Tuesday, June 07, 2016

JUNE 6, 2016 12:39 PM

Donald Trump, self-professed artful dealmaker, may not understand foreign policy, but he does understand real estate. Or, at least, he’s very good at pretending to. And what is geopolitics except the negotiation of real-estate deals on a global scale? Simply replace mafia bosses and labor fixers with state-backed violence, and building peace in the Middle East isn’t so different than constructing a new casino. If Trump can successfully scam vulnerable Trump University students out of thousands of dollars, what’s to say he couldn’t pull one over on the world’s dictators, too?

That, amazingly, seemed to be Trump’s own argument Sunday for why his foreign-policy approach would be superior to Hillary Clinton’s. “Don’t forget, I’m the only one. I made lot of money with [Muammar] Qaddafi,” Trump argued in an interview with Face the Nation’s John Dickerson, who asked him about why he supported intervention in Libya. “If you remember, he came to the country and he had to make a deal with me because he needed a place to stay, and he paid me a fortune, never got to stay there. And it became sort of a big joke.”

According to Yahoo, it was a big joke, but not in a particularly funny way: in 2009, Qaddafi had been visiting the U.S. to address the United Nations, but needed a place to pitch a “Bedouin-style tent,” replete with “a tapestry of camels and palm trees and outfitted with leather couches and coffee tables.” After being turned down by places like Central Park, Qaddafi turned to Trump and leased a 213-acre property in New Jersey.

At the time, Trump claimed that he had been duped into renting his property to a known supporter of Pan-Africanism, but the aldermen of Bedford, New Jersey, are convinced that Trump knew that Qaddafi would be staying on his land, and simply did not care. Nevertheless, this strange incident in Trump’s long life still does not explain how or why his position on Libya has shifted from being pro-intervention during the 2011 Libyan war of regime-change, to being anti-intervention but pro-intervention if it was “surgical.” (“I didn’t mind surgical. And I said surgical. You do a surgical shot and you take them out,” he said.)

On the bottom: A “double-revolution staircase,” constructed of white marble with a mother-of-pearl overlay, in one of the three reception palaces at Saddam Hussein’s presidential compound in his hometown of Tikrit. (Note the third, uppermost staircase, which is the architectural equivalent of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel explaining that his guitar amplifiers are superior, because “these go to 11.”)

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