Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

15 years after Sept. 11, we finally have the leader we needed

It has taken us almost 15 years since the September 11th attacks, but finally, in the person of Donald J. Trump, we have a leader who reassures us that he alone can solve this problem, who tells us not to worry because he knows better than the generals and pointy-headed foreign-policy experts how to deal with ISIS and other iterations of Islamic extremism.

It's such a relief to have a strong man to lean on.

A lifelong real estate developer, Trump tells us that he developed this keen insight into such matters while attending a grueling military-style New York boarding school, while running a beauty contest in Russia and while making Trump ties in Chinese factories. And really, it's hard to argue with a resume like that. He brings a skill set unlike that of any previous American president.

Unfortunately, Trump says, he can't tell us what his strategy against ISIS might be because, like the Coca-Cola and Colonel Sanders recipes, it's a secret. But he reassures us that this undisclosed plan is the product of the same keen insight and judgment that led him to oppose the Iraq invasion as well as the U.S. intervention in Libya.

"I have great judgment. I have good judgment. I know what’s going on," he told NBC's Matt Lauer last night. "I’ve called so many of the shots. And I happened to hear Hillary Clinton say that I was not against the war in Iraq. I was totally against the war in Iraq. From a — you can look at Esquire magazine from ’04. You can look at before that. I said it’s going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has."

I'm sure it's no cause for worry that Trump never said any such thing. He must have gotten his dates a bit mixed up, that's all. You see, the Esquire edition that he cites was in August 2004. The debate over the Iraq invasion occurred two years earlier, in the late summer and early fall of 2002. The congressional vote to authorize military action came in October, 2002. The invasion occurred in March 2003. So it's kind of like taking credit for predicting the outcome of the 2002 Super Bowl two years after the fact.

And as far as opposing intervention in Libya? Apparently his amazing memory fails him in that regard as well, not that that's anything that we should worry about.

In the past few days, though, Trump has deigned to give us at least a glimpse into the workings of his mind regarding ISIS. His plan, he said, is to call all the generals together and give them 30 days to come up with a plan.

Why no one else has thought of that ingenious approach in the past 15 years, I do not know. It seems so obvious, you know? But I guess that's the genius of it.

As to temperament, Trump cites his recent trip to Mexico as proof of his capability to handle delicate international relationships.

"I think if you saw what happened in Mexico the other day, where I went there, I had great relationships, everything else," he told Lauer. "I let them know where the United States stands.... And if you look at what happened, look at the aftermath today where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That’s how well we did."

And yes, he did great. He and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are now publicly calling each other liars over the Trumpian wall. And as Trump notes, he is so hated in Mexico that the Mexican cabinet officer who helped arrange the visit has now been sacked.

That's how well he did, and that's what we can expect to see often under a President Trump.

Trump further tells us that Vladimir Putin's seizure of Crimea was a sign of American weakness that he never would have tolerated as president. He also tells us that Crimea was actually part of Russia anyway so Putin probably was right to take it. He reminds us repeatedly, at every opportunity -- he did it again with Lauer -- that Putin has said such nice things about him, but he also reassures us that he is immune to this flattery that he keeps bringing up, endlessly, as if he's obsessed by the thought that he has impressed a man such as Putin.

So again, nothing to worry about.

He lauds Putin -- a man who assassinates his enemies, who imprisons those who dare object, who rules over a brutal oligarchy that has stripped Russia of much of its enormous wealth and left its economy in shambles -- he lauds that man as a great leader, just as he had previously lauded China's massacre of its own students at Tianamen Square as the right way to deal with dissent.

"They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength," he said of the Chinese government back in 1990. "That shows you the power of strength."

Because that's what we need in this country: Strength. We need men -- certainly not women, who are better off posing in bathing suits and certainly do not look presidential -- we need men who understand the importance of irrational action without thought, who appreciate the power of bluster and intimidation, who believe that if we want some other nation's oil, then dammit we ought to just take it.

It's taken us 15 years to get to this point, but we're finally here.




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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.