“We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America”–First speech by Donald Trump to a joint session of Congress.
[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]his is how Steve Bannon, chief Deep State strategist and deconstructionist in chief, aide to President Trump, who sits in the Security Council, described the refugee crisis in Europe in October 2015: “The whole thing in Europe is all about immigration, it’s a global issue today—this kind of global Camp of the Saints…It’s not a migration, it’s really an invasion. It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe”
What is Bannon referring to by that elusive “Camp of the Saints”? Well, it’s nothing but the title of an obscure 1973 French racist novel by Jean Raspail. Bannon explains the world by it. He has repeatedly used it as a metaphor to describe the largest refugee crisis in human history.
The novel has become a sort of cult favorite of the far right. The reason may well be that it’s an overtly racist rant. It uses race as the main characterization of characters. Basically it describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague or like a hurricane. The refugee is basically dehumanized and reduced to a force of nature to be escaped and fought. It turns events into a fight of death between races and a clash of civilizations. It has been repeatedly published in the US, always with the support and public acclaim of white supremacists and racists of various stripes, not excluding the KKK.
The novel was translated and published in the US in 1975. It was reviewed in the magazine Kirkus who described it as “a major event like Mein Kampf was a major event.”
Let’s not forget that Bannon is the undisputed puppet master behind the scene at the White House pulling Trump’s strings and advising policies such as the controversial ban on Muslim travelers from seven majority Moslem countries.
Let’s not also forget that he used to be the executive chairman of the right-wing news site Breitbart, the online movement of the white nationalist movement in America, known for its anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stances.
The cover of this English translation of The Camp of the Saints calls it “a chilling novel about the end of the white world.”
The plot of the book is quite simple and predictable. An armada of almost a million impoverished Indians heads for Europe. A debate follows among leaders of the EU, including a liberal Pope from Latin America (a prophecy of sorts) on whether to let them in or simply kill them all, which many think it is the hard but also the right thing to do. All the non-white people of the earth intently watch the events. If the Indians succeed in their mission to enter Europe they will all rise up and overthrow Western White Society as we know it.
By the time the French government decides to act and repeal the “invasion,” it’s too late. Chinese pour into the White bastion that is Russia, the queen of England is forced to marry her son to a Pakistani woman, the mayor of New York must house an African-American family (another preposterous prophecy given that the current mayor of New York, Mr. Di Biasio, is married to an African-American). The rogue heroes defending white Christian supremacy are killed in the process. The are the martyrs of the cause, so to speak.
One of those heroes and martyrs is Calgues who compares himself to past European heroes and their mythical defenses of European Christendom: Rhodes against the Ottoman Empire, the fall of Constantinople to the Muslims, the naval battle of Lepanto. He considers himself fully human. The others, brown or black, arouse disgust. Many of the others are sexual deviants.
This tragedy, as per Calgues comes about because the West has lost the belief in its own cultural and racial superiority. It doesn’t take long before the reader realizes that the spirit of the Crusades is being revived. The crusade in this case, however, is against the poor and non-whites.
Raspal wrote the book at Cannes while looking at the Mediterranean sea and imagining the hordes of refugees arriving by sea, the Third World overrunning “this blessed country that is France,” as he puts it. As could be expected the book did not get many favorable reviews, but there was a favorable one in the conservative Republican publication National Review which wrote the following: “Raspail brings the reader to the surprising conclusion that killing a million or so starving refugees from India would be a supreme act of individual sanity and cultural health.”
Also there is this gem from Professor Jeffrey Hart who in 1975 wrote that “Raspail is to genocide what D.H. Lawrence is to sex; a great fuss is being made over Raspail’s supposed racism, but the liberal rote anathema on racism is in effect a poisonous assault upon Western self-preference.”
The book was re-published in 1983 thanks to Cordelia Scaife May, heiress to the Mellon fortune; and this time around it became an icon among immigration opponents, among whom John Tanton, the grandfather of anti-immigration movements in the US. He began innocently enough as an environmentalist and population control advocate, but ended up founding the Federation of American Immigration Reform, and the Center for Immigration Studies, and US English, for the advocacy of English as the US official language. Eventually he began advertising the book and championing pro-eugenics programs.
In 1995 the book saw a third publication as concerns with global demographic trends intensified. Tanton wrote then that “Over the years the American public has absorbed a great number of books, articles, poems and films which exalt the immigrant experience, it is easy for the feelings evoked by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to obscure the fact that we are currently receiving too many immigrants (and receiving them too fast) for the health of our environment and of our common culture. Raspail evokes different feelings and that may help to pave the way for policy changes.”
In 2001, the book was republished one more time, again by Tanton, and again gained a cult following among opponents of immigration like the Border-patrolling Minutemen and eventually the online “alt-right” which has referenced the novel multiple times. In one such references, Julia Hahn, now an aide to Bannon in the White House, compared the admonition of Pope Francis to a joint session of Congress to “open your arms to refugees” to that found in Raspal’s novel by the liberal Latin American pontiff pointing out, as Bannon also does frequently enough, that migration is a disguise for invasion, that the refugee crisis did not just happen, it was planned, that something more sinister is going on. The villains in such a conspiracy theory, besides the liberal Latin American pope, are of course the secular liberals who weaken the West.
What is most intriguing about this racist paranoia and rejection of “the other” is that immigrants and refugees are not perceived as human beings in dire straits and needs, but as enemies to be exterminated. It is the resurrection of the Nazi mind-set and its final solution. The solution of the refugee crisis does not lie in compassion and solidarity, but in extermination. The aim is to win the war. As per Bannon and his minions, there is a war going on and it is between the president trying to deconstruct the established status quo, and what goes by the name of Deep State and its agents (intelligence agencies, liberal press, elite political establishment, etc).
This phenomenon can be detected even in a progressive magazine such as this one. Accepting all opinions, they are of course tolerated, but you may have noticed already that there are regular contributors who never fail to inveigh against the Deep State which they consider the traitorous enemy of a our president, never mind how he got there, never mind its derangement. Their arguments appear rational, even reasonable, but in fact are proclaimed like an article of faith. The influence of books such as the one we have examined is quite apparent. They echo the Nazi era of the thirty in Germany when scapegoats were being charged for all the troubles of Germany
“Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian West to actually win this war?” Bannon asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), now the attorney general, in June 2016. “I’m worried about that. … They’re eroding, regularly it seems to me, classical American values that are so critical to our success,” Sessions replied.
As the saying goes: birds of a feather flock together. Both Bannon and Sessions are now integral part of the White House, and that goes a long way in explaining why a Trump, who reads no book and is only capable of writing 140 characters tweets requiring two minutes span of attention, tends to conflate immigration and warfare and perceives his anti-Muslim executive orders as life-or-death national security issues comparable to a “military operation.”
Considering the above analysis, perhaps we are not going too are afield in asserting that the slogan “Let’s make American Great again” is a code for “Let’s make America White again.” In other words, let’s consider the root and the heritage of America as derived mostly from Northern Europe and all others as inferior and undesirables, un-American.
Trump, Bannon and Sessions have so far managed to fool a substantial amount of people with that popular slogan, but as another president quipped once: “You can fool all of the people some of the times, and you can fool some of the people all of the times, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the times.”
Note: this article has already appeared in Ovi magazine on Tuesday March 7, 2017.
Trump’s legacy hangs over human rights talk at upcoming Biden-Putin Geneva summit
Two days after the NATO Summit in Brussels on Monday, US President Joe Biden will be in Geneva to hold a much anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders are meeting at the shores of Lake Geneva at a villa in Parc la Grange – a place I know very well and actually called home for a long time. The park itself will be closed to the public for 10 days until Friday.
A big chunk of the lakeside part of the city will be closed off, too. Barb wire and beefed up security measures have already been put in place to secure the historic summit. The otherwise small city will be buzzing with media, delegations and curious onlookers.
I will be there too, keeping the readers of Modern Diplomacy updated with what’s taking place on the ground with photos, videos and regular dispatches from the Biden-Putin meeting.
The two Presidents will first and foremost touch on nuclear security. As an interlude to their meeting, the NATO Summit on Monday will tackle, among other things “Russian aggression”, in the words of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Last week, Stoltenberg said that he “told President Biden that Allies welcome the US decision, together with Russia, to extend the New START Treaty, limiting strategic weapons, and long-range nuclear weapons”. To extend the treaty is an important first step for Stoltenberg. This will be the obvious link between the two summits.
But Biden also has to bring up human rights issues, such as the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and Putin’s support for the jailing of Belarusian activists by Lukashenko. Human rights have to be high on the agenda at the Geneva Summit. And indeed, Biden has confirmed officially that pressing Putin on human rights will be a priority for the American side.
Biden and Putin are not fans of each other, to say the least. Both have made that clear in unusually tough rhetoric in the past. Over the years, Biden has said on numerous occasions that he has told Putin to his face that he doesn’t “have a soul”. Putin’s retort was that the men “understand each other”.
Right at the beginning of his Presidency, earlier this year, Biden also dropped the bomb calling President Putin a “killer” for ordering the assassination of political opponents. The Russian president responded to the “killer” comment on Russian television by saying that “it takes one to know one”. Putin also wished Biden good health, alluding to the US President’s age and mental condition which becomes a subject of criticism from time to time.
Understandably, Putin and Biden are not expected to hold a joint press conference next week. But we weren’t expecting that, anyways.
For me, this Summit has a special meaning. In the context of repression against political opponents and critical media voices, President Biden needs to demonstrate that the US President and the US government are actually different from Putin – if they are any different from Putin.
This week, we were reminded of Trump’s legacy and the damage he left behind. One of Trump’s lasting imprints was revealed: Trump had the Department of Justice put under surveillance Trump’s political opponents. Among them House Democrats, including Congressman Adam Shiff, who was one of the key figures that led Trump’s first impeachment that showed that Trump exerted pressure on Ukrainian authorities to go after Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
In the context of Trump’s impact, President Biden needs to show that there has to be zero tolerance towards the cover up by the US government of politically motivated attacks against voices critical of the US government. If President Biden wants to demonstrate that the US government is any different from Putin’s Russia, Secretary of State Blinken and FBI director Chris Wray have to go. Biden has to show that he won’t tolerate the cover up of attacks on political critics and the media, and won’t spare those that stand in the way of criminal justice in such instances.
Biden is stuck in the 2000s when it comes to Eastern Europe, as I argued last week but he needs to wake up. President Biden and the US government still haven’t dealt effectively with Trump’s harmful impact on things that the US really likes to toot its horn about, such as human rights and freedom. Whether the upcoming Geneva Summit will shed light on that remains to be seen.
Will Geneva Be Any Different Than Helsinki?
Any meeting between the leaders of Russia and the U.S. is inevitably an important international event. At some point in history, such summits decided the fate of the entire world, and the world held its collective breath as it followed Kremlin-White House talks on strategic arms or the two sides seeking agreements on urgent regional problems or any political signals coming from the superpower capitals prior to another round of negotiations.
The bipolar era has long been gone, and the Russia-U.S. relations are no longer the principal axis of international politics, although the suspense over bilateral summits remains. As before, the two countries are engaged in “top-down” interaction. Summits give the initial impetus to Moscow and Washington’s cumbersome bureaucratic machines, then diplomats, military personnel and officials start their assiduous work on specific issues, collaboration between the two countries’ private sectors and civil society perks up, the media gradually soften their rhetoric, bilateral projects in culture, education and science are gradually resumed.
Still, there are annoying exceptions to this general rule. In particular, the latest full-fledged Russia–U.S. summit in Helsinki in July 2018 failed to trigger improvements in bilateral relations. On the contrary, Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland’s capital aroused massive resentment among the anti-Russian Washington establishment. Ultimately, on returning home, the U.S. President had to offer awkward apologies to his supporters and opponents alike, and relations between the two countries continued to rapidly deteriorate after the summit.
Surely, nobody is willing to see another Helsinki scenario in June 2021, this time in Geneva. Yet, do we have good reason to hope for a different outcome this time? To answer this question, let us compare Donald Trump and Joseph Biden’s approaches to Russia-U.S. summits and to bilateral relations at large.
First of all, in Helsinki, Trump very much wanted the Russian leader to like him. The Republican President avoided publicly criticizing his Russian counterpart and was quite generous with his compliments to him, which inevitably caused not only annoyance but pure outrage in Washington and in Trump’s own Administration. Joe Biden has known Vladimir Putin for many years; he does not set himself the task of getting the Russian leader to like him. As far as one can tell, the two politicians do not have any special liking for each other, with this more than reserved attitude unlikely to change following their meeting in Geneva.
Additionally, in Helsinki, Trump wanted, as was his wont, to score an impressive foreign policy victory of his own. He believed he was quite capable of doing better than Barack Obama with his “reset” and of somehow “hitting it off” with Putin, thereby transforming Russia if not into a U.S. ally, then at least into its strategic partner. Apparently, Biden has no such plans. The new American President clearly sees that Moscow-Washington relations will remain those of rivalry in the near future and will involve direct confrontation in some instances. The Kremlin and the White House have widely diverging ideas about today’s world: about what is legitimate and what is illegitimate, what is fair and what is unfair, where the world is heading and what the impending world order should be like. So, we are not talking about a transition from strategic confrontation to strategic partnership, we are talking about a possible reduction in the risks and costs of this necessarily costly and lengthy confrontation.
Finally, Trump simply had much more time to prepare for the Helsinki summit than Biden has had to prepare for Geneva. Trump travelled to Finland eighteen months after coming to power. Biden is planning to meet with Putin in less than five months since his inauguration. Preparations for the Geneva summit have to be made in haste, so the expectations concerning the impending summit’s outcome are less.
These differences between Biden and Trump suggest that there is no reason to expect a particularly successful summit. Even so, we should not forget the entire spectrum of other special features of the Biden Administration’s current style of foreign policy. They allow us to be cautiously optimistic about the June summit.
First, Donald Trump never put too much store by arms control, since he arrogantly believed the U.S. capable of winning any race with either Moscow or Beijing. So, his presidential tenure saw nearly total destruction of this crucial dimension of the bilateral relations, with all its attendant negative consequences for other aspects of Russia-U.S. interaction and for global strategic stability.
In contrast, Biden remains a staunch supporter of arms control, as he has already confirmed by his decision to prolong the bilateral New START. There are grounds for hoping that Geneva will see the two leaders to at least start discussing a new agenda in this area, including militarization of outer space, cyberspace, hypersonic weapons, prompt global strike potential, lethal autonomous weapons etc. The dialogue on arms control beyond the New START does not promise any quick solutions, as it will be difficult for both parties. Yet, the sooner it starts, the better it is going to be for both countries and for the international community as a whole.
Second, Trump never liked multilateral formats, believing them to be unproductive. Apparently, he sincerely believed that he could single-handedly resolve any burning international problems, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to North Korea’s nuclear missile programme.
Biden does not seem to harbor such illusions. He has repeatedly emphasized the importance of multilateralism, and he clearly understands that collaboration with Russia is necessary on many regional conflicts and crises. Consequently, Geneva talks may see the two leaders engage in a dialogue on Afghanistan, on the Iranian nuclear deal, on North Korea, or even on Syria. It is not at all obvious that Biden will succeed in reaching agreement with Putin immediately on all or any of these issues, but the very possibility of them discussed at the summit should be welcomed.
Third, Trump was not particularly fond of career diplomats and, apparently, attached little value to the diplomatic dimension of foreign policy. The Russia-U.S. “embassy war” had started before Trump—but not only did Trump fail to stop it, he boosted it to an unprecedented scale and urgency.
Sadly, the “embassy war” continues after Trump, too. Yet President Biden, with his tremendous foreign policy experience, understands diplomatic work better and appreciates it. Practical results of the Geneva summit could include a restoration of the diplomatic missions in Washington and Moscow to their full-fledged status and a rebuilding of the networks of consular offices, which have been completely destroyed in recent years. Amid the problems of big politics, consular services may not seem crucial but, for most ordinary Russians and Americans, regaining the opportunity for recourse to rapid and efficient consular services would outweigh many other potential achievements of the Geneva summit.
From our partner RIAC
“Choose sides” is practically a bogus idea for US military partners
“Choosing sides” is practically a non-starter for US military allies such as Japan and South Korea. These nations, first and foremost military allies of the US, are forging cordial and productive ties with other countries based on military alliances with the US. The nature and level of partnerships varies greatly from those of allies, despite the fact that they appear to be quite heated at times.
Military concerns have been less important in the postwar period, but economic concerns have been extremely heated, social and cultural interactions have been close, and the qualitative differences between cooperative relations and allies have gotten confused, or have been covered and neglected.
Some unreasonable expectations and even mistakes were made. In general, in the game between the rising power and the hegemony, it is undesirable for the rising power to take the initiative and urge the hegemony’s supporters to select a side. Doing so will merely reinforce these countries’ preference for hegemony.
Not only that, but a developing country must contend with not only a dominant hegemony, but also a system of allies governed by the hegemony. In the event of a relative reduction in the power of the hegemony, the strength of the entire alliance system may be reinforced by removing restraints on allies, boosting allies’ capabilities, and allowing allies’ passion and initiative to shine.
Similarly, the allies of the hegemonic power are likely to be quite eager to improve their own strength and exert greater strength for the alliance, without necessarily responding to, much alone being pushed by, the leader. The “opening of a new chapter in the Korean-US partnership” was a key component of the joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States following the meeting of Moon Jae-in and Biden. What “new chapter” may a military alliance have in a situation of non-war?
There are at least three features that can be drawn from the series of encounters between South Korea and the United States during Moon Jae-visit in’s to the United States: First, the withdrawal of the “Korea-US Missile Guide” will place military constraints on South Korea’s missile development and serve as a deterrence to surrounding nations. The second point is that, in addition to the Korean Peninsula, military cooperation between the US and South Korea should be expanded to the regional level in order to respond to regional hotspots. The third point is that, in addition to military alliances, certain elements in vaccinations, chips, 5G, and even 6G are required. These types of coalitions will help to enhance economic cooperation.
Despite the fact that Vice President Harris wiped her hands after shaking hands with Moon Jae-in, and Biden called Moon Jae-in “Prime Minister” and other rude behaviors, the so-called “flaws” are not hidden, South Korea still believes that the visit’s results have exceeded expectations, and that Moon Jae-in’s approval rate will rise significantly as a result.
The joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States addresses delicate subjects such as the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Of course, China expresses its outrage. It is widely assumed that this is a “private cargo” delivered by Biden’s invitation to Moon Jae-in to visit the United States.
Moon Jae-in stated that he was not pressured by Biden. If this is correct, one option is that such specific concerns will not be handled at all at the summit level; second, South Korea is truly worried about the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns and wishes to speak with the US jointly.
South Korea should be cognizant of China’s sensitivity to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea concerns. When it comes to China-related concerns, the phrasing in the ROK-US joint statement is far more mild than that in the ROK-Japan joint declaration. Nonetheless, the harm done to South Korea-China ties cannot be overlooked.
South Korea highlights the “openness” and “inclusiveness” of the four-party security dialogue system, which allows South Korea to engage to some extent. South Korea will assess the net gain between the “gain” on the US side and the “loss” on the Chinese side. China would strongly protest and fiercely respond to any country’s measures to intervene in China’s domestic affairs and restrict China’s rise.
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