THE WORLD AT RISK UNDER TRUMP
By Heribert Prantl
[This article published on August 13, 2017 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.sueddeutsche.de.]
The US president sounds like a warmonger. When will the mass of inflammatory words be so critical they trigger a nuclear chain reaction?
When I heard Donald Trump's latest threats against North Korea and his words about "US weapons loaded and ready to fire," I took Ludwig Quiddes' renowned book "Caligula" from my book shelf. This "study about the Roman Caesar mania" was published in 1894. This was the most successful political book in the Wilhelmian Empire and went through 31 editions up to 1926. Quidde, a German historian and journalist, received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1927 for his pacifist engagement. In his Caligula book, he wrote about the Roman emperor and his atrocities behind which the theatrical megalomaniac German emperor Wilhelm II could be easily recognized.
As the elements of the Caesar mania, Quidde counted the theatrical appearance, the sudden craving for military triumphs and a proclivity for a persecution complex. The "Caligula" book may be helpful in understanding Trump.
Many stories have been handed down about the whims and extravagances of the Roman emperor Caligula, his crazy ideas and mad ruminations. The story about his favorite horse Incarnates is the best known story. He allegedly wanted to promote the horse to his consul and awarded it a permanent seat in the Senate - to demonstrate his decision-making power. The US president Donald Trump has not gone that far.
According to the Roman writer Sueton, Caligula governed in an orderly way in the first six months. That cannot be said of trump. Grotesque incidents that call to mind Caligula's late crazes occurred in the first days of his administration. Caligula, it was reported, collected sea shells on the beach that - as exotic spoils - should suggest the success of the unsuccessful Britannia expedition to the Roman public. Caligula supposedly recruited Gallic gladiators who with red-colored hair were shown to the Romans in a triumphal procession as German war prisoners. This was the production of Fake News in Roman antiquity.
One could smirk about the old and new bragging... The US president sounds like a warmonger. He speaks more provocatively than any past US president. The world is at risk under him. Does madness have a method? When will the inflammatory words be so critical they trigger a nuclear chain-reaction? That fear accompanies us these days and weeks.
US vs. North Korea - An Inferno Envisioned
For decades, strategists have thought about scenarios for a conflict with North Korea. The rhetorical escalation of the last days suddenly gives the unthinkable the aura of reality.
The German election campaign or non-election campaign that now supposedly enters its heated phase with demonstrations and poster and letter campaigns seems like a pure idyll. With all criticism, people like reflecting and writing on the German election campaign to recover from the Trump news. In reading Ludwig Quidde's treatise about the Caesar mania, the frightening idea occurred to me that Trump could be the first postwar president to drop a nuclear bomb - and that his whole smear campaign is focused on this.
In the Senate, Caligula's successor Claudius declared all the government measures of his predecessor null and void, destroyed all writings about his government, rescinded his statutes and withdrew all coins with the image of Caligula from circulation. So the damnation memoriae appeared at that time, the damnation of his remembrance. How will people deal with the remembrance of Trump in a few years? What will the damnation memoriae look like in the 21st century? It will be fine if Trump is only remembered as a joke, a laughing stock and a lout!
The Militarization of Foreign Aid
The "International Day of Humanitarian Assistance" that will be celebrated next Saturday deserves a different international situation that is not as alarming, depressing and worrying. This world day deserves more attention than it has received up to now. Every second day is a day of remembrance for something. On August 19, a diabolical event in Iraq is recalled. On August 19, 2003, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Brazilian Sergio Vicira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in a car bomb attack at the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Therefore the day of remembrance honors the work of the humanitarian helpers who often risked their lives during their engagement. It would be good if people spoke and wrote much less about Trump's war preparations and much more about civilian prevention and peace promotion, stability and peace.
In the EU, there is an "instrument for stability and peace." A budget of nearly 2.5 billion euros for peace work and humanitarian assistance is earmarked for the time from 2014 to 2020. This is really marvelous. However, an impudence should be denounced on the International Day of Humanitarian Aid. The EU Commission wants to misappropriate the funds earmarked for peace promotion and redirect them to finance so-called measures of "physical training or fitness."
This means armies in third states should be trained and armed in the future with EU peace money. That is the EU Commission's goal. The development and foreign aid committees of the European Parliament have already given the green light - for using development funds for military purposes! The German government is pressing ahead with this. It has already established a national committee for the "physical training and fitness" of partner armies and wants this financed from EU funds. "Bread for the World" has sharply criticized this as an "affront to peace policy."
Is this a fraud or deceptive labeling when civilian funds of the EU budget are used for military purposes? The militarization of development assistance and peace work is a terrible mistake. The European Parliament could correct this error. The final vote is scheduled for the second week in September in a plenary assembly.