Economic victory is one thing; starting and winning real wars is quite another. In some ways, Trump appears to be less prone to military action than certain other candidates. He has strongly criticized George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, and has cautioned against sending American troops to Syria.
That said, I believe there is good reason to fear Trump's incendiary language regarding America's enemies. David Winter, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, analyzed U.S. presidential inaugural addresses and found that those presidents who laced their speeches with power-oriented, aggressive imagery were more likely than those who didn't to lead the country into war. The rhetoric that Trump uses to characterize both his own life story and his attitudes toward America's foes is certainly aggressive. And, as noted, his extroversion and narcissism suggest a willingness to take big risks—actions that history will remember. Tough talk can sometimes prevent armed conflict, as when a potential adversary steps down in fear. But belligerent language may also incite nationalistic anger among Trump's supporters, and provoke the rival nations at whom Trump takes aim.
Across the world's cultures, warrior narratives have traditionally been about and for young men. But Trump has kept this same kind of story going throughout his life. Even now, as he approaches the age of 70, he is still the warrior. Going back to ancient times, victorious young combatants enjoyed the spoils of war—material bounty, beautiful women. Trump has always been a big winner there. His life story in full tracks his strategic maneuvering in the 1970s, his spectacular victories (the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Trump Tower) in the 1980s, his defeats in the early 1990s, his comeback later in that same decade, and the expansion of his brand and celebrity ever since. Throughout it all, he has remained the ferocious combatant who fights to win.
But what broader purpose does winning the battle serve? What higher prize will victory secure? Here the story seems to go mute. You can listen all day to footage of Donald Trump on the campaign trail, you can read his books, you can watch his interviews—and you will rarely, if ever, witness his stepping back from the fray, coming home from the battlefront, to reflect upon the purpose of fighting to win—whether it is winning in his own life, or winning for America.
Read the full article "The Mind of a Winner" at The Atlantic.