(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

With such little hands, President Trump has all kinds of room up his sleeves. He has made an entire career of pulling things out of them, and as with a waning fireworks display, the grand finale is still ahead.

And what would that be?

Let’s put Trump aside for a moment and conduct a brief thought experiment. Say you’ve got an insecure, incompetent megalomaniac who somehow finds his way to power. What is the trajectory you would expect? You’d expect him to surround himself with sycophants, family members, Rasputins and perhaps some military types for gravitas and because they are good at following orders. And then he would proceed to undermine norms, accuracy of information and traditional governing institutions and fill the voids with loyalty-based content. Then he would proceed to inflict his populist-flavored agenda.

Here you would expect some early legislative successes and a big spike in popularity.

And with the exception of that last part, the Trump presidency has been tracking pretty closely with what you’d expect. And then what? Well, and then the consolidation of power would continue, with sporadic audacious moves and institution-breaking. But then would come the bad part.

Eventually, this style of governing begins to lose its special appeal, whatever that is. Things start to go wrong, the facile agenda comes up way short, and the popular base of support starts to turn against the president. What to do, what to do?

This is not hard to calculate in our thought experiment. What to do is almost predetermined. Do the thing within your control that is almost guaranteed to rally the nation behind you, bigly, for at least a little longer. Guess it yet? That’s right. A war.

Need congressional approval? Oops, not really anymore. Against whom? It almost doesn’t matter. So many choices, and any enemy will suffice.

Now back to Trump in particular. With whom will he start a war? Yes, there are many choices, but one looming scenario is Iran. And here is a case that war with Iran is already being planned.

Trump may have intentionality here, or he may not. With him it’s hard to know. But let’s just say that the recent U.S. track record in starting wars ought to give us some pause. And the even more recent track record of Trump starting anything ought to give us nightmares.

In any case, everyone would be well advised to keep a close eye on U.S. interaction with Iran, and for that matter with everywhere else.

We are atop a powder keg — only the powder these days is plutonium.