PARIS -- If Donald Trump can wind down the make-war projects of previous administrations in favor of a more profitable alternative, he will go down in history as one of America's greatest presidents.
Whether or not Trump will fully realize that potential, however, depends on two things: his ability to see the ground truth of these situations despite propaganda that obscures that truth, and his willingness to keep battling against all odds and opposition.
Something Trump has going for him that other presidents didn't is his unwillingness to back down from his bold positions when faced with negative press. He recently demonstrated this domestically by refusing to free detained illegal border-hoppers despite demands that they be unified with their kids.
Trump has also been bombarded by relentless criticism on the international-policy front, notably for his stated interest in wanting to treat Russia like any other country. The resulting hysteria has often been amusing. Trump merely expressed during his campaign the apparently wild notion that America should seek to normalize relations with Russia and see if the two nations can find some common ground to help solve some of the world's problems, such as terrorism. That radical idea whipped the establishment into such a frenzy that it gave rise to the narrative that Trump was Russia's Manchurian candidate, brought to power because Russia made Americans vote for Trump.
The Russophobic industrial complex is so prevalent that some elements of world governance are based on the concept. NATO is a Cold War relic created in response to the perceived threat of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union doesn't even exist anymore, yet NATO still does, pratfalling around the world like an old drunk in a bar looking for a fight with anyone or anything Russian. What's left of the Soviet Union now is just Russia, and if Russia is no longer perceived as a threat, then what future is there for NATO? Is there any other institution of global governance whose entire raision d'etre is its opposition to a single country?
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, a neoconservative King Kong, remarked in a recent interview that, "If you think Russia's a threat, ask yourself this question, why is Germany spending less than 1.2 percent of its GNP (on NATO)? So when people talk about undermining the NATO alliance, you should look at those who are carrying out steps that make NATO less effective militarily."
Germany just broke ground on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will transport gas from Russia, sealing an energy-security pact between Russia and Europe. That's where Germany's money is going -- not to send German troops to lip-service military exercises in Eastern Europe to support useless policy posturing and to gin up conflict with a strategic economic partner.
Now that Bolton serves Trump's mission of engaging in constructive dialogue with Russia -- which is particularly helpful in advance of a planned summit later this month between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to explore mutual cooperation -- he's singing a different tune from when he was just hanging out on the Washington think-tank scene, drumming up conflict.
So, can we do Iran next, please? Trump appears to lack a diversity of views advising him on Iran. He seems easily swayed by the militant views of certain members of his entourage. At a rally here in Paris last weekend held by an Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the crowd, "We are now very realistic in being able to see an end of the regime in Iran."
Giuliani also accused Europe of propping it up the Iranian regime. Here in Europe, we call that doing business and rejecting the idea of yet another "regime change" that hands power to terrorists and provokes more refugee crises. And it should be noted that the group which hosted Giuliani in Paris was once listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Instead of letting Giuliani run around cheering regime change, perhaps Trump can give Giuliani the assignment of setting up a summit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, just as Trump sent Bolton to Moscow to pave the way for a meeting with Putin.
Until now, the modus operandi for guys like Giuliani and Bolton has been to foster division to the profit of some rather than to seek out cooperation for the profit of all. The Washington establishment hasn't been very good at the latter. Fearmongering is relatively easy. Anyone can do it. Finding constructive solutions is complex and challenging.
Trump is America's best chance. He's setting the course. What he desperately needs are honest, reliable navigators and the will to stay the course no matter how choppy the waters.