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Trump Against Postmodernism

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U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to speak about tax reform in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 11, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to speak about tax reform in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, October 11, 2017.Credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Everyone is either crying, laughing or shaking his head in despair. U.S. President Donald Trump is on a childish rampage and people are concerned about world peace. Some analysts believe that Trump opposes the Iranian nuclear accord because of his resolve to destroy every vestige of the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Others are certain that, as in the conflict with North Korea, Trump’s defiant and puerile temper drives him into confrontation.

In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s propaganda apparatus is celebrating the prime minister’s supposedly great victory, giving the impression that Trump was charmed by Netanyahu and completely won over by his arguments. Only a few people, if any, note the fact that’s apparently the most relevant to the latest developments: The administration is mainly worried about the implications of the Iranian threat to the oil-rich Sunni states, so it’s coming out against the nuclear agreement’s salient flaws, ones that endanger Saudi Arabia (and Israel). Threats are the way to convince Iran to accept further restrictions on its freedom of action.

This is the reason for the show currently taking place before our eyes. It may end up a disaster, as Trump’s critics believe, and it may convince Iran that it shouldn’t overdo it. The gamble isn’t a simple one but it seems that history has already proved that appeasement at any cost only postpones the payment date and doesn’t improve the results. As Winston Churchill said of France (and some say of Britain) early in World War II: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Since World War I, Western democracies have preferred to bypass tensions that could deteriorate into a world war. Strategies of containment and restraint are part and parcel of this approach, which indeed has led to a relatively quiet status quo, though the U.S.-Soviet confrontation during the 1962 missile crisis proved that this strategy loses it validity when the threat approaches American shores.

Trump’s return to old patterns of open talk about military confrontation greatly frightens the entire world because most Western countries believe they won’t be affected even if Iran attains nuclear weapons and swallows Saudi Arabia (or Israel), and even if North Korea blackmails and threatens South Korea and Japan. The Western countries, after all, are far removed from these local conflicts. That’s why their main goal is to prevent an international crisis that would suck them in.

It’s clear that Trump isn’t following these rules. Most commentators believe that his wild behavior is devoid of any rational meaning, making him a threat to the international order. But those who in recent decades have gotten used to a dialogue, whose main undertone has been to protect the West even at the cost of intolerable crimes on its margins, can’t imagine that there’s a clear and radical approach guiding him unrelated to Republican or Democrat positions.

Trump openly views himself as the representative of the masses, someone who was elected to shatter the systems of lies that have ruled the world since the days of the Cold War. Trump and his supporters want to restore a world that clearly defines what is evil. The reaction to postmodernism and its distorted discourse is galloping ahead under his leadership.

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