WASHINGTON -- The city is on fire with fury this week. The smoke was streaming out of every White House flue, door and window. A president of the United States was being doubted not for his policy decisions, but for his "mental stability"!
But I find myself wondering, as Donald J. Trump's days become more and more tortured: Didn't just about everyone in America KNOW that he was the master of the untruth, the narcissist of all narcissists and perhaps even a danger to the nation?
Are you really going to tell me that you didn't suspect?
Well, for just a moment let's set aside the mental stability question. Let's look not at what Trump is saying or seeming to say; let's consider what he has been DOING in foreign policy.
The president's most recent intervention in the world outside has been to embrace the anti-government protesters in Iran, who emerged seemingly overnight in cities and towns all across Persia. An overjoyed anti-Iranian Trump immediately took credit for the protests.
And what did this do? It caused the theocratic Iranian state to blame the protests not on themselves or their policies, but on the United States. Thus, in one fell swoop, our victory was devalued when appropriate caution in our rhetoric would have solidified it and given credit to the protesters.
Before this, there was the president's dramatic outburst against Pakistan, a rabidly Islamic country whose intelligence agency openly supports Islamic radicals like the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan, Trump said publicly and angrily, has taken $33 billion in American aid over a period of 15 years and "given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools."
Now, most American diplomats and military leaders have silently felt this way for years. But no matter how much the president roars, Pakistan will not move itself to Denmark or Canada; it will stay right where it is -- smack next door to Afghanistan -- which we made the huge mistake of invading in 2001, and where we've now been stuck for 16 years, with no end in sight.
So, yes, Pakistan is a roguish state, but exactly what other route are we going to use to send our troops into Afghanistan?
Then we have Trump's obviously personal and familial decision to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In one minute, the president managed to destroy any real hope of a Middle East peace.
Why? Because Jerusalem is meant to be the capital of both the Jewish state and a future Palestinian state. Our recognizing Jerusalem meant that the solution of two states living side-by-side -- the ONLY solution -- was finished.
The Far Right in the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, immediately repaid Trump by introducing legislation to formally annex all the West Bank settlements on Palestinian land.
Then there is a small, mountainous country southwest of Saudi Arabia, bordering the gleaming waters of the Gulf of Aden. Its name is Yemen. Unknown to most Americans, Yemen is a magical place.
When I was there in the 1980s, I was enchanted by the extraordinary early-skyscraper architecture of the country, which dates back 3,000 years. The windows are eye-shadowed with white lines, which gives the effect of thousands of eyes watching you. Yemen also happens to be the pre-Islamic homeland of the Arab peoples and the Arab language.
Actually, I should have said "was." Because almost every day now, this precious historic land is being bombed into oblivion by Saudi airplanes, all supplied and maintained diligently by the United States, a policy that's been expanded during Trump's first year in office. Yemen, which never really bothered much of anybody, now has 8 million people, or one-third of its population, on the brink of famine, and 1 million dying of cholera.
What should we compare this to? Perhaps Spain, which became a cause celebre of the 1930s, bombarded to death by the fascists?
The Trump foreign policy, thus, turns out to be one designed almost entirely to defeat and, if possible, wipe out the vestiges of the past -- particularly anything with the stamp of Obama on it. It is personal, it is angry and it is always in-your-face.
Trump also enthusiastically continues America's disastrous interventions in other countries -- at virtually any cost.
Curiously, when Iran erupted in protests this week, a great part of the reason was that Iranians profoundly resent their government's spending for military adventures outside the country. Similar reports of unrest, interestingly enough, are now emerging from Russia.
When will we Americans protest?