Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam as a linguist and intelligence officer, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. Born in New York City, he now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.
Yesterday, Donald Trump responded to a terrorist attack by once again implying the unthinkable: America is losing the War on Terror because we haven’t stooped to the terrorists’ level.
“We have to fight so viciously and violently, because we’re dealing with violent people,” Trump said
“We can’t do waterboarding — which may not be the nicest thing, but it’s peanuts compared to many alternatives. So we can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages. They can do whatever they want to do.”
The implication, one he made more explicit as the speech went on, is a common one in debates about terrorism: America can’t fight with one hand tied behind its back. Applied to the War on Terror, this debate started with the Rules of Engagement, the American military’s guidelines for use of force.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, military personnel noted, while America tried to win hearts and minds, the Taliban and al Qaeda used fear. Fear is pretty convincing. As NPR reported in 2009, “[Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Ky.] say U.S. troops have many rules to follow, but the Taliban and al-Qaida do not.”
But Trump takes this argument to the extreme. After every terrorist attack large enough to land on his Twitter feed, he has advocated for escalations of force that not only fall well outside of international law, but would also play into terrorists’ hands.
In November, after terror attacks in Paris killed 130, Trump said he would bring back waterboarding, “and I would approve more than that.”
“Believe me, it works. And you know what? If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing,” he said, presumably referring to suspected terrorists or enemy combatants. Then, as now, Trump used the terrorists’ actions as justification.
“What they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head, that’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation,” he said
He said it again after the San Bernardino attacks. He added a Muslim ban. His supporters love it.
But, notably, bringing back waterboarding (and more extreme forms of torture) would create a constitutional crisis. Former CIA director Michael Hayden said that Trump “better bring his own bucket, because the CIA is not going to do it again.”
John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has come out strongly and repeatedly against Trump’s proposals. He has said waterboarding is immoral and runs contrary to America’s values. It’s also a war crime. “But perhaps more important than that, if you’re not into academics and history, is it doesn’t work,” McCain said Tuesday. “Because if you inflict enough pain on someone they will tell you whatever they think you want to hear.”
This still accepts Trump’s foundational premise, though: that terrorists attack those nations they see as “weak.” Not so. In fact, responses like Trump’s are exactly what terrorist groups like ISIS want: They want a world war between Muslims and non-Muslims. They want to destroy the “gray zone” between the two groups. They want to create a perception that Western politicians like Trump will never accept Muslims as true Westerners.
It’s no wonder ISIS is most likely, at least according to Richard Clark, rooting for Trump election.
It has come to this.
In an interview Tuesday with NBC News, conducted some time before the polls closed in New Hampshire, Donald Trump sounded as if he was telling Lester Holt that he would stop being the obscenity-spewing carnival maestro that people have come to recognize — once he’s actually elected president, that is.
The interview came after Trump gladly repeated a vulgar heckle against one of his main rivals, Ted Cruz. A woman shouted out at a Trump campaign event New Hampshire that Cruz was a “pussy.”
“I’m wondering to myself,” Lester Holt asked, “would you say that as president of the United States—”
“No,” Trump interrupted.
“—with that seal on that podium?”
“Much different, much different.”
“So are you gonna be a different guy as president than the one we see on air?” Holt responded.
Trump then reminded everyone of his high-class background — and his high-class genetics.
“I went to the best school, I had — you know, I was a good student. I have an uncle who was, you know, one of the top, top professors at MIT,” he explained. “I mean, There’s a good gene pool right there. I have to do what I have to do, right?”
“So is this an act?”
“No, it’s not an act. Last night I had thousands of people. We had a great time. And it wasn’t my word, it was a word that a woman kept shouting,” Trump said. “And she was shouting it — and I repeated, I only repeated the word — and the place was wild. A standing ovation, everybody loved it.”
“But that doesn’t mean it was in good taste.”
“No, but I’ll tell you what: When you’re president, or you’re about to be president, you would act differently.”
To give some context here: Trump and his audience were inspired to insult Cruz because the Texas senator isn’t fierce enough in advocating a return to waterboarding and other forms of torture.
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