So how should we characterize the Trump administration? We have competing models: the fascist coup, the rule of oligarch criminals, the Putin puppet. Each has its merits. Here’s another one I like, set out by Tom Friedman in his New York Times op-ed: “Trump’s United American Emirate.”
Friedman: “Merkel is just the first major leader to say out loud what every American ally is now realizing: America is under new management. ‘Who is America today?’ is the first question I’ve been asked on each stop through New Zealand, Australia and South Korea. My answer: We’re not the U.S.A. anymore. We’re the new U.A.E.: the United American Emirate.
We have an emir. His name is Donald. We have a crown prince. His name is Jared. We have a crown princess. Her name is Ivanka. We have a consultative council (Congress) that rubber-stamps whatever the emir wants. And like any good monarchy, our ruling family sees no conflict of interest between its personal businesses and those of the state.”
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay no price, bear no burden, meet no hardship, support no friend, oppose no foe to assure the success of liberty — unless we’re paid in advance. And we take cash, checks, gold, Visa, American Express, Bitcoin and memberships in Mar-a-Lago.
The Trump doctrine is very simple: There are just four threats in the world: terrorists who will kill us, immigrants who will rape us or take our jobs, importers and exporters who will take our industries — and North Korea. Threats to democracy, free trade, the environment and human rights are no longer on our menu. Therefore, no matter how unsavory you are as a foreign leader, you can be the United American Emirate’s best friend if you:
1.) Pay us by buying our weapons. I warn you, though, Saudi Arabia has set the bar very high, starting at $110 billion.
2.) Pay us in higher defense spending for NATO — not to deter Russia, which is using cyberwarfare to disrupt every democratic election it can, but to deter “terrorism,” something that tanks and planes are useless against.
3.) Pay us in trade concessions. And it doesn’t matter how lame those concessions are. All that matters is that Emir Trump can claim “concessions.” See the recent “trade concessions” to Trump from China. (Pay no attention to that laughter from Beijing.)
4.) Pay us by freeing any U.S. citizen you arrested on trumped-up charges to annoy Barack Obama and to intimidate human rights activists. See Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s release of a U.S.-Egyptian charity worker, Aya Hijazi, who was working with homeless children.
5.) Pay us by grossly flattering our emir about how much of an improvement he is over Obama. See President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Bibi Netanyahu of Israel.
6.) Be Russia, and you pay nothing.”
Yeah, Tom is getting a little snarky – how could you not – and I’m not even sure I got the best parts. Read his whole op-ed. Personally, I’m still wondering about that orb and the red flashes coming from the White House window. Surely Trump found one of the palantirs and is even now enslaved by the Dark Lord.