (ethically, politically, economically) than the existant alternatives.

      I certainly remember when I saw on tv the planes go into the Twin Towers that I was looking straight into Sauron's Eye ………… but that surely through that eye the possibilities of the world had just been prized open a fraction.

      We just don't have that at all now. Every year our alternatives get more and more and more constrained.

    • Stuart Munro 5.2

      As the US retreats from several of its Imperial overreaches, Russia steps into the gap.

      France warns Mali against Russian Wagner mercenary deal | Armed Groups News | Al Jazeera

      It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but if Mali asked my advice, it would be "Stick with the devil you know". France was not the best of colonial powers, but Russia managed to be worse.

    • weka 5.3

      QED Adrian. Trump's not so bad, because the US is always bad (except at home, because some people like Trump).

    • McFlock 5.4

      However for the rest of the world the US remains today, as it was under Trump, and as it was before Trump under Obama, the single biggest threat to world peace and democracy..that is the real story here folks, so don't get sidetracked yet again into this distraction, because that is all it is.
      Ultra aggressive US foreign policy is the tail that wags the dog in the US, no matter who is President, that is just a plain fact.

      Speaking of threats to world peace, calling the leader of a totalitarian nuclear power names and threatening him with nuclear war was a pretty fucking massive threat for everyone in the world. Bush and Obama did a lot, but they didn't do that.

      • Andre 5.4.1

        Possibly a demonstration that the madman theory actually works when the madman really is mad.

        Which possibly also explains the astonishing forbearance that Iran showed towards numerous serious provocations.

    • JO 5.5

      Ultra aggressive US foreign policy is the tail that wags the dog in the US, no matter who is President, that is just a plain fact.

      Isn't it just a plain fact that the ultra-aggressive demand from the Pentagon for ever-increasing piles of weaponry is still the tail that wags the US political dog, no matter who has been President ever since Eisenhower warned of exactly this?

      Will we see one day that a plague on all their houses made any difference?

    • vto 5.6

      Bollocks Adrian Thornton. US foreign policy is not the measure of Trump. The measure of Trump can be gained by measuring his actions against the actions of most all authoritarians who rise slowly to power. It is a well-worn path, which Trump and the Republicans are steadily walking.

      10 years from now Adrian, 10 years from now

  6. Enough is Enough 6

    I am not a left wing Trump supporter, but I sometimes think we mistake his toxic personality and the way he divided his own people into thinking he was the worst president they have had. In my view the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld aministration wins that award by a mile.

    Over the weekend I watched "Turning Point 9/11 and the War on Terror" on Netflix. I highly recommend people watch it. Sometimes we forget how the Bush adminstration lied with false intelligence to wage a war on the Middle East, and then used torture as a wide spread interrogation tool.

    They were by far the most evil and dangerous men to ever lead the US.

    • Gezza 6.1

      Yeah, but Trump was an unparalleled master of "false Intelligence" in his own right. And made several remarks to the effect that he supported water-boarding or torture, didn't he?

      • Gezza 6.1.1

        Plenty of YouTube videos where he threw waterboarding & torture out as red-meat to his audiences on the hustings.

        But then (typically) he sometimes deferred to officials – like Matthis & Haspel – saying it was no longer an option.

        • Pete

          He threw things out there like hydroxichloroquine. I can remember seeing it live when he mentioned the marvellous medicine and turned to Dr Deborah Birx for confirmation that he was right. It was an extraordinary TV moment when she refused to look up and give him the thumbs up.

          • Gezza

            He was certainly a uniquely chaotic President.
            Even Duterte of the Philippines seems a lot more predictable.

    • McFlock 6.2

      There's a difference between actual outcome and whether folks just got lucky.

      Only history will tell how many times we had "Able Archer 83" moments between 2016 and Jan 2021.

      GWB and his sith council caused massive amounts of death and suffering nationally and internationally, sure.

      But between the orange oaf and the hellspawn he had, what were their intended outcomes vs what they actually achieved? Reagan and co made jokes about gay men dying from AIDS, but dolt's covid response makes that look like an urgent request for MSF assistance. Did they actually hope for half a million [disproportionately poc] dead?

    • McFlock 6.3

      Also, "ever" is a long time. GWB would have a lot of competition from several of the POTUS preceding the civil war. And While a not-up-to-it GWB had Cheney, Nixon knew damned well the nature of Kissinger.

      Backchannelling to the North Vietnamese to stall peace negotiations so the Repug candidate could win the election? Pretty fucking evil. the bombing of Cambodia also had some pretty terrible consequences, if we're ranking purely by overseas deaths.

      • Enough is Enough 6.3.1

        You're not wrong – and that's why the inward looking America between 2016 -2020 was good for anyone who was sick of having the shit bombed out of them by the US.

        Of course living in America became a lot worse though under Trump, and the divisions there will take decades to heal if ever.

        Republican v Democrat is almost as divisive as Catholic v Protestant. Laregely down to Trump

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