Prior to being elected, most Americans, as well as a preponderance of pundits, saw Donald Trump as an isolationist—a candidate campaigning against entering foolish wars.  But that was before he became president and before his leadership and decision-making started coming apart at the seams. 

Democrats will have nothing to do with Trump. The ultra-right Freedom Caucus defies him. Republican moderates don’t respect him. And Paul Ryan, his “friend” in sheep’s clothing, is fighting harder for tax cuts for the top one percent than for anything in Trump’s plan to make America “great” again, vying with Trump to become the most unpopular politician in both Washington and this nation.  

The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun to conduct a factual investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russians, and fewer devotees like Devin Nunes—who serves as chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and who, himself, is now under investigation—will demonstrate a willingness to destroy their careers for Trump. Republican partisans and fundraisers are advising the GOP-led Senate to force through their Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and then stand aside and wait for the smoke to clear.  

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Much of Trump’s domestic agenda is either in limbo or torn to shreds. So, Trump and Steve Bannon, his closest “hombre,” have turned their attention to the world stage, quietly overseeing a rapid expansion of the president’s war-making powers, giving the Department of Defense much greater autonomy and authority to conduct military operations independent of the White House and congressional oversight.  Since the days of Ronald Reagan, Congress has been slowly relinquishing its constitutional role in declaring war, but Trump is taking this unfortunate reality to dangerous new extremes.

The U.S. military today is strained beyond all reasonable limits, and though there have not been any formal declarations of war asked for by the president or declared by Congress, the military is becoming increasingly engaged in numerous open conflicts.  More troops, more weapons, and more risk for the Middle East—Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, and in Africa—Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.  

In Asia, we are confronting China about its territorial claims on the North China Sea, while, at the same time, threatening North Korea with military intervention now that it has accelerated its nuclear weapons capacity and delivery capability. And let’s not forget Iran and Trump’s menacing rhetoric—threatening to arbitrarily cancel the landmark agreement that five world powers reached, curbing Iran’s nuclear program.  

So, who do we have in the Oval Office to deal with these dangerous and, quite possibly, catastrophic conflicts overseas?  President Donald Trump: a habitual TV watcher who ridicules history and displays little appreciation for thoughtful dialogue; a bully with authoritarian leanings who craves attention and demands compliance; a fledgling tyrant who compulsively needs to demonstrate his toughness, no matter the situation. Can you think of a scarier scenario? 

Trump’s popularity is plummeting.  And, given the downward arc of this presidency, he needs a war, one that could dramatically concentrate and expand his power, arouse and activate his base, whip up racism and Islamophobia, and stifle his critics. Trump desperately needs a war to help conceal the substantial contradictions of an anti-elitist election campaign that has turned out to be anything but—with a cabinet full of billionaires and an administration loaded with insiders.  Trump needs a war that would immediately revive heavy industrial manufacturing and the mining of his “beautiful coal.”

Trump needs a war that would give him the moral authority to push for huge corporate monopolies; a war that would serve as an excuse for revoking the most basic of constitutional guarantees to individual freedoms.  

Trump needs a war to refocus attention away from the fact that it’s actually mass-casualty shootings by lone white males that makes Americans unsafe, not Muslims, not people of color, and not the poor and disadvantaged.  

Trump needs a war, but not just any war. Trump needs one on the other side of the world with a non-Christian enemy; a holy war with an opponent that would summarily reject compromise based on religious ideology, enabling him to “bomb the hell out of them.” 

In Trump’s brief time in office, he has managed to successfully escalate disputes against the media, immigrants, the intelligence community, Democrats, NATO, Mexicans, war heroes, and even his fellow Republicans. Yet, Trump’s most significant escalation has been his constant blabbering about the growing threats of increasing crime and terrorism.  (Both, by the way, are gross exaggerations and factually inaccurate.)  

Trump means to scare us, and he’s right. We should be deathly afraid… of him, the damage he is causing to this country, and the potential worldwide damage he is yet to unleash.