Two Sundays ago, Glenn Greenwald aimed a corrective at some 2016 political commentators who, near as he could tell, had mistaken Donald Trump for a “pacifist” in all the shit-stormy chaos and Fake News furor of a nightmarish election year. And I found myself wondering if maybe, just maybe, Mr. Greenwald was talking to me. So I thought it over… and I decided that I was implicated enough in the general charge to feel compelled to respond.
Here’s how it breaks down:
Trump unambiguously promised more war, specifically vowing to wage an actual war on ISIS and al Qaeda — as opposed to the half-hearted, contradictory, and self-defeating efforts under Bush-Obama. Candidate Trump even made reference to a horrible truth about U.S. foreign policy: In the wake of the Nuremberg-worthy catastrophe in Iraq (which had inadvertently benefited Iran, and handsomely), Washington has consistently supported various branches of ISIS and al Qaeda with arms, logistics, air support, finances, and more.
With its partners in Riyadh, Doha, the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait (per the New York Times, reporting a leaked State Dept. memo, signed by Sec. Clinton, herself), Washington has, in effect, birthed a second Mujaheddin — like the first Mujaheddin, in the interest of U.S. geopolitical dominance, predicated on taking Russia down a peg or two. This is the barely reported neoconservative agenda, as waged by Bush, first, and subsequently, President Obama, who let the neocons run wild nearly as much as “Dubya” did. Pulitzer winner Seymour Hersh has done some essential reporting on this policy (read his article in The New Yorker, “The Redirection,” for some of the gory details).
In short, for many years now, a host of official terrorist groups have acted as covert CIA/JSOC partners and proxies, particularly in places where Washington has preferred a “light footprint” (that’s why there are only 400,000 dead in Syria, instead of more than double that figure, as in Iraq). With their suicide bombings and targeting of entire (non-Sunni) communities, radical/mercenary Salafist militants have helped Washington foment civil wars and ethnosectarian conflict/cleansing in the Middle East, especially with regard to Washington’s regime-change operations in Libya and Syria.
(And yes, for what it’s worth, Candidate Trump repeatedly — and with an undeniable air of sincerity — promised to shut down the neocons and their Salafist-supporting agenda.)
Crud that he is, though, Candidate Trump also promised that he would continue some of the more grotesque post-9/11 U.S. policies, including torture and the targeted killing of even family members of suspected terrorists — practices that George Bush implemented and President Obama normalized (the story of Barack’s presidency — along with the part where he needlessly consummated Wall Street’s $16 trillion coup, wiping out the post-Civil Rights Era economic gains of black households and permanently contracting the middle class).
Also on the negative side, Trump promised to escalate tensions with Iran, his bellicosity matching even Clinton’s.
All that being said, Trump was clearly serious (as serious as he gets) about trying to work with Russia, where possible, and moving us away from our dalliance with World War III — whereas Clinton unambiguously promised the opposite. Candidate Clinton vociferously advocated for a “No Fly” zone in Syria — and for increasing Washington’s shameful support for the neo-Nazi (Svoboda)-led coup in Ukraine (another ethnic cleansing campaign Washington has backed in recent years!).
Sec. Clinton clearly promised greater provocations on the Russian front — where U.S. aggression has already backed Russia into a corner. Russian president Putin has said as much, in an important speech that the U.S. media virtually ignored. As non-belligerently as possible, Putin made it explicit that Moscow will have no choice but to respond forcefully if the U.S. keeps threatening its borders with neo-Nazis, freshly-minted NATO countries, troops, bases, and missiles, missiles, missiles. (Imagine if Moscow were lining up troops and missiles on OUR borders… after launching a preventive war against a defenseless nation, killing over a million human beings, as we did in Iraq… and then doubling down on that agenda, as we have in Libya, Syria, Yemen…!)
But here’s the crucially important thing to note about the political reality that America is in right now: It’s been obvious for quite some time that the neoconservatives behind the atrocious policies enumerated above positively HATE Donald Trump — and he doesn’t care much for them, either.
That mutual enmity is neither ambiguous nor insignificant, so let’s consider its implications. WHO ARE THE NEOCONS? They’re only the ones who’ve been committing genocide over the course of the last few American presidencies, in one country after another. The neocons are simply the radicals (dubbed “The Crazies” by their Pentagon predecessors in the 1980s) who have destabilized the globe and taken us to a dangerous place — where serious people need to admit the possibility that we might actually be on the brink of a third world war, if we continue in this direction (as Sec. Clinton promised). The neocons (Kagan, Kristol, etc.) are the ones with the blood of millions of Muslims on their hands… and plenty of other people’s blood, too.
If I lived in a swing state, would I have voted for Trump on that basis? Absolutely not. (No more than I could have ever brought myself to vote for his opponent, the neocons’ darling. Both were utter trash.)
So, to make matters perfectly clear: I never saw Trump as anti-war; just anti-WWIII. And I found it most eloquent of our political reality that the bloodiest militarists of the 21st century, bar none (the closest thing, in today’s world, to Nazis, with millions of corpses in their wake) relentlessly attacked — and clearly hated — Candidate Trump.
Sure, the neocons have already made great strides in commandeering Trump’s foreign policy (with the Democrats’ demagogic, neo-McCarthyite assistance, pushing him further to the right). And, yes, President Trump will probably end up giving us the worst of the neo-fascist establishment combined with the worst of Donald Trump (I shudder at the thought). But in the meantime, he’s feebly resisting the WWIII crowd — and he did put the kibosh on the slavery-overlooking/sovereignty-effacing TPP (which would’ve passed, very likely, under President Clinton II, precluding even the possibility of regulating emissions, food safety, pharmaceuticals…)
And for the first time in eight years the center-left is resisting these neo-fascist policies — in addition to school privatization, ICE raids, entitlement-slashing, and such — which they didn’t even register under President Obama, who deported more immigrants than all 20th-century presidents combined. With Trump, the establishment-friendly left has reawakened. Once again, they’re resisting our monstrously right-wing establishment, now that an orange man is in the Oval Office (thank goodness for the bigotry of the left!).
That’s Trump’s one actual value (beyond his value as a tasteless, bad, and ultimately sickening joke): he mobilizes the left. And we can always use more of that.