Blue zone: "this guy is such a buffoon and a joke! He doesn't even know how to spell lol"
Red zone: "typical liberal elites making a big deal out of a little spelling mistake because it makes 'em feel all highfalutin smart"
My dear country-persons,
(c/o The Divided States of America)
Happy holiday and a jolly Festivus to all!
Okay now that my opening round of political correctness has weeded out the denizens of the United Red Zone of America, I have a serious message to my fellow Blue-Zoners and especially my comrades of the youthful and youthfulish generation. I know, I know... those Red Zone folks are not likely to be reading The Huffington Post but you can never be too careful these days.
We went overwhelmingly Blue in this election (like dark indigo Blue) but we lost because of some ancient system called the Electoral College which was brought into effect so that slaves and women could be counted as human beings when it was electorally convenient. And to satisfy Thomas Jefferson's countryside fetish. How nice.
But here we are. This is real and shit just got realer. You might have once found entertainment-value in the obese orange toddler but now he's President-Elect. Of the United States of America. And he's playing with international fires that could get us all burned. Badly burned.
Knowledge is power. That's why the incoming administration is ditching the press corps as though they're paparazzi. Do with this info as you will but let's just acknowledge that this is not a drill. We are at a deadly serious crossroads.
The time for greater sensitivity to nuance of statecraft is now. Flag the urgency level "existential."
The spelling mistake in Donald Trump's tweet is significant because it reveals to us beyond the shadow of any doubt that he is composing these tweets himself without vetting or oversight (even when they concern foreign powers). But even with that understanding, please focus on the content of this tweet rather than on the spelling error.
Just like calling someone 'lyin Ted'... all in good fun right? China doesn't see it that way.
There are many countries, some of them very powerful, who are not beholden to Trump in any way. These lucky people are actually not required to house or caretake him. They're not even obliged to tolerate him if they choose not to.
We already had a situation where China was feeling threatened. I know. President Obama is cool but he wasn't perfect.
(ducks and covers; dodges kitchen sink)
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk policy. Obama's "Pivot to Asia" coincided with a period of increased Chinese confidence. The Chinese government saw the motivation behind it as a U.S. attempt to contain their economic and military growth. Plus they have a tendency, like many other governments, to mask their own failings by cultivating and manipulating an increasingly nationalistic sentiment among the populace.
And THEN Trump called Taiwan (good job champ).
After the Obama administration (let's call them the "grownup White House") shepherded The release of a US drone, Trump revealed (by tweet) that he may think (really this is true) that he was responsible for this diplomatic coup. Funny right? Nope. It's not only a wrong and delusional takeaway from the situation. It's also the most dangerous possible takeaway from the situation as far as the future is concerned. He thinks this works. And why shouldn't he? It got him through the Republican Primaries and then through the electio... actually scrap that last part. A rigged system did that for him.
Other's will curb him right?
There aren't many of you who actually believe this but, for those who haven't been watching the news of his cabinet picks (we've gotta do this now; I understand that it's annoying to have to babysit our government but we have to do this)... take a seat. We have people coming into top roles in departments like Defense and National Security who are trigger happy in addition to having not so great histories when it comes to running bureaucratic organizations
If escalation continues then the only way to avoid military engagement would be by turning the volume down through the channels of diplomacy. But we also have an incoming Secretary of State who (and I can't believe I am typing these words) has no diplomatic or foreign-policy experience whatsoever. Even his diplomatic references from James Baker and Condoleezza Rice fall flat. Both of those former diplomats were engaged as consultants to the company that the incoming Secretary was running (by the way, one of Trump's stated goals is to ban people in government from lobbying after they retire).
There are lots of failsafe devices and we will only crash if they all fail. But Trump's cabinet is the textbook definition of an anti-government.
We should avoid military engagement with China at the best of times. China is a major power and engagement is unnecessary. I'm putting it lightly. We'll get to that in just a second.
Now let's take a minute to talk about our new United Nations Ambassador. She'll be sitting on the Security Council with China. You might remember that the U.N. is the place where Dubya and co. sold the idea that we should go into Iraq to disarm weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. What sort of credentials does Ambassador (I guess) Haley have? You guessed it! National Security Council experience? Nope. Genocide Prevention? Nope. A student of Public Policy? Nope. Journalist/Analyst who's written on international affairs? Nope. Familiarity with the State Department? Zilch. Any diplomatic experience at all? Nope. Not even a little bit? Hell no!
Understandable appointment considering we have no career diplomats or ambassador class diplomats in the US. They all died while awaiting GOP confirmation to their posts.
So why is our new mega-sire not sending our best people to the big leagues? Also why the hell did he appoint a UN Ambassador before he finalized his pick for Secretary of State?
Incompetence? Maybe. Just being weird? Maybe. Dumb? Likely.
All of the above?
Great TV but, once again, this is real (saying this as much for myself as for you).
The new administration is shaping a nation that is more divided than it has been in recent memory; a nation where the trust and confidence that must flow between the intelligence community and the leadership is frayed; a nation where the confidence of the military leadership (we are talking about those generals that Trump "knows better than") is under duress; a nation that will be represented on the Security Council by an ambassador who also has no diplomatic or foreign-policy experience and will be tasked to engage with China there; a nation where the two major political parties that must drive our political discourse are gridlocked and have driven the country into disability; a nation whose global alliances have been strained by the image that the last year and a half has projected to the world...
I could go on and on and on... but you get the idea. We're not a nation that should engage with China right now. And most of the above has been accomplished by the incoming administration before even stepping into the oval office.
The Mediterranean has already become a de facto graveyard. We don't need to see the South China Sea also turned into one.
"Okay so what can we do?"
First of all, realize that you are more powerful than you think you are. Government is only as legitimate as we empower them to be. Keep tabs on their actions no matter how irritating. And, for heavens sakes, don't start using their language. It will change your thinking. We have to be very careful about this. Don't use it even if our press starts using it to glorify the rural minority bubble (remember Jefferson's fetish?) that now imagines it has had a moment in the light.
We are not "coastal elites." I'm a young middle class writer who has been called an "elite" by the multi-million dollar media outlets owned by plutocrats. I'm a small business owner in the United States who has been labeled a "globalist" (derogatorily) by people who celebrate Donald Trump: a man who wheels and deals behind closed doors in over 20 nations across continents representing the most mercantile and cutthroat dimensions of globalism. I guess I'm just not the audience for this performance but we're all being forced to watch it. So we must do more than just come out in opposition to what we find deplorable. We have to articulate what we value.
Caring about maintaining international relations and alliances makes you smart. Not paying your taxes makes you a leech; not "smart." Caring about human rights makes you a good person. Thinking that women are entitled to full equality with men because they're, you know, human beings makes you a good person. Not being a bigot makes you a good person. Not being a sexual predator makes you a good person. The people who don't do those things are displaying character deficiencies or just plain bad behavior. Don't let them act like it makes them the voice of the unheard American poor.
Don't empathize with lies and bad behavior. Correct them. Constantly. Uncompromisingly. Vigorously. Remember it was the fact that much of our press in the Blue Zone (cable news that got your asses handed to you by going into an off-the-record meeting with the Grand Khazar I'm looking at you) didn't do that to begin with that got us into this dumpster fire to begin with.
Call out bullshit. Insist on truth. That's the first step to holding on to your power.
Henry Kissinger once said that it is "not what is true that counts but what appears to be true." Today 52% of the denizens of the Red Zone think that Trump won the popular vote. 52%.
Call it out. Kind of like this back in the day:
Never thought you could get behind the supreme leader so fully did you?
Now it's 2016. Our turn. Don't let the least popular candidate in the history of polling get away with calling himself a "populist." Don't let someone who has over 200 business interests in over 20 states get away with pointing an accusatory finger at "globalism." The two most popular candidates in U.S. history are a black man and a woman.
We should never forget that.
They always knew that they couldn't win a fair fight. So they won this victory like they win every other victory they score: by lying, slandering, intimidating and disenfranchising millions of people.
But they also know that they're on thin ice and we must never let them forget it. We must remind them constantly that they left millions of people disenfranchised when they "won." The electoral system that we have, an antiquated vestige of intolerance, has awarded them victory. But they know that the people (to whom they are accountable) rejected them and rejected them big league.
That's our power.
They know that Hillary Clinton is the people's president. This is not fanciful hyperbole. It's a fact. Millions of American's chose her over her rival. This group of criminals know this.
And let's be sure to identify this criminality for what it is. If we don't identify this Red Zone that we are opposing then we stand no chance of solving the problem. These people are not Republicans. They are the image of corruption and foolishness that has been hacking away at the Republican Party for decades. This narrative is also important to reclaim. Because those of us who read history know the Republican Party as a party of great internationalists driven by a commitment to justice. We know them as the party who would balk at the greed (for the nerds out there: Paul Ryan has really studied the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition) and foolishness as a crude caricature of conservatism. We must call things as they are. The architect of the Republican Party knew this best.
Abraham Lincoln famously asked, "If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?" He got the inevitable response: "Five." Lincoln politely responded: "No the correct answer is four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg."
That the party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump is a great loss to the nation. What's more is that they know this. They know how cancerous it is to allow their standard bearer to stand for the concept of "post-truth" (Lincoln called that "lying"); they know that they have abandoned their values, betrayed those party-members that still stand for the principles of anti-trumpism. They understand that they have placed the nation they profess to love in danger. They know that they are traitors to the ideals of the party and the country. They do it in broad daylight. They know that we can see it.
But their approach has been to figure out how much they can get away with.
That's up to us.
Hold their feet to the fire and it'll be much harder for them to ignite the fires of war that threaten to ruin our futures. And that, too, isn't needless drama. Wannabe big boys are fond of calling people "hysterical." But, again, this is real:
This is a marathon. It's going to be a long few years, guys.
We can do it.