The Adults in the Room

A piece in the New York Review of Books discusses the figures designated the adults in the room, 3 military and 1 civilian, under the Trump administration. This term labeled people with different stands on a policy, but now it means just what it says, adults in the face of Trump’s horrid immaturity.
One thing caught my eye: Tillerson, despite his solid reputation as a corporate leader and recommendations from sober Republicans, has done more to dismantle Bannon’s administrative state than anyone else. Mattix stonewalled Trump’s anti-transgender edict and Kelly has booted several fluff heads and controlled others’ access to The Great Man, but Tillerson has gone the other way, dismantling the State Department to the point of undermining our national security. Even people in place are being moved out.
Why does this not concern Trump’s base? Because they have no understanding of America’s role in the world and the place of diplomacy in maintaining, protecting, and advancing that place. To them, it all boils down to military power, the John Wayne approach to foreign policy: Hey, asshole, we’re the U.S. of A. Don’t mess with us! by which is meant do not interfere with what we want nor deny us what we want or we will swat you the way John Wayne swatted big mouths who annoyed him: POW!
In fact, diplomacy, to them, is another word for cowardice. A real man, a real American, doesn’t talk, he acts, and acts with force, violence if necessary, or even if it’s not necessary.
Broaden this out to all other areas of governance and you get the same picture you have in third world dictatorships, with The Great Leader dispensing folk nostrums as health care, brutal thugocracies as a police force, Mongol-type strikes against weak countries as a military policy, and a kleptocracy as an economic policy, all wrapped up in patriotic clap-trap (MAGA) and hero worship. Next he’ll be handing out deputy badges to his followers, thus recruiting the same mobs as show up at his rallies to intimidate the other two thirds of the population.
Think this has not happened before? Many times, so many it seems the normal state of things. And recall that all the Mongols did was destroy, they did not build. But at least the Mongols placed the former rulers of the conquered territories back in their seats of power to run the place, recognizing that they themselves had no capacity to do so. They even maintain luxury yurts to remind Mongol warriors captivated by the sensuous civilizations they conquered that they yet remained warriors. To no avail.
As all rebels find out, as our Confederacy found out, you need an economy and a government to make things work, and thus we are right back to the administrative state. And that is why Steve Bannon and his ilk are Mongols. Close behind them are the Libertarians and their dreams of a stateless society where only the best survive and natural ability sorts everyone out into the rulers and the ruled and thus we start all over again, because guess what, the ruled get tired of being screwed.
Usually that leads to immense violence, but some societies have found smoother ways to redress grievances. They are called the administrative state.

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