President Trump’s “Peace Through Strength” is Really “Metastability”


Trump reportedly said he would “send in” U.S. troops if Mexico can’t do the job

President Ronald Reagan in his  “Address to the Nation on National Security”, February 26, 1986 said the following: “We know that peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations. George Washington’s words may seem hard and cold today, but history has proven him right again and again. ‘To be prepared for war,’ he said, ‘is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.’ Well, to those who think strength provokes conflict, Will Rogers had his own answer. He said of the world heavyweight champion of his day: “I’ve never seen anyone insult Jack Dempsey.”

President Trump opened his 2017 inauguration speech by saying, “Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.”  He went on to say, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

The White House website defines “America First” as “a foreign policy focused on American interests and American national security. Peace through strength will be at the center of that foreign policy. This principle will make possible a stable, more peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.”

It is important to understand that “America First” is not a foreign policy. A policy is a clearly stated direction or course of action consisting of goals and procedures that are designed to achieve the stated goals. “America First” is a slogan, catch-phrase or tag line.

“Peace through strength” is another often-used slogan first credited to Roman Emperor Hadrian in the first century AD.  It is believed Hadrian said, “”peace through strength or, failing that, peace through threat.”

The problem with President Trump’s claim of “peace through strength” is the same age-old problem that has existed through the centuries, from Hadrian to Reagan; it brings neither peace nor strength. Neither strength nor threat involves diplomacy, understanding or cooperation. They obtain capitulation through force or the threat of force.  The threat of force may result in a temporary and false sense of calm but it does not bring stability let alone peace. Peace is a state of quiet, tranquility and/or harmony. As Gil Scott-Heron wrote, “peace is not the absence of war, it is the absence of the need for war.” Albert Einstein said, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order —in short, of government.” James Baldwin told us that history proves that no empire can sustain itself through force or violence.

A president who proclaims that America will determine the course of the world for many years to come and promises to “rebuild our military” by “… loading it up with beautiful new equipment,” is not seeking peace, he is preparing for war based on idealism. The ideals of Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism are popular among Trump and his faithful. His hyperbolic anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant language is playing to the xenophobic White nationalist alt-right.

Trump has created an environment that allows him to attack his enemies (anyone or any news agency who disagrees with him). Just as Nixon was at war with journalists, Trump is at war with the media.  As journalists call him out for spinning what Dr. King called “a “witches’” brew of bigotry, prejudice, half-truths and whole lies”, President Trump and his spokespeople have worked to offset any critical analysis of his actions by the media by labeling them as liars, biased and unprofessional.  If he and the Republican Party are able to use “alternative facts” to dramatically roll back government regulation in the midst of a war-time environment; he will unleash upon the American people a period of corporate/fascist “free-market” intrusions the likes of which we have never seen.

The “populist” hokum of “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength…America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs… We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams…” spewed by Trump, is all a feeble attempt to create a perception of strength and stability that is actually volatile and dangerous.  In physics, it is called metastability. In simple terms metastability is a state of unstable equilibrium, a situation that on the surface appears stable or calm but is actually so agitated or unstable that the slightest disturbance causes it to explode.

In his 1961 Farwell Address to the nation, President Eisenhower warned us, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

President Trump said during his inaugural address, “We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.” He has also promised as stated above to rebuild the military all while cutting taxes. How does he get there from here? The math just will not add up unless he attempts to exacerbate the chronic state of war that the US had been engaged in for the last 15 years.

According to Paul McLeary at Foreign, Trump’s “…national security vision… would cost almost $100 billion more than the Pentagon has currently budgeted for Trump’s first term…Still unknown, however, is where that money would come from, given Trump’s other plans to slash taxes while keeping many entitlement programs intact and also embarking on a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement program.” Simply put, this is impossible.

We see in President Trump exactly what President Eisenhower warned us against, “…the disastrous rise of misplaced power…” Steve Bannon, President Trump’s Chief Strategist said in 2014, “We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict…We are in an outright war against jihadists, Islam, Islamic fascism,” and went on to challenge “the immense secularization of the West” and the increasing secularism among millennials. Is this jingoistic rhetoric grooming American’s for a “Christian” Holy War?

Not only is Bannon President Trump’s Chief Strategist and seated in the office right next to the Oval Office, POTUS has also put Bannon on the Principals Committee of the National Security Council and removed from the Council the chairman of the joint chiefs and the director of national intelligence.  This is setting a very dangerous precedent.

By removing the Director of National Intelligence from this committee, Bannon can now spearhead or orchestrate an “alternative fact committee” similar to Bush 43’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the Pentagon.  It was the OSP that provided Bush 43’ the “unvetted intelligence” about Sadam’s fictional WMD’ that helped to “justify” the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Dr. King told us that “war is the enemy of the poor.” President Eisenhower told us to seek balance. “We must never let the weight of this combination (the military-industrial complex) endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

President Trump’s “Peace Through Strength” will not bring us either.  It will only create a false sense of calm that will actually be an unmaintainable metastable state. Dr. King asked, “Where Do We go From Here, Chaos or Community?” Right now it looks like chaos.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the author of Politics Another Perspective, Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to or email: [email protected]. and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at

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