The Unthinkable

I am convinced that life in general and politics in particular are like chaos theory.  Anything you can think of is possible.  That is scary to believe, but I know it to be true.

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There have been two world wars, but not one for six decades.  That’s because of the invention of nuclear weapons, something so terrifying that even despots have declined to use them.  We did came close in 1962.  But we have had smaller wars of course and the results have been poor to awful.  Korea at least saved the South but Vietnam was a complete failure.  The second Iraq war was also.  Even Afghanistan became a continuing black hole for blood and treasure despite attaining the goal of killing Osama bin Laden.  Why do we keep doing this?

Some people think that JFK would have withdrawn from Vietnam, but we will never know.  He did start the thing by sending 16,000 combat troops there.  George H. W. Bush showed restraint in the first Iraq war, only to see his son decline to do so thereafter, disastrously.  President Obama, to his credit, has actually reduced our involvement in war. He withdrew from Iraq and reduced involvement in Afghanistan to a mostly-advisory role.

History proves that the temptation to use military force is almost irresistible. I think it is so because war-fighting is the one option available to a president which shows decisiveness and gets quick action.  Very satisfying at first. Everything else creates controversy and rebuttal. The danger is made even greater by the refusal of every Congress for six decades to uphold its obligation to declare war before engaging.

In view of this history, we should all reflect in this context, I submit, whether we want to elect an amateur or a professional, experienced politician as commander in chief. Especially since the amateur has zero experience in both government and military service. Zero.  Could Donald Trump actually win the presidency?  The polls say he very well could.  Even more persuasively, one professional observer gives five reasons why he probably will win.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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12 Responses to The Unthinkable

  1. PiedType says:

    I’ve mixed feelings about Michael Moore, and I certainly hope this time he’s dead wrong. But there’s a part of me that lies awake nights, terrified at the thought of a President Donald Trump lurking in the closet. Not to mention the idea that his presidency would mean the majority of American voters actually voted for a man like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I’m glad to hear you say that, PT. Given the choice between someone careless with her emails and an impulsive, mean-spirited narcissist with a short attention span, I’m with her.

      Like

  2. Jim, I feel your pain. But we have been warned of the decline and fall of our democracy by the founders themselves, especially Adams and Jefferson. Maybe Tocqueville said it best when he wrote so prophetically about 180 years ago, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” Tocqueville is describing the transformation of our representative democracy into a very unrepresentative plutocracy.

    As to the current dilemma, our only salvation, which may just be a deferral of the inevitable, is in controlling the Trump presidency as much as possible. First, the Dems have got to take back the Senate and hopefully get a substantial majority. Among other things, that will stop any wild and crazy appointees that Trump might want to send to SCOTUS.

    I don’t think the Dems can get control of the House in this election. But we know the House Republicans, for the most part, are not enamored of Trump for splitting the party. And no doubt Speaker Ryan, who is also not a fan of Trump, would want to keep Trump from destroying the nation. So, Congress could play a very important part in controlling Trump’s madness.

    But most worrying is the military. Perhaps Congress can pass a law that would limit the war powers of the president in some way that would help prevent him from pushing the red button. Another action could bind our military forces to the Geneva Conventions if they are commanded to violate the terms of those covenants. (Remember, treaties ratified by 2/3rds of the Senate, have the same force of law as the Constitution itself.) (Also, remember the Nuremberg Trials.)

    No doubt there are other checks that might be put in place to control the impetuous and unpredictable Donald. But these suggestions might be a good staring place.

    And I agree with Moore on his point that the electoral college calculus gives Trump the edge. So, put on your flack jacket and your helmet. We’re going to be taking a long, rough ride.

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I agree with your assessment, Herb. But if the GOP retains the senate, we are indeed in for a tough time. Of Moore’s five points, the one that worries me the most is the “Jesse Ventura effect.”

      Like

  3. Jim Ruebush says:

    I will be working to prevent such a election outcome.

    Like

  4. Robert Cox says:

    Do you remember that song by Tears for Fears?:

    “…Everybody wants to rule the world…” And it’s true, mate! Primates are born tending to vie for the role of patriarch or matriarch. THAT’S what war is about, ultimately, I think.

    Very good post, please keep up the good writing you do reliably.

    -Robert

    Like

  5. aFrankAngle says:

    A friend (an ardent Republican) and I were talking several months ago. I can’t recall want led him into this point, but it was interesting …. He said do you know who got it right in the Middle East? It was President Bush 41 … and I quickly concurred.

    Like

    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I agree about Bush 41, Frank. But, as I recall, it was a near thing. Some advisers wanted him to go on and take Baghdad, and he could well have done so. I think this is a good example of how important are subtle qualities in a president. Temperament, a sense of history, and governing experience. And it doesn’t hurt that he had actual experience as a military combatant, having been shot down in the pacific. Gee, I wonder what Donald Trump would have done in 41’s place?

      Liked by 1 person

      • aFrankAngle says:

        … and a large segment of the public wanted him to go to Baghdad. On a similar note, I’ve asked this question – would ISIS be a problem if Hussain was still in power? Plus, he helped keep Iran in check.

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        • Jim Wheeler says:

          I have no doubt that if Al Gore had been elected, there would have been no second Iraq war and Saddam would still be holding the Shiites in check. I’m not sure about ISIS, but even if they still arose, they would not have their prime recruiting tool, the U.S. meddling in their centuries-long religious wars. It’s interesting to reflect on this. What convinced me that the war was justified at the time was Colon Powell. Of all people, the author of the Powell Doctrine ought to be the last person to fall in line on war. Even he was duped by the CIA which, looking back, was slanting shoddy intelligence to please the commander-in-chief.

          Liked by 1 person

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