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Unpredictable superpowers are not safe for anyone, including themselves

Unpredictable superpowers are not safe for anyone, including themselves

by digby



There are dozens, if not hundreds, of articles comparing George H. W. Bush to Trump and Trump doesn't come out on top in most of them. People do seem to think that America was a lot greater when Bush was president than it is now,which is both true and not true in a number of different ways.

I don't really think it's useful to keep harkening back to the past, whether it's Trump's hazy 1950s Bizarroworld version of America or the nostalgia people seem to have for the Bush years, as if they were really a high point. (I keep thinking about AIDS and crack right along with the end of the cold war. It wasn't perfect, by a long shot.)

In any case, there is one thing about Bush Sr's time (and all those that came before Trump) that was truly important at least in terms of global security:

[A]s Trump played global statesman at the G-20 summit here against the backdrop of a former president’s passing, many world leaders clearly missed the predictability of the Bush years and the America he represented.

It's not that America's "predictability" was always positive. It was often imperious and self-centered. But as the most powerful military power on earth, it was not erratic, amateurish and ignorant, at least not all at once. That's what Trump has brought to the table: unpredictability. He bragged about it as his primary national security strategy, which was one of the scariest aspects of his proposed presidency. I suppose most people assumed he would not actually behave that way once in office since the stakes are so monumental, but he has proved them wrong. This is exactly what he's done.

And what that means is that we can't count on the reactions of others to be predictable either. Nobody believes the president, nobody knows what he's going to do, nobody thinks he's competent even to carry out the daft plans he proposes.

Someone may very well take a risk that could lead to catastrophe because of this. As long as the US has the most powerful military on the planet --- and the "peacenik" "isolationist" Trump is hardly trying to pare that down --- the US has to also assume the responsibility of being predictable lest someone else make a mistake.

Trump doesn't know that because he's an idiot. The rest of the world understands it very well.