There is in the U.S. a certain notion of being presidential.
Toss missiles at Syria or bomb Afghanistan and everyone reflexively calls it presidential. Added to warmongering is peacemaking, visiting foreign countries, meeting with foreign leaders, holding joint press conferences with a slew of foreign reporters, all in a whirlwind of activity eagerly seized upon by the home press.
And guess what? The president is being “presidential,” which as a bonus yields positive publicity, bumping up their favorability rating in the polls.
That fact that the past week has seen a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the alleged Russian connections of President Donald Trump (and collusion, if any, in election interference) will be forgotten while the president travels and hobnobs with leaders.
Throughout all of the talk of this alleged interference, we tend to forget that it had nothing to do whatsoever with the November election but a hacking last May that identified a corrupt Democratic Party leadership trying to scuttle the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
As a result, former party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz was booed off the stage at the Democratic National Convention, which was then run by an interim chair.
It compromised Hillary Clinton yet again, fraught as she is with scandals trailing back to Arkansas. Among other items in the long list of scandals is her questionable conversion of US$1000 to US$100,000 in a year's commodities trading, a risible impossibility.
It exposed her as far from the clear, untarnished, undisputed, universally-acceptable, honest winner of the primaries, and lost her the support of the fervent, impassioned, super-enthused wing of the party — a group intensely active that helps fuel a campaign. Money alone can often not be enough, as billionaire ex-eBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman discovered when she ran for California governor.
So, is the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor a problem for Trump? It will certainly be a distraction, but there can be nothing more, not while Republicans hold the reins in Congress. They just cannot be expected to spit in their own soup. For the time being, Plutarch is being vindicated once again: we are stuck with a naive, mercurial, tendentious president in the chaotic, marginally-competent White House.
On his first foreign trip, an ambitious one, he journeys to Saudi Arabia, occupied Palestine, Italy, Vatican City, Belgium, and then returns to Italy for a meeting with G7 leaders.
During his trip he will also have squeezed time for bilateral meetings with Gulf Cooperation Council leaders and a lunch with the heads of 50 Muslim countries to put forward the need to confront radical ideology and promote a peaceful vision of Islam.
Poor Islam. Everything hinges on it, never on the disastrous destruction of Iraq with the loss of a million lives, a disaster repeated in Libya and then Syria, not forgetting Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, or the sorry tale of Afghanistan.
Here is where it all began with the CIA and the Islamic Mujaheddin recruited and funded to fight the Soviet Union in what was described by former President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski as “the Soviet Union's Vietnam.”
No one has ever been held responsible for these unspeakable horrors, now left to the judgment of history. And it is precisely because no one was held accountable that they were able to be repeated with impunity.
It is one reason, and not the only one, that the International Court of Justice is scorned by Africa, many parts of Latin America and the developing world, not excluding the major powers of China and Russia.
Universal justice requires, by definition, universality.
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former professor whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.