What would Trump do if we suffered another 9/11 attack?

From: politico.com, by Politico Magazine,  on Mar 31, 2016,  see the article HERE.

What would Trump do

NOTE: The full article is quite long, so in the interest of space, I didn’t include all of the responses here. If you’re interested in reading all of them, here’s a LINK to the complete article. Garnet92.


It’s the totally unthinkable question that Americans find themselves confronting this week: What would President Donald Trump do in a genuine national crisis?

After a series of overseas terror attacks and some startling statements about nuclear weapons and torture, the world’s attention has turned to Trump’s foreign policy—an area where he has few advisers, no experience and a tendency to fire off answers and deal with the fallout later. The reality of a Trump candidacy has begun to set in: If Trump is elected and a major national crisis hits, he’ll be the one with his hands on the button. He’ll be at the head of the table in the Situation Room. His decisions would steer America’s immediate response and could set the course of American policy for years.

What’s hard to project with a normal politician is nearly impossible to guess with Trump. He has no foreign policy or public service experience, which means there’s no official record to consult, and his public statements, while extreme, have been vague. The saber-rattling statements that excite his supporters also suggest he has disregard for linchpins of the global order like NATO, the Geneva Conventions and the hard-won global nuclear-weapons limits.

Politico Magazine asked foreign policy and counter-terrorism experts, historians, Trump biographers, even psychologists to take a serious guess at how he’d handle the days after a terrorist attack in the United States—all based on what they know about Trump the candidate and what he’ll be facing if he gets elected.

The responses were at times surprising, and at times unsettling. Some focused on Trump’s apparent hesitancy about sending troops into combat, and predicted he’d act more like President Barack Obama than President George W. Bush. Others looked at his immigration rhetoric and foresaw a country newly divided, with patrols stalking Muslim neighborhoods and religious hatreds bubbling to the surface. One biographer, familiar with Trump’s primal response to any perceived insult, drew a frightening picture of a quickly escalating set of attacks and responses, with major cities caught in the crossfire. But, then again, another predicted that Trump would simply withdraw to his Twitter account, riding out the threat with a lot of talk and little action.

Here’s what the experts had to say:

“Tweet after tweet congratulating himself on foreseeing the attack and ridiculing the terrorists’ masculinity, their intelligence, their family members, their ethnic identity and/or religion”
Gwenda Blair is author of The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire.

Twitter would be Trump’s front-line counter-attack. Tweet after tweet congratulating himself on foreseeing the attack and ridiculing the terrorists’ masculinity, their intelligence, their family members, their ethnic identity and/or religion—along with any civil libertarian or moderate voices asking for caution, consultation with allies, or more operational and regional intelligence before initiating counter-offensives against targets either inside or outside the United States.

Next would be live streamed appearances on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. in which Trump denounced the terrorists, their supporters, and any opposition to the use of any and all tactics against captured terrorist suspects.

Then he would change into Donald Trump Menswear 100% silk PJs with gold-embroidered POTUS seal on front pocket, stretch out on a super-luxury top-grain leather Trump Home Furnishings chaise, chow down on a prime-cut Trump steak, and turn on WWE.

In the event the attacks continued, he might be moved to more action. Potential steps might include curfews, quarantines and/or internment in certain communities, required loyalty oaths for government employees, teachers, uniformed services, etc., civil defense drills in schools, factories, offices, and other large installations such as airports, train stations, subway systems, and the adoption and frequent testing of alerts through texts and loudspeakers.

“There would be no rallying around the idea of America and what it stands for because Americans will be fighting about just that”
Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and a global research professor at New York University.

It’s not an easy thing to say, but America was fortunate that 9/11 happened when it did. The United States was in great shape back then, as was its economy. There was no serious social discontent bubbling beneath the surface, and inequality was nowhere near the wedge issue it is today. Washington’s alliances around the world were strong back then, and China was still weak. Washington even had decent relations with Moscow—and they improved after the tragedy. So when 9/11 happened, the entire country—and the world—rallied around the president.

That’s a far cry from where the United States is today. And let’s be honest—Trump in the White House during a real national security crisis is as close to a near-dystopian America as can be imagined. If terrorists were to hit the United States, America’s political response would be closer to what France went through following its November attacks, with Trump playing the reactionary role called for France’s ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy. He’d push for overall surveillance and monitoring of Muslims in the United States. I’d imagine there would be house arrests and deportations for many. And while some Americans would cheer this knee-jerk response, most will be horrified to find themselves living in a country where nothing more than your religion makes you suspect. Europe will be horrified as well, and won’t be near the steadfast ally it was in 2001. There would be no rallying around the idea of America and what it stands for because Americans will be fighting about just that.“

“A president with that personality would experience a large terrorist event as an enormous narcissistic injury … and his rage would be white-hot”
Martha Stout is a psychologist and author of The Sociopath Next Door.

As a psychologist who has spent her career studying human personality and its variations, I can tell you that personalities don’t have an off switch, not even for dire emergencies. If we suffered another brutal terrorist attack, I fear that President Trump would exhibit the same bombast, rage and impulsivity that he has shown in the campaign trail and imperil his fellow human beings, perhaps with even more lasting effects than those of the disaster itself.

The personality that underlies Trump’s observable behaviors—a demeanor of personal superiority, a focus on being admired, immediate heated anger when challenged, an emphasis on unlimited success, and an apparent expectation of automatic compliance—would be problematic in a U.S. president at any time, and plainly dangerous should our nation experience another terrorist atrocity. A president with such a personality would experience a large terrorist event as an attack on him personally, an enormous “narcissistic injury”—what psychologists call a perceived threat to self-worth—and his rage would be white-hot.

The anger we have seen directed at protesters during Trump rallies would be multiplied by an unknowable factor. That whisper in the ear from an aide, telling him that an event had occurred, would instantly evoke a need for reprisal, a desire to attack and to do so right away, using airstrikes, boots on the ground, torture in interrogations and any other “powerful” tactic that occurred to him.

If there is a positive thread in this psychologically predicted scenario, it is that such a huge perceived injury to Trump’s sense of self-worth would compel him to focus utterly on the source of that injury. He would be single-mindedly intent on destroying the terrorists and would have no tolerance for those who might wish to refashion the country’s pain and anger into a willingness to attack a different target. In the aftermath of our waking nightmare in 2001, we might have benefited from some portion of that single-mindedness. Still, with a President Trump, the surge of bigotry and the resulting deportation and internment efforts would do their own inestimable damage.

Given a re-terrorized nation, Trump’s famous skill at gaining allegiance from people through their heightened fears might very well sway Congress and result in the actual implementation of some of his ideas: a wholesale military response, a lockdown of Muslim communities, and attempts to deport large groups of people. With an unapologetically self-involved and rage-prone commander-in-chief—which is what we evidently would be getting with a President Trump—nothing would be off the table.

“We must also hope that a President Trump, unlike candidate Trump, would show some signs of awareness of the nature of the threat”
Ambassador Dennis Ross is a long-time U.S. Mideast negotiator and author of the recently published Doomed to Succeed: The US-Israeli relationship from Truman to Obama.

If such an attack takes place, it would be clear that Trump’s ill-considered readiness to stop Muslims from gaining entry to the country has not worked—no surprise here, as he is playing to the ISIS playbook that seeks polarization and needs the image of a war on Muslims to attract followers. The fact that Trump has little use for our alliances like NATO also means in the first instance, his response would likely be to go it alone. But against whom? Did the attackers come from ISIS and had they gone to Syria? Was al Qaeda competing with ISIS to show it remains relevant and capable of producing larger mass casualty acts of terror than ISIS?

Should it be ISIS, we know from candidate Trump that when it comes to ISIS he will listen to the military. But the military has not been notably more inclined than President Obama to commit forces on the ground. However, should ISIS prove to be responsible for a 9/11 type attack—and clearly the events in Brussels show its leaders are trying—we will need a far more dramatic effort against them on the group to demonstrate they are losing, and will lose further from any such attacks. Perhaps Trump, who has made it clear he is reluctant to use ground forces, will call for carpet-bombing as a punishment for ISIS. That will shift the onus onto us without removing ISIS from Mosul or Raqqa—the key symbols of their success to date.

In the aftermath of a 9/11 type attack we need to inflict real and symbolic setbacks on ISIS to blunt its appeal and to restore confidence among our own citizenry and that of those very Sunnis we would want to partner with us. Are they likely to partner with us if we can’t offer unmistakable signs of success and of our resolve? They won’t take a new president’s word for it—or buy his “believe me” declarations. Will Trump change and see the value of working with others? Let’s hope so, but there is little in his posture to date that suggests he will do so.

We must also hope that a President Trump, unlike candidate Trump, would show some signs of awareness of the nature of the threat. Show some signs of awareness that actually having alliances like NATO helps with partners, helps with intelligence, and helps legitimize our actions. A President Trump will need to frame the challenge clearly and spell out the mission and objective in a way that does not walk away from the values that we embody. And a President Trump would have to show he will act not impulsively but effectively, recognizing that a longer-term strategy for the Middle East will be necessary, a strategy that is designed to shore up the state system. That system is under attack and restoring it is necessary to prevent ISIS or its successors from having the operational space in which to thrive and develop. Withdrawing from the Middle East will only foster a vacuum that allows the most extreme forces to emerge and pose more threat to states in the region.

Candidate Trump’s instinct toward isolation can hardly be reassuring in this regard.

“As president, Mr. Trump would indeed project strength … But he would be incapable of … thoughtful self-restraint”
Joe Burgo is the author of several books, including The Narcissist You Know: Defending Yourself Against Extreme Narcissists in an All-About-Me Age.

If he were president, Mr. Trump would respond to a 9/11-type terrorist attack much as he has responded to personal attacks throughout the campaign. He would be preoccupied with his self-image and the need to come across as a “winner” and not a “loser” upon the world stage. On some level, he would experience the attack as an assault on his own stature, a blow to his grandiose self-image, and would likely respond with reflexive violence, as he usually does when attacked. In this case, rather than verbal assaults, it might involve massive “carpet bombings” without adequate intelligence, and an immediate declaration of war.

In times of crisis, frightened citizens need their president to project an image of strength and confidence; at the same time, they need him to remain thoughtful and not respond in a reactionary, thoughtless way that might make matters worse. As president, Mr. Trump would indeed project strength by presenting himself as a take-charge strongman who knows how to deal with terrorists. But he would be incapable of the kind of thoughtful self-restraint we need from our president in a time of crisis: For Trump, an attack requires an immediate and overwhelming assault on the perceived source of the attack.

When Megyn Kelly criticized him, he responded with outsized contempt, indignation and blame, the “weapons” he consistently uses to annihilate his enemies. It’s frightening to imagine what he would do to annihilate the source of a terrorist attack were he to have a nuclear arsenal at his disposal.

“If history is any lesson, Trump would alienate American allies … undermining U.S. efforts to work together with other countries to combat transnational terrorism”
Mary Dudziak is professor of law at Emory University and chair in American law and governance at the Library of Congress.

In light of Donald Trump’s tendency to react to problems by blaming minority groups, including Muslims, and promoting torture, we might expect more of the same, perhaps at a greater volume, than we’ve seen so far.

That would serve Trump and the nation poorly. The way the United States treats minority groups has had an impact on U.S. foreign relations in the past, and would be a problem in a Trump presidency. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was just one president who had to confront the impact of prejudice against African Americans, and civil rights-related unrest, on America’s image around the world. When white mobs protested the integration of nine African American students at Little Rock, Arkansas’ Central High School in 1957, it became a major international story. American discrimination was condemned around the world. It was also used against American interests, as the Soviet Union featured U.S. racism as a principal theme in its anti-U.S. propaganda. Eisenhower had not supported judicial action to integrate schools; but prodded by his secretary of state and others, he sent federal troops to Little Rock. One of the reasons for his turnabout was his hope to restore the global image of American democracy, and keep American racism from harming the nation’s Cold War mission.

The Trump campaign has already generated international criticism for its hostility to Muslims and Mexican immigrants. His inflammatory calls for the use of torture would damage U.S. credibility on human rights. If history is any lesson, Trump would alienate American allies with these policies, undermining U.S. efforts to work together with other countries to combat transnational terrorism.

“Trump appears to employ a much more externalizing style. … When he is threatened his primary response seems to be to fight back”
W. Keith Campbell is the head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia

In the case of threat, people have two general patterns of responding—externalizing and internalizing. Externalizing involves responding boldly and aggressively to the source of the threat; internalizing involves responding by turning inward, including feeling depressed or blaming oneself for the threat.

Trump appears to employ a much more externalizing style. (A caveat: My answer is highly speculative and based on general psychological models and my observations of Donald Trump on the campaign trail alone.) When he is threatened his primary response seems to be to fight back. He does this even in the case of threats that seem purely adolescent—when the size of his fingers were challenged, for example.

If, in fact, his aggressive style applies to threats to himself, the next question is whether that style would apply to threats beyond him. We saw a recent incident where supporters of an opposing campaign used Trump’s wife in a hostile campaign message. Trump’s response on Twitter was to make what appeared to be a veiled threat against the opposing candidate’s wife. So, in this case he acted aggressively against a threat to his wife. It is plausible, then, that he would act in the same way if America were attacked or threatened and he were president. His reaction would be to attack the source of the threat. We saw that with his Brussels response, when he immediately called for tougher border control and anti-terror measures.

Both internalizing and externalizing have a place in good leadership. Internalizing can be seen as thoughtful but also feckless. Externalizing can be seen as strong but also impulsive. Outside forces know that if they provoke an externalizing leader they are likely in for a fight. Ideally, this will lead to less provocation (this is part of the “peace through strength” model). But while this approach works well when dealing with other nations, it is less certain when dealing with nationless terrorists who might actually be looking to provoke an aggressive military response.

Trump does not appear to internalize very much about personal attacks, and, by the same token, I imagine he wouldn’t apologize for potentially harmful aspects of U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, either. However, it’s possible that his aggressive mentality might be tempered by more internalizing officials at the Pentagon and State Department.


These “experts” have touched on what has many Americans uncomfortable with Donald Trump – his temperament. Even those of us who really don’t want to see Trump as the Republican nominee can see that he does have many good qualities. The problem we see is that he also has many not-so-good qualities as well and those are the ones we worry about. There is an abundance of experts who characterize Trump as a narcissist and one who has an out-sized ego. The way that he responds to criticism with crude and insulting tweets is juvenile. He doesn’t seem to have any deep-seated beliefs that guide his actions and he often makes off-the-cuff statements that are so outlandish that his staff must issue “corrections” shortly thereafter. Those attributes are not supportive of a president’s duties.

Donald Trump may be a great guy, he may be a real estate genius, he may be a master negotiator, but he is NOT presidential material.


Categories: Political


6 replies

  1. It scares me half to death to think that should another 9/11 type event occur, President Trump will tweet one of those brilliant comments like ‘they weren’t very nice to me.’

    Considering that he never really intended to take the job and just wanted to shake things up, anything he does will be reactionary and based more on personal feelings, rather than thinking about the US as a country. There’s just too many things to deal with, to have a man in the White House that makes decisions from knee-jerk reactions.


    • He SAYS he can be “presidential,” but I think that we’ve been seeing the REAL Donald Trump for the last nine months of so and I don’t believe that he can act any other way (for more than an hour or two) it’s not in his nature. What we’ve seen, is what we’ll get (heaven help us).


  2. and this is precisely why i WANT donald trump to be in charge the next time a terrorist attack happens.


  3. I shudder at the thought of a Trump presidency.

    I recoil in horror at the prospect of ANY Democrat succeeding, and cementing, the destructive legacy of Obama.


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