If President Trump is ultimately known for demonstrating something akin to a Samuel Gerard foreign policy in the Middle East, then count this Trump skeptic in.
Gerard is the fictional U.S. marshal made famous by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie “The Fugitive.” In one of the climactic scenes of the film, Gerard loses his sidearm and gets it pointed at him by the man he is chasing: a character named Dr. Richard Kimble, played by Harrison Ford.
Kimble, who is truly innocent, begins pleading his case with Gerard to that effect. To which Gerard, despite the precarious situation he is in, replies simply but emphatically: “I don’t care.”
Not because he is a man without conscience, but because his jurisdiction over Kimble is not that of a judge or a jury. His job is to bring him in and let his guilt or innocence be determined by others. In other words, Gerard was a man who didn’t believe in needlessly complicating the job before him.
Keep it simple. Perhaps especially when things are the most dangerous.
This is where Trump comes in, after dropping the “mother of all bombs” on a bunch of Islamic State jihadis in Afghanistan last week. The dropping of one such bomb does not a trend line make. However, taken within the context of recent White House visits by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan, the possibilities are encouraging.
Trump, like Gerard, may be telling us that his terms for doing his job as commander-in-chief and/or foreign diplomat are simple. They don’t involve needless parsing about whether America should trend toward isolationism or interventionism. They don’t concern themselves with whether Islam is an existential threat to humanity or a great religion hijacked by crazy people. And they most certainly don’t try to go Marie Harf-style zero-dimensional chess, with faux utopian suggestions like jobs programs that can save the world from itself.
There may be a lot of things I wish Trump cared more about, but in this case I’d be positively giddy if he didn’t give a rip about any of that. The post-9/11 world cannot be negotiated with Rube Goldberg political contrivances that make a lot of silly people feel smart but serve only to bloody the waters further.
No, we don’t need more nuance concerning the Middle East. Nuance is killing Americans, as well as innocent Muslims caught in the cross-hairs of our wishcasting. We need more Gerard.
So the message Trump sent the world last week on that front – knowingly or not – was that if you desire to be our friend in the Middle East, like al-Sisi or Abdullah, let’s be friends.
Sometimes we will agree and sometimes we won’t. But our alliance will be able to survive such ups and downs, because our larger sense of purpose for coming together will be unambiguous. We hate murderous thugs who regularly prey on the innocent like barbarians, regardless of what their motivations are.
Other than that, we need have very few conditions on what might bring us together.
But in the case of the terrorists who call the Middle East home, let it be known far and wide that talk is for chumps. We are done with Middle Eastern urban renewal. We are done with the Arab Spring, which is really the Muslim Brotherhood. We are done with excuse-making. We’re not here either to apologize for Islam or to insult it. Neither are we here to bring you faux democracy or self-actualization.
All of that is your business. Take care of your own, and we’ll do the same. Want to be our friend? We will be yours, regardless of what church you do or don’t go to or what language you speak. Settling your religious or regional differences isn’t the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, but protecting the American people and their interests is.
Therefore, if you choose the path of barbarism and threatening the American people, our terms are that we came to drop bombs. Big ones, even. Ah, the heck with that: the biggest ones. The mother of all bombs, to be precise. MOAB will bomb you back to the Moabites from whence you came if you disturb the peace.
And then this will be us over here, not giving a rip what the “global community” thinks — those who play the fiddle while barbarism flourishes. It’s been a refreshing change to see our U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, laying down ordnance on these cretins.
So: more bombs, please. Truth bombs from our diplomats and actual bombs from our commanders upon those whose “truth” is a pernicious lie. Less psychobabble, religious parsing, and utopian schemes and dreams.
Maybe, just maybe, we complicated things post-9/11? Maybe what was needed was much simpler? We will be your friend, regardless of your personal views, if you choose to be ours. But should you choose poorly, your personal view will become a dying wish that the redcoats had won in 1776.
Everything else is in the category of “that’s a you problem.”