It was seventeenth century French Dramatist Pierre Corneille who copyrighted this expression in three-hour long tragedies that are still studied by every child in the French school system. Implying ‘Damned if we do, damned if we don’t,’ it is currently being played out in Trump’s America.
As the November 3rd presidential election draws near, Americans have been warned that this time around both China and Russia, who have an all-encompassing alliance, are ‘interfering’ in their ’democracy’. But as opposition to Trump’s racist agenda grows exponentially, voters are not told why the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, promises a harder attitude toward Russia than Obama. As voters, they are faced with a ‘Cornelian Dilemma’: Trump is destroying the country from within, while Biden would destroy it through war.
Like all presidents since Clinton, Biden (America’s ‘Uncle Joe’) will follow the official Defense Doctrine known as the Wolfowitz doctrine after its bellicose author, Paul Wolfowitz. Its stated purpose is to ensure that no other country gains the ability to dethrone the US as world hegemon, and it singles out Russia’s mineral cornucopia as potentially enabling it to do just that. Several months ago, without referring to ‘Wolfowitz’, which he had been permitted to soften only slightly in his 2017 Defense Doctrine, Trump suggested that the US should purchase Greenland, having leaned that geography blessed that North Atlantic island with mineral assets comparable to those of Russia. In the president’s mind, this would obviate the need to bomb Moscow, where he would like to build a tower. However, America’s pundits, having long ago forgotten the Wolfowitz doctrine if they were ever aware of it, dismissed this as just another hare-brained idea, partly because they did not know Trump’s fundamental attitude toward war.
A recent book by a Trump family intimate explains it. Seeing a ‘good deal’ as the height of achievement, Trump considers that service in the military is for ’suckers’ and ‘losers’, as he has been saying on television recently. The concept of patriotism is foreign to him, as illustrated by his attitude toward the former Senator John McCain, who was held captive for five years after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War. Trump declares for effect that he likes “heroes who weren’t captured”. Now we learn that long before becoming president, he threatened to disinherit Don Jr., if he embraced a military career, unable to understand why people would risk their lives when ‘there’s nothing in it for them’.
Although Trump burnishes the US military when he wants to threaten another country, warning of its unmatchable capability to inflict death and destruction, he seriously threatens to dismantle NATO if participating countries fail to increase their contributions. Biden’s backers, on the other hand, are heavily invested in the military-industrial complex. Heedless of Eisenhower’s warning, they are convinced that its power to destroy proves that it is equally capable of rebuilding the world (in America’s image, but without the race problem…),
This dyad confronts American voters with a typical Cornelian choice, between two equally disastrous outcomes. By rejecting Trump, they would avoid a race war at home, but face nuclear war with Russia, backed by China. The evidence for this is that Biden intends to keep NATO’s tanks stationed on Russia’s European border, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, condemning President Putin for calling up defensive forces on his side — as if a national leader’s first responsibility were not to ensure the safety of his citizens!
Biden’s backers are invested in the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, its awesome power to destroy having convinced them that it is equally capable of rebuilding the world (in America’s image, but without the race problem…), while Trump knows that nuclear war would end all deals. He acted upon this conviction by inventing a ‘bone spur’ on a foot to escape peace-time military service, only to accept the backing of white supremacists once he became president. Encouraging his followers to engage in violence against non-white Americans from the safety of the White House, he has probably never fired a weapon, suggesting that on the morning of November 4th he is unlikely to reject defeat by leading his followers onto the South Lawn brandishing a machine gun against Antifa.
He is more likely to abscond in the dead of night to a friendly country such as Turkey, where the ‘longtime-not-seen’ Rudy Giuliani is probably arranging accommodations befitting the former president of the most powerful country the world had ever seen. My hypothesis has been neither echoed nor challenged, however, neither has a more credible scenario been put forth. This leads me to suggest that instead of wondering what they will do if Trump refuses defeat, the Democrats should be taking suggestions from the public for a new constitution, recognizing that ‘checks and balances’ no longer suffice to ensure the rule of law.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”