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

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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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Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn

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Photo: Miller Center/ flickr

US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, had high hopes for the meeting in China. At first, the Chinese side did not agree to hold the meeting at all. The reaction had obvious reasons: Antony Blinken’s fiasco in Alaska left the Chinese disrespected and visibly irritated. This is not why they travelled all the way.

So then the State Department had the idea of sending Wendy Sherman instead. The US government actually needs China more than China needs the US. Sherman was in China to actually prepare the ground for Biden and a meeting between the two presidents, expecting a red carpet roll for Biden as if it’s still the 2000s — the time when it didn’t matter how the US behaved. Things did not go as expected.

Instead of red carpet talk, Sherman heard Dua Lipa’s “I got new rules”. 

That’s right — the Chinese side outlined three bottom lines warning the US to respect its system, development and sovereignty and territorial integrity. In other words, China wants to be left alone.

The bottom lines were not phrased as red lines. This was not a military conflict warning. This was China’s message that if any future dialogue was to take place, China needs to be left alone. China accused the US of creating an “imaginary enemy”. I have written about it before — the US is looking for a new Cold War but it doesn’t know how to start and the problem is that the other side actually holds all the cards

That’s why the US relies on good old militarism with an expansion into the Indo-Pacific, while aligning everyone against China but expecting the red carpet and wanting all else in the financial and economic domains to stay the same. The problem is that the US can no longer sell this because there are no buyers. Europeans also don’t want to play along.

The headlines on the meeting in the US press are less flattering than usual. If the US is serious about China policy it has to be prepared to listen to much more of that in the future. And perhaps to, yes, sit down and be humble.

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Why Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer

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When Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed up on the scene as White House Press Secretary, the reaction was that of relief. Finally — someone civil, normal, friendly. Jen Psaki’s entry this year was something similar. People were ready for someone well-spoken, well-mannered, even friendly as a much welcome change from the string of liars, brutes or simply disoriented people that the Trump Administration seemed to be lining up the press and communications team with on a rolling basis. After all, if the face of the White House couldn’t keep it together for at least five minutes in public, what did that say about the overall state of the White House behind the scenes?

But Psaki’s style is not what the American media and public perceive it to be. Her style is almost undetectable to the general American public to the point that it could look friendly and honest to the untrained eye or ear. Diplomatic or international organization circles are perhaps better suited to catch what’s behind the general mannerism. Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer, but a Sean Spicer nevertheless. I actually think she will do much better than him in Dancing With The Stars. No, in fact, she will be fabulous at Dancing With The Stars once she gets replaced as White House Press Secretary.

So let’s take a closer look. I think what remains undetected by the general American media is veiled aggression and can easily pass as friendliness. Psaki recently asked a reporter who was inquiring about the Covid statistics at the White House why the reporter needed that information because Psaki simply didn’t have that. Behind the brisk tone was another undertone: the White House can’t be questioned, we are off limits. But it is not and that’s the point. 

Earlier, right at the beginning in January, Psaki initially gave a pass to a member of her team when the Politico stunner reporter story broke out. The reporter was questioning conflict of interest matters, while the White House “stud” was convinced it was because he just didn’t chose her, cursing her and threatening her. Psaki sent him on holidays. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Psaki has a level of aggression that’s above average, yet she comes across as one of the most measured and reasonable White House Press Secretaries of the decade. And that’s under pressure. But being able to mask that level of deflection is actually not good for the media because the media wants answers. Style shouldn’t (excuse the pun) trump answers. And being able to get away smoothly with it doesn’t actually serve the public well. Like that time she just walked away like it’s not a big deal. It’s the style of “as long as I say thank you or excuse me politely anything goes”. But it doesn’t. And the American public will need answers to some questions very soon. Psaki won’t be able to deliver that and it would be a shame to give her a pass just because of style.

I think it’s time that we start seeing Psaki as a veiled Sean Spicer. And that Dancing with the Stars show — I hope that will still run despite Covid.

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As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them

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Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*

In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.

Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.

New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming

To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.

Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.

We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.

How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?

Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.

As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.

Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.

Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.

Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.

Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.

Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.

Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.

Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.

Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.

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