Sequins and Benghazi. Canapés and a “big fat hoax.” Peonies and the potential for war.

President Donald Trump began celebrating a new year Tuesday perched squarely on the junction of opulence and bluster that have come to define his personal and political persona, the clink of Champagne glasses wafting under his stern warning to Iran and a red carpet framing his flaming of Democrats.

He was ushering out a decade that began by crowning Bret Michaels the Celebrity Apprentice and ended with fresh risk for presiding over conflict on two continents. The now-familiar dichotomy between Trump the billionaire celebrity and Trump the commander in chief is never more apparent than at Mar-a-Lago, the South Florida estate where guests jockey to meet the proprietor who also happens to run the country.

Appearing before a bank of cameras he had invited onto his property, Trump warned Iran that the US would vanquish it quickly and deemed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “highly overrated person” as his wife looked on.
“We’re going to have a great year, I predict,” Trump said as he arrived to his party.

Trump was appearing as heightened tensions and dramatic violence threaten to force him into confrontation as he begins the 2020 election year — a less-than-ideal position for a President who has vowed to end or resolve foreign conflicts.

Protesters stormed the American embassy in Baghdad, and a furious Trump blamed Iran. Meanwhile, precarious diplomacy with North Korea appeared to be faltering as Kim Jong Un teased a new “strategic weapon” and insisted there “will never” be denuclearization on the Korean peninsula if the US “persists in its hostile policy towards” the hermit nation.

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