Trump and Gorbachev ترامب وغورباتشوف

Trump and Gorbachev

فبراير 22, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Whether Mikhail Gorbachev was an agent to the US intelligence as accused by his opponents or not, and whether Donald Trump was an agent to the Russian intelligence as accused by his opponents or not, the aspects of similarity in the circumstances which brought them to the rule, and the conditions in which each one rules, as well as the roles which are represented by each one of them in the history of the superpower where both of them stood at the top of the pyramid in it are elements that allow the objective comparison between the two figures.

Gorbachev has led the Soviet Union after the defeat in a war that was the first war which he launched within an offensive plan outside the borders after the World War II, through the entry of his troops to Afghanistan, it was not mere an arming support for an ally or a circumstantial escalation of a position. That defeat led to the rise of the popular resentment in the Russian community entitled the compliant from spending on wars, the glories of the greatness, and the rise of voices that called for the priority of paying attention and concern to the declining Russian interior, that suffered economically and socially, and where the services were retracted and its infrastructure was eroded. While Trump is leading America after a resounding defeat of many wars that were the first after the World War II which aimed to extend the influence of the American leadership in the world in an offensive way and within an imperial campaign not within the context of an involvement in a war, its beginning was the support of an allied regime or a subordinate as the wars of Vietnam and Korea. It adopted a slogan of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the beginning and then overthrowing Syria. As a result of the defeat there were escalated claims to abandon the pursuit behind the role of the world policeman, while America internally is retracting economically and socially as described by Trump himself in his electoral campaign in terms of unemployment, the declining services, and the imminent collapse of the infrastructure, so he launched his slogan America first, in confronting this situation.

Trump’s campaigns against the ideological media which is dominated by him in a factional way are similar to Gorbachev’s ones launched against the ideological media, moreover the escalating campaigns of Trump against the intelligence are similar to Gorbachev’s ones. The two men are in a battle with the elites of their countries that led their global aspect namely the media and the intelligence. The racist white calls of Trump against the US interior are similar to the Russian Gorbachev’s white calls against the countries of the Soviet Union and which were looking to get rid of them as burdens. Trump’s battles with the economic blocs which monopolize the US economy in favor of the minority of the owners and workers, versus the decline of the sectors which employ most of the Americans and which their owners are distributed on a major faction of the owners of the capitals represented by Trump are similar to the battles of Gorbachev against the possession of the country of the huge economies and the marginalization of the rising capital. Both of them raises the slogan of the balance of the economy’s aspects through perestroika project for the reconstruction, and a direct contact with the people as nominated Glasnost by Gorbachev, and which is translated by Trump in his daily tweets on Twitter.

Gorbachev considered that the reason of the bottleneck of the Soviet Union especially Russia was due to the useless investment on the race of arming as a tax for the global leadership, and that the weighing of the private sector in the economy will lead to the recovery of the middle class and the structures of the useful production. Trump considers that the economic bottleneck of America is due to the tax which it pays as a cost for the global leadership, either through spreading huge forces outside the borders to protect rich allies that do not pay anything as Japan, Europe, and the Gulf or through economic facilities for the poor allies within agreements that led to the weakness of the US economy as the agreement with Argentina and the countries of the Pacific which is known as NAFTA. The two men converge on the call to liberate their countries from these burdens as a way for the economic recovery and the getting out of the bottleneck and recession.

Gorbachev’s policies which based on removing the dominance of the country on the major economic sectors have led to a big decline of the earnings and the weakness in the country’s ability to spend, so the market declined and became weaker. There were new economic powers that quickly handled the economy of the market including the enormous class differences in the community. Russia within ten years emerged as a country from the third world after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the fall of the socialist system, and the collapse of its military alliance entitled Warsaw Pact which most of its countries moved to the West under the title of the European Union or NATO. The question which faces Trump and his project is whether the linking of the military deployment with the paying of its costs by the allies will lead to the regression of the influence on the allies and thus on the world, and whether weakening the giant intercontinental enterprises in favor of the US national companies which depend on the US market will lead to the confusion in the qualitative importance of the US currency in the world markets and to the bankruptcies as a result of the scarcity of the external resources and the revenues of the speculation of the US banks, and whether all of that will open the debate about the justification of sticking to the dollar as a mandatory international currency in the banking transactions and in the US banks as a knot for the passage of the financial transactions in the world. The dollar and banking currency are the last ways for protecting the US leadership in the world, and they are translated by the sanctions through which America is threatening all of its opponents.

It is striking that the Jewish community in each of Russia and America is supporting these two men, and it is striking their excessive enthusiasm toward Israel. Israel’s interest in Gorbachev was confined with making the international arena in favor of America while through the Israeli weakness it is enough from Trump to submit an ally in America which does not believe that Israel is in need of who can save it from itself and from its arrogance, on the contrary to share with it this arrogance, an ally that reassures its settlers that they have an ally that does not argue with them, as it is striking how the fall of the Soviet Union was the insurance policy for a quarter of a century for Israel which was facing with the rise of Gorbachev a valiant Palestinian uprising that is known by the uprising of stones and an active Lebanese resistance that has already  liberated half of the occupied territories. But the US monopoly of ruling the world was as a momentum for Israel to overcome many threats and crises, while the instability of America today coincides with the entry of Israel into deadly existential crisis, where it does not have an insurance policy. It is striking as well that at the time of the Russian regression America has rushed to fill the gap, and at the time of the American regression Russia rushes to fill the gap, so the history repeats that powerfully but harshly… this is history.

The paradox here is that Gorbachev has waged the battle of changing the Soviet Union at the spokesman of the cultivated elegant elites against whom he described by (the bullies) while Trump is waging his battle as a “bully” who fights the pedant elites . It is enough to notice the language of Trump.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ترامب وغورباتشوف

ناصر قنديل

– سواء أكان ميخائيل غورباتشوف عميلاً للمخابرات الأميركية، كما يتّهمه خصومه أم لم يكن، وسواء كان دونالد ترامب عميلاً للمخابرات الروسية، كما يتّهمه خصومه أم لم يكن، فإنّ أوجه التشابه في الظروف التي أوصلت كلا من الرجلين إلى الحكم، والظروف التي يحكم فيها كل منهما، والأدوار التي يمثلها كل منهما في تاريخ الدولة العظمى التي وقف على رأس الهرم فيها، عناصر تسمح بالمقارنة الموضوعية بينهما.

– تولّى غورباتشوف قيادة الاتحاد السوفياتي بعد هزيمة في حرب كانت الأولى التي قام بها ضمن خطة هجومية خارج الحدود بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية عبر دخول قواته إلى أفغانستان، وليست دعماً تسليحياً لحليف أو تصعيداً ظرفياً لموقف فقط، وترتّب على هذه الهزيمة صعود نقمة شعبية في المجتمع الروسي عنوانها التذمّر من الإنفاق على الحروب وأمجاد العظمة، وارتفاع أصوات تنادي بأولوية الانتباه والاهتمام لداخل روسي يتداعى ويعاني اقتصادياً واجتماعياً، وتتراجع الخدمات فيه وبناه التحتية تتآكل بينما يتولى ترامب قيادة أميركا بعد هزيمة مدوّية لحروب، هي الأولى بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية الهادفة لتمديد نفوذ الزعامة الأميركية في العالم هجومياً ضمن حملة إمبراطورية وليست ضمن سياق تورّط بحرب، بدايتها دعم نظام حليف أو تابع كحروب فييتنام وكوريا، واتخذت عنوان غزو العراق وأفغانستان بداية وإسقاط سورية لاحقاً، وتصاعدت بأثر الهزيمة المطالبات بالتخلّي عن اللهاث وراء دور شرطي العالم، بينما أميركا في الداخل تتراجع اقتصادياً واجتماعياً، كما وصفها ترامب نفسه في حملته الانتخابية لجهة البطالة وتراجع الخدمات وتداعي البنى التحتية، وأطلق في مواجهة هذه الحال شعاره «أميركا أولاً».

– تتشابه حملات ترامب على الإعلام العقائدي المسيطر عليه فئوياً بالحملات التي شنّها غورباتشوف على الإعلام الايديولوجي، كما تتصاعد حملات ترامب على المخابرات بما يستعيد حملات غورباتشوف المشابهة والرجلان في معركة مع نُخَب بلديهما التي قادت طابعهما العالمي، الذي مثّل الإعلام والمخابرات جناحيه، وتتشابه أيضاً دعوات ترامب العنصرية الببضاء الموجّهة للداخل الأميركي بحملات غورباتشوف الروسيّة البيضاء الموجّهة لدول الاتحاد السوفياتيّ والساعية للتخلّص منها كأعباء. وكذلك تتشابه معارك ترامب مع التكتلات الاقتصادية التي تستأثر بالاقتصاد الأميركي لحساب أقليّة من المالكين والعاملين فيها، مقابل ذبول القطاعات التي تُشغل غالبية الأميركيين ويتوزّع أصحابها على شريحة ضخمة من أصحاب الرساميل، يمثلهم ترامب، بمعارك غورباتشوف ضد ملكيات الدولة للاقتصادات الضخمة وتهميش الرأسمال الصاعد، وكلاهما يرفع شعار إعادة التوازن لأجنحة الاقتصاد عبر مشروع «بريسترويكا» لإعادة البناء، وخطاب مباشر للشعب أسماه غورباتشوف بـ«الغلاسنوست»، ويترجمه ترامب في تغريداته اليومية عبر تويتر.

– اعتبر غورباتشوف أن سبب اختناق الاتحاد السوفياتي، خصوصاً روسيا ناجم عن الاستثمار اللامجدي على سباق التسلح، كضريبة للزعامة العالمية، وأن ترجيح كفة القطاع الخاص في الاقتصاد سيؤدي لإنعاش الطبقة الوسطى وبنى الإنتاج المجدي. ويعتبر ترامب أن الاختناق الاقتصادي لأميركا ناتج عن الضريبة التي تدفعها ثمناً للزعامة العالمية، سواء عبر نشر قوات هائلة خارج الحدود لحماية حلفاء أغنياء لا يدفعون شيئاً كاليابان وأوروبا والخليج، أو عبر التسهيلات الاقتصادية للحلفاء الفقراء ضمن اتفاقيات ترتّب عليها إضعاف الاقتصاد الأميركي كحال الاتفاقية مع الأرجنتين ودول المحيط الهادئ المعروفة بـ«اتفاق نفتا». ويلتقي الرجلان على الدعوة لتحرير بلديهما من هذه الأعباء طريقاً للانتعاش الاقتصادي، والخروج من الاختناق والركود.

– ترتّب على سياسات غورباتشوف مع إزالة سيطرة الدولة على القطاعات الاقتصادية الكبرى تراجع هائل في الواردات، وضعف في قدرة الدولة على الإنفاق فتراجع السوق وازداد ضموراً، وظهرت قوى اقتصادية جديدة بسرعة حملت اقتصاد السوق وما فيه من فوارق طبقية هائلة في المجتمع، فظهرت روسيا فيها خلال عشر سنوات كدولة من دول العالم الثالث، بعدما تفكّك الاتحاد السوفياتي وسقطت المنظومة الاشتراكية وانهار حلفها العسكري المسمّى بـ«حلف وارصو» وذهبت أغلب دوله لضفة الغرب تحت عنوان الاتحاد الأوروبي أو حلف الأطلسي. والسؤال الذي يواجه ترامب ومشروعه عما إذا كان سيترتب على ربط الانتشار العسكري بتسديد الحلفاء تكاليفه إلى تراجع النفوذ على الحلفاء وبالتالي في العالم، وما إذا كان سيترتب على إضعاف الشركات العملاقة العابرة للقارات لحساب الشركات الأميركية الوطنية الصرفة، والمعتمدة على السوق الأميركية، إلى اضطراب في الوزن النوعي للعملة الأميركية في الأسواق العالمية، وإلى إفلاسات تُصيب بسبب شحّ الموارد الخارجية وعائدات المضاربات، الكثير من المصارف الأميركية، وما إذا كان كل ذلك سيفتح النقاش حول مبرّر التمسك بالدولار عملة دولية إجبارية للتعاملات المصرفية، وبالمصارف الأميركية كعقدة مرور للطرق المالية في العالم. وهذان هما، الدولار والتداول المصرفي، آخر ما تبقى من جدران حماية لزعامة أميركية في العالم تترجمهما سياسة العقوبات التي تلوّح بها أميركا لخصومها كلّهم.

لافت أن تقف الجالية اليهودية في كل من روسيا وأميركا بقوة وراء دعم الرجلين. ولافت حماسهما المفرط لـ«إسرائيل». وقد كانت مصلحة «إسرائيل» من غورباتشوف تنحصر بإخلاء الساحة الدولية لأميركا، بينما مع الهزال «الإسرائيلي» صار يكفي من ترامب أن يقدّم لـ«إسرائيل» حليفاً في أميركا لا يؤمن بأن «إسرائيل» تحتاج لمن ينقذها من نفسها ومن غطرستها، بل يشاركها هذه الغطرسة، حليفاً يطمئن مستوطنيها أنهم يحظون بحليف لا يجادلهم. كما هو لافت كيف كان سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي بوليصة تأمين لربع قرن أمام «إسرائيل» التي كانت تواجه مع صعود غورباتشوف انتفاضة فلسطينية باسلة عرفت بانتفاضة الحجارة ومقاومة لبنانية نشطة كانت قد حرّرت نصف الأراضي المحتلة، فجاء التفرّد الأميركي في حكم العالم شحنة دفع لتتخطّى «إسرائيل» الكثير من المخاطر والأزمات، بينما يتزامن تخلخل أميركا اليوم مع زمن دخول «إسرائيل» أزمة وجودية قاتلة، ولا يبدو أمامها بوليصة تأمين. ولافت أيضاً أنه في زمن الانكفاء الروسي اندفعت أميركا لتملأ الفراغ، وفي زمن الانكفاء الأميركي تندفع روسيا لتملأ الفراغ. يفعلها التاريخ بقوّة ولكن بقسوة أيضاً… هو التاريخ!

– المفارقة أن غورباتشوف خاض معركة تغيير الاتحاد السوفياتي بلسان النخب المتأنّقة والمثقفة، بوجه من وصفَهم بـ«القبضايات»، ويخوض ترامب حربه بصفته «القبضاي» الذي يقاتل النخب المتحذلقة والمتفذلكة، وتكفي لغة ترامب لقول ذلك.

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The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos

The Misuse of American Military Power and The Middle East in Chaos By Danny Sjursen

Tom Dispatch” – The United States has already lost — its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine executive actions didn’t turn the tide either. For all President Trump’s bluster, boasting, and threats, rest assured that, at best, he’ll barely move the needle and, at worst… but why even go there?

At this point, it’s at least reasonable to look back and ask yet again: Why the failure? Explanations abound, of course. Perhaps Americans were simply never tough enough and still need to take off the kid gloves. Maybe there just weren’t ever enough troops. (Bring back the draft!) Maybe all those hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles just came up short. (So how about lots more of them, maybe even a nuke?)

Lead from the front. Lead from behind. Surge yet again… The list goes on — and on and on.

And by now all of it, including Donald Trump’s recent tough talk, represents such a familiar set of tunes. But what if the problem is far deeper and more fundamental than any of that?

Here our nation stands, 15-plus years after 9/11, engaged militarily in half a dozen countries across the Greater Middle East, with no end in sight. Perhaps a more critical, factual reading of our recent past would illuminate the futility of America’s tragic, ongoing project to somehow “destroy” terrorism in the Muslim world.

The standard triumphalist version of the last 100 or so years of our history might go something like this: in the twentieth century, the United States repeatedly intervened, just in the nick of time, to save the feeble Old World from militarism, fascism, and then, in the Cold War, communism.  It did indeed save the day in three global wars and might have lived happily ever after as the world’s “sole superpower” if not for the sudden emergence of a new menace.  Seemingly out of nowhere, “Islamo-fascists” shattered American complacence with a sneak attack reminiscent of Pearl Harbor.  Collectively the people asked: Why do they hate us?  Of course, there was no time to really reflect, so the government simply got to work, taking the fight to our new “medieval” enemies on their own turf.  It’s admittedly been a long, hard slog, but what choice did our leaders have?  Better, after all, to fight them in Baghdad than Brooklyn.

What if, however, this foundational narrative is not just flawed but little short of delusional? Alternative accounts lead to wholly divergent conclusions and are more likely to inform prudent policy in the Middle East.

Let’s reconsider just two key years for the United States in that region: 1979 and 2003.  America’s leadership learned all the wrong “lessons” from those pivotal moments and has intervened there ever since on the basis of some perverse version of them with results that have been little short of disastrous.  A more honest narrative of those moments would lead to a far more modest, minimalist approach to a messy and tragic region.  The problem is that there seems to be something inherently un-American about entertaining such thoughts.

1979 Revisited

Through the first half of the Cold War, the Middle East remained a sideshow.  In 1979, however, all that changed radically.  First, rising protests against the brutal police state of the American-backed Shah of Iran led to regime collapse, the return of dissident ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the declaration of an Islamic Republic. Then Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 52 hostages for more than 400 days.  Of course, by then few Americans remembered the CIA-instigated coup of 1953 that had toppled a democratically elected Iranian prime minister, preserved Western oil interests in that country, and started both lands on this path (though Iranians clearly hadn’t forgotten).  The shock and duration of the hostage crisis undoubtedly ensured that Jimmy Carter would be a one-term president and — to make matters worse — Soviet troops intervened in Afghanistan to shore up a communist government there. It was quite a year.

The alarmist conventional narrative of these events went like this: the radical mullahs running Iran were irrational zealots with an inexplicable loathing for the American way of life.  As if in a preview of 9/11, hearing those chants against “the Great Satan,” Americans promptly began asking with true puzzlement: Why do they hate us?  The hostage crisis challenged world peace.  Carter had to do something. Worse yet, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan represented blatant conquest and spotlighted the possibility of Red Army hordes pushing through to Iran en route to the Persian Gulf’s vast oil reserves.  It might prove the opening act of the long awaited Soviet scheme for world domination or a possible path to World War III.

Misinformed by such a tale that they repeatedly told themselves, Washington officials then made terrible choices in the Middle East.  Let’s start with Iran.  They mistook a nationalist revolution and subsequent civil war within Islam for a singular attack on the U.S.A.  With little consideration of genuine Iranian gripes about the brutal U.S.-backed dynasty of the Shah or the slightest appreciation for the complexity of that country’s internal dynamics, they created a simple-minded but convenient narrative in which the Iranians posed an existential threat to this country.  Little has changed in almost four decades.

Then, though few Americans could locate Afghanistan on a map, most accepted that it was indeed a country of vital strategic interest.  Of course, with the opening of their archives, it’s clear enough now that the Soviets never sought the worldwide empire we imagined for them, especially not by 1979. The Soviet leadership was, in fact, divided over the Afghan affair and intervened in Kabul in a spirit more defensive than aggressive. Their desire or even ability to drive towards the Persian Gulf was, at best, a fanciful American notion.

Nonetheless, the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan were combined into a tale of horror that would lead to the permanent militarization of U.S. policy in the Middle East.  Remembered today as a dove-in-chief, in his 1980 State of the Union address President Carter announced a decidedly hawkish new doctrine that would come to bear his name.  From then on, he said, the U.S. would consider any threat to Persian Gulf oil supplies a direct threat to this country and American troops would, if necessary, unilaterally intervene to secure the region.

The results will seem painfully familiar today: almost immediately, Washington policymakers began to seek military solutions to virtually every problem in the Middle East.  Within a year, the administration of President Ronald Reagan would, for instance, support Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein’s ruthless invasion of Iran, ignoring his more vicious antics and his proclivity for gassing his own people.

Soon after, in 1983, the military created the United States Central Command (headquarters: Tampa, Florida) with specific responsibility for the Greater Middle East. Its early war plans demonstrated just how wildly out of touch with reality American planners already were by then. Operational blueprints, for instance, focused on defeating Soviet armies in Iran before they could reach the Persian Gulf.  Planners imagined U.S. Army divisions crossing Iran, itself in the midst of a major war with Iraq, to face off against a Soviet armored juggernaut (just like the one that was always expected to burst through Europe’s Fulda Gap).  That such an assault was never coming, or that the fiercely proud Iranians might object to the militaries of either superpower crossing their territories, figured little in such early plans that were monuments to American arrogance and naïveté.

From there, it was but a few short steps to the permanent “defensive” basing of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain or later the stationing of U.S. troops near the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraqi attack.  Few asked how such forces in the heart of the Middle East would play on the Arab street or corroborate Islamist narratives of “crusader” imperialism.

Worse yet, in those same years the CIA armed and financed a grab bag of Afghan insurgent groups, most of them extreme Islamists. Eager to turn Afghanistan into a Soviet “Vietnam,” no one in Washington bothered to ask whether such guerrilla outfits conformed to our purported principles or what the rebels would do if they won. Of course, the victorious guerrillas contained foreign fighters and various Arab supporters, including one Osama bin Laden.  Eventually, the excesses of the well-armed but morally bankrupt insurgents and warlords in Afghanistan triggered the formation and ascension of the Taliban there, and from one of those guerrilla outfits came a new organization that called itself al-Qaeda. The rest, as they say, is history, and thanks to Chalmers Johnson’s appropriation of a classic CIA term of spy craft, we now know it as blowback.

That was a major turning point for the U.S. military.  Before 1979, few of its troops had served in the region.  In the ensuing decades, America bombed, invaded, raided, sent its drones to kill in, or attacked Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq again (and again), Somalia (again and again), Libya again, Iraq once more, and now Syria as well.  Before 1979, few — if any — American military personnel died in the Greater Middle East.  Few have died anywhere else since.

2003 and After: Fantasies and Reality

Who wouldn’t agree that the 2003 invasion of Iraq signified a major turning point both in the history of the Greater Middle East and in our own?  Nonetheless, its legacy remains highly contested. The standard narrative goes like this: as the sole remaining superpower on the planet after the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, our invincible military organized a swift and convincing defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the first Gulf War.  After 9/11, that same military launched an inventive, swift, and triumphant campaign in Afghanistan.  Osama bin Laden escaped, of course, but his al-Qaeda network was shattered and the Taliban all but destroyed.

Naturally, the threat of Islamic terror was never limited to the Hindu Kush, so Washington “had” to take its fight against terror global.  Admittedly, the subsequent conquest of Iraq didn’t exactly turn out as planned and perhaps the Arabs weren’t quite ready for American-style democracy anyway.  Still, the U.S. was committed, had shed blood, and had to stay the course, rather than cede momentum to the terrorists.  Anything less would have dishonored the venerated dead.  Luckily, President George W. Bush found an enlightened new commander, General David Petraeus, who, with his famed “surge,” snatched victory, or at least stability, from the jaws of defeat in Iraq.  He had the insurgency all but whipped.  Then, just a few years later, “spineless” Barack Obama prematurely pulled American forces out of that country, an act of weakness that led directly to the rise of ISIS and the current nightmare in the region.  Only a strong, assertive successor to Obama could right such gross errors.

It’s a riveting tale, of course, even if it is misguided in nearly every way imaginable.  At each turn, Washington learned the wrong lessons and drew perilous conclusions.  At least the first Gulf War — to George H.W. Bush’s credit — involved a large multinational coalition and checked actual Iraqi aggression.  Instead of cheering Bush the Elder’s limited, prudent strategy, however, surging neoconservatives demanded to know why he had stopped short of taking the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.  In these years (and for this we can certainly thank Bush, among others), Americans — Republicans and Democrats alike — became enamored with military force and came to believe that it could solve just about any problem in that region, if not the world.

This would prove a grotesque misunderstanding of what had happened.  The Gulf War had been an anomaly.  Triumphalist conclusions about it rested on the shakiest of foundations.  Only if an enemy fought exactly as the U.S. military preferred it to do, as indeed Saddam’s forces did in 1991 — conventionally, in open desert, with outdated Soviet equipment — could the U.S. expect such success.  Americans drew another conclusion entirely: that their military was unstoppable.

The same faulty assumptions flowed from Afghanistan in 2001.  Information technology, Special Forces, CIA dollars (to Afghan warlords), and smart bombs triggered victory with few conventional foot soldiers needed.  It seemed a forever formula and influenced both the hasty decision to invade Iraq, and the irresponsibly undersized force structure deployed (not to speak of the complete lack of serious preparation for actually occupying that country).  So powerful was the optimism and jingoism of invasion proponents that skeptics were painted as unpatriotic  turncoats.

Then things turned ugly fast.  This time around, Saddam’s army simply melted away, state institutions broke down, looting was rampant, and the three major communities of Iraq — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd — began to battle for power.  The invaders never received the jubilant welcome predicted for them by Bush administration officials and supportive neocons.  What began as a Sunni-based insurgency to regain power morphed into a nationalist rebellion and then into an Islamist struggle against Westerners.

Nearly a century earlier, Britain had formed Iraq from three separate Ottoman imperial provinces — Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul.  The 2003 invasion blew up that synthetic state, held together first by British overlords and then by Saddam’s brutal dictatorship.  American policymakers seemed genuinely surprised by all this.

Those in Washington never adequately understood the essential conundrum of forced regime change in Iraq.  “Democracy” there would inevitably result in Shia majority dominance of an artificial state.  Empowering the Shia drove the Sunni minority — long accustomed to power — into the embrace of armed, motivated Islamists.  When societies fracture as Iraq’s did, often enough the worst among us rise to the occasion.  As the poet William Butler Yeats so famously put it, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed… The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Furthermore, the invasion played directly into Osama bin Laden’s hands, fueling his narrative of an American “war on Islam.”  In the process, the U.S. also destabilized Iraq’s neighbors and the region, spreading extremists to Syria and elsewhere.

That David Petraeus’s surge “worked” is perhaps the greatest myth of all.  It was true that the steps he took resulted in a decrease in violence after 2007, largely because he paid off the Sunni tribes, not because of the modest U.S. troop increase ordered from Washington.  By then, the Shia had already won the sectarian civil war for Baghdad, intensifying Sunni-Shia residential segregation there and so temporarily lessening the capacity for carnage.

That post-surge “calm” was, however, no more than a tactical pause in an ongoing regional sectarian war.  No fundamental problems had been resolved in post-Saddam Iraq, including the nearly impossible task of integrating Sunni and Kurdish minorities into a coherent national whole.  Instead, Washington had left a highly sectarian Shia strongman, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in control of the government and internal security forces, while al-Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI (nonexistent prior to the invasion), never would be eradicated.  Its leadership, further radicalized in U.S. Army prisons, bided its time, waiting for an opportunity to win back Sunni fealty.

Luckily for AQI, as soon as the U.S. military was pulled out of the country, Maliki promptly cracked down hard on peaceful Sunni protests.  He even had his Sunni vice president sentenced to death in absentia under the most questionable of circumstances.  Maliki’s ineptitude would prove an AQI godsend.

Islamists, including AQI, also took advantage of events in Syria.  Autocrat Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression of his own protesting Sunni majority gave them just the opening they needed.  Of course, the revolt there might never have occurred had not the invasion of Iraq destabilized the entire region.  In 2014, the former AQI leaders, having absorbed some of Saddam’s cashiered officers into their new forces, triumphantly took a series of Iraqi cities, including Mosul, sending the Iraqi army fleeing. They then declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Many Iraqi Sunnis naturally turned to the newly established “Islamic State” (ISIS) for protection.

Mission (Un)Accomplished!

It’s hardly controversial these days to point out that the 2003 invasion (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom), far from bringing freedom to that country, sowed chaos.  Toppling Saddam’s brutal regime tore down the edifice of a regional system that had stood for nearly a century.  However inadvertently, the U.S. military lit the fire that burned down the old order.

As it turned out, no matter the efforts of the globe’s greatest military, no easy foreign solution existed when it came to Iraq.  It rarely does.  Unfortunately, few in Washington were willing to accept such realities.  Think of that as the twenty-first-century American Achilles’ heel: unwarranted optimism about the efficacy of U.S. power.  Policy in these years might best be summarized as: “we” have to do something, and military force is the best — perhaps the only — feasible option.

Has it worked? Is anybody, including Americans, safer?  Few in power even bother to ask such questions.  But the data is there.  The Department of State counted just 348 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2001 compared with 11,774 attacks in 2015. That’s right: at best, America’s 15-year “war on terror” failed to significantly reduce international terrorism; at worst, its actions helped make matters 30 times worse.

Recall the Hippocratic oath: “First do no harm.”  And remember Osama bin Laden’s stated goal on 9/11: to draw conventional American forces into attritional campaigns in the heart of the Middle East. Mission accomplished!

In today’s world of “alternative facts,” it’s proven remarkably easy to ignore such empirical data and so avoid thorny questions.  Recent events and contemporary political discourse even suggest that the country’s political elites now inhabit a post-factual environment; in terms of the Greater Middle East, this has been true for years.

It couldn’t be more obvious that Washington’s officialdom regularly and repeatedly drew erroneous lessons from the recent past and ignored a hard truth staring them in the face: U.S. military action in the Middle East has solved nothing.  At all.  Only the government cannot seem to accept this.  Meanwhile, an American fixation on one unsuitable term — “isolationism” — masks a more apt description of American dogma in this period: hyper-interventionism.

As for military leaders, they struggle to admit failure when they — and their troops — have sacrificed so much sweat and blood in the region.  Senior officers display the soldier’s tendency to confuse performance with effectiveness, staying busy with being successful.  Prudent strategy requires differentiating between doing a lot and doing the right things. As Einstein reputedly opined, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

A realistic look at America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East and a humbler perspective on its global role suggest two unsatisfying but vital conclusions.  First, false lessons and misbegotten collective assumptions contributed to and created much of today’s regional mess.  As a result, it’s long past time to reassess recent history and challenge long-held suppositions.  Second, policymakers badly overestimated the efficacy of American power, especially via the military, to shape foreign peoples and cultures to their desires.  In all of this, the agency of locals and the inherent contingency of events were conveniently swept aside.

So what now? It should be obvious (but probably isn’t in Washington) that it’s well past time for the U.S. to bring its incessant urge to respond militarily to the crisis of the moment under some kind of control.  Policymakers should accept realistic limitations on their ability to shape the world to America’s desired image of it.

Consider the last few decades in Iraq and Syria.  In the 1990s, Washington employed economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein and his regime.  The result: tragedy to the tune of half a million dead children. Then it tried invasion and democracy promotion.  The result: tragedy — including 4,500-plus dead American soldiers, a few trillion dollars down the drain, more than 200,000 dead Iraqis, and millions more displaced in their own country or in flight as refugees.

In response, in Syria the U.S. tried only limited intervention.  Result: tragedy — upwards of 300,000 dead and close to seven million more turned into refugees.

So will tough talk and escalated military action finally work this time around as the Trump administration faces off against ISIS?  Consider what happens even if the U.S achieves a significant rollback of ISIS.  Even if, in conjunction with allied Kurdish or Syrian rebel forces, ISIS’s “capital,” Raqqa, is taken and the so-called caliphate destroyed, the ideology isn’t going away.  Many of its fighters are likely to transition back to an insurgency and there will be no end to international terror in ISIS’s name.  In the meantime, none of this will have solved the underlying problems of artificial states now at the edge of collapse or beyond, divided ethno-religious groups, and anti-Western nationalist and religious sentiments.  All of it begs the question: What if Americans are incapable of helping (at least in a military sense)?

A real course correction is undoubtedly impossible without at least a willingness to reconsider and reframe our recent historical experiences.  If the 2016 election is any indication, however, a Trump administration with the present line-up of national security chiefs (who fought in these very wars) won’t meaningfully alter either the outlook or the policies that led us to this moment.  Candidate Trump offered a hollow promise — to “Make America Great Again” — conjuring up a mythical era that never was.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton offered only remarkably dated and stale rhetoric about America as the “indispensable nation.”

In the new Trump era, neither major party seems capable of escaping a shared commitment to the legends rather than the facts of America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East.  Both sides remain eerily confident that the answers to contemporary foreign policy woes lie in a mythical version of that past, whether Trump’s imaginary 1950s paradise or Clinton’s fleeting mid-1990s “unipolar moment.”

Both ages are long gone, if they ever really existed at all.  Needed is some fresh thinking about our militarized version of foreign policy and just maybe an urge, after all these years, to do so much less. Patriotic fables certainly feel good, but they achieve little.  My advice: dare to be discomfited.

Major Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

PETER KORZUN | 17.02.2017 | WORLD

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

Combining available information to get the whole picture, one can see the situation in the Middle East changing drastically, especially as the US strategy is reviewed and new alliances are formed.

The Trump administration is in talks with Middle East allies about forming a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter Iran, according to several Middle Eastern officials.

The planned coalition would include countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain. Egypt and Jordan have longstanding peace treaties with Israel. For the Arab countries involved, the alliance would have a NATO-style mutual-defense component under which an attack on one member would be treated as an attack on all, though details are still being worked out. The US and Israel will cooperate without full-fledged membership. According to the Wall Street Journal, «one Arab diplomat suggested that the notion that the Trump administration might designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group was being floated as an incentive for Egypt to join the alliance».

US President Donald Trump has assured visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran would never be able to build a nuclear weapon.

«The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal», Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with Netanyahu at the White House. Reading the statement between the lines, it becomes evident that the US is ready to go much further than warnings and sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability.

Russian Izvestia daily reported the US plans to substantially increase its military presence in Iraq. The newspaper cited its own sources in the U.S. Republican Party. The plans include a few thousand troops to arrive in Iraq in the coming months. The reinforcement will continue the policy of the Obama administration, which was gradually expanding the military presence in that country.

It was reported on February 16 that the Pentagon was developing proposals for sending an unspecified number of American military personnel into Syria, conventional ground forces which would augment the 500 combat advisers already there coordinating efforts to destroy the Islamic State (IS).

Military Times reports that multiple US Army sources indicated that about two thousand soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team may soon bolster other Army elements already in the region. Currently, about 1,800 paratroopers from the 2nd BCT are in Iraq participating in the US military’s train-and-advise mission. The 82ndAirborne Division is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Citing an unidentified U.S. defense official, CNN indicated additional deployments could happen within weeks. Today, there are about 5,000 US troops deployed to Iraq and another 500 in Syria.

The White House indicated in January that it could task the military with establishing «safe zones» on Syrian soil. A large number of troops would be needed to defend havens, pitting them against pro-government forces as well as rival rebel groups. Without approval by UN Security Council, few nations will contribute leaving the US alone to shoulder the main burden. Hundreds of aircraft will have to be deployed to carry out the mission.

Deploying substantial forces in the Middle East risks putting the US on a slippery slope to further involvement in the war. Safe zones should not become no-fly zones to impede the operations of Russian and Syrian air forces. If the US decides to continue with the idea, it should it become an issue on the agenda for talks with Russia before any practical steps are taken to implement it.

It’s not Arab states only. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told lawmakers on February 9 that thousands more American or NATO troops are needed to break the «stalemate» between Afghan forces and the Taliban insurgent group while the IS also remains active in the nation. The general did not specify how many additional troops were needed, but did not rule out the potential for up to 30,000.

The strategy, which relied on special forces teams and intensive operations conducted by drones, may become a thing of the past, with the U.S. returning to large-scale presence.

The terrorist activities of the IS go beyond the scope of a regional problem. There are a few options here for cooperation of the military agencies and special services of Russia and the US ranging from intelligence exchange on IS to exercising influence on the countries affected by the war with the terrorist threat.

Whatever are the plans of Trump’s administration aimed at changing the Middle East strategy, the US cannot go it alone there. It needs allies, partners, and friendly pertinent actors to coordinate activities with. This shows how important it is to speed up bilateral and multilateral discussions.

It all goes to show that Russia and the US should speed up launching regular contacts to exchange opinions on the situation in the Middle East. On February 16, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford met face to face with their Russian counterparts Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chief of General Staff General Valeriy Gerasimov in Bonn and Baku respectively. Hopefully, the first contacts will spur the process and the parties will be engaged in dialogue concerning major security issues. The volatile situation in the Middle East should be addressed without delay as part of preparations for a possible summit in Slovenia.

Cover Up: UK Drops Hundreds of Misconduct Claims Over Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

UK Drops Hundreds of Misconduct Claims Over Iraq, Afghan Wars

 
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, seen in 2016, said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed<img alt=”British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, seen in 2016, said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed” class=”StretchedBox W(100%) H(100%) ie-7_H(a)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/I85eYoRDQaMdZds872Qh8Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAwO2lsPXBsYW5l/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/afp.com/b452e70b8c185776f9df6c751180fd847a7882ab.jpg”/>
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, seen in 2016, said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed (AFP Photo/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

London (AFP) – Britain is dismissing hundreds of allegations of misconduct by its soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, the defence ministry said on Friday, following an investigation that uncovered spurious claims.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which was set up in 2010 and is dealing with hundreds of cases, will be shut down in the summer and 20 of its cases will be handed over to the Royal Navy police.

This follows an investigation that led to campaigning lawyer Phil Shiner, who had brought many of the claims, being struck off earlier this month.

The announcement was made by Defence Minister Michael Fallon, who also said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed.

“This will be a relief for our soldiers who have had allegations hanging over them for too long,” Fallon said in televised remarks.

“Now we are taking action to stop such abuse of our legal system from happening again,” he said.

But Amnesty International criticised the decision to hand over the remaining cases to the Royal Navy police, calling instead for an independent investigation to be conducted.

“The UK’s military reputation is on the line — any credible allegations of abuses by UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan should be independently investigated, which must mean by a body that is separate from the military itself,” the rights group said in a statement.

A parliamentary committee report earlier on Friday found that serving and retired troops had been subjected to “deeply disturbing” treatment by IHAT.

The report said IHAT investigators had used “intimidatory tactics” and spied on war veterans.

“IHAT has operated without any regard to its impact on the UK military which has directly harmed their reputation across the world,” the report said.

IHAT was set up by the former Labour government to assess claims of abuse by Iraqi civilians. It started out with 165 claims but the caseload skyrocketed and eventually grew to more than 3,500.

Game-changers ahead on the (long) Maritime Silk Road

February 04, 2017

by Pepe Escobar for the Asia Times

Game-changers ahead on the (long) Maritime Silk RoadFrom the Bab al-Mandab to the strait of Malacca, from the strait of Hormuz to the strait of Lombok, all the way to the key logistical hub of Diego Garcia 2,500 miles southeast of Hormuz, the question pops up: How will the unpredictable new normal in Washington – which is not exactly China-friendly – affect the wider Indian Ocean?

At play are way more than key chokepoints in an area that straddles naval supply chains and through which also flows almost 40% of the oil that powers Asian-Pacific economies. This is about the future of the Maritime Silk Road, a key component of the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR), and thus about how Big Power politics will unfold in a key realm of the Rimland.

India imports almost 80% of its energy from the Middle East via the Indian Ocean. Thus, for Delhi, protection of supply chains must be the norm, as in the current drive to develop three carrier battle groups and at least 160 naval vessels, including submarines, before 2022. That also implies boosting a cooperation agreement with the nations bordering the strait of Malacca – Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – and developing military infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

China for its part advances a relentless economic / infrastructural drive from Myanmar to Pakistan, from Bangladesh to the Maldives, from Sri Lanka to Djibouti – a counterbalance to the impossibility of fully implementing “escape from Malacca”, the complex, multi-pronged Beijing strategy for diversifying energy supplies.

The privileged infrastructure connectivity hub remains the megaport of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea – which will be controlled for the next 40 years by a Chinese company. Gwadar is the naval destination of the US$46 billion (and counting) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) originating in Xinjiang, which will be the economic New Silk Roads game-changer in South Asia.

This implies everyone jumping aboard the new Karakoram highway, currently under construction in Pakistan’s sublimely mountainous northern Gilgit-Baltistan, with the military watching over a frantic maze of Chinese engineers.

Islamabad/Rawalpindi took no prisoners in offering a sprawling support system to prevent possible interference by Uighur separatist groups. For all practical purposes, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is now focused on resident Uighurs in Pakistan like a laser, while not forgetting Balochistan’s separatist groups, who, with the right “incentive”, might also derail CPEC further on down the road.

Beijing treads a very fine – soft power – line. Islamabad offered the Chinese Navy a base in Gwadar, but was politely declined: the graphic message would totally freak out both Delhi and Washington. Gwadar will be inevitably developed over time as a trade hub for a vast swathe of South Asia, but Delhi’s anxieties relate to its virtually ready-to-roll capability for monitoring the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean and the US Navy in the Persian Gulf.

Go North-South, young Eurasian

Gwadar happens to be not far away from Chabahar, in Iran – which is being designed as an Indian trade hub towards the markets of Central Asia, connecting India with Afghanistan via Iran and thus bypassing Pakistan. That’s the Southern – or Indian – Silk Road in action. Gwadar and Chabahar are the top two new hubs bound to link the Indian Ocean to central Eurasia, with Iran, India and Russia featuring as key members of the slowly-developing but potentially spectacular International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Moreover, Iran, China and India may all eventually converge towards a free trade zone with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU), as the CPEC for its part will allow Russia and Central Asia to boost trade with the Indian Ocean Rimland.

Then there’s the fascinating case of Sri Lanka. According to the 
Institute of Policy Studies in Sri Lanka, from 2006 to 2015 China invested over US$5 billion, with Sri Lanka’s minister of development strategies and international trade adding that China has pledged over US$10 billion more up to 2019.

The key project is the deep-sea port at Hambantota – plus an international airport in nearby Mattala. Sri Lanka struck a deal with China Merchants Port Holdings at the end of 2016 to sell 80% of Hambantota for US$1.1 billion and to lease 15,000 acres of nearby land for 99 years.

Needless to add, the proverbial “concern” with this Chinese win-win was registered in both Delhi and Washington. The possibility that China will eventually acquire a permanent naval military base in the Indian Ocean is a full-time obsession of US Think Tankland. Colombo, though, has always been adamant: Chinese-financed infrastructure does not imply basing rights for the Chinese Navy.

In fact, any Chinese move – from leasing a Maldives island for 50 years for US$4 million to building a military base in Djibouti (officially a base for “technical and logistical support” to the Chinese Navy) by the end of 2017, close to the Americans and the French, is a source of “concern”.

Where China in South Asia is concerned, the Pentagon / Naval War College always fall back to the “string of pearls” threat. Especially now with the Maritime Silk Road, a “string of pearls” is a categorical imperative for Beijing. But that does not imply Chinese military hegemony.

For Beijing, conscious of cost-efficiency, the logistical nightmare of maintaining naval bases in foreign lands far, far away from the Middle Kingdom is definitely not a win-win. So the notion of having a Chinese carrier battle group in the Indian Ocean ready to confront the Indian Navy is idle geostrategic speculation. The very long game is all about establishing key trade nodes for the Maritime Silk Road.

I got a naval offer you can’t refuse

It will be fascinating to watch how mechanisms such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) develop.

Let’s see what Delhi – deeply committed to an official Make in India campaign – may offer in the way of “free” markets to Nepal (which is leaning towards China), Bangladesh (always in a complex relationship with Pakistan) and Sri Lanka.

Since 2008, China has been India’s largest trading partner. China and India will be involved in deeper cooperation inside the BRICS, and in managing the New Development Bank (NDB). Moreover, India is about to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The notion of Delhi reigning supreme in the Indian Ocean is misguided. From now on, with the emphasis on the Maritime Silk Road, it will be more a case of serious India-China economic competition and/or cooperation, as both countries invest in the protection/expansion of their extensive, complex supply chains.

The Pentagon, under James “Mad Dog” Mattis, will, of course, be watching closely. India’s NDTV recently reported that the US Pacific Command had tacitly admitted the obvious: that the US and India are sharing intel on Chinese warships and submarines in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, there was a hint that Beijing could deploy a carrier battle group in the Indian Ocean today if it saw fit.

It’s unlikely Beijing will accept the challenge – just to be slapped with more charges of “Chinese aggression” and “threatening freedom of navigation”. Better invest in non-stop, cumulative Maritime Silk Road deals.

ترامب وأفول العولمة الأميركية

يناير 25, 2017

صفية سعاده

تقهقر الاقتصاد الأميركي

أحد الأسباب الرئيسة لفوز ترامب في الانتخابات الرئاسية على منافسته هيلاري كلينتون، هو الانهيار الاقتصادي الحاصل في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. ولطالما كان الاقتصاد هو المحرك الفعلي في ترجيح كفة أصوات الأميركيين، إذ إنهم يعيشون في جزيرة قارة ضخمة، وبالتالي لا يأبهون كثيراً لمجريات السياسة الخارجية.

بعد إخفاق رئاسة بوش الابن في تحقيق انتصارات مدوية في افغانستان والعراق، وتوريط الجنود الأميركيين في هذين البلدين، بدأت ملامح فيتنام جديدة تتكوّن مع ما يعني ذلك من تآكل النفوذ الأميركي في مستنقعات آسيا الوسطى والغربية، وتراكم العجز المالي.

وصل باراك أوباما الى سدة الرئاسة، لأنه وعد الناخبين الأميركيين بأنه سينهي الحروب خارج الأراضي الأميركية، وسيعيد الجنود الأميركيين إلى الوطن. وسرعان ما واجهته أزمة سيولة مالية كادت تطيح بالمصارف الكبرى ليس فقط في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، بل في العالم أجمع.

بسبب هذا الانهيار الذي تلافاه أوباما بحجز أموال المواطنين الأميركيين، أعادت دول العالم النظر في نظام معولم قد يطيح بها من دون أن تكون هي مسؤولة عن أخطاء ارتكبها النظام المالي الأميركي الذي أفلت العنان للمصارف الأميركية التي تتصرّف من دون أيّ ضوابط أو رقابة.

العامل الاول إذاً هو زعزعة ثقة العالم بالنظام المصرفي الأميركي، وبالتالي أخذ الاحتياطات اللازمة لدرء تبعات انهيار هذا النظام، كانت نتيجتها إنشاء نظام مالي بديل تترأسه كلّ من الصين وروسيا ويضمّ دولاً أخرى، يتبادل السلع على أساس عملات محلية غير الدولار، ويقوم بمشاريع إنمائية مستقلة.

بالإضافة الى تحوّل العالم باتجاه التفتيش عن حلول بديلة للنظام المالي الأميركي المعولم، نشأت أزمة اقتصادية كبرى داخل الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من جراء العولمة نفسها التي نادى بها، وشجّعها، ونشرها الرأسماليون الأميركيون في الدرجة الاولى.

لقد أخذ الرأسمال الأميركي يتسرّب خارج أراضي الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، ما يعود بالنفع على أقلية محدودة العدد من كبار الرأسماليين الأميركيين، لكنه يؤدّي الى إغلاق المصانع والمعامل والصناعات في أرجاء الدولة الأميركية. انتقل العمل من داخل هذه الأخيرة الى خارجها، وبشكل خاص الى غريمتها: الصين. فلا دولة تستطيع منافسة اليد العاملة الرخيصة الصينية، وأيّ منافسة للسوق الصينية محتومة بالفشل.

التتمة ص8

انهارت الطبقة الوسطى الأميركية، وأصبحت البطالة عالية، وتبخر الحلم الأميركي بإمكانية الحصول على منزل وسيارة لكلّ عائلة، وتشرّدت ألوف العائلات، خاصة أنّ الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ليست بدولة رعائية، فهي لا تؤمّن ضماناً صحياً مجانياً، ولا ضماناً اجتماعياً كما تفعل دول أوروبا، أو كندا أو اوستراليا، أو حتى دول أميركا اللاتينية، على فقرها، ككوبا مثلاً. هذه الشريحة هي التي صوّتت لدونالد ترامب، لأنّ هيلاري كلينتون أرادت أن تكمل مسيرة العولمة، فلقد وعد ترامب بإعادة تفعيل الاقتصاد والمصانع، وإعطاء الأولوية لرفاهية الشعب الأميركي.

العودة إلى ترسيخ القومية

مسار العولمة الذي خطته أميركا يستوجب الهيمنة الاقتصادية الشاملة على العالم، ومن أجل بلوغ هذا الهدف كان من الضروري إلغاء دور الدول الوطنية/ القومية الأخرى عبر محاربة كلّ أشكال الأنظمة الاشتراكية أو القومية، ودفع دول العالم الثالث خاصة الى خصخصة ممتلكات الدولة، وتخلي الدولة عن لعب أيّ دور ناظم في المجتمع أو الاقتصاد. تحرير السوق أدّى الى القضاء على اقتصاد الدول النامية التي لا تستطيع منافسة الدول الصناعية الكبرى، وحوّلها مراكز استهلاك لا إنتاج.

أهداف العولمة اذاً تتضارب مع وجود الدولة القومية التي تدافع عن مواطنيها وعن حقوقهم المادية والمعنوية. فالعولمة تلغي نهائياً مفهوم الدولة الديمقراطية، حيث يقرّر الشعب مصيره، ويُستبدل ذلك بهيئات ناظمة عابرة للدول، كما حصل في الاتحاد الاوروبي، ومثال هذا الاتحاد هو الأقلّ بشاعة من أمثلة دول أفريقيا والعالم العربي. فلقد وجدت دول الاتحاد الأوروبي الفقيرة كاليونان واسبانيا وإيطاليا أنها خسرت قراراتها المستقلة واصبح البرلمان الاوروبي هو الذي يبادر الى توجيه مسار هذه الدول شاءت أم أبت. وفي وضع من هذا النوع يبدو جلياً أنّ الدول القوية هي التي ستطغى على الدول الضعيفة، وفي حالة الاتحاد الاوروبي، اصبحت المانيا هي القاطرة التي تملي على الجميع ما عليهم فعله. الا ان الاتحاد الاوروبي، بما فيه المانيا، هو بدوره فريسة النفوذ الأميركي.

التمرّد على العولمة حاصل اليوم في الدول المتقدّمة والتي عملت جاهدة لإرغام الجميع الدخول في شبكتها. تمرّد مواطنوها، من الولايات المتحدة الأميركية إلى بريطانيا، لأنّ شعوبها لا تريد أن تصادَر حرياتها وقراراتها ومصيرها.

ترامب يتكلم باسم هذا المنحى الجديد، وكما يشدّد على أهمية الحفاظ على قومية ومصالح الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، فإنه أيضاً يؤكد بأنه لن يتدخل في أمور الدول الأخرى، وليس في صدد شنّ حروب على دول لتغيير أنظمتها.

هذا الموقف يقود الى النتائج التالية والتي هي معاكسة تماماً للسياسات التي سبقته:

أولاً: الاعتراف بالدول الأخرى وقبول الاختلاف بين نظامه وأنظمتها.

ثانياً: الاعتراف بتعدّد الأقطاب في العالم، بالرغم من هدف ترامب جعل أميركا الأقوى والأفضل بين الدول.

ثالثاً: الالتزام بالقوانين الدولية في فضّ النزاعات بين الدول.

رابعاً: اعتراف ترامب ان لا وجود للدولة الديمقراطية الا في إطار الدولة القومية التي يقرّر شعبها مصيرها، ورفض خزعبلات الـ establishment الأميركي الذي يتظاهر بأنه يريد فرض الديمقراطية على الشعوب الأخرى بحدّ السلاح والدمار.

خامساً: يريد ترامب القضاء على الإرهاب التكفيري الآخذ في التفشي في العالم، وهو يقول صراحة إنه نتاج الإدارات الأميركية السابقة. أما لماذا أرادت هذه الإدارات دعم وتمويل الإرهاب التكفيري المبني على الفكر الوهابي الإلغائي، فلأنّ هدفها كان استعمار العالم ووضعه تحت الهيمنة الأميركية من دون اللجوء الى جنود أميركيين يقومون بهذه المهمة ويُقتلون، فالمواطنون الأميركيون يرفضون الحرب الا في حال الدفاع عن ارضهم القومية. هيمنة الإسلام السياسي الذي أدرجه أوباما تتطابق مع معايير العولمة العابرة للدول القومية، لكنه لا يتماشى البتة مع مفاهيم الدولة القومية العلمانية، وبالتالي يرفضه ترامب.

No Ban! No Wall! No War?

As I watched the corporate news on demonstrations against Trump’s travel ban, I was struck by the fact that on-going wars in the Middle East were not mentioned. It was as if these refugees were fleeing Nazi Germany. No, they are fleeing the wars that we the American people have been waging against them for many years

It is a good thing to show compassion, declare our solidarity with Muslims, or to talk about our own immigrant histories, but we will fail to oppose Trump and make a real difference if we do not act against war and empire.

The corporate media avoids connecting our wars to Trump’s ban because war and empire is a matter of agreement among the political elites, an elite that the corporate media is very much a part of.  In a remarkable reversal of the Russian hacking story — which was broadcast constantly for weeks without evidence — the connection between war and refugees is patently obvious and glaringly absent.  What are they trying to hide?

If a new anti-war movement emerged from the resistance to Trump it would have the potential to shake the entire system. So the Democrats try to focus as narrowly as they can on Trump’s social and psychological pathologies while waiting to make up for their loses in the 2018 mid-term elections as the default party. The corporate media follows suit.

The anti-war movement of the Vietnam era was so powerful not just because of its compassion for others and moral condemnation of evil, but because it was a real political resistance movement that led people beyond the “liberal consensus.” The liberal consensus was a set of interlocking cultural norms and beliefs. It basic assumption was that  America was the supreme and exceptional leader of the free world.   The passage beyond conventional ways of thinking and acting occurred because being anti-war demanded a deep criticism of the established order both liberal and conservative.

Remember that the Vietnam war was fought by liberals like John F. Kennedy  Kennedy’s war advisors became known as the “Best and the Brightest,” a high powered  team of academic and industrial superstars that could, it turned out, calculate everything but understand nothing. Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated the conflict but was also the president that passed civil rights legislation on a scale that no other modern president has even dared. Liberal leaders like Hubert Humphrey and Edward Kennedy pursued the war as well.

Nixon won in 1968 largely because he ran to Humphrey’s left, as an anti-war candidate of sorts.  He returned the war to conservative leadership but, it was a conservatism  that would fit comfortably within the corporate wing of the today’s Democratic Party. Both Nixon and Hillary Clinton embraced Henry Kissinger who, seeking power like a missile seeks heat, has now gone over to Trump’s side.

It was the anti-war movement, against this basket of political icons, that crossed the threshold to a meaningful, principled opposition.  Two example will suffice to show just how deep it all went.

In April 1967 Martin Luther King rocked the civil rights movement and the nation with his first major speech opposing the war in Vietnam and linking war to racism and poverty. King crossed into revolutionary territory, stepped outside the liberal consensus, and became the leader of a movement for peace, racial equality and economic democracy. Let’s not forget that King was not a Democrat or a Republican. Leading up to the 1968 election, King supported dissenting candidates and even considered an independent run for president.

We must also recall the other truly revolutionary frontier crossed by American soldiers and veterans. In an unprecedented political movement, thousands of American soldiers and veterans opposed the very war they had fought in.

The leadership of the GI and Veteran anti-war movement were not reluctant draftees but rather gung-ho volunteers who were willing to risk life and limb to do the right thing. When the reality of combat in Vietnam dashed their high hopes they turned against war and empire. The military peace movement made history in ways no other peace movement could: soldier resistance slowed the war effort through direct action while the political resistance of the veterans challenged the symbolic and cultural foundations of the war.

The Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Veterans for Standing Rock continue this tradition.  The Vietnam Veterans Against the War took the same smears and attacks Tulsi Gabbard does today for her courageous acts against war.

Endless wars have been fought by Republicans and Democrats to secure oil and produce huge profits for major corporations. No wonder the media is silent on just where all these refugees are coming from.

Nothing captures the deception better than Madeline Albright’s claim that she will register as a Muslim given her bloody record of killing Muslims in Iraq.  Albright agreed with New Mexican Bill Richardson, that “the price was worth it.”  That “price,” according to former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and other observers, was the devastation of Iraq including the deaths of up to 500,000 people.

For us protestors, maybe its that war has been normalized. We started this cycle of conflict in the Greater Middle East in 1978 when we organized the Mujahideen in Afghanistan — the same rebels that would later become Al Qaeda and fight alongside of the “moderate rebels” we currently fund in Syria. We started bombing Iraq as far back as the First Gulf War in 1990. For many Americans these wars have been fought for their entire lives.

Trump’s war talk may or may not escalate beyond Obama’s rush to expand US military operations in Eastern Europe and Africa and invest a trillion dollars into nuclear weapons.  Trump is nonetheless challenging us to restart an anti-war movement that wages peace on many fronts: the Middle East, Iran, China, Mexico and the growing dangers of nuclear war.

Trump’s reckless provocations can only be answered by the renewal of a peace movement large enough to disrupt business as usual; by a peace movement that looks to soldiers and veterans for leadership; by a peace movement that understands, as Dr. King did, the deep connections between racism, war, economic exploitation, and now we must add, climate change.

Trump’s war plans, climate denial and support for big oil are a dangerous formula as it becomes increasingly clear that war and climate change are intimately connected. We will fail to oppose Trump and everything he stands for if we do not oppose war and empire.

No Ban! No Wall! No War!

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