So, President-Elect Donald J. Trump, billionaire (he owns a mansion and a yacht), wants to drain the swamp of D.C. and Northern Virginia (I’m thinking the placeless Crystal City).
I think that particular phrase was used by some officials within the George W. Bush administration to describe what the invasion of Iraq was supposed to do — drain the “swamp” that is the Middle East of all of the terrible things that motivate Islamic extremism. Dictatorship, despair, war, a lack of economic opportunity. Toppling the government of Saddam Hussein was supposed to solve all of these problems.
It didn’t, of course. Neither did the Arab Spring.
Somewhere, maybe over at LRC, I wrote that while this was an interesting idea, Iraq was not the swamp we should be “draining” (as if this were simply an engineering problem to be solved by the Army Corps of Engineers). If we were really concerned about all of the things and places that gave birth to Revolutionary Islam, then the “swamp” we should be wading into was the muck of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
But we didn’t have the resources to tackle them, and the outcomes of that war, had we waged it, would have been far worse. All three countries had a total population of around 240 million in 2000, and occupying Pakistan alone would have been a fool’s errand which would have destroyed the the U.S. military and created tremendous new operating space for the revolutionaries.
So, if Trump takes on the real swamp that is D.C., he will likely get bogged down in it. The swamp … will swallow him whole and maybe even drown him.
More likely, though, he was go at the wrong swamp, claim it’s the right one, do a great deal of damage, and proclaim some kind of symbolic victory. Little of lasting value will be accomplished.
That won’t matter, of course. My guess is the incoming Trump regime will be at least as dank and fetid and disease infested as any swamp which has ever infested D.C. and Northern Virginia.