I have a question: Is there a Republican candidate who is a true political outsider and is not beholden to either of the major parties, the establishment, or their monied political benefactors, and isn’t Donald Trump? Can we have a true political outsider like Donald Trump without Trump’s idiosyncrasies?
Let’s examine one aspect of Trump’s presidency when considering the above question. During Donald Trump’s presidency, this country experienced no new hot wars for four years. Donald Trump resisted being drawn into new conflicts and actively worked to extract this country from the long-term conflicts it was embroiled in when he was president.
The post-Cold War reality for this country has been characterized by regular occurrences of hot kinetic war and conflict. We invaded Iraq twice. The second time was in the heat of the post-9/11 attacks on the homeland, which saw the now discredited rationale of weapons of mass destruction being imminently used on us by Saddam Hussein as justification for invasion. The post-invasion project subsequently turned into some sort of nation-building operation when weapons of mass destruction never materialized. The war in Iraq resulted in the killing of 280,771 to 315,190 civilians by direct violence since the U.S.-led invasion and the inadvertent destruction of the oldest Christian community in the world. Christianity in that country will probably go extinct in our lifetime.
The Afghan campaign went from bringing al-Qaeda and its Taliban enablers to justice, to some sort of nation-building project that became the longest-running war that this country has ever fought. A whole generation of Afghan people grew up knowing only war being waged on them by the West. Whatever cultural and civilizational benefits may have been realized by those inhabitants after we spent $2 trillion-plus dollars and 20 years of blood and sacrifice were effectively snuffed out when the United States left in the dead of night. This humiliating and chaotic Afghan withdrawal subsequently made the Taliban the most well-equipped military force in the region by leaving behind approximately $85 billion of state-of-the-art military equipment. The Taliban, because of our withdrawal, had more Black Hawk helicopters than the Australian military.
During the two administrations of President Barack Obama, the United States went on a campaign of supporting various uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The civil war in Syria that the United States supported directly and indirectly through proxies has internally displaced 13.5 million people in a country of 22 million. More than 350,000 people are estimated to be dead as of 2022. It should be mentioned that some of these proxies that we were supporting were jihadist groups that had members nominally associated with al-Qaeda. It was here that we saw the rise of such groups as ISIS.
A footnote worth mentioning: the country of Libya. Libya as a country is no longer an ongoing concern. The United States and its allies effectively waged an undeclared and illegal war on the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and overthrew him when we intervened and supported the regime’s adversaries. We weren’t at war with Libya. There was no meaningful debate in Congress. The U.S. Congress did not declare war on Libya, nor did it vote on an authorization for use of military force. The country of Libya, post NATO/U.S. intervention, is currently ruled by competing warlords. There are actual slave markets operating in some parts of the country. It should be mentioned that Gaddafi worked with the United States and the United Nations to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction programs shortly after the events of 9/11. Under Gaddafi, the marital age for women was raised to 18; women could divorce their husbands; women could go to college; women could own property; health care was subsidized by the state; college was subsidized by the state; water projects moved water from wetter parts of the country to arid regions by way of underground aqueducts. Gaddafi was not a nice person ... but Libya post-Gaddafi is a dystopian mess.
Today the world is probably closer to an accidental nuclear conflict than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis. We find ourselves currently embroiled in a proxy war in the Ukraine against Russia. The New York Times just recently reported that casualties between belligerents are approximately 500,000 dead or wounded. It cannot be said enough: Russia is a nuclear-armed power. They have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It obviously is not in their interest to add a nuclear component to this conflict ... but it is the unintended consequences of actions when coupled with nuclear weapons that are the concern. So we should be asking ourselves: Is there another candidate who is not Donald Trump who is truly an outsider who can give us another four years of no new wars?