The Trump Doctrine Is Sicker and More Terrifying Than Ever

By (Michael Tomasky)
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos Getty

You’ve heard of the Truman Doctrine. The Reagan Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine. The Powell Doctrine. The Obama Doctrine. Maybe you liked them, maybe you didn’t. But they existed, and you could roughly define what they were.

But what in the world is the Trump Doctrine? It’s whatever oozes out of his brain at any given moment, and this week may already constitute the most gob-smacking series of oozes in his presidency. I know that’s a big claim, but seriously. We all should, even though it’s shocking and potentially dangerous to the world, savor this moment in a way. It’s not often we get to see any public person, let alone the president of the United States, melt down like this in front of our eyes.

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First: Russia back in the G8? Hey, why not! It was Barack Obama’s fault in the first place! Yes, maybe the Russians shot down a commercial airliner, killing 300 people. And maybe they invaded a sovereign country—where they’re still at war, by the way, which they always denied perpetrating. And maybe the entire rest of the G8 agreed that Russia had to go. 

But Obama did it, and if Obama did it, it has to be undone. And what better time than right after a mysterious nuclear explosion that Russia says is none of the world’s business?

I love to imagine Vladimir Putin’s reaction when he hears something like this. Do you think this murderer and kleptocrat and enemy of democracy ever dared to imagine that the president of the United States of America would be his biggest idiot apologist? He and his cronies must sit around the Kremlin laughing about it every day.

Oh, and wait. “The Soviet Union became Russia because of Afghanistan”? If Trump has ever heard the words “perestroika” and “glasnost,” he probably thinks they have something to do with Moscow models urinating.

Second, we have the Denmark cancellation. You just know what happened here, right? Trump was looking at a map of the world one day. He generally avoids anything that remotely resembles or facilitates the acquisition of actual knowledge. But presidents can’t really avoid maps. There’s a big, beautiful one in the Situation Room. I saw it myself one quiet Sunday afternoon during the Clinton years.

So Trump accidentally looked in its direction one day and noticed: Man, that Greenland is huge! And look at all that coastline! I can build 20, 50, 100 beautiful links courses! And they must have tons of fossil fuels we can burn! Mick, who owns Greenland? Denmark? You’re kidding, right? Get me the head Denmarkian on the phone, please. What? It’s a woman? And hey, she’s kinda hot, for a prime minister! This’ll be easy.

I’m joking, sure. But does any of the above sound non-credible?

Third, he assured us that the Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir don’t like each other. And “a lot has to do with religion.” Gee, thanks! Nobody knew! And he offered to mediate. God help Kashmir.

And fourth, we have Monday's disloyal Jews charge. Wow. So 70 percent of American Jews (the percentage that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016; it went even higher in the anti-Trump midterms) are disloyal to Israel? Yes, he confirmed Tuesday, that is exactly what he means.

This kind of flipped the old “dual loyalty” charge on its head; that is, right-wing nativists (and some anti-Zionist leftists) have smeared American Jews by saying they’re more loyal to Israel than to the United States. Here, Trump was saying that American Jews should be more loyal to Israel than they are—by voting Republican!

It’s good to be reminded of Trump’s contempt for American Jews. We know his contempt for black people. We can’t forget that his contempt for brown people even if we try, since brown children are still locked in his cages down in Texas and now Trump wants the power to detain those children indefinitely. 

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But we sometimes forget that he doesn’t think much of Jews, either; he that tweeted that image of Hillary and the Star of David and piles of cash, or that his closing ad of the 2016 campaign was full of anti-Semitic tropes and dog whistles.

Anti-Semitism has always been more complicated than racism because anti-Semites sometimes have a certain kind of perverse respect for Jews. Remember that episode of All in the Family where Archie Bunker needed a lawyer? Edith, he bellowed, find me a lawyer—and make sure it’s a Jew! It’s exactly the same thing as Trump saying in that speech to Jewish Republicans in 2015, “I’m a negotiator like you folks, you folks are negotiators.” Archie Bunker is in the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, ISIS, which Trump once boasted of destroying even though the bombing campaign that eventually scattered the group from Raqqa was initiated by Obama, is back on the march. A Japanese defense paper reports that North Korea can now miniaturize nuclear weapons. The Iranian foreign minister, citing Trump’s “unpredictability,” just said that Iran can be unpredictable, too, if it wants, and “mutual unpredictability will lead to chaos.” And Italy is about to get a prime minister, it seems, who isn’t a proto- or wannabe fascist, but a real one.

The only people who like and admire the United States anymore are the world’s worst dictators—Putin, Orban, Duterte, al-Sisi, Erdogan, Salvini, and so on. Oh, and BoJo, who’s not a dictator but is arguably a bigger liar than even Trump. The rest of the world gazes upon the “chosen one” and laughs, shakes it head in disbelief, and cries. 

That’s the Trump Doctrine. We’ll be lucky if it doesn’t combust into war somewhere on the planet, and it’ll take us many years to come back from these calamities, if we do.

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