Donald Trump wins again in 2020, no matter who runs against him. This even if the Republicans rip themselves apart as they did with Ross Perot in the 1992 Clinton- GHW Bush election. By the way, this was the same election — we should recall — that started the tawdry “Clinton Dynasty,” which has thankfully come to an end.
So, how does President Trump win in 2020?
First: Look at the key “money numbers” for most everyone in America: Employment and incomes are at record high levels for all sectors, classes, ages, racial and ethnic groups, Hispanics, African Americans, all genders, etc., however one wants to categorize, measure or compare. Some sets of economic indicators exceed those going back 50 years. There has been nothing like this for as long as most of us can remember.
Ironically perhaps, it was because these same “money numbers” were so bad with Barack Obama that Mr. Trump won in 2016 — and a win in 2020 will be a simple confirmation of that choice. In short, our gut instincts in 2016 about Mr. Trump were right.
Second: The national security and foreign policy failures of past administrations — Republican and Democratic — have been exposed by Mr. Trump. He is not afraid of going against “traditional wisdoms” and political party policy identifications in Washington — a town where no one is responsible for anything that goes bad. And a lot of what has been done here — since the days of Ronald Reagan — has gone bad.
Here are some of the dumber things “we” have done in this category:
• When the Cold War ended, we did what we always do when a war ends. We “drew down” our military and critical national defense sectors. Wrong.
• The “Clintonistas” ignored Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s 1992 proposal that Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative — or SDI (better known as “Star Wars”) — include Russian technology in building a “Joint Global Defense.” Instead, they gutted SDI and pledged allegiance to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as the “cornerstone of strategic stability.” Following Yeltsin, the Russians built new generations of strategic nuclear weaponry — the basis for threats ex-KGB thug Vladimir Putin and his stooge generals now issue daily.
• President George W. Bush “walked” from the ABM Treaty in 2002, but did not restore efforts to build the most promising SDI defenses. Result? Now we have little defense against new generations of Russian ICBM’s — ones built after the Cold War ended. Go figure — why would we walk from a treaty that prevented us from defending ourselves, and then decide not to defend ourselves? That’s exactly what we did in the G.W. Bush years, as we were preoccupied with Iraq.
• Our strategic reaction to 9/11 was to invade Iraq — this because, and according to the CIA director, a Clinton holdover, it was a “slam dunk” that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and other “weapons of mass destruction” or “WMD.” Wrong. And rather than come home after Saddam and his thugs were neutralized, we changed our socalled “strategy,” and embarked on a decade-long and hugely expensive “democracy” policy in one of the most corrupt regions of the world. “Hugely expensive” means somewhere between 7 trillion and 10 trillion dollars of mostly borrowed money.
• Perhaps worse than the decision to go into Iraq — then stay there for a decade with a wasteful “democracy mission” — was the “real reason” behind why we actually did it. The advocacy for removing Saddam started long before 9/11 and was centered in the “Iraqi National Congress” organization — especially its leader, Ahmed Chalabi. His group effectively “worked” Washington political leaderships with a steady high pitch for removing Saddam and “freeing” the Iraq people, especially the oppressed Shiites. Chalabi was particularly effective in Washington with the so-called neocons, many of whom had served in senior political positions in the Reagan and both Bush administrations.
In fact, based on this advocacy, some believe George W. Bush had decided to remove Saddam before 9/11, and that 9/11 and the so-called WMD Slam Dunk was put together to gain political support for the 2003 invasion. Others have even suggested that Chalabi was an agent for Iran. That makes sense.
Just one of the ironies of the 2016 election was that Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Iraq war was taken as personal insult by the various neocon groups in Washington. In response, they put together a highly critical and personal attack on Mr. Trump, called the “War on the Rocks letter,” and then actively campaigned against Mr. Trump — some endorsing Hillary Clinton. Many who signed this letter now wish they hadn’t.
The bottom line for this political intrigue is that the 2003 Iraq invasion and subsequent decade of pouring money into the corrupt post-Saddam regime was a huge mistake and massive waste of our resources, human and money. Mr. Trump was right and GW Bush was wrong as well as the neocons, the CIA, Hillary Clinton and all but a very few members of Congress. Iraq will go down as the most serious and costly national security blunder we have made since Vietnam — and for many of the same reasons.
While many Americans may not know the political details and intricacies of the Iraq debacle, they know in their gut it was a huge and costly mistake by the Bush administration and its most senior officials.
In 2008, we voted against the protracted Iraq war and got Barack Obama, who wrecked our economy with a warmed-over Hillary Clinton mandated health care plan called “Obamacare.” Then, in 2016 we voted against Hillary Clinton because of mandatory Obamacare and our hope that Donald Trump would fix our broken economy and keep us out of “quicksand wars” such as Vietnam and Iraq. And he did — and we will elect him again — and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. We like prosperity and we like winners.
Daniel J. Gallington and Henry F. Cooper served in a series of senior national security related positions.