Ascribing specific motives where they’re not entirely clear is an uncertain proposition, and I won’t here make a pronouncement on President Trump’s announcement about (eventually) relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem.
I can’t read the president’s mind. But some speculation does seem warranted.
His rationale for the move is foggy at best: “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” It is one of the thinnest presidential rationales for a significant action I can recall.
Is there a more substantive reason? An Atlantic article by Peter Beinart suggests there might be:
For Donald Trump, Muslim barbarism is a political strategy. It inspires the fear and hatred that binds him to his base. Muslim barbarism is so politically useful, in fact, that, when necessary, Trump creates it.
The hours after his announcement saw uproar among Muslims around the world and especially in the Middle East. That was completely predictable, and predicted. Meanwhile, any actual embassy move would not happen for years at the earliest, possibly three to four years. But the outrage has been stoked, and will boil over soon enough. It will deepen the despair – Beinart’s word, and others too – in the Palestinian community, and essentially trash any attempt to reach a settlement between the Israeli and Palestinian communities.
Why would this be something Trump (or anyone) would want?
Beinart concludes this way: “Religious conflicts, like racial and ethnic ones, are critical to Trump’s appeal. He needs Mexican-Americans to rape and murder white girls. He needs African-American athletes to “disrespect the flag.” And he needs Muslims to explode bombs and burn American flags. The more threatening non-white, non-Christians appear, both at home and abroad, the more his supporters rely on him to keep the barbarians down and out. If Trump has to invent these dangers, he will. In the case of Jerusalem, however, he can go further: He can help create them.”
If there’s a better explanation for Trump’s action, I’m waiting to hear it. – rs