Trump believes that a "Trump war" will brings us together behind him.
There are two bright-red warning lights flashing right now on the dashboard of what's left of American democracy. While Donald Trump is hyper-aware of both of them, the media and most of our politicians are ignoring them.
They are War and Crash.
War is one of the principal instruments of power-grabs by strong-man governments, and Donald Trump isn't missing a beat. While hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria right now haven't had any humanitarian aid since November of last year and are literally dying as you read these words, Trump wants to amp up his bombing of that country.
But the biggest threat may be an unnecessary (but short-term politically useful) war with North Korea or Iran.
The day of his State of the Union speech, Trump met with a group of newspaper editors, and apparently harkening back to George W. Bush's strategy, talked about how useful a war could be for a politician who wants the entire nation to love him and unite around him. He said: "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity. Without a major event where people pull together. That's hard to do."Perhaps considering how Americans might react to such a statement from a president, he backtracked a bit in the next sentence: "But I would like to do it without that major event, because usually that major event is not a good thing."
Similarly, while campaigning in 1999, George W. Bush told his biographer, Mickey Herskowitz, that if he became president, he wouldn't make the mistake his father made in having only a short and limited war with Iraq; he'd have a big enough war so he'd become a "war-time president" with enough political capital to do things like privatize Social Security.
Cindy Sheehan talked about this when she testified in front of Congress in 2005. Speaking before a committee put together by John Conyers, she said:
"[I]in interviews in 1999 with respected journalist and long-time Bush family friend, Mickey Herskowitz, then Governor George Bush stated, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I have that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.'"
Now the only question is, which country will provide Donald Trump's unifying event. Will it be Syria, Iran or North Korea? Although Trump has radically escalated our military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to a spike in both US soldier and civilian deaths, it's being largely ignored by the media.
But Iraq and Afghanistan are so George Bush. Thus, Trump reasons, he needs a "Trump war" to bring us together behind him.
Another possibility is that he's doing everything he can to both provoke North Korea and Iran, and piss off radicalized Muslims worldwide and in the US to attack us, so he can use that as well as George W. Bush used 9/11.
The Pentagon is apparently so freaked out about this possibility that it's refusing to hand over to Trump limited-war plans against North Korea. As noted in the New York Times: "[T]he Pentagon, they say, is worried that the White House is moving too hastily toward military action on the Korean Peninsula that could escalate catastrophically."