There is a saying, “United we stand, divided we fall.” It comes in many forms, in many languages, including Abraham Lincoln’s “A house divided against itself, cannot stand,” a fairly close restatement from the Bible.
I have no doubt that Vladimir Putin knows that saying well. In fact, I feel certain he believes it absolutely. It is a very good reason for him to support the presidency of the intentionally divisive Donald Trump. And I feel quite certain that he has spent the last four years laughing at the American Folly.
My father was a patriot. Seeing that a war was coming, he got a commission in the Navy before the US was involved in World War II. He spent the entire war on destroyer-class ships assigned to the Pacific squadron. His first ship was in Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He saw the Fuso sunk by American torpedoes at the Battle of Surigao Strait. He was on the ground on Corregidor, spotting for naval artillery, the day before the Marines landed. He won a Bronze Star and he had thirteen battle stars. He did those things because he wanted to defend this country. I think he was in a position to explain to me what a patriot is.
A patriot puts his country first.
Donald Trump is clearly not a patriot. Everything he says, and everything he does, is intended to glorify Donald Trump. Since he sees the opposition as his enemy, even calling them “traitors,” he pushes his supporters to revile them. The United States has become a house divided against itself, profiting only those who see this country as their enemy.
In March of 2018, Trump declared a trade war with China. Doing so, he pointed out that he was a “wartime president.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, this trade war caused a slight reduction in the US gross national product and a 1% drop in real household income. It might have hurt China more than America, in terms of dollars, but there were other costs, and for China, there were benefits.
Instead of rounding up our allies and making sure they were lined up on our side, Trump caused them as much pain as possible. Other NATO states had to increase their contributions while the US reduced its own. Mexico was told that we were not interested in accepting any refugees that came from there, including those who were just passing through from Central America. Support for countries all over the world was cut, especially those in dire need after such natural disasters as Hurricane Maria.
In every case, an opportunity arose for China to profit. In 2018, El Salvadore made a huge “non-refundable” deal with China. Argentina joined the Belt and Road initiative two weeks later. Panama has come under increasing Chinese sway. In an article in Business Insider, Admiral Craig Faller said, “There are some 56 port deals at various levels that China’s working.”
In Africa, and in fact for just about any country that is short on funds, China is making the same kind of progress. One example is a deal that resulted in China gaining a port in the Indian Ocean. This was described by an article that appeared on June 25 2018, in The New York Times, titled “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port.” While that port passed into China’s possession in 2015, the article goes into other ports China has financed in an ongoing effort. Ten of them are on the Atlantic Ocean.
You might ask how close China’s activities are geographically to the US. Try this out for size: An article in Forbes on May 29, 2019 is titled, “China Is Cashing In On This Piece of Paradise Just 40 Miles From Palm Beach,” and the title is pretty much descriptive.
Every time some corrupt dictator needs more cash, it seems, China is willing to lend it on terms that seem somewhat reasonable, until you see that there is no way the dictator’s economy can repay it. Especially attractive might be a clause that says, in effect, “If you can’t repay, we will just take a lease on a couple square miles of land at a port for 99 years.”
And so it continues.
It is not just that China is moving in on economies of the world as Trump pulls America out. Trump’s original fight was picked over two solar PV factories in this country that had gone bankrupt, and he blamed China for that outrage. Never mind that he was not interested in supporting renewable energy in this country at all. In fact, never mind that both factories were foreign-owned. He just wanted a fight.
Trump’s real approach seems to be that where he sees we cannot compete successfully right off the bat, we will not support our own efforts to compete. The result of this can be seen nowhere better than our production of electric buses. USPIRG has published a report, titled “Electric Buses in America: Lessons from Cities Pioneering Clean Transportation.” It says, “The electric bus market in the United States has expanded dramatically over the last five years. There are a total of 528 fully electric, battery-driven buses currently in service across the country – an increase of 29 percent in 2018 alone.”
By contrast, according to the Wikipedia article on electric buses, “As of 2019, 99% of the battery electric buses in the world have been deployed in China, with more than 421,000 buses on the road, …” And an article in CleanTechnica, “100% – Chinese City’s Record-Smashing 16,359 Electric Bus Fleet,” makes it clear that one Chinese city had thirty times as many electric buses as the entire United States.
Quoting the same USPIRG report we saw above, publicpower.org posted on the cost-effectiveness of electric buses, “Electric buses for mass transit seen as cost effective.” It said, “An average diesel transit bus costs around $500,000, compared with $750,000 for an electric bus, and a diesel school bus costs around $110,000 compared with $230,000 for an electric school bus, according to the report.” But it added, “Over its lifetime, however, an electric bus could save $400,000 in fuel expenses and $125,000 in averted maintenance costs, according to figures from bus manufacturer New Flyer that were cited in the report.”
The figures show that electric buses cost more, but the difference in operating costs is sufficient to give a real competitive edge to electric buses over those powered by diesel.
Trump’s trade war policies are putting the United States into a position from which it will be increasingly unable to compete. He wants to expand the ability of the coal and oil & gas industries to destroy our countryside, in the hopes that they can make money, while sales from these industries are only likely to decline worldwide. Meanwhile, the Chinese make deals with our trading partners. The world is increasingly turning to China for solar panels and other infrastructure, and Trump seems not to be interested in participating in that market.
The Covid-19 pandemic starts to show where Trump’s heart really is. As we started to reduce the numbers of new cases in this country, he wanted to get the economy going again as quickly as possible. While other countries waited to open back up until the numbers of new cases showed impressive declines, possibly of 90%, Trump concluded, against the advice of science, that we could safely open up at a time when new cases had only declined by a third. Now, such hard-hit countries as the UK, Spain, and Italy are dealing with small, regional flare-ups and general levels of new cases that are 10% or less of their peak. But the US decline has been turned around so completely that we are now experiencing a second peak, with new cases more than double what they were at the first peak. There is a lot of information on this at worldometers.info; you can click on a country and scroll down to see the daily numbers of new cases, new deaths, and other graphs.
As to deaths from Covid-19 in the United States, we are failing badly. Trump said he had declared a war on Covid-19, back in mid-May. That made him a wartime president again, a fact of which he was proud. Now, we have lost more Americans in Trump’s war on Covid-19 than we did in any other war, apart from World War II and the Civil War. Deaths are piling up at rates that are approaching 900 per day, on average. But with the numbers of new cases hitting around 68,000 per day, and the death rate projected to be 3.7% for these over the month or two following confirmation, we can expect death rates of 2,500 per day within the next couple of months.
This did not happen because the medical profession failed. Federal leadership has been really bad, thanks to Donald Trump. Bad federal leadership has been reflected in states that agree with Trump’s policies, thereby magnifying the problem. I would conclude that the leadership is not just bad, it has been deadly toxic and insanely counter to American interests. Many of the deaths to Covid-19 in this country are directly attributable to the bad policy decisions of the federal government. You can see this at a web site, TrumpDeathClock.com.
But we have not gotten to the end of this president’s misdeeds. Now, the bully in the White House is actually ordering federal officers, without identifying markings to show who they are, to grab Americans and shove them into unmarked cars. In my book, that is kidnapping. And they execute mass attacks on citizens while they demonstrate peacefully in the streets. In case you have not seen it, the mayor of Portland, Oregon was teargassed by federal agents. A Reuters report says the Justice Department is investigating. Since that is under the thumb of a Trump ally, we might not see much come of that.
It seems clear that Donald Trump has declared war on America.
And those who support him are helping this country to die by pushing for us to back obsolete technologies, by pushing for deadly bad health policy, and pushing fossil fuels, by pushing against democratic government. They are dividing us intentionally. I believe that if we do not stop them, we will certainly fall as a nation. And Vladimir Putin will get what he wants.
Photo: USS Bryant (DD-665) off Charleston, SC, on its way to the Pacific. Dad was aboard when this photo was taken. U.S. Navy photo, public domain.