Errors by the party in power can get America into trouble; real catastrophes require consensus.
Rarely have both parties been as unanimous about a development overseas as they have in their shared enthusiasm for the so-called Arab Spring during the first months of 2011. Republicans vied with the Obama Administration in their zeal for the ouster of Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak and in championing the subsequent NATO intervention against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Both parties saw themselves as having been vindicated by events. The Obama Administration saw its actions as proof that soft power in pursuit of humanitarian goals offered a new paradigm for foreign-policy success. And the Republican establishment saw a vindication of the Bush freedom agenda.
“Revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush’s freedom agenda,” Charles Krauthammer observed in February 2011. “Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman,” Krauthammer added, “the [Obama] administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.” And William Kristol exulted, “Helping the Arab Spring through to fruition might contribute to an American Spring, one of renewed pride in our country and confidence in the cause of liberty.”
They were all wrong. Just two years later, the foreign-policy establishment has fractured in the face of a Syrian civil war that threatens to metastasize into neighboring Iraq and Lebanon and an economic collapse in Egypt that has brought the largest Arab country to the brink of state failure. Some Republican leaders, including Sen. John McCain and Weekly Standard editor Kristol, demand American military intervention to support Syria’s Sunni rebels. But Daniel Pipes, the dean of conservative Middle East analysts, wrote on April 11 that “Western governments should support the malign dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad,” because “Western powers should guide enemies to stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.” If Assad appears to be winning, he added later, we should support the rebels. The respected strategist Edward Luttwak contends that America should “leave bad enough alone” in Syria and turn its attention away from the Middle East—to Asia. The Obama Administration meanwhile is waffling about what might constitute a “red line” for intervention and what form such intervention might take.
The once-happy bipartisan consensus has now shrunk to the common observation that all the available choices are bad. It could get much worse. Western efforts have failed to foster a unified leadership among the Syrian rebels, and jihadi extremists appear to be in control of the Free Syrian Army inside Syria. Syria’s war is “creating the conditions for a renewed conflict, dangerous and complex, to explode in Iraq. If Iraq is not shielded rapidly and properly, it will definitely slip into the Syrian quagmire,” warns Arab League Ambassador Nassif Hitti. Iraq leaders are talking of civil war and eventual partition. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, meanwhile, warned on May 1, “Syria has real friends in the region, and the world will not let Syria fall into the hands of America, Israel or takfiri [radical islamist] groups,” threatening in effect to turn the civil war into a regional conflict that has the potential to destabilize Turkey. And the gravest risk to the region remains the likelihood that “inherent weaknesses of state and society in Egypt reach a point where the country’s political, social and economic systems no longer function,” as Gamal Abuel Hassan wrote on May 28. Libya is fracturing, and the terrorists responsible for the September 2012 Benghazi attack are operating freely.
This is a tragic outcome, in the strict sense of the term, for it is hard to imagine how it could have turned out otherwise.
* * *
In January 2012, after the first hopes for Arab democracy had faded, former Bush Administration official Elliot Abrams insisted:
The neocons, democrats, and others who applauded the Arab uprisings were right, for what was the alternative? To applaud continued oppression? To instruct the rulers on better tactics, the way Iran is presumably lecturing (and arming) Syria’s Bashar al-Assad? Such a stance would have made a mockery of American ideals, would have failed to keep these hated regimes in place for very long, and would have left behind a deep, almost ineradicable anti-Americanism.
The neoconservatives mistook a tubercular fever for the flush of youth in the Arab revolts, to be sure, but they read the national mood right—as did the Obama Administration.
There were dissenters, of course. Daniel Pipes warned against pushing Islamists toward elections, writing in 2005:
When politically adept totalitarians win power democratically, they do fix potholes and improve schools—but only as a means to transform their countries in accordance with their utopian visions. This generalization applies most clearly to the historical cases (Adolf Hitler in Germany after 1933, Salvador Allende in Chile after 1970) but it also appears valid for the current ones.
Henry Kissinger excoriated the Obama Administration for toppling Mubarak, arguing that no other force in Egypt could stabilize the country. Francis Fukuyama broke with his erstwhile neoconservative colleagues in 2004, after hearing Vice President Dick Cheney and columnist Charles Krauthammer announce the beginning of an American-led “unipolar era.” “All of these people around me were cheering wildly,” Fukuyama remembers. “All of my friends had taken leave of reality.”
It is a widespread misimpression (reinforced by conspiracy theorists seeking the malign influence of the “Israel Lobby”) that the neoconservative movement is in some way a Jewish thing. On the contrary, it is a distinctly American thing. As the born-again Methodist George W. Bush said in 2003, “Peoples of the Middle East share a high civilization, a religion of personal responsibility, and a need for freedom as deep as our own. It is not realism to suppose that one-fifth of humanity is unsuited to liberty; it is pessimism and condescension, and we should have none of it.” The Catholic neoconservative and natural-law theorist Michael Novak put it just as passionately in his 2004 book The Universal Hunger for Liberty: “The hunger for liberty has only slowly been felt among Muslims. That hunger is universal, even when it is latent, for the preconditions for it slumber in every human breast.”
By contrast, Israelis were overwhelmingly pessimistic about the outcome of the Arab revolts and aghast at the celerity with which Washington dumped Mubarak. “The message to the Middle East is that it doesn’t pay to be an American ally,” a former Israeli intelligence chief told me in 2012. Although the prominent Soviet refusenik-turned-Israeli-politician Natan Sharansky believed in a universal desire for democracy, the vast majority of Israeli opinion thought the idea mad. As Joshua Muravchik wrote in 2011, the Arab Spring:
precipitated a sharp split between neoconservatives and hard-headed Israeli analysts who had long been their allies and friends. While neocons saw democratization as a balm to soothe the fevered brow of the Arab world, Israeli strategists (with the notable exception of Natan Sharansky) thought this utterly naive. Their message in essence was this: you do not know the Arabs as we do. Difﬁcult as their governments are to deal with, they are more reasonable than their populations. Democratization of the Arab world would lead to radicalization, which would be a bane to you and us.
The Israelis are accustomed to living with long-term uncertainty; Americans want movies with happy endings. The alternative to the Bush Freedom Agenda or Obama’s proposed reconciliation with the Muslim world would have been ugly: the strategic equivalent of a controlled burn in a forest fire, as Daniel Pipes proposed—prolonging conflict, at frightful human cost, as the Reagan Administration did during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. It was one thing to entice prospective enemies into a war of attrition in the dark corners of the Cold War, though, and quite another to do so under the klieg lights. The strategy might have been correct on paper, but Americans are not typically in the market for pessimism.
The American public fell in love with the young democracy activists who floated across the surface of the Arab revolts like benzene bubbles on the Nile. More precisely, Americans fell in love with their own image, in the persons of hip young Egyptians who reminded them of Americans. Conservatives and liberals alike competed to lionize Google sales manager Wael Ghonim. Caroline Kennedy gave him the JFK Profiles in Courage Award in May 2011. He made Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. The conservative Lebanese scholar Fouad Ajami kvelled in the Wall Street Journal:
No turbaned ayatollah had stepped forth to summon the crowd. This was not Iran in 1979. A young Google executive, Wael Ghonim, had energized this protest when it might have lost heart, when it could have succumbed to the belief that this regime and its leader were a big, immovable object. Mr. Ghonim was a man of the modern world. He was not driven by piety. The condition of his country—the abject poverty, the crony economy of plunder and corruption, the cruelties and slights handed out to Egyptians in all walks of life by a police state that the people had outgrown and despaired of—had given this young man and others like him their historical warrant.
Republican hawks advocated the furtherance of the Arab Spring by force of arms, starting with Libya. On Feb. 25, 2011, a month after Mubarak’s fall, Kristol’s Foreign Policy Initiative garnered 45 signatures of past officials and public intellectuals “urging President Obama, in conjunction with NATO allies, to take action to end the violence being propagated by the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi.” Three weeks later a NATO force led by the United States intervened. By September, the Qaddafi regime was beaten, and Robert Kagan lauded President Obama in the Weekly Standard: “By intervening, with force, the NATO alliance not only saved the people of Libya and kept alive the momentum of the Arab Spring … the end of Qaddafi’s rule is a great accomplishment for the Obama administration and for the president personally. Furthermore, the president deserves credit because his decision was unpopular and politically risky.” A month later the victorious rebels put the cadavers of Qaddafi and his son on public view.
The national consensus behind the Arab Spring peaked with the Libyan venture. Elliot Abrams was in a sense right: To intimate that democracy might not apply to Arabs seems to violate America’s first principle, that people of all background have the same opportunity for success—in the United States. It seems un-American to think differently. Isn’t America a multi-ethnic melting pot where all religions and ethnicities have learned to get along? That is a fallacy of composition, to be sure: Americans are brands plucked out of the fire of failed cultures, the few who fled the tragic failings of their own culture to make a fresh start. The only tragic thing about America is the incapacity of Americans to comprehend the tragedy of other peoples. To pronounce judgment on other cultures as unfit for modernity, as Abrams wrote, seems “a mockery of American ideals.”
The neoconservatives triumphantly tracked the progress of what they imagined was Arab democracy. After Iraq’s March 2005 elections, Max Boot wrote:
In 2003, more than a month before the invasion of Iraq, I wrote in the Weekly Standard that the forthcoming fall of Baghdad “may turn out to be one of those hinge moments in history—events like the storming of the Bastille or the fall of the Berlin Wall—after which everything is different. If the occupation goes well (admittedly a big if), it may mark the moment when the powerful antibiotic known as democracy was introduced into the diseased environment of the Middle East, and began to transform the region for the better.” Well, who’s the simpleton now? Those who dreamed of spreading democracy to the Arabs or those who denied that it could ever happen?
Similarly, in April 2011, Kristol wrote:
The Arab winter is over. The men and women of the Greater Middle East are no longer satisfied by “a little life.” Now it’s of course possible that this will turn out to be a false spring. But surely it’s not beyond the capacity of the United States and its allies to help reformers in the Arab world achieve mostly successful outcomes. … And who knows? Helping the Arab Spring through to fruition might contribute to an American Spring, one of renewed pride in our country and confidence in the cause of liberty.
Writing in the Weekly Standard in September of that year, Robert Kagan was so confident of the march of democracy that he proposed to throw the Jordanian monarchy under the bus after Mubarak, despite Jordan’s longstanding alliance with the United States.
Even when Islamists trampled the democrats in the aftermath of Mubarak’s fall, the foreign-policy consensus held strong. The Obama Administration courted Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, while Republican sages argued that Islamist rule, while suboptimal, nonetheless represented progress on the road to democracy. Joshua Muravchik pooh-poohed the risks of the Muslim Brotherhood role in a September 2011 essay: “[I]t seems unlikely that the Egyptians, aroused as they are and having lived through the Nasser experience, would succumb to a new despotism. The most likely force to impose it, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been having trouble keeping its own members in line, much less the rest of the country.” Muravchik wrote:
Perhaps the most important of the region’s hopeful signs is the rebellion in Syria. Who would have thought that Syrians, of all peoples, would have earned the world’s admiration? Yet it is hard to think of many cases in which nonviolent protestors have exposed themselves to shoot-to-kill security forces for months on end without being cowed into surrender. If these brave people persevere and drive the Assad dynasty from power, that itself would go far toward making the Arab Spring a net beneﬁt for the region and the world.
But the democracy enthusiasts missed a crucial feature of the Arab Spring: The toppling of Hosni Mubarak and the uprising against Syria’s Basher Assad occurred after the non-oil-producing Arab countries had lurched into a dangerous economic decline. Egypt, dependent on imports for half its caloric consumption, faced a sharp rise in food prices while the prices of cotton and other exports languished. Asia’s insatiable demand for feed grains had priced the Arab poor out of the market: Chinese pigs were fed before Egyptian peasants, whose labor was practically worthless. Almost half of Egyptians are functionally illiterate, and its university graduates are unqualified for the global market (unlike Tunisians, who staff the help desks of French software firms). Out of cash, Egypt faces chronic food and fuel shortages and presently is on life support through emergency loans from its neighbors. The insoluble economic crisis makes any form of political stabilization unlikely.
Syria’s economic position is, if possible, even worse. Yemen is not only out of money, but nearly out of water. Large portions of the Arab world have languished so long in backwardness that they are beyond repair. After the dust of the popular revolts dissipated, we are left with banana republics, but without the bananas.
It is a salutary exercise to consider the views we hold with impassioned conviction and ask: “What would it imply if we are wrong?” Neoconservatives of all stripes believed with perfect faith that the desire for liberty is a universal human impulse, requiring only the right institutions to reinforce it. The Obama Administration believed that all cultures have equal validity and that—as Obama said early in his presidency—that he thinks of American exceptionalism the same way that the Greeks think about Greek exceptionalism. In both cases, Republicans and Democrats believe that there is nothing inherently unique about America—except that this country was the first to create the political framework that corresponds to the true nature of every human being.
Kristol’s 2011 assessment of the Arab Spring was erroneous, but he was right to link America’s state of being to events in the Middle East. We stumbled by national consensus into a strategic morass, from which there is no apparent exit, in the naïve belief that under every burka was a prospective American ready to emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis.
But if large parts of the Muslim world reject what seemed to be an historic opportunity to create democratic governments and instead dissolve into a chaotic regime of permanent warfare, we might conclude that there really is something different about America—that our democracy is the product of a unique set of precedents, the melding of the idea of covenant brought here by radical Protestants, the traditions of Anglo-Saxon democracy, and the far-reaching wisdom of our founders. To present-day Americans, that is an unnerving thought. We do not wish upon ourselves that sort of responsibility. We eschew our debts to deep traditions. We want to reinvent ourselves at will, to shop for new identities, to play at the cultural cutting-edge.
What these events might teach us, rather, is that America really is exceptional and that there is no contradiction in cultivating our democracy at home while acting elsewhere in tough-minded pursuit of our security interests.
Swalwell a Major Contender for U.S. Presidency in 2020
One of the most gifted politicians in the Democratic Party — and fastest-rising — is the 37-year-old Eric Swalwell, whose first elective office was as a member of the Dublin, California, City Council in 2010, and who stepped up from there to his current seat in the U.S. Congress, in 2013. His main financial backers are the military industries, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Wall Street — and the nonprofits and service-firms that represent them.
On Sunday, August 12th, Political Wire, which is the main news-aggregator for Democratic Party activists, headlined “Swalwell Travels to Iowa” and reported that, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) — who was born in Iowa — told the San Jose Mercury News that his visit to Iowa “was focused on helping Democrats retake the House in 2018, including by winning competitive races,” but he also said he isn’t ruling out a presidential run in 2020.
Said Swalwell: “Right now my focus is to win at home, earn my way back to Washington to represent my constituents, help other candidates win so we can change the country, and then I’ll make decisions after November about my future.”
Swalwell is movie-star handsome; furthermore, his five-year record in Congress has shown him to be an extraordinarily resourceful career-builder and self-promoter, whose special leadership in the Party has been in their effort to impeach the Republican Party President Donald Trump and (though unmentioned) to replace Trump by the Republican Party Vice President Mike Pence, who is even more conservative than is Trump.
Typical in this effort to place Pence into the White House, is an MSNBC youtube titled “Rep. Eric Swalwell: President Donald Trump Is ‘Perilously Close’ To Obstruction Charge | MSNBC”, in which the issue of whom the President would be if Trump gets impeached is very skillfully ignored entirely, both by the interviewer and by the interviewee. Billionaires control both Parties; and the ones who control the Democratic Party (and MSNBC) are apparently convinced (perhaps by private polling) that the Democratic nominee in 2020 will have a much better chance of winning the White House if Pence is the President, than if Trump is. For whatever reason, almost all of the discussions about impeaching Trump, on Democratic Party sites, avoid even mentioning Pence.
But the same is true also on Republican Party sites. Swalwell is being heavily pumped by virtually all media that cover national politics. For example, on 21 May 2018, Fox News posted to youtube “Calif. lawmaker makes his case for Russian collusion”, where Tucker Carlson debated Swalwell for 9 minutes, and though the actual subject was whether Trump should be impeached, none of the consequences of impeaching him (such as Pence replacing Trump) were even so much as mentioned. The billionaires in both Parties are apparently very taken with Swalwell, not only because he’s phenomenally gifted (as is clear from his ability to hold his own even against the formidable Carlson in that tough debate), but because if any Democrat replaces Trump in 2020, Swalwell would seem to be their dream for achieving that — and he’d probably be preferred by more of them in the general election than Trump would be.
Of course, both Parties claim to represent the public and not the billionaires; and, in this regard, while the standard Republican Party tactic to appeal to the ‘populist’ vote is to promise to “reduce waste, fraud, and abuse,” by eliminating or weakening the regulatory agencies (which the billionaires are determined to shrink or else eliminate if they can’t outright control them), the standard Democratic Party tactic to appeal to the ‘populists’ is to try to build a coalition of feminists, LGBT, Blacks, Hispanics, and other groups whom Republicans treat as being inferior to themselves. Consequently, in order to win the White House as a Democrat, Swalwell has joined the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional LGBT Caucus, neither of which minority-groups includes himself. Unknown, as of yet, is whether he has applied for membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, but according to Fact Check, as posted in 2008 and never since revised, the Congressional Black Caucus “has never had a white member in its 36-year history” (and, today, that would be never in its 46-year history), so that if he were to apply to join and then be turned down by them, and this were to become public, then the resultant bad publicity for that Caucus would likely reduce, instead of increase, Swalwell’s support by black voters. Consequently, he probably won’t apply to join that Caucus. But perhaps he will seek to join the Bipartisan Congressional Women’s Caucus. They have never had any men, but, between 1981 and 1995, their official policy was to invite male Representatives to join; so, if he were to give it a try, then perhaps they would allow him in, and he then would be able to say that he’s the first-ever man to join the Women’s Caucus. (In 2015, a Men For Women Caucus was formed in the House, but it still hasn’t announced an agenda, and it has done nothing.)
A prominent article on Swalwell’s House website is “Russia: Not Our Friend”, in which is provided a timeline, since 2007, of 13 events that he summarizes outside their context (so his brief accounts there constitute propaganda instead of history), events in which the Russian Government did or was accused of having done allegedly bad things. Typical is the most recent event listed, which is
December 2016: Germany’s domestic security agency DfV announced that there was growing evidence that Russians were attempting to influence the upcoming September 2017 federal election.
Linked-to in that, is a New York Times article, from 8 December 2016, headlined “After a Cyberattack, Germany Fears Election Disruption”, and it provided speculation but no evidence, at all. For example: “Based on the prevailing Russian strategy of hybrid influence and destabilization, which we have observed over time and for which we have facts, the government, officials and some political parties have become sensitized to this form of conflict,” said Wilfried Jilge, an expert on Ukraine and Eastern Europe with the German Council on Foreign Relations.“Such suspicions are the result of observation and experience over the past year and a half,” Mr. Jilge said.
The Wikipedia article about the “German Council on Foreign Relations” states “The association was founded in 1955 in Bonn. The model for the foundation was in many respects the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the Chatham House in London.” Both of those groups, in turn, had been founded by, respectively, American and British billionaires and ‘nobles’ in order to advance the design by the 19th Century British aristocrat, Cecil Rhodes, for a reunification of the then-emergent U.S. empire, back into the then-declining British empire, for a joint U.S.-UK empire, including over Germany, and, ultimately, over Russia and the entire world. Consequently, both the CFR and Chatham House are pro-NATO, and this means that they support conquest of Russia, and this urge for global conquest extends even up to their rejecting the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction or “M.A.D.” that the function of nuclear weapons is in order to prevent World War III, and their replacing that by the idea of “Nuclear Primacy” that the function of nuclear weapons is instead to win WW III. This ceaseless nuclear buildup, of course, means ever-increasing U.S. military budgets, which also means soaring profits for firms such as Lockheed Martin and the rest of what Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex,” such as had, in 2016, financed, above all other U.S. politicians, Hillary Clinton, to whom they donated three times as much as they did to Donald Trump. Trump as President has been trying to satisfy those companies; and, consequently, his biggest achievement yet has been the all-time-record-shatteringly huge $400 billion sale of U.S. weapons and training on how they’re used, to the Saudi armed forces. On 21 May 2017, I headlined “U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance” and reported that the day before, “U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal.” Then, on 21 March 2018, CNBC bannered “Trump wants Saudi Arabia to buy more American-made weapons. Here are the ones the Saudis want”, and reported what Trump had just negotiated with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, which was a step-up in that record-shattering $350 billion arms-sale, to $400 billion. (Note: that’s “billion,” not “million.”) So: this is Trump’s American jobs-plan, and it probably tops what a President Swalwell would be able to achieve. Trump will push beyond any limit in order to overcome a possible competitive challenge.
If Rep. Swalwell does enter the 2020 Democratic Party primaries for the Presidency, the distinction between himself and Joe Biden would be his youth, handsomeness, and giftedness as a debater, versus Biden’s experience; but, otherwise, they both would be splitting the Democratic “centrist” vote in the primaries, since these two men would be competing for the same segments of the Party’s electorate — the segments who had voted in 2016 for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Whereas Trump might be able to defeat Biden, I think that his defeating Swalwell would be considerably less likely. So: Republican operatives would probably prefer for Democrats to nominate Biden, over Swalwell.
Swalwell is the biggest rising star in the Democratic Party since Obama in 2004. Four years later, Obama became elected President. Swalwell’s prominence now is comparable to Obama’s in 2004, but 2020 is only two years away, not four. I think that as a public speaker, Swalwell is less skilled than Obama, but that as a debater, he’s more skilled than Obama. Perhaps billionaires will buy-off Biden to not enter the primary contests, so as to help ease the way for Swalwell to become the Democratic nominee. Maybe Swalwell’s challenge would motivate Trump to try even harder to please them. From the billionaires’ standpoint, Swalwell v. Trump would be just as much a win-win situation as was Clinton v. Trump.
Republican operative Bill Whalen, writing at The Hill, on May 23rd, listed 7 California Democrats who might be serious contenders to win the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, and Swalwell wasn’t on the list, which was: Kamala Harris, Eric Garcetti, Gavin Newsom, Tom Steyer, Ro Khanna, Oprah Winfrey, and Jerry Brown. Whalen titled his article “What’s wrong with the Democratic Party? Just look at California.” He closed: “Isn’t that what America expects from California? Entertainment?” Maybe he excluded Swalwell as being not sufficiently “entertaining” (even if better-looking than those he did list).
On 15 January 2016, early in the Republican primaries, Whalen, then writing at Fox News, had analyzed the contenders, and he said that the choice would ultimately come down to Trump versus Cruz, and: “A word of caution here for the Cruz Crew: Jeb Bush tangled with Trump; his candidacy cratered. The same is true of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Thursday’s lone debate holdout. Like falling into a black hole or marrying a Kardashian, the contact sport that is extended sparring with The Donald is a ticket to oblivion.” That was Whalen’s veiled endorsement of Trump. Whalen still prefers Trump.
Does Whalen not know that Swalwell is one of the top Democrats pushing for Trump to be replaced by Pence, and so belongs on his list of leading contenders from California? Likelier is: Whalen fears that Swalwell could handle the challenge of beating Trump — and thus of transferring control of America away from Republican Party billionaires, and toward Democratic Party ones. It’s all really just a feud amongst the aristocracy. It’s a bipartisan aristocracy, who fight ferociously between themselves. Everybody else is merely ‘collateral damage’; they don’t actually count.
The idea that Swalwell and his ilk peddle, that what has ended American democracy is ‘the Russians’ instead of America’s own aristocrats, isn’t merely false; it is proven false, as the former Democratic U.S. President Jimmy Carter has acknowledged.
Anything will be done to sell more weapons. Apparently, that’s the bottom line.
Author’s note: The piece first posted at strategic-culture.org
America’s Militarized Economy
Donald Trump’s biggest success, thus far into his Presidency, has been his sale of $400 billion (originally $350 billion) of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudi Arabian Government, which is owned by its royal family, after whom that nation is named. This sale alone is big enough to be called Trump’s “jobs plan” for Americans. It is also the biggest weapons-sale in all of history. It’s 400 billion dollars, not 400 million dollars; it is gigantic, and, by far, unprecedented in world-history.
The weapons that the Sauds and their friends, the 7 monarchies that constitute the United Arab Emirates, are using right now, in order to conquer and subdue Yemen, are almost entirely made in America. That’s terrific business for America. Not only are Americans employed, in strategically important congressional districts (that is, politically important congressional districts), to manufacture this equipment for mass-murdering in foreign lands that never threatened (much less invaded) America, but the countries that purchase this equipment are thereby made dependent upon the services of those American manufacturers, and of the taxpayer-funded U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and its private military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, to maintain this equipment, and to train the local military enforcers, on how to operate these weapons. Consequently, foreign customers of U.S. military firms are buying not only U.S. weapons, but the U.S. Government’s protection — the protection by the U.S. military, of those monarchs. They are buying the label of being an “American ally” so that the U.S. news media can say that this is in defense of American allies (regardless of whether it’s even that). American weapons are way overpriced for what they can do, but they are a bargain for what they can extract out of America’s taxpayers, who fund the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and thus fund the protection of those monarchs: these kings and other dictators get U.S. taxpayers to fund their protection. It’s an international protection-racket funded by American taxpayers and those rulers, in order to protect those rulers; and the victims aren’t only the people who get slaughtered in countries such as Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Libya, and Syria, and Yemen, and Palestine, but also (though only financially) are the American public, who get fleeced by it — the American public provide the bulk of the real funding for this operation to expand the lands where America’s allies rule, and so to serve both America’s aristocracy and the aristocracies that are America’s allies.
This is how today’s America enforces its ‘democracy’ around the world, so that America can spread this ‘democracy’, at gunpoint, and at bomb-point, like America’s allies, those Kings and Emirs, and the apartheid regime in Israel, are doing, to the people whom they kill and conquer, with help from the taxpayer-funded American military — funded to protect those aristocrats, against their respective publics, and to further enrich America’s own aristocrats, at the expense of America’s own public.
The global ‘aggressor’ has been identified by America’s previous President, Barack Obama, who won office like Trump did, by promising ‘a reset’ in relations with post-communist Russia, and by mocking Obama’s opponent (Mitt Romney) for having called Russia “the number one geopolitical foe” — which America’s aristocracy has historically considered Russia to be, ever since the aristocracy in Russia fled and were killed in 1917, which caused America’s and other aristocracies to fear and hate Russia and Russians, for having ousted its aristocracy, this being an act that aristocrats everywhere are determined to avenge, regardless of ‘ideology’. (Similarly, America and its pro-aristocracy foreign allies, seek to avenge Iran’s 1979 overthrow of the Shah.) As Obama’s own actions during his subsequent Presidency made clear, and as he already had started in 2011 (if not from day one of his Presidency) secretly to implement, he privately agreed with what Romney said on that occasion, but he was intelligent enough (which his opponent obviously was not) to recognize that the American public, at that time, did not agree with it but instead believed that Islamic terrorists and aristocrats such as the Sauds who finance them are that); and Obama took full advantage of his opponent’s blunder there, which helped Obama to win a second term in the White House (after having skillfully hidden from the public during his first term, his intention to weaken Russia by eliminating leaders who were friends or even allies of Russia, such as in Syria, and Ukraine).
This is American ‘democracy’, after all (rule by deceit, lies), and that’s the reason why, when Russia, in 2014, responded to the U.S. coup in Ukraine (a coup under the cover of anti-corruption demonstrations) which coup was taking over this large country next-door to Russia and thus constituted a deadly threat to Russia’s national security, Obama declared Russia to be the world’s top ‘aggressor’. Obama overthrew Ukraine and then damned Russia’s leader Putin for responding to Obama’s aggressive threat against Russia from this coup in neighboring Ukraine. Russia was supposedly the ‘aggressor’ because it allowed the residents of Crimea — which had been part of Russia until the Soviet dictator in 1954 had arbitrarily handed Crimea to Ukraine — to become Russian citizens again, Russians like 90% of them felt they still were, despite Khrushchev’s transfer of them to Ukraine in 1954. The vast majority of Crimeans felt themselves still to be Russians. But Obama and allies of the U.S. Government insisted that the newly installed Government of Ukraine must rule those people; those people must not be permitted to rule (or be ruled) by people they’ve participated in choosing.
Ever since at least 2011, the U.S. Government was planning to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected Government; and the plan started being put into action by no later than 1 March 2013 inside America’s Ukrainian Embassy. In preparation for this planned coup (“the most blatant coup in history”), a poll of Crimeans was funded by the International Republican Institute and USAID, in which Gallup scientifically sampled Crimeans during 16-30 May 2013, six months prior to the forced rejection on 20 November 2013 of EU membership by Ukraine’s democratically elected government — that’s six months prior to the Ukrainian Government’s rejection that Obama’s team were intending to use as being the pretext for the anti-Government demonstrations, which would start on Kiev’s Maidan Square the day after this forced rejection, on November 21st. The poll of Crimeans (which was made public on 7 October 2013) found (here are highlights):
“If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, which entity should it be with?”
53% “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”
17% “The European Union”
“How would you evaluate your attitude to the following entities?”
“Russia”: 68% “Warm”; 5% “Cold”
“USA”: 6% “Warm”; 24% “Cold”
“In your opinion, what should the status of Crimea be?”
“Autonomy in Ukraine (as today [under Crimea’s 1992 Constitution and as subsequently celebrated by RFE/RL on 20 January 2011] )”: 53%.
“Common oblast of Ukraine [ruled under Ukraine’s 1991 Constitution]”: 2%.
“Crimea should be separated and given to Russia”: 23%.
In other words: prior to the U.S. State Department and CIA operation to steal Ukraine’s government from Ukraine’s citizens — including especially from the residents of the sole autonomously governed region in Ukraine, which was Crimea — 53% of Crimeans wanted continued autonomy, 23% wanted not only a total break away from the Ukrainian Government but their becoming again citizens of Russia, such as had existed until 1954; and only 2% wanted restoration of the situation in 1991 when Crimea was briefly a “common oblast” or regular region within Ukraine, a federal state within Ukraine just like all the other states within Ukraine were. And, obviously, after America’s coup in Ukraine, the percentage who wanted a total break away from Ukraine rose even higher than it had been before.
Consequently, the U.S. demand that the newly imposed Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s coup created, made upon Crimea subsequent to the coup, and which demand both Obama and his successor Trump insist must be imposed upon and obeyed by Crimeans if the anti-Russia sanctions are even possibly to end, is the demand that Crimeans, in that May 2013 poll, even prior to the bloody Obama coup and the takeover of Ukraine by rabidly anti-Crimean Ukrainian nazis, had supported by only 2% (it was demanding reimposition of the brief 1991 Ukrainian relationship, which Crimeans had rejected in 1991), as compared to the 53% of Crimeans who favored continuation of Crimean “autonomy,” and the 23% who favored becoming Russians again.
Furthermore, the May 2013 poll showed that only 17% of Crimeans favored becoming part of the EU, whereas 53% preferred to be part of the “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”; so, clearly, Crimeans, prior to the democratically elected Ukrainian Government’s having declined the EU’s offer, overwhelmingly wanted Ukraine’s democratically elected Government to do precisely what it did — to turn down the EU’s offer.
During the U.S. coup, and immediately after it, until the 16 March 2014 Crimean referendum on what to do about it, Crimeans saw and heard on television and via the other Ukrainian media, reports that could only have terrified them about the new Government’s intentions. Clearly the U.S. regime had no objection to placing nazis in charge, and Crimeans are intensely anti-nazi — not only anti-Nazi during Hitler’s time, but against nazism, the racist-fascist ideology, itself, regardless of which group it’s targeting; but, in their case, it targets Crimeans, and, more broadly, Russians.
A January 2015 poll of Crimeans was financed by the U.S.-allied Canadian Government, and never made public by them but released in early February only on an obscure site of the polling organization and never reported to the public in the Western press, and this poll found (probably to the sponsors’ enormous disappointment) that 93% of respondents did “endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea” and 4% did not. On 16 March 2015, the U.S. State Department issued a statement: “On this one year anniversary of the sham ‘referendum’ in Crimea, held in clear violation of Ukrainian law and the Ukrainian constitution, the United States reiterates its condemnation of a vote that was not voluntary, transparent, or democratic.” No evidence was provided for any of that assertion, simply the allegation. Four days later, the far more honest Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes headlined “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea,” and he opened:
The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are. One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tatars are mostly all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.
Little has changed over the last 12 months. Despite huge efforts on the part of Kiev, Brussels, Washington and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit. At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.
The U.S. and its allies have a different idea than that. They reject Rapoza’s view.
The United States claims to support ‘democracy’. But it demands imposition upon Crimeans of a rabidly anti-Crimean Government. What kind of ‘democracy’ does the United States actually support? Has the U.S. Government answered that question in Crimea — and, in Ukraine — by its actions there? Obama supported this kind of ‘democracy’, and this kind. He wanted this kind of treatment of Crimeans. Trump hasn’t yet made clear whether he does, too; but his official representatives have made clear that they do.
America has a militarized economy. It also currently has the very highest percentage of its people in prison out of all of the world’s 222 countries and so certainly qualifies as a police state (which Americans who are lucky enough to be not amongst the lower socio-economic classes might find to be a shocking thing to assert). On top of that, everyone knows that America’s military spending is by far the highest in the world, but many don’t know that it’s the most corrupt and so the U.S. actually spends around half of the entire world’s military budget and that the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department is even so corrupt that it has been unauditable and thus unaudited for decades, and that many U.S. military programs are counted in other federal departments in order to hide from the public how much is actually being spent each year on the military, which is well over a trillion dollars annually, probably more than half of all federal discretionary (which excludes interest on the debt, some of which pays for prior wars) spending. So, it’s a very militarized economy, indeed.
This is today’s American ‘democracy’. Is it also ‘democracy’ in America’s allied countries? (Obviously, they are more democratic than America regarding just the incarceration-rate; but what about generally?) Almost all of those countries continue to say that America is a democracy (despite the proof that it is not), and that they are likewise. Are they correct in both? Are they allied with a ‘democracy’ against democracy? Or, are they, in fact, phonies as democracies? These are serious questions, and bumper-sticker answers to them won’t suffice anymore — not after invading Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011, and Syria right afterward, and Ukraine in 2014, and Yemen today, etc.
Please send this article along to friends, and ask for their thoughts about this. Because, in any actual democracy, everyone should be discussing these issues, under the prevailing circumstances. Taxpayer-funded mass-slaughter is now routine and goes on year after year. After a few decades of this, shouldn’t people start discussing the matter? Why haven’t they been? Isn’t this the time to start? Or is America so much of a dictatorship that it simply won’t happen? We’ll see.
Author’s note: first posted at Unz Review
Confronting the Shadow of Colonialism in Trump’s America
August 2018 marked the anniversary of civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia where white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters. Then, President Donald Trump in his response to this event empowered ultra-right and racist groups by blurring the line of responsibility with the rhetoric of “blame on both sides.” Now, in condemning the horrific tragedy that took place last year, he maintained his stance with wording of “all types of racism and acts of violence.”
The victory of Trump in the 2016 presidential election brought a demise of the U.S. political establishment. As the legitimacy of institutions weakened, the veil of reality has now been lifted. Like the scenery kept hidden in the darkness of night, what was condemned, denied and kept secret in this society was now freed, entering the light of day.
Trump’s campaign slogan ‘make America great again’ captured the minds of many who are disenfranchised by the system. Patriotism that was quickly harnessed is now summoned for all to obey the rules of patriarchy and worship the glory of military might. As Trump administration carries on the legacy of U.S. imperialism, American exceptionalism of the Obama era appeared to gain another meaning.
The rhetoric of ‘putting the nation first’ also struck a chord with white supremacist groups that till now were more on the fringe. With Trump’s xenophobia and racism manifested in the Muslim ban as well as transgender military exclusion and deportation of Mexicans with a policy of separating families at a border, the notion of American superiority in the world became white exceptionalism.
Barbarians inside civilization
How did we get here? While many people were caught by surprise by the growing power of extremists that try to regress America into a pre-Civil War era, this return of European identity was not created overnight.
White supremacy has been a fabric of the political, economic and cultural system of the U.S., woven into every aspect of our lives. In fact, it has been a dominant force that shaped the world of past centuries. Since the Age of Discovery, civilization of the earth has become synonymous with European colonization of the world. Frantz Fanon, who studied the black psyche in the white world in the context of the Algerian resistance to French colonialism shared his own experience of colonial identification. In Black Skin, White Masks he made a sad predicament, saying “There is but one destiny for the black man. And it is white.”
The law of conquest of the Old World crept its way into the New World. As early settlers of North America were trying to free themselves from Great Britain and its king, Europe’s ambition to enlighten ignorance and bring order to an archaic force of nature became a new mission of Manifest Destiny to master the American continent.
The history of America carries contradictions manifested in hypocrisies of the original framers of country. Here we find the seed for Trump’s America that tries to create a republic for a few, who are deemed superior to humanity. On one hand, the U.S. Constitution laid the foundation for the rights of individuals, halting the rule of monarchy of that time. On the other hand, this new nation of law, with democratic principles contained the darkness of genocide of Native Americans, slavery of blacks and the oppression of women and minorities.
The idea of equality in the Declaration of Independence that inspired the hearts of many, has remained as empty words and for some appeared as blunt lies. The light-skinned men asserting themselves as God’s chosen race crusaded to civilize Turtle Island. In their self-righteousness, they were blind to their own barbarian within that slaughtered natives, enslaved blacks by treating them as subhumans, while subjugating women as objects.
American dream and the myth of equality
The savage beast inside America has been made invisible, covered up by a symbol of flags and legends that turned European colonists into pioneers, heroes and patriots. In the post-industrial era, the primitive man within civilization seemed to have found its vehicle in the new brand of national identity.
Psychologist Philip Cushman observed the emergence of a particular configuration of self in the post WWII United States. He characterized it as a self that “has specific psychological boundaries, a sense of personal agency that is located interiorly, and a wish to manipulate the external world for its own personal ends.”
He defined it “a kind of masterful, bounded self: the empty self” and described it as a psychological condition “that experiences a significant absence of community, tradition, and shared meaning” and that “embodies the absence, loneliness, and disappointments of life as a chronic, undifferentiated emotional hunger.” Then, he pointed out how this internal emptiness was used to fuel “the mindless, wasteful consumerism of the late twentieth century.”
The beast entered a vacuum at the core of individual identity, channeling people’ desires into the consumer economy to feed itself. Through beautiful images of affluent life displayed in ads, TV commercials and Hollywood movies, the glamour of American upper-middle class was created. This life style image was sold like a new product promised to make us whole. The narrative of the American dream was used as a sales pitch. It was the idea that with basic hard work and talent, anyone can succeed economically, regardless of their class or race. Enticed by this promise of social meritocracy, people entered into a market to compete in the pursuit of happiness defined by material wealth.
Individual’s urge to fulfill endless personal desires now merged with the unbridled greed of capitalism. Many began chasing after status, careers, and money to climb up the ladder of success that preserves the colonial hierarchy in a form of an economic class.
Crumbling illusion of democracy
The American dream and its myth of equal opportunity further erased awareness of racial injustice and colonial oppression. The virtue of liberty that is now uprooted from its foundation of equality became an ideology of neoliberalism. Along with it came the birth of corporate America that enshrines white supremacy through radical deregulation and expands its power under a façade of democracy.
In Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, journalist and author Chris Hedges described how “the America we celebrate is an illusion” where “the words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase.”Hiding behind the anonymity of a corporate state, a master oligarchic class orchestrates the lesser of two evil politics to control citizens who are now turned into obedient consumers. They make sure with both Democrat or Republican presidents, that no matter who gets elected, white privilege always remains as a Washington consensus.
Obama, the first black president was installed as a symbol of progress and racial equality to make people entangle with empire’s illusion and keep the status quo of white color domination.Consumed by their own desires, Americans became self-absorbed, not being able to see the oppression created by their own government around the world. They became blind to colonization enacted under the name of globalization with exploitative economic practice of sweatshop labor, trade agreements like WTO and NAFTA and military intervention for resource grabs. By not being able to see the empire’s predation, people no longer feel burdened with the suffering of others. Silence becomes complacency and the sense of morality becomes dull.
Now, economic stagnation is shrinking the middle class. This consumer nation has begun to starve, losing means to soothe its internal emptiness. As the illusion of democracy starts to crumble, many people are gradually waking up from the American dream to see the ugliness that surrounds them. James Baldwin said, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” Some react to Trump’s rhetoric of hate with similar hate. They direct anger to others, blaming each other for sabotaging the supposed beautiful life that they once thought they had.
Transforming outrage into courage
Trump and the resurgence of white supremacy opened eyes to the forbidden scenery that has long remained unseen, by keeping all in a fantasy of illusory light. We are now beginning to see ourselves surrounded by a corporate wasteland where depravity of conscience fails to tame unruly cowboys, who under the banner of profit at any cost continue this plunder.
In this moral desert, we are visited by phantoms of our own shadow. The new face of this American leader presents a mirror through which we see our culture’s own nothingness, masking insecurity and inadequacy in a façade of a ‘masterful self’. Reflected in this is our unknown self, forgotten and denied. It is that which compels us to grab power, while demanding and demeaning others in order to fulfill our narcissistic desire, promoted by this consuming corporate capitalism.
From refugees, gays, blacks and the poor, we begin to hear cries of those who have been exiled from an American middle class bubble of insulated reality. Standing next to victims of systemic oppression is the colonizer within each of us. Enslaved by internal hunger, they acquiesce to a system of patriarchy that binds all to shadows from the past.
For so long, we have been made to feel powerless and conditioned to seek approval from outside authority. Instead of finding answers within, many look to teachers and politicians who pretend to offer solutions to problems. We succumb to the orders of corporate masters for financial security and try to find value and meaning in commercial goods, seeking for validation in expert opinion. By doing so, we lose touch with our authentic selves and give away our own power.
The Trump presidency unsealed the demon inside the history of America that has been devouring the heart that remembers our intrinsic connection. The darkness we face now challenges all to find strength to fill the void inside ourselves that predators have been latching onto. Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner elucidated the role of evil and how it helps educate us to freedom and love:
“Love would be impossible for man and freedom would be impossible for man without the possibility of sailing down into the abyss. A man unable of his own free decision to choose good or evil, would be a being only led on a leading string to a good which must be attained of necessity and who had no power to choose the good of his own fully purified will, by the love which springs from freedom.”
Within days of Trump’s inauguration, people took to the streets to protest against this new commander in chief. While fear spreads across U.S. cities, people’s will to stand united against his hateful ideology is creating a nationwide movement. With slogans of ‘love’, people march arm in arm, trying to defeat hatred. Yet in order for this solidarity to become real resistance, our love has to go beyond passion, indignation and even compassion for the oppressed. Love that overcomes hate is an act of courage, chosen by each of us out of our own free resolution, to eradicate all terror that tries to freeze our hearts and govern our actions under the dictate of the mind. Courage is not an absence of fear, but is an act carried out despite that fear.
This love resuscitates the breath of life that inspired the truth held to be self-evident by the founders. We discover the wisdom that has always been there, guarded by the First Nations. It is supremacy of the heart—the love for our brothers and sisters that can overcome the love of power.
This transition to new political power brings us to a time of decision. We now have a choice. Outrage toward injustice can become the fire to destroy, fueling civil wars between one another. Or, it can be transformed into courage to dethrone the corporate aristocracy and restore the reign of the heart. A new light emerges that could truly enlighten the world. It is a light drawn from the darkness, dissolving the illusion of colonial hierarchy and illuminating the way for all to come home.
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