As President of the United States, responding to a terror attack in an allied country is not a difficult task; you express your dismay and shock, offer condolences and commit your absolute support. Unless you’re President Trump, it seems.
If you’re President Trump, you instead start off well, offering the people of Barcelona a sincere message of solidarity and telling them to stay strong.
That seems like a wholly appropriate and acceptable response, and it would be, had it simply been just that.
Unfortunately, the Presidency of the United States of America is currently in the hands of Donald Trump, a man who doesn’t quite seem to understand the expected practices of a high-ranking world leader.
He followed up his initial tweet with one reviving a long-since debunked anecdote about the actions of a US general some 100 years ago.
President Trump told the people of Barcelona via his Twitter to “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
In this tweet he is referring to something he spoke of in an election rally in South Carolina in February 2016, where he admiringly recounted a story about a counter-insurgency in the Philippines conducted by General John Pershing between 1909 and 1913, when he was governor of Moro province.
At that rally, Trump said of General Pershing’s actions:
“They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.”
It is an account of Pershing’s actions that has circulated around the internet since 2001, but with one very major flaw.
US historians say, and have done for some time, that there is very little if any evidence to support it.
So, at a time when a major European city is reeling from an abhorrent attack, President Trump seemed to feel it appropriate to recommend that they follow the likely fictional approaches of a US general to wipe out Islamic terrorism for the foreseeable future.
It is comments like those, especially at such inappropriate times, that makes the current US President look so unfit for his position. He appears to truly not understand the weight and brevity that his words can have given his position.
It seems as if he just simply does not think before he issues something on Twitter, and more concerning is the fact that nobody in the Trump administration’s White House seems to be able to stop him given the ease at which he can express his views on his favourite platform, Twitter.
Quite frankly, he is a loose cannon at best, and at worst a genuine danger not just to the United States but to all of the countries allied with them.
There is almost no question that President Trump has demonstrated in his response to this tragedy once again exactly the characteristics which make him unsuitable to hold the presidential position.
To make matters worse, we’re only eight months into his time in office. Nobody knows what will happen in the remaining time, but whatever it is, you can almost guarantee that it’ll be announced via Twitter and it’ll have had little to no fact-checking or foresight involved.