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State of the Union: Trump pats himself on the back
February 1, 2018, 1:16 pm

There is nothing the American public treasures more than appearance.

When Trump made his way to deliver a mediocre State of the Union address in front of some of the most ineffective employees our country possesses, he knew all he had to do was appear Presidential.

And the results are in: According to a CBS survey immediately after his speech, 75 per cent of those who watched approved of the one-hour self-congratulatory session.

Any person with even a sliver of knowledge regarding American history would have bet in favor of this outcome.

There are many, many ways to unpack this address, as well as the first year of the Trump Presidency because his speech exposed two important tangents that require further elaboration.

First, this administration has a foreign policy vision that is dangerous, ill-prepared, and void of any historical remembrance.

Secondly, the administration and the Republican-held Senate and Congress have forged full steam ahead with policies that are immoral and will continue to contribute to the long degeneration of the American Union.

Target: North Korea?
Or … to Iraq and back again

To no one’s surprise, Trump devoted a large section of his State of the Union to the issue of North Korea.

The rhetoric is eerily similar to the cases that former President George W. Bush made when addressing the Iraq issue in 2002 and 2003.

The same emotional arguments, the same use of individual examples as justification, even the same way they were framed as not only a threat to America, but to the entire global order.

This is not to defend the actions of the regime in North Korea (nor the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein) but to accurately point out the extreme dangers of the White House way of thinking.

We need to take seriously the threat that what happened in Iraq may happen with North Korea, only on a far more devastating scale.

It’s folly and incredibly dangerous to ignore the actions and rhetoric of the Trump administration on this issue.

North Korea will not give up its weapons, and frankly nor should it when you consider its perspective. They’ve seen what happened to Libya and Iraq.

Why would a small nation give up the one thing that gives them leverage over a superpower with a history of being willing to sow destruction on foreign soil at the drop of a hat?

Trump, like his predecessors, warned of the imminent mushroom cloud – that North Korea’s nukes could hit American cities.

“We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies.”

Sound familiar?

The Iranian regime change dream

Then there’s Iran, the last frontier of any neocons dream conquest.

Trump has surrounded himself with an unfortunate cache of individuals such as Dan Coats, Tom Cotton and Mike Pence – just a few of the many Iran war-hawks with rhetoric against the country that would make Rumsfeld and Cheney Blush and hark back to the good old days when they helped burn Iraq to the ground.

Trump wasted no time in telling the world how lowly he thought of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal,” he said before hailing Iranian demonstrators for rising up against their “corrupt dictatorship”.

In conjunction with that, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is wining and dining members of the Security Council, knowing full well that Resolution 2231, unanimously agreed on by 15 members of the Security Council, is the only legal document cementing the agreement into law.

Considering who Trump has decided to make friends within the foreign policy area, the elimination of this Security Council protection would allow the same warhawks who presided over the destruction of Iraq another chance to make the exact same mistake in neighboring Iran.

Let’s ignore Russia

Not surprisingly, on the Russia investigation, Trump decided to follow the precedent set by former friend of his – President Bill Clinton.

He ignored the issue he loves to dub a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” altogether.

This was reminiscent of when Clinton declined to address his ongoing impeachment trial during his 1999 State of the Union. In fact, Clinton didn’t even bring up the issue the following year, even though he was ultimately acquitted by the United States Senate.

Most Americans probably didn’t want to hear about Russia as much as they wanted to hear about domestic issues such as the tax break, which Trump raised as a core issue.

When Trump says that “our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses” he leaves out who always benefits from conservative tax cuts – wealthy corporations who are expected to see their after tax incomes rise by 3.4 per cent, or about twice as much as lower and middle class families, according to the Tax Policy Center.

We have seen the results of these tax policies and restructuring of healthcare before from previous GOP lead legislation.

We’ve seen the toxic blend of the war machine (drummed up by hawkish neocons who want to drop bombs and worry about circumstance and human life later) mixed in with corporate greed, and the destruction it has brought upon entire countries, our environment, and our moral conscience.

The results of these policies, certainly accelerated under Trump but by no means his sole creation, are plain to see even if the Trump administration wants to tout their achievements as a step forward to those who have been left behind.

Those in the administration want to say they are finally delivering for all people within the country, especially African American and Hispanic people. Trump bragged to thunderous applause how he was responsible for the low African American unemployment rate.

But the fact of the matter is the African American unemployment rate has been in steady decline since 2011. A simple look at the employment rate makes it clear Trump has nothing to do with this trend.

What Trump has done, which is something he conveniently left out of his speech, is spew ridiculous rhetoric and align with those who certainly don’t have the best interests of the African American community in mind.

As Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric Richmond (D-LA) said: “The President has taken every opportunity to divide this country along racial lines,”

“Words matter. President Trump’s racist rhetoric makes the country less safe for people of color by encouraging and emboldening and pandering to those who wish to do harm to others based on the color of their skin,” Richmond told the local media ahead of the State of the Union on Tuesday.

Trump also promised to bring down drug prices in his speech, but his new health secretary, Alex Azar, does not believe the government should negotiate prices directly.

The Immigrant song

Trump called for unity, but insisted to take measures against what he called chain immigrants, those who bring family members to the US [Xinhua]

Trump called for unity but insisted on getting the border wall with Mexico built, in return for giving Dreamers – or children of immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a pathway to full citizenship in up to 12 years.

He also made a blatantly false assertion when he said that rampant “chain migration” was occurring and that immigrants were bringing in virtually every members of their family over.

He also failed to mention that he himself ended DACA, and he is the one who put congress on this six-month timetable to figure out the fate of unauthorized immigrants and many more.

No amount of bombastic rhetoric, all-caps tweets or skewing economic data can change the fact that the Trump administration has made no real policy changes to benefit the most vulnerable Americans. False assertions, fiery speeches, and transparent policy decisions over an entire year speak louder than any single hour-long speech does.

Ultimately, for America to make any positive contribution to better both its people and citizens of the world whom they have mostly neglected for so many decades, these hard truths must be met with honesty and a willingness to accept that America must fundamentally alter how it interacts with the world.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the publisher's editorial policy.

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