Judging from how he talks (and tweets!), it’s clear that Donald Trump thinks he’s still President of the United States, or maybe a co-president with Joe Biden, one who has his own foreign policy, especially when it comes to the current crisis in Israel. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s just an unemployed old dude with 91 criminal indictments against him who may yet go to prison. Never mind his failed coup of January 6th, the man steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that he lost the election and he’s no longer president.
Trump also thinks everything is about him. To his way of thinking, the catastrophe unfolding in Israel centers around his old grievance against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (perhaps the only authoritarian leader Trump doesn’t like). True to form, he knows next to nothing about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Israel’s 75-year history, or what’s at stake for the U.S. in the region. Could he even find Israel on a map, let alone the Gaza Strip? The man has shown time and again that he has no appreciation for the complexities of American history, so why should he have any understanding of the Middle East?
As David A. Graham so aptly put it in his Atlantic article entitled “Trump’s Only Real Worldview is Pettiness,”
Trying to assess Trump as either pro-Israel or anti-Israel—or, for that matter holding any other coherent policy stance—misses the point. Trump has no true allies or ideological commitments. He is reactive, driven by personal grievance, knee-jerk contrarianism, and admiration for strength and violence. In this case, that means bearing an old grudge against Netanyahu, opposing whatever Joe Biden is doing, and being impressed by the ruthlessness of Hamas’s attacks.
“Pettiness” is the operative word here, closely followed by “no true allies or ideological commitments” and “admiration for strength and violence.” The man is more than just “transactional” (I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine), he looks at everything solely from the standpoint of whether it’s good for HIM or bad for HIM, whether his narcissistic purpose is served. He’s loyal to nobody but demands total loyalty from others. If a terrorist organization like Hezbollah serves his purpose at the moment, he gladly considers them “smart.” To Trump’s way of thinking, if you’re an enemy of his enemy (in this case Netanyahu), you’re just fine and dandy in his book.
The Word “Transactionalist” Isn’t in the Dictionary, but it Should Be, Just to Define Trump’s Narcissistic Illness.
It’s debatable whether Trump is immoral or totally amoral, but no matter, he has no concern or regard for anything or anybody besides himself (maybe he’s actually a full-fledged sociopath). He could care less what he’s done to anyone, from the many individuals he’s thrown under the proverbial bus (e.g., his Atlantic City creditors; his Georgia indictment codefendants) or the whole country as shown by his abject failure to handle the Covid pandemic. “It is what it is,” sums up the value he puts on other people’s lives. It’s all about him—America, the Middle East, and the whole world be damned.
By any objective measure, Trump is a terrible racist, but when he denies his racism, in his own twisted, narcissistic way he’s telling the truth; he has no sincere, meaningful opinion or feelings about anything or anyone except his own self-worship and self-preservation, so how could he be a racist? Still, given the opportunity to promote racist hatred to drum up support from his MAGA “base,” he does so without a second thought. Indeed, to him it’s all part of the day’s transactions.