“If Samson had been a blonde,” Donald J Trump seems to believe, ”he’d have been a lot like me. A long-haired giant, of prodigious strength, a hero of the Nazarite nation. Check. Check. Check. And a true revolutionary, who pulled down the columns of his enemies’ temple. Crash, bang, game over. Samson; a hero; a Biblical Donald Trump.”
There are less savory similarities our president seems to have missed. Samson fell for a beautiful woman, Dalilah, perhaps after he had grabbed her in that Trumpian way. Of course, she got even, sold him out, cut his hair and his prodigious powers, and left him blinded, chained to one of those columns.
And his feat of strength, destroying the Philistines’ temple, killed him as well as his enemies and left ruination reminiscent of what Trump’s U.S. forces inflicted on the cities of Ramadi, Mosul and Raqqa.
Trump’s latest rampage through the sacred grounds of his enemies (liberals and globalists) is his threat to tear up the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a monument of diplomacy from the Reagan-Gorbachev Era.
Trump’s critics say he is undermining the stability of Russian-American relations and the security of Europe.
Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton says that’s baloney, that the INF Treaty is obsolete and adhering to it is dangerous because it restrains the U.S., but not China, and because it hasn’t restrained the Russians, who have been cheating on its rules.
On the midterm campaign trail, President Trump has decried the alleged Russian cheating and trashed the treaty. But in Russia, even as he pressed his president’s point, Bolton hinted it might be months before the U.S. actually filed to withdraw from the INF Treaty and even offered the possibility it might never happen.
President Putin seemed to take the threat in stride, saying he couldn’t wait for another shot at Trump one-on-one, perhaps in Paris next month. The elections will be over by then, and the need to fire up his own nationalist Philistines may no longer impel the American leader to fulfill his threat against the INF.
Or maybe Trump is serious, the INF is going down and a new global arms race, starring the U.S., Russia and China is about to be launched. After all, the President told a campaign crowd, we can’t lose, because “we have more money.”
So did Samson before he grabbed Dalilah.
Joseph Cirincione is president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. He is the author of the new book Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late, Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons and Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s International Security Advisory Board.
His commentary has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Financial Times, Kyodo News, Moscow Times, Foreign Policy, The Hill, Daily Beast, and Huffington Post. He has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, PBS, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NHK, Russia Today, and Al Jazeera.
Cirincione worked for nine years in the US House of Representatives on the professional staff of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Government Operations. He is the author of hundreds of articles on nuclear weapons issues, the producer of two DVDs, a frequent commentator in the media, and he appeared in the films, Countdown to Zero and Why We Fight. He previously served as Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress and Director for Nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has held positions at the Henry L. Stimson Center, the US Information Agency and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He teaches at the graduate School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.