President Trump has threatened to destroy Iranian cultural sites with missiles if Iran retaliates for the recent assassination of spy chief Qasem Soleimani. Destruction of cultural sites is classed as a war crime under both the Hague and Geneva conventions. Take a moment to consider the import of that: an American president is openly threatening to commit war crimes. That is an astonishing display of either arrogance or ignorance and unthinkable just a few years ago. It is exactly the crime that Daesh was condemned for around the world when they attempted to eradicate cultural and historical sites.

At the same time Trump has threatened former ally Iraq with devastating sanctions that would make his large scale sanctions against Iran look “mild” because they have protested against the Soleimani assassination by voting in their Parliament to ask foreign troops to leave Iraq. Just a reminder (if one were needed): the reason that the US and the UK expended so much money and so many lives by overthrowing Saddam in Iraq was to create an ally in the Middle East. This is work that the current president is working hard to undermine.

And if this was not enough, Trump is also threatening France, another US ally, with devastating tariffs against French wine because they are considering taxing US internet firms – firms that operate inside France. It is not just the lack of any sense of diplomacy, but the fact that this action is planned against one of the United States’ closest allies.

This is the same US President who recently overrode his own military commanders and quashed action against a Special Forces officer who had been found guilty of war crimes. Anyone who has worked with special forces know how tight the bonds are between these operatives. For them to break ranks, the case had to be extremely serious and was found to be so by senior commanders. Trump simply overrode this. Imagine the effect on morale. Trump has also criticised US intelligence agencies as “incompetent” when they have tried to present evidence that undermines his world view.

All these actions are tantamount to a kind of madness. They are typical actions of a man who has grown up spoiled by a life of extreme wealth and who lives as a sort of bully. Of course this is exactly what President Putin was hoping for when he ordered Russian intelligence services to support Trump’s bid for the White House. (The extent of their influence is contested, but it is agreed that Russian intelligence services targeted the elections.) Exactly how far Trump’s damage to the Western alliance extends is yet to be seen, but Russia’s success with this policy can only embolden intelligence services of all nations to further interfere in democratic elections.

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