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Trump’s New National Security Advisor Is Dangerous, But He’s the Current Norm

Eric Zuesse

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Robert O’Brien is a respected authority on international relations and now replaces John Bolton as U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. He is a neoconservative who feels that Barack Obama wasn’t nearly enough of a neocon. However, the differences between the two are a matter of degee, and not of type. O’Brien is a Republican who served in the Obama Administration as well as in the G.W. Bush Administration, and in the Trump Administration, and he represents only mainstream U.S. scholarly views about international relations. Here are some of his views, as stated in his 2016 anti-Obama book While America Slept:

The overthrow of “Putin puppet Viktor Yanukovych” in 2014 Ukraine was a democratic revolution, not a bloody coup that removed the democratically elected President and which was entirely illegal. Communism was finally crushed in Ukraine, because of this “revolution,” he says. “Notwithstanding the war and punishing economic circumstances, Russia’s invasion and occupation have inflicted on them, Ukrainians are happy today. They showed the world that they remain unbowed in the face of aggression.” “Liberty and the Rule of Law are Universal Values” and the U.S. Government needs to impose them globally. Because of Obama, “China, Russia, and Iran engaged in significant arms buildups even as America drew down,” while “these nations grabbed territory in the South China sea, Eastern Europe, and across the Middle East.” Limits need to be removed from the defense budget he says, so that America can impose democracy and legality everywhere.

It’s all fantasy. For example: As a result of the February 2014 U.S. takeover of Ukraine: Ukrainians became amongst the unhappiest people on the planet, and the Government’s debt doubled, and Ukraine’s GDP plunged 50%, and the incomes of Ukrainians plunged 50%, and two regions which had been in Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass) broke away from the U.S.-imposed nazi Government that wanted the residents in those areas to be killed or else expelled into Russia.  Why were the residents impoverished while the Government’s debt doubled? Where did that money go? All of that debt-increase was borrowing in order to be able to afford the war against Donbass. O’Brien says “Ukrainians are happy today”, but, by all objective measures, they’ve not been less happy except during World War II — they disliked Hitler and Stalin even more than they disliked the 2014-installed U.S.-coup-regime.

Robert O’Brien is an even stronger believer in the statement that President Obama so often stated, that the United States is “the one indispensable nation”, which means that all others are “dispensable.” That’s the core belief of neoconservatism, and O’Brien is so extreme a believer in it as to attack Obama for having not been as extreme as he himself is.

The entire range of neoconservatism is, however, the norm in U.S.-and-allied international relations. Extreme as O’Brien is, he’s merely extremely normal for a top person in international relations, in any country that’s allied with the United States today.

To study international relations isn’t evil, but to rise to the international top in that field is evil, because the international top in this field can’t be reached unless the writer is propagandizing for the world’s leading power and is therefore an imperialist, and that’s a reliable definition of what it means to be evil in international relations.

Imperialism is ‘justifiable’ only on one basis, supremacism; and that’s the belief in might-makes-right, which is also the core belief in fascism — which is intrinsically evil. This is the reason why Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco, were commonly called “fascist,” even though only in Italy was the tyrant’s political party named that with a capital “F”. The ideology is lower-case, “fascism” — this is simply the might-makes-right belief, and this ideology has existed ever since the dawn of civilization itself. Mussolini didn’t invent it, but he updated it, so as to call  it “corporationism,” and, synonymously, “fascism.” He called it that in order to enable the prior aristocratic system, feudalism, which was based upon ownership and control of land, to become ‘updated’ to “fascism,” which is based instead upon ownership and control of corporations. Now in the industrial era, ownership of shares of stock replaces ownership of acres of land, the aristocratic system which had prevailed in the pre-1600 human era, the agrarian era. And this is the modern form of feudalism: fascism. They’re just different eras of supremacism.

Another good example of a leading scholar of international relations is Harvard’s Graham Allison, whom I have previously discussed in regards to his views regarding Russia. This time, however, I shall discuss his views regarding China, and I also shall discuss his views concerning existing U.S. foreign policies relating not only to China and Russia but to the entire non-U.S. world. As you will see: he agrees with Barack Obama that “The United States is and remains the one  indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.” In other words: Allison believes that every other  nation is “dispensable.” That view is American supremacism — America’s form  of fascism. It’s also called “neoconservatism.” This is how one becomes appointed to — and he leads — Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

On 11 December 2018, the anonymous “Zero Hedge” headlined “This is What The ‘Trade’ War With China Is Really All About”, and provided there a brilliant description of what the conflict with China is actually about, and of why this conflict has now reached the stage where it inevitably will dominate geostrategy in the centuries going forward (if a resulting nuclear war won’t end everything, which would eliminate future centuries). Global warming could be permanently interrupted by nuclear winter from a major-powers nuclear war, but those are the only two reasonably credible doomsday scenarios, at present (other than an asteroid-hit against this planet, which would be far less likely): global burnout, or else WW III. 

Perhaps these two possibilities are why the great poet Robert Frost wrote:

Fire and Ice

BY ROBERT FROST

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Both options — “fire” and “ice” — would be Man-made; and, in both options, the people who are leading us there are imperialists — fascists. Some of them push for global burnout; some push for WW III; some push for both.

When Frost said, “I hold with those who favor fire,” he was suggesting that he expected a World War III, which, as a nuclear mega-conflict, would actually end up freezing the planet to death, thus: “nuclear winter.” Consequently, his “fire” would produce the opposite of fire; and global burnout (which would take far longer to implement) isn’t  the “fire” that he was referring to. Global burnout would simply kill everything on the planet — there would be nothing left to burn.

Fascists aren’t concerned about either “fire” or “ice,” but only about supremacy: their conquest, and rule over the world. They are heedless of both global burnout and nuclear war — except insofar as they think that either outcome could end up placing “our side” on top — and would thus be ‘good’ in their view, because to them it would be “victory,” and “Might makes right.”

For example: Robert Scheer’s 1982 book, With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War, was about the U.S. Republican Party mainstream, which is fascism, and specifically was about the Ronald Reagan and G.H.W. Bush (and very much also later described G.W. Bush’s) view, that America must build nuclear weapons in order to use them to conquer Russia — not really in order to prevent war between the U.S. and Russia. One of Scheer’s interviews in that book was with Charles Kupperman, who at that time was a national-security advisor to President Reagan, and became subsequently a vice president both at Lockheed Martin and at Boeing — the two largest sellers to the U.S. Government, meaning the top two U.S. Government contractors (basically, the two largest suppliers to the Pentagon). Here are excerpts from Scheer’s interview with Kupperman about this, when he asked Kupperman about whether victory in a nuclear war is possible:

Scheer: So you think it is possible to win? …

Kupperman: I think it is possible to win. [Scheer asked what that means.] It means that it is clear after the war that one side is stronger than the other side, the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.

No definition was supplied as to what measures should apply in order to determine “that one side is stronger than the other side.” But clearly, Kupperman meant that “the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.” He was thinking in terms of Russia’s surrendering. To a fascist, surrendering means that the surrenderer is inferior to the victor: after all, “Might makes right” is  their ‘ethic’. That’s what it means  to be  a supremacist.

Scheer asked what that victory would be like, and Kupperman said: “It would be a struggle to reconstitute the society that we have. It certainly wouldn’t be the same society [that had existed] prior to an exchange, there is no question about that. But in terms of having an organized nation, and having enough means left after the war to reconstitute itself, I think that is entirely possible.”

Nothing was asked about how that’s possible after the nuclear war, when there would be nuclear winter. Wikipedia has a good article about “Nuclear Winter”, and it not only describes that, but states:

A “nuclear summer” is a hypothesized scenario in which, after a nuclear winter caused by aerosols inserted into the atmosphere that would prevent sunlight from reaching lower levels or the surface,[58] has abated, a greenhouse effect then occurs due to carbon dioxide released by combustion and methane released from the decay of the organic matter and methane from dead organic matter and corpses that froze during the nuclear winter.[58][59]

Another more sequential hypothetical scenario, following the settling out of most of the aerosols in 1–3 years, the cooling effect would be overcome by a heating effect from greenhouse warming, which would raise surface temperatures rapidly by many degrees, enough to cause the death of much if not most of the life that had survived the cooling, much of which is more vulnerable to higher-than-normal temperatures than to lower-than-normal temperatures. 

So: a reasonable assumption would be that people such as Kupperman understate, to the point of basically lying about, the consequences if they succeed. First, there would be the immediate deaths and then the deaths from injuries and diseases afterwards; then, there would be the starvations, the global famine; then, there would be the nuclear winter; and, then, there might be global warming “rapidly by many degrees, enough to cause the death of much if not most of the life that had survived the cooling.” And, of course, any surviving Republicans, and the many Democrats who likewise are neoconservatives-imperialists-fascists, would try to kill as many of their surviving opponents as possible, so that “the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side,” which would be victory, for the ‘winners’, of that nuclear war. 

Before Robert O’Brien got the nod on September 18th, Kupperman was the temporary National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, when Kupperman’s immediate superior, John Bolton, was fired by Donald Trump, for having failed to conquer either Venezuela or Iran or Syria or Russia or China or North Korea. Perhaps Bolton and Pompeo, and the other people whom Trump had surrounded himself with, expected that Trump would go to war against all or at least one  of them (perhaps Venezuela?), in order to reassert America’s supremacy over the entire globe, but Trump refused to do that so short a time before the next U.S. Presidential election, and so they all were disappointed in him, and he was disappointed in them. On 10 September 2019, the New York Times  reported that, “the president appreciated Mr. Kupperman’s just-the-facts style compared with Mr. Bolton’s often ideologically charged delivery: If Mr. Trump had to have a national security brief concerning long-term planning, he preferred it from Mr. Kupperman as opposed to Mr. Bolton, according to a person with knowledge of that process.” And now, Trump will get his neocon advice from O’Brien.

Graham Allison’s best-selling 2017 Destined for War says that China is destined for war with the United States because China will be stupid or recalcitrant enough to resist becoming part of the American empire. In the standard self-righteous way of aristocrats and their sycophants, he starts with the unquestionable assumption that “we” are right and “they” (whomever challenges “our” supremacy) will be so stupid or otherwise flawed as to force “us” to ‘defend ourselves’ by demonstrating ‘our’ ‘superiority’. This is similar to the barbaric views that are expressed by virtually all members of the U.S. Congress, and by all U.S. Presidents, since at least the time of Reagan — all of them similarly self-righteous and imperialistic. In fact, America’s leading national-security scientists have asserted that the U.S. Government is now so strongly neoconservative that America’s weaponry is now designed definitely with the purpose being to win a nuclear war  against Russia, instead of to prevent, or even to avoid, such a war. They have documented that, at the very top of the U.S. Government, there is more extreme supremacism than has ever existed anywhere. Never before in history has a regime — not even Hitler’s — implemented a plan to conquer the world even if its only realistic result, if the plan succeeds, would be to terminate all life on Earth. America’s supremacism — such as is advocated by Graham Allison and all U.S. Administrations since at least the time of G.W. Bush — is the one and only supreme supremacism.

Back in the 1930s and 40s, these were the views that were similarly expressed by the aristocracies and sycophants in places such as Germany, Italy, and Japan. I am not saying that those people, or ours, who hold to supremacist views, are “filth,” or “trash,” or other such supposed pejoratives. After all, there can be good filth or trash. However, there cannot be any good fascist (or “imperialist”). (Is there “good evil”? Does anyone actually think so?) I agree with FDR on that.

Succeeding in the field of foreign affairs, in Washington, DC, by repudiating American imperialism, or “neoconservatism,” is, and long has been, impossible. That town has emerged, since WW II, to become the fascist capital of the world. In this sense, the sides have become reversed, since FDR’s death.

So: the differences between Robert O’Brien, and Graham Allison, and Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and G.W. Bush, are, actually small, when it comes to international relations. They’re all fascists. They’re all normal U.S. experts on topics of international relations.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Trump’s blind spot

Iveta Cherneva

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The year is 1962. In the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, the United States needs Mexico to place nuclear missiles on its territory. In a phone call, Mexico’s President tells US President Kennedy that Mexico will provide whatever the United States needs. This was opening Mexico up to a potential nuclear strike by the Russians in the midst of the tense crisis, exposing the vital security of the country for the benefit of the United States, writes Iveta Cherneva.

What is remarkable about this episode is that Mexico was agreeing to a thing so ludicrous, and this was the result of a successful decade-long US foreign policy towards Latin America.

The benefit of carefully crafted US foreign policy is noticed in times of need and further down the path, not immediately. US standing and credibility matter precisely in critical situations.

Unfortunately, US President Donald Trump’s blind spot is foreign policy.

When he took the decision to betray the Kurds by withdrawing US troops from the Kurdish parts of Syria, Mr. Trump did not expect the deserved backlash from Senate Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called it “the biggest mistake of his presidency” and Trump didn’t understand why.

Through his approach to US foreign policy, Trump is undoing years of planning and careful calculation, and not just in the Middle East.

Trump’s Kurdish decision does not come from a specific school of thought, as some might have suggested. Trump’s moves are all over the map; he just doesn’t understand the intricate game of chess that is involved in crafting US foreign policy.

His withdrawal of US forces from the Kurdish territories is not grounded in isolationism of the principled kind preached by Senator Rand Paul. It soon became apparent that the US troops in Syria are not coming back home, they are simply being repositioned to guard the oil fields in Syria.

Coupled with the decision to send US troops to Saudi Arabia to do the same, it became clear that Trump simply likes to guard oil. He told the Kurds to go live in the Syrian parts that have oil because apparently then the US would care to protect them. He also said that the US wants some of that oil.

But guarding oil is not a grand strategy. That is oil-centered trumpism of the kind that even George W. Bush didn’t dare to articulate quite like this.

In his surprise at Republican Senators’ anger, it was apparent that Donald Trump didn’t understand what in terms of geopolitics was contained in a small group of US soldiers. Neither did he get the fine geopolitical balance at play. It seems that there are very few things that can make Republican Senators break ranks and foreign policy is what gets them.

A Bulgarian proverb says that “where you hit it is not where it cracks”. The Kurdish decision will reflect on other areas — US standing will crack elsewhere, not immediately and not where Trump expects it to.

Across issues and across geographical regions, Trump is undoing decades of carefully crafted policy and language where every phrase and every move meant something.

As the Mexico nuclear shield episode shows, the benefits of carefully crafted US foreign policy are noticed in times of need and further down the path, not immediately.

US standing in the international arena matters. Trump has harmed it and the results won’t be immediately apparent.

But Republican Senators see further in foresight. They will be the key figures in Trump’s impeachment. Republican Senators have the right to be angry at this lack of grand strategy and they will remember that when the impeachment comes to Senate.

Foreign policy is Trump’s blind spot and what he does not realize is that it might cost him the impeachment.

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The coup in Bolivia shines yet more dark light on America

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Just when one might have thought things geopolitical might be about to turn for the better, which means the worldwide geopolitical nightmare engineered by the U.S. and Trump and all the rest of the mob in Washington might fade a bit, it just gets worse.

Bolivia’s recently re-elected and then self-resigned President Evo Morales because he is graciously trying to avoid more upset and possible carnage in Bolivia, was on the chopping block of the U.S., and chopped he was although he is not dead yet and apparently hiding out among his indigenous supporters somewhere in Bolivia but has accepted asylum in Mexico.

Yes, Morales may have tried to overstay his presidential term by extending the term limits and maybe, just maybe, there were some very minor “irregularities” in the voting process in his country, but that’s immaterial. He still won a huge plurality of the votes against his challenger.  The U.S.’s government changing machine has been out for his head for over a decade, and he had the guts at the U.N. not long ago with Trump and Pompeo nearby to point out to the world just what the U.S. has been about for far too long: criminal meddling all over the globe.

It’s weird, though. Evo did a good job for over a decade. You cannot argue about his economic record in Bolivia. He created, surprisingly, what might be termed a “prosperous socialism” wherein ALL boats were lifted, and especially the prospects for the poor majority. One would think the oligarchs and the “rich” in Bolivia might see some benefit in a society where most everyone got at least something better than they had. But the “rich” and particularly the obscene rich, and imperialists, they can never get enough. Any diminution in their wealth, or more importantly any restrictions on how wealthy they might become because some sharing with the poor is mandated by good government, has now been forbidden. Do they not realize that social calm for all, relatively, is better than total societal discord? Apparently not. Whatever new government is formed in Bolivia, the country is going to regress violently and the poor set back forcefully, with extreme prejudice. People who are by nature cruel and lacking compassion, feeling themselves exceptional, like oligarchs, never learn…until they are strung up on lamp posts and finally destroyed, as has happening time and again in history in various locations.

It may be hard to believe, but the U.S., which is largely controlled by multi-billionaire oligarchs (and this is a phenomenon that has been building for 30 or 40 years) under an increasing “neoliberal” regime (and not just in the U.S.), may see a day when even they will see their fortunes vanish both materially and socially. Lamp posts likely await them, too, when things become unbearable for the 95 percent of the citizenry. For the privileged, greed really is bottomless for most of this class of people. They live in a fantasy world. But of course there are exceptions. Yet the U.S. aims for resources overseas that it does not control – like Venezuela’s oil, like Bolivia’s as yet mostly untapped lithium, like Afghanistan’s riches, and much more.

Which begs the question whether it was a good idea that President Rouhani told the world this week that Iran has discovered an additional 53 billion barrels of oil. Even if only 25 percent of this can be eventually extracted, it’s fabulous. Iran IS wealthy, fabulously so in every respect, especially in its people, except that for now it can’t market its petroleum wealth. Maybe that is a good thing temporarily, for Iran appears to be growing other industry, including the growth and export of saffron to name just one item.

Meanwhile, as risky as it may be, Iran has allegedly “blown past” uranium enrichment levels mandated by the JCPOA. This is absurd. Iran is allegedly enriching uranium up to levels of 4.5 percent. That nowhere close to bomb material at over 90 percent. The JCPOA permits 3.6 percent, allegedly.  The IAEA and the European signatories to the JCPOA are concerned and want Iran to go back to the limits of the deal. This includes limits on the size of the stockpile of enriched material, too, which is currently, according to reports, less than 100 kilos above that limit.

However, Iran is doing just what it said it would and no more — inching away from the JCPOA because the signatories of the JCPOA, the Europeans, have done virtually nothing, cowards that they are, to stand up to the Trump mobsters and realize that their long-term interests reside east of the Bosporus. At least Nordstream 2 is soon going to be a delivering fact. Europe did not back down to U.S opposition to that, and should have stood by Iran when Trump, caving to Netanyahu, abandoned the JCPOA. As far as many observers are concerned, particularly after the U.S.- coup in Bolivia, Iran is doing just the right things and the world, literally, prays that pariah America falls on its own swords.

From our partner Tehran Times

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Floods, Fires, Coups and Impeachment Make a Busy Week

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Venice is flooded.  The water is hip high in St. Mark’s Square threatening the church and the expensive shops and restaurants on its perimeter.  The mayor blames climate change.

In Australia, the bush fire season is underway.  One in New South Wales is scorchingly close to nearby homes having already destroyed two buildings on a country property owned by the actor Russell Crowe.

Floods, too, in the north of England, while Boris the chameleon has a comfortable 10-point lead in the polls over his labor opposite number, Corbyn the plonker.  No matter how outrageous or inept, Boris might be, the plonker makes nary a dent on that voluminous target.  So much for the left in Britain as it awaits another drubbing at the polls.

Then in Bolivia, Evo Morales has fled to Mexico claiming his life was at risk.  If he clearly looks Bolivian Indian, his successor, the leader of the senate, Jeanine Anez is just as clearly white.  As in South America elsewhere, the white Spanish elite are at the top of the food chain, followed by the mixed mestizos and at the bottom the indigenous people.  The exceptions are Argentina where the original inhabitants were massacred out of existence, and Chile which is German immigrants from long ago.

Trump welcomed the coup in Bolivia — was there covert support?  If Morales won plaudits for fighting poverty and as the country’s first indigenous leader, he also overstayed his welcome, at least internationally.  He defied constitutional limits by running for a fourth term in a close election which the Organization of American States faulted for “clear manipulation”.  Mr. Morales promised fresh elections.  But the elite-run military and police clearly saw an opportunity.  Morales supporters are organizing demonstrations. 

The US does not have coups; it has impeachment.  Bill Clinton notable for his expression, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” … and for a new low in disgusting personal behavior, was impeached.  The procedure requires the House to determine articles of impeachment and then send a team to prosecute in the senate.  The individual being impeached has the right to his own lawyers to mount a defense.  The senate eventually retires to consider and deliver a verdict.  A two-thirds majority is required for conviction.  Bill Clinton survived despite his impeachment being based on facts unearthed by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.  Can anyone then imagine a Republican senate convicting Donald Trump over a sentence in a phone call?

So what is the purpose of this futile exercise in the House of Representatives?  Perhaps Democrats hope to sling enough mud to sway the independent note in the forthcoming election.  Perhaps they want a few moments in the limelight, and TV interviews before, during and after.

A fraught world with real climate issues the legislators prefer to ignore — after all they are well-funded by fossil fuel interests.  Forget the actual storms, our elected representatives prefer storms in a tea cup.  The House Intelligence Committee, which is holding the hearings, will probably forward the matter to the full house as the political games continue. 

Meanwhile, record numbers of homeless sleep under bridges as temperatures plunge to -15C (5 F)  in the midwest and the east of this wealthy country.  Do the politicians care?

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