Countdown to Doomsday: An Examination of Trump's First One Hundred Days
President Trump’s first 100 hundred days have undoubtedly been some of the most volatile, outrageous, and harmful in the presidential history of the United States on virtually every front. They have brought us a flurry of strange and frightening media coverage, from Trump appearing in softcore porn to asking in a Washington Examiner interview, “Why was there the civil war?”
Though stories like these are compelling, in that they are unprecedented, press coverage of Trump’s scandalous and corrupt White House is not action enough on its own to combat his agenda. It is imperative that opponents of Trump and his administration focus their activistism and resistance on the two key policy areas in which Trump and his cabinet have done the most damage so far: national security and the environment.
In just his first 100 days, Trump’s approach to national security has proven to be racist, counterproductive, and careless. In January, Trump attempted to bar refugees and citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S., following up on campaign promises based in misguided information and fueled by manipulative fear-mongering.
Indeed, Trump and many other conservatives claim that incoming refugees are a terror risk, an assertion with absolutely no basis in fact, seeing as not a single fatal terror attack has ever been perpetrated by a refugee on U.S. soil. That in mind, the only accomplishment of the ban was to prevent innocent people, refugees or not, from entering the United States, to provide radical extremist groups like ISIS with an excellent recruitment tool, and to feed the narrative that Muslims deserve to be feared.
Though both of Trump’s Muslim bans have been struck down in court, they indicate that racism and xenophobia will continue to be central pillars of Trump’s security policy. Trump’s Muslim bans, however, are a far cry from the most disturbing trend of his first 100 days. Even more alarming than Trump’s domestic embrace of xenophobia is his disregard for human life abroad.
Trump has dramatically increased U.S.-led coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria, leading to an alleged 2,906 civilian deaths in March and April alone according to the Airwars monitoring group.
Despite this rising death toll, Trump’s recent strike on Syrian airfields in response to a chemical weapons attack allegedly carried out by Bashar Al-Assad garnered him substantial praise from fellow politicians and the news media. The irony of this support, and the widespread condemnation of Assad’s disregard for human life, is the fact that Trump’s own airstrikes have killed far more innocent civilians than the chemical attack itself, attesting to the ease with which Americans will back even reckless aggression once politicians present it as humanitarian. Such an acceptance of rash hostility presents the risk moving forward that Trump will find it easier and easier to retain popular support while escalating conflict and unnecessary civilian casualties, which could force the U.S. into a much more dangerous conflict.
Trump’s national security policy is an unmitigated disaster. The United States is killing innocent civilians at a rate not seen since the Iraq war and tensions with Russia are the highest they’ve been since the Cold War—all of this without any clear indication we are making progress in Syria, or in our battle against the Islamic State. If anything, Trump worsened the situation on both fronts by strengthening ISIS’s anti-American narrative and heightening the risk of military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia.
International conflict, however, is only one of the existential threats posed by the Trump administration in just its first 100 days in office. The other is climate disaster.
Just within his first 100 days, Trump significantly set back years of U.S. progress in combatting climate change. He appointed Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, to the head of the EPA, essentially guaranteeing a halt in progressive climate change policy for at least the next four years.
President Trump also signed an executive order wiping out U.S. restrictions on carbon emissions, justifying this by claiming he is “putting an end to the war on coal.” However, in reality, growth in renewable energy and natural gas markets is set to overtake the coal industry soon anyway.
Perhaps most importantly, Trump is considering withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, a move that would spell disaster for global climate change mitigation. Twenty percent of the total reduction in emissions pledged as part of the accords comes from the United States, meaning that if we drop out, other countries might be discouraged from cutting emissions themselves.
Every single one of these decisions is unacceptable, considering the massive threat posed by global warming. Research published by the Lancet in 2015 estimated we need to “keep global average temperature rise to less than 2°C to avoid the risk of potentially catastrophic climate change impacts … [that would] undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health.” Unfortunately, as Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, observes, our current trajectory already puts us at 3°C by the end of the century, even if every nation in the Paris Accords follows through on its emissions reduction pledge—a prospect that seems increasing unlikely given Trump’s domestic environmental policy.
Every barrier Trump constructs to climate progress is another nail in humanity’s proverbial coffin. When taken in tandem with his volatile security policy, Trump’s administration may present one of the greatest threats to human life across the globe.
Citing Donald Trump’s reckless approach to national security and his institutionalization of climate change denial, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved its Doomsday Clock from three to two and a half minutes to midnight, the clock’s first movement in two years. In other words, Donald Trump, in just his first 100 days in office, has arguably made the world more dangerous than any event in the past two years. If he has put us in this much danger in just 100 days, imagine the devastation he could achieve in four years.