With the conniving John Bolton vanquished, World War VI has been sidestepped, thanks to quick action by President For Life Donald John Trump, as accurately recorded on social media (See Trump Presidency Tweets, Vol. 3, 7:38 a.m. Jan. 29, 2020).
A long period of degeneration of political intellect had left a vacuum that was, briefly, occupied by World War V’s Zombie Apocalypse (See “The Walking Dead,” season 11, episode 7). But the period of national conflict (the Bowling Green Massacre) leading up to the era of anti-intellectualism (99 out of 100 scientists were indeed wrong about climate change) was offset by President Trump’s decision to wisely turn to the new powers entrusted to him (Alan Dershowitz, “if a president did something that he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest — that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” CSPAN Jan. 28, 2020). Just as King Solomon of Israel settled an early child-custody case by suggesting splitting in half an infant (The Hebrew Bible, 1 Kings 3:16–28), Trump’s solution to the challenges he faced was separating the presidency from the antiquated notion of checks and balances (The Constitution of the United States, separation of powers, Articles 1, 2 and 3, ratified June 21, 1788).
Republicans quickly realized that reaching a threshold does not necessarily mean that threshold has been reached: “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office” (Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Jan. 31, 2020). This is a refreshing take on language (Abbott and Costello, “Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third”). The degree to which President Trump’s critics accused him of personal corruption seems hardly commensurate with the man who – and we know this from his own words – tenaciously fought corruption in Ukraine (Joseph Heller, “Catch-22”).
These are complexities beyond the grasp of most Americans, who are now free to turn to their iPhones and watch videos of baby pandas learning how to walk at the Berlin zoo, or surf Netflix for documentaries on how the noise from wind turbines causes cancer (Donald Trump, National Republican Campaign Committee fundraiser, April 2, 2019). As has been widely quoted in recent years, “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them (George Orwell, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”). From this base theory, we draw corollaries difficult for commoners to comprehend, including “War is peace” (Ibid); “Freedom is slavery” (Ibid); “Ignorance is strength” (Ibid), and, “A trial does not necessarily require witnesses” (Senate Republicans, First Trump Impeachment hearing).
Normalization was now the new normal (Rudy Giuliani, “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation,” The New York Times, May 9, 2019).
Trump further solidified his base support by identifying troublesome sectors of the general population. The rise in hate crimes validates his efforts. “Fake News” outlets would soon be trampled as well. We know ancient cartographers once untruthfully depicted the Earth as flat, but debatable science is often unquestioningly accepted as real, ergo the war on truth (See climate change, the Hurricane Maria death toll, President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, Senator Ted Cruz’ father was a part of a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, dozens of women accusing the president of sexual assault).
The emergence of the President’s alternative facts was skillfully enabled by what has been called Congressional Republicans’ “cringing shamefulness” (The Washington Post Editorial Board, Jan. 31, 2020).
The president set aside distractions such as parents whose sons and daughters gave their lives while in military service. And environmentalists protesting war-effort initiatives that included Trump’s freeing up national parks and waterways for the exploration of much-needed oil and the disposal of contaminated waste. And left-wing groups such as the American Bar Association rating his judicial candidates as “not qualified.” And while more than 160 countries that have banned the use of land mines due to their history of killing and wounding civilians, Trump rescinded restrictions on the U.S. military’s use of the weapons in order to further bolster the defense of the Homeland.
Trump discovered that healing the world was more swiftly accomplished when negotiating with just one man (Russian president Vladimir Putin) than having to answer to millions of his fellow citizens (Democrats, and anyone who refused to believe that Hillary Clinton’s cloud-based email server was actually a physical piece of hardware hidden in a basement in Ukraine).
Trump was the first (and one of the few, outside of White Nationalists) to recognize that Obama was planning to use Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to build concentration camps to lock up dissenters and nullify the 2016 election (Trump re-directed those FEMA funds to the more-democratic concept of building alien detention camps and separating children from their parents).
“So it goes” (Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse-Five”).
Prior to World Wars III, IV and V, it was common to see television cable news shows explain global conflicts by deploying retired generals in front of wall-sized maps, with arrows depicting how American troops were executing a series of “pincer movements” to trap Saddam Hussein’s army (“The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News). Pincer movements have long played a significant role in military history (Soviet Red Army vs. German Wehrmacht, Stalingrad, winter of 1942-’43). Yet the strategy had fallen out of favor by the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan at the end of the 20th Century; when Taliban soldiers saw the pointy part of the arrow coming toward them, they withdrew into the desert or mountains or general population until they observed the back end of the arrow, thereupon returning to the fight (“Lawrence of Arabia,” Best Picture, 1963 Academy Awards).
Looking ahead to World Wars III, IV and V, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. It set the military budget at $738 billion, which included the establishment of a new military branch with excellent insignia patches, the U.S. Space Force (Although the Prime Directive as initially defined by “Star Trek” prohibits members of the United Federation of Planets from interfering with the internal and natural development of alien civilizations).
Such futuristic thinking is generally the province of speculative fiction. “With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter” (“The War of the Worlds,” H.G. Wells).
In that manner, President Trump sagely anticipated the arrival of Martians and their spindly-legged machines armed with death rays. His cool and calculated unpredictability kept the rest of the world breathlessly in check (Stanley Kubrick, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”). Yet other dangers were far less obvious. The passage of time has shown us that World War III was not announced with a dramatic act of aggression, as we saw with Pearl Harbor and the American entry into World War II (Gordon W. Prange, “At Dawn We Slept”). Instead, it arrived with all of the quietude of a housecat hopping onto a bed to join its slumbering masters (Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine), unpublished manuscript, “And Then We Hit the Snooze Button and Rolled Over”).
The solutions to other dangers had proven to be far more costly. We can trace the true origins of World Wars III, IV and V to the American incursions into North Korea and Vietnam, and the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, roach motels of war from which there was no escape for either nation’s politicians or soldiers. (“Apocalypse Now,” Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz, speaking to Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard, “You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill”).
Thus, while expanding their world reach through the economics of military spending working hand-in-hand and the symbolism of missile design (Sigmund Freud, common cocktail party chatter), Russian leaders learned that the bill will always come due. With the failure of its own war in Afghanistan, Russia traded such certified penis envy for teenage computer geeks (a monthly minimum wage of 12,130 rubles, or $191.05 in U.S. currency) launching dissolute bargain-basement cyber attacks from the comfort of their potato-filled kitchens. Their aim? To drive a wedge into America’s racial and economic fault lines, assuring the election of President For Life Trump.
Trump responded with shock-and-awe economics (the 2020 U.S. military budget, $738 billion) that demonstrated its limitless resources. And was time to party, taxpayer’s money well spent ($3.4 million on the Super Bowl LIV blowout at Mar-a-Lago, your invite’s still in the mail).
What could go wrong? (Edward Gibbon, “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”) Certainly the United States Senate (President James Buchanan, “The greatest deliberative body in the world”) has never entertained such thoughts.
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