The media is saturated these days with know-nothing talking heads pontificating about the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. So let’s start by stipulating that most of us know little or nothing about foreign policy … and that includes Donald J. Trump.

As private citizens, we want to believe that those in power are privy to information we don’t have in making momentous decisions about war and peace and that they make these informed decisions based on reason and values we all share.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

Obviously, this isn’t true in the present case. Trump has obliterated the truth, telling an average of 22 lies a day, according to the Washington Post fact-checker. As a result, (remember the Boy Who Cried Wolf?) we can’t believe a thing he says.
Worse, given Trump’s proclivity for trying to change the subject, we have to wonder whether he ordered a drone strike to distract the public from his impeachment trial. Nothing like a good war to guarantee re-election.

Donald Trump is not guided by the facts, but by his own impulses and the prejudices of those who follow him blindly. The decision to risk escalating the endless war in the Middle East may appeal to simple-minded pseudo-patriots, but it was a rash decision made by a man with the intellectual and psychological development of a middle school bully.

Then, too, anyone who thinks Americans are somehow safer for having assassinated an evil enemy and inflaming millions of Iranians in the process is a darn fool. Putting an end to Soleimani doesn’t put an end to his agenda. His replacement is already in place. And now our enemies have even more reason to hate us and retaliate. Trump thinks the Iranians are “standing down.” Don’t be too sure.

There was a time early in the reign of Donald Trump when we thought cooler, wiser heads in the White House might prevail, but as we head into the fourth (and we can only hope final) year of Trump’s administration it’s abundantly clear there are no longer any adults in the room when Trump conducts foreign policy by Tweet. John Kelly, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson are all gone. How dire are things in this country when we looked to a guy nicknamed Mad Dog to be the voice of reason in the White House?

Kelly, Mattis and Tillerson, of course, are just some of the more high-profile officials who have abandoned the Trump ship, either having been fired or quit, unable or unwilling to work for a self-serving bully, braggart and blowhard.

According to the Brookings Institution, 51 of the top 65 positions in the Executive Office of the President turned over in three years. Sixteen of these positions turned over twice. Trump, ever conscious of superlatives, must be very proud of being tops in turnovers of any president in American history.

Rex Tillerson, the fired secretary of state, reportedly called Trump a “moron.” Trump fired back that Tillerson was “dumb as a rock.” That’s the level of discourse in the Trump White House, where white nationalists, floozies and flunkies hold sway.

Tillerson has described Trump as “a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, ‘This is what I believe.’”

What Donald Trump believes, however, is more often than not total nonsense. That’s why it’s impossible to support his use of military force in Iraq, or anywhere else.

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