The U.S. president is in love with his own contradictions; he knows them and nourishes them intentionally. For now, he's got out his knife to show it off. When will he use it? And who will he use it against?
Many acute observers of the current international political situation have noted, and done so often when first approaching Donald Trump’s intervention in the Syrian War, that chaos has grown dramatically. In examining the causes, they've also been trying to understand the motives behind it all. Here, I will refer to some:
1. Trump wants to be in the same league as Putin, and so up to now he has shown the "czar of all Russians" devoted friendship for having provided such support in his difficult competition with Hillary Clinton;
2. Trump is an eccentric who, in loving himself so greatly, also loves his eccentricity and thus wants to show it off;
3. Trump loves to surprise, and the sudden intervention in the Syrian War against Bashar Assad (protected by Putin) surprised the whole world; and
4. Trump may be an eccentric and an egotist, but he's also a man of instinct; he sensed that by simply having some influence over the European populist movements he would gain a sort of "minor" popularity and as a result "major" unpopularity among the ruling class, not only in Europe but worldwide, starting with Mexico and China. Most importantly, he owed the U.S. a greater presence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, which were becoming Russian and Ottoman-influenced zones as in the days of Egypt under Naguib, Nasser and other young officers who, backed by Khrushchev, had dethroned Farouk.
Regarding motives which explain Trump's surprising move, there are of course several, almost all of which have been properly outlined, especially in our newspaper, La Repubblica, and in the most influential media outlets in Italy and the Western world. For me, they are all acceptable and together give a complete picture of what is happening and of the possible consequences. I, too, would like to add a suggestion: That the world is structurally chaotic, and it is chaos that dominates, not just now but since forever. Chaos is the law of the universe, of our planet, and wherever there is life, life and history in particular. Even elementary particles are born from the chaos that Einstein sought to explain through his theory of relativity.
Chaos bestows a consequence for each of us – the contradictions we have within ourselves, in our very soul. Some have contradictions which they seek to bring together in harmony, others however, tend not only to suffer them but rather magnify and glorify them.
Compare two individuals who have held the same office, one after the other: Obama and Trump. The first was full of contradictions, starting from birth, but used logic to reconcile them and to a certain extent, he succeeded in doing so.
Trump, however, is in love with his contradictions, he knows them well and nourishes them intentionally.
Compare instead the contradictions between two Italian characters such as Enrico Letta, Italian prime minister from 2013 to 2014, and Matteo Renzi, Italian prime minister from 2014 to 2016. The first, like Obama, tried to dominate his contradictions; the second tried to magnify and glorify them. I've heard it said that Renzi was liked by Obama. It's true. We are often friends with our opposite. Which is why — if we think for a moment about such relationships — we can take as a model "The Threepenny Opera" and Mack the Knife. Mack truly loved the poor and attacked and pillaged the rich, sharing the wealth among the impoverished. However, and here I'll conclude my analogy, Mack the Knife today is Trump, and he's now pulled his knife out for all to see. But when will he use it? And who will he use it against?
Many experts predict that negotiations will now open between Trump and Putin — both of whom have a knife. They'll have to negotiate the situation in the Western world, excluding for the time being Asia, i.e. China, which can never be the object but rather the subject of negotiations. Imagine if you will: Trump and Putin start negotiations immediately, yet Trump in the meantime is already dealing with China. This simultaneous double-dealing demonstrates that the American Empire is perhaps much stronger than that of the Russian. I’ll add that Trump would also have to negotiate simultaneously with Europe as a whole, along with some other individual nations. As a result, the United States of America surely wants to and must then negotiate with the entire world; even with North Korea regarding atomic bombs, which should be subject to international control. Is this a sign of strength or weakness? I'd be inclined to say it's a sign of strength, but, I may add, also of the chaos of a global civilization which is not an invention but a reality which affects the entire planet, no one knowing this better than China.
Europe, unfortunately, is never taken into consideration and depends on the sovereignty of individual countries. Woe is us if Europe doesn't get itself organized as soon as possible.
Trump knows that a global society exists and I believe he takes this into account, making one mistake, however: He thinks of dominating it and then using that society as a symbol of its very own sovereignty. This can’t be done. A global society is now a situation which we all must take into account, but it is not a place, nor a subject to be conquered. Can the passing of time be conquered? In time things get done and time moves on, it doesn't get conquered; hence a global society, which has been created by technologies which, as they grow increasingly more powerful, increasingly connect more individuals. The American Empire already operates globally around the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Central Pacific and the American Pacific. In a society of that sort, there is no empire that seriously considers it could rule the entire world. Never has one existed and never will one exist.
How will Trump match Putin? There is only one way: Russia must abandon Assad and make him resign. In return, NATO can disassemble its close Baltic border surveillance and any contention over Ukraine can be forgotten with the lifting of sanctions that the Western front previously imposed on Russia. Ukraine could also be divided in two with the Russian-speaking side going back to the mother country, or it could even become a buffer zone manned by the United Nations. Likewise, Syria and Kurdistan could become a "buffer zone," covered by a double Russian-American guarantee.
In short, northeast Europe and the Middle East could then make use of a dual American-Russian guarantee which must exist and work in unison under the umbrella of the U.N. Security Council, not to fight a war of vetoes but to use the established institution under its own domain for the purpose of helping the “buffer zone” territories held in place by this double guarantee.
With conflicts thus sorted, relations with China would be different and in a certain sense even face opposition. China and America could negotiate with regard to economic problems; Russia and China with regard to ideological boundaries and relationships. Communism, which they once shared like siblings, has now disappeared everywhere. However, state capitalism operates in both countries, in China perhaps even more so than in Russia, and in both, there is Islamic infiltration, less so in China but present in European Russia. China is an entirely Asian power. Its problems with Russia also concern Japan and the islands surrounding the Bering Strait, but America is also there. Four empires within an area of a few square miles; thus we have global society to the nth degree between China, Japan, Russia and Siberian America.* These problems don't currently exist (excluding Korea) but they will arise in the future, which doesn’t bear thinking about. Let’s not forget, however, that the first contingents of people who set foot on the northern lands of America came from that very strait. The natives, then called "redskins," came from the frozen north of Asia. This is not prehistory but ancient history.
Let's get back to current affairs and the Europe to which we belong and which most interests us.
Trump will soon come to our continent. Nowadays, he's more a friend of democratic governments than populist ones. He'll certainly go to England and perhaps even Germany and Brussels. Whether or not he's coming to Italy, we don't know, but common interests aren't lacking, one being a possible meeting with the pope. Another interest would be to discuss the subject of immigration with the Italian government. Then there's the war on the Islamic State which interests all European governments in the north and south of our continent. The bombing in Syria is an integral part of Trump's new policy as he administers a country that has been attacked first by al-Qaida with aerial attacks that brought down the Twin Towers; then in much more recent times, a country that has seen many of its towns and cities suffer, just like and perhaps even more so than Europe.
Will the subject of the war on the Islamic State group, and that of immigration and integration with Muslims be part of the U.S. president's new initiatives? Trump's change of policy is certainly eccentric but it implies changes also on our part which are just as eccentric as they are inevitable; changes that need to be managed with some serious reflection. For once, let’s try to limit the chaos and have the logic which governs our general interests prevail instead.
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, it is not clear what the author means by the term “American Siberia.”