“Most of the World is Just Collapsing in Laughter” on Claims that Russia Intervened in the US Election
By Noam Chomsky
This interview took place at the University of Arizona, before a public audience, on February 2, 2017. I thank Marvin Waterstone for arranging the event, and Professor Chomsky, who approved this transcript for publication. The interview is presented in full, with only very slight editing for style. This interview originally appeared in the journal Class, Race, and Corporate Power. – D. Gibbs
March 05, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – “DC” – David Gibbs: The main issue on everyone’s minds is the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has emphasized the extreme danger that Trump poses, due to the augmented risk of nuclear war and uncontrolled climate change. After inauguration, the Bulletin’s metaphoric clock has been repositioned at two and a half minutes to midnight, with “midnight” signifying catastrophe. Do you agree with the Bulletin regarding the alleged dangers posed by the Trump presidency?
Noam Chomsky: One of the dangers is unquestionable. Of the two existential threats – the threats to the termination of the species basically and most other species – one of them, climate change, on that I think there’s no basis for discussion. Trump has been very inconsistent on many things; on Twitter he’s been all over the place, but some of it is very consistent. That is: Do nothing about climate change except make it worse. And he’s not just speaking for himself, but for the whole Republican Party, the whole leadership. It’s already had impact, it will have worse impact. We’ll talk about this next week, but if there are ways out of this, it’s going to be not easy.
With regard to nuclear weapons, it’s kind of hard to say. He’s said lots of things. As you mentioned, the national security experts are terrified. But they’re more terrified by his personality than by his statements. So if you read people like say Bruce Blair1 one of the leading, most sober, knowledgeable specialists, he says, look, his statements are all over the map, but his personality is frightening, he’s a complete megalomaniac. You never know how he’s going to react. When he learned for example that he’d lost the election by about three million votes, his instant reaction was insanity; you know, three to five million illegal immigrants somehow were organized in some incredible fashion to vote. On any little issue – Miss Universe, or whatever it may be – he’s completely unpredictable, he’ll go off into outer space. His guru Steve Bannon is worse, he’s much scarier. He probably knows what he’s doing.
Over the years, there’s been case after case when there were very narrow decisions that had to be made about whether to launch nuclear weapons in serious cases. What is this guy going to do if his vaunted negotiating skills fail, if somebody doesn’t do what he says? Is he going to say, “Okay we’ll nuke them? We’re done?” Remember that in any major nuclear war, the first strike destroys the country that attacks; it’s been known for years. The first strike of a major power is very likely to cause what’s called nuclear winter, leads to global famine for years and everything’s basically gone. Some survivors straggling around. Could he do it? Who knows.
Some of his comments can be interpreted as potentially reducing the threat of nuclear war. The major threat right now is right on the Russian border. Notice, not the Mexican border, the Russian border. And it’s serious. He has made various statements moving towards reducing the tensions, accommodating Russian concerns and so on. On the other hand, you have to balance that against expanding our nuclear forces, add to our so-called depleted military, which is already more powerful than the rest of the world combined; attack in Syria, send forces to Syria, start bombing. Who knows what could be next? Michael Flynn, national security advisor,2 [his reaction] to the Iranian missile test the other day was very frightening. Now the missile test is ill-advised, they shouldn’t have done it. But it’s not in violation of international law or international agreements. They shouldn’t have done it. His reaction suggested maybe we’re going to go to war in retaliation. Would they do it? If they did, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Everything could blow up.
This crazy ban on the seven states, where we can’t accept immigrants, almost every analyst points out the obvious: It just increases the threat of terror. It lays the basis for terror. It’s just like the atrocities in Abu Ghraib and Bagram and Guantanamo. They’re the most fabulous recruiting techniques for Al Qaeda and ISIS. Everyone knows it. Now, you ban not the whole Muslim world. You ban seven states, seven states that have not been responsible for a single terrorist act. Those are the seven he banned. But, you leave the ones that really are responsible, like Saudi Arabia, which is the center for propaganda and funding and so on for radical Islamic Jihadism, well you can’t touch them because of business interests, also they have oil and so on and so forth. There’s actually an article in the Washington Post, I don’t know whether it’s tongue in cheek or not, which said the criterion for being on the list of banned states is that Trump doesn’t have business interests there. Maybe. But it’s this kind of wild unpredictability, megalomania, thin-skinned craziness that really has me worried, more than his statements. Now, on the climate change there’s just nothing to say, he’s perfectly straightforward.
Gibbs: Let us turn to the role of the media in reporting alleged Russian interference in the US electoral process. Mainstream journalists have called Trump a puppet of Russia, a modern version of the Manchurian Candidate. Others have criticized the media for accepting unsubstantiated claims about Russian influence, and reporting such claims as facts. Normon Soloman and Serge Halimi, for example, stated that press reporting on this issue amounts to a mass hysteria reminiscent of the McCarthy era, while Seymour Hersh called the media reporting on Russia “outrageous.”3 What is your view of this situation?
Chomsky: My guess is that most of the world is just collapsing in laughter. Suppose all the charges are true, I mean every single one, it is so amateurish by US standards that you can hardly even laugh. What the US does is the kind of thing I described in Italy in 1948. Case after case like that, not hacking or spreading rumors in the media; but saying look, we’re going to starve you to death or kill you or destroy you unless you vote the way we want. I mean that’s what we do.
Take the famous 9/11, let’s think about it for a minute. It was a pretty awful terrorist act. It could have been a lot worse. Now let’s suppose that instead of the plane being downed in Pennsylvania by passengers, suppose it had hit its target, which was probably the White House. Now suppose it had killed the president. Suppose that plans had been set for a military coup to take over the government. And right away, immediately 50,000 people were killed, 700,000 tortured. A bunch of economists were brought in from Afghanistan, let’s call them the “Kandahar Boys,” who very quickly destroyed the economy, and established a dictatorship which devastated the country. That would have been a lot worse than 9/11. It happened: the first 9/11, it happened on September 11, 1973, in Chile. We did it. Was that interfering or hacking a party? This record is all over the world, constantly overthrowing governments, invading, forcing people to follow what we call democracy, as in the cases I mentioned. As I say, if every charge is accurate, it’s a joke, and I’m sure half the world is collapsing in laughter about this, because people outside the United States know it. You don’t have to tell people in Chile about the first 9/11.
Gibbs: One of the surprises of the post-Cold War era is the persistence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other US-led alliances. These alliances were created during the Cold War mainly or exclusively for containing the claimed Soviet threat. In 1991, the USSR disappeared from the map, but the anti-Soviet alliance systems persisted and in fact expanded. How do we account for the persistence and expansion of NATO? What in your view is the purpose of NATO after the Cold War?
Chomsky: We have official answers to that. It’s a very interesting question, which I was planning to talk about but didn’t have time. So thanks. It’s a very interesting question. For fifty years, we heard NATO is necessary to save Western Europe from the Russian hordes, you know the slave state, stuff I was taking about. In 1990-91, no Russian hordes. Okay, what happens? Well there are actually visions of the future system that were presented. One was Gorbachev. He called for a Eurasian security system, with no military blocs. He called it a Common European Home. No military blocs, no Warsaw Pact, no NATO, with centers of power in Brussels, Moscow, Ankara, maybe Vladivostok, other places. Just an integrated security system with no conflicts.
That was one. Now the other vision was presented by George Bush, this is the “statesman,” Bush I and James Baker his secretary of state. There’s very good scholarship on this incidentally. We really know a lot about what happened, now that all the documents are out. Gorbachev said that he would agree to the unification of Germany, and even adherence of Germany to NATO, which was quite a concession, if NATO didn’t move to East Germany. And Bush and Baker promised verbally, that’s critical, verbally that NATO would not expand “one inch to the east,” which meant East Germany. Nobody was talking about anything farther at the time. They would not expand one inch to the east. Now that was a verbal promise. It was never written. NATO immediately expanded to East Germany. Gorbachev complained. He was told look, there’s nothing on paper. People didn’t actually say it but the implication was look, if you are dumb enough to take faith in a gentleman’s agreement with us, that’s your problem. NATO expanded to East Germany.
There’s very interesting work, if you want to look into it by a young scholar in Texas named Joshua Shifrinson, it appeared in International Security, which is one of the prestige journals, published by MIT.4 He goes through the documentary record very carefully and he makes a pretty convincing case that Bush and Baker were purposely deceiving Gorbachev. The scholarship has been divided on that, maybe they just weren’t clear or something. But if you read it, I think it’s quite a convincing case, that they were purposely setting it up to deceive Gorbachev.
Okay, NATO expanded to East Berlin and East Germany. Under Clinton NATO expanded further, to the former Russian satellites. In 2008 NATO formally made an offer to Ukraine to join NATO. That’s unbelievable. I mean, Ukraine is the geopolitical heartland of Russian concern, quite aside from historical connections, population and so on. Right at the beginning of all of this, serious senior statesmen, people like Kennan for example and others warned that the expansion of NATO to the east is going to cause a disaster.5 I mean, it’s like having the Warsaw Pact on the Mexican border. It’s inconceivable. And others, senior people warned about this, but policymakers didn’t care. Just go ahead.
Right now, where do we stand? Well right at the Russian border, both sides have been taking provocative actions, both sides are building up military forces. NATO forces are carrying out maneuvers hundreds of yards from the Russian border, the Russian jets are buzzing American jets. Anything could blow up in a minute. In a minute, you know. Any incident could instantly blow up. Both sides are modernizing and increasing their military systems, including nuclear systems.
So what’s the purpose of NATO? Well actually we have an official answer. It isn’t publicized much, but a couple of years ago, the secretary-general of NATO made a formal statement explaining the purpose of NATO in the post-Cold War world is to control global energy systems, pipelines, and sea lanes. That means it’s a global system and of course he didn’t say it, it’s an intervention force under US command, as we’ve seen in case after case. So that’s NATO. So what happened to the years of defending Europe from the Russian hordes? Well, you can go back to NSC-68,6 and see how serious that was. So that’s what we’re living with.
Right now the threat to our existence is Muslim terrorists from seven states, who have never had a single terrorist act. About half the population believes that. I mean you look back at American history and American culture, it’s pretty striking. I mean this has been the safest country in the world forever, and the most frightened country in the world. That’s a large part of the source of the gun culture. You have to have a gun when you go into Starbucks, because who knows what’s going to happen. It just doesn’t happen in other countries.
There’s something deeply rooted in American culture. You can pretty much identify what it was. You take a look at the history. Remember, the US is not a global power until pretty recently. It was internal conquest. You had to defend yourself against what the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, an enlightened figure, called the attacks of the “merciless Indian savages,” whose known way of warfare was torture and destruction. Jefferson wasn’t a fool. He knew that it was the merciless English savages who were carrying out these acts. That is in the Declaration of Independence, recited piously every July Ffourth, the merciless Indian savages with no reason at all were suddenly attacking us. I mean, you can imagine the reasons. That’s one. Also you had a slave population, you had to protect yourself against them. You needed guns. One consequence of that was in southern culture, possession of a gun became kind of a sign of manhood, not just because of slaves but other white men. If you had a gun, you’re not going to push me around. You know, I’m not one of those guys you can kick in the face.
There was another element, which was kind of interesting. In the mid to late nineteenth century, the gun manufacturers recognized that they had a limited market. Remember that this is a capitalist society, you’ve got to expand your market. They were selling guns to the military. That’s a pretty limited market. What about all the rest of the people? So what started was all kinds of fantastic stories about Wyatt Earp and the gunmen and the Wild West, how exciting it was to have these guys with guns defending themselves against all sorts of things.
I grew up in that, when I was a kid. My friends and I used to play cowboys and Indians. We were cowboys killing the Indians, following the Wild West stories. All of this combined into a very strange culture, which is frightened. You look at the polls today, I think half the population supports this ban on these dangerous immigrants who are going to come in and do something, who knows what. And meanwhile the countries that really have been involved in terrorism, they’re out. It’s kind of like I think it was Oklahoma banning Sharia law. Now there’s probably fifty Muslims in Oklahoma, and they have to ban Sharia law, you know. This terror which is all over the country is constantly incited. The Russians were part of NSC-68, is a dramatic case. And that case, like most propaganda wasn’t totally fabricated. The Russians were doing a lot of rotten things, you can point to them. But the idea that if you consider what Hans Morgenthau called “I called abuse ofe reality,” the picture of the world was almost the opposite of what they presented. But somehow this sells and is continually repeated, at least in this kind of situation.
Gibbs: During the Cold War, the political left generally opposed military intervention. After 1991, however, the anti-interventionist movement collapsed and in its place has emerged the idea of humanitarian interventionism, which celebrates intervention as a defense of human rights. Military actions in the Balkans, Iraq, Libya have all been presented as acts of humanitarianism, which aimed to liberate oppressed peoples, and these interventions were at least initially popular among political liberals. Proposals for augmented US intervention in Syria often invoke the humanitarian principle. What is your view of humanitarian intervention?
Chomsky: Well, I don’t quite see it like that. Now, if you look back to the anti-intervention movements, what were they? Let’s take the Vietnam War – the biggest crime since the Second World War. Those of you who are old enough will remember what happened. You couldn’t be opposed to the war for years. The mainstream liberal intellectuals were enthusiastically in support of the war. In Boston, a liberal city where I was, we literally couldn’t have a public demonstration without it being violently broken up, with the liberal press applauding, until late 1966. By that time there were hundreds of thousands of American troops rampaging in South Vietnam. South Vietnam had been practically destroyed. The leading, the most respected Vietnam historian, military historian Bernard Fall7 – he was a hawk incidentally, but he cared for the Vietnamese – he said it wasn’t clear to him whether Vietnam could survive as a historical and cultural entity under the most massive attack that any region that size had ever suffered. He was talking about South Vietnam, incidentally. By that time, we did begin to get some protests. But not from liberal intellectuals; they never opposed the war.
In fact, it’s pretty dramatic when you get to 1975, very revealing, the war ends. Everybody had to write something about the war, what it meant. And you also had polls of public opinion, and they’re dramatically different. So if you look at the writings of intellectuals, there are two kinds. One said, l“Look, if we fought harder we could have won.” You know, the stab in the back. But the others, who were way at the left, people like Anthony Lewis of the New York Times, way out in left stream, his view in 1975 was the Vietnam war began with blundering efforts to do good. But by 1969, it was clear that it was a disaster, that was too costly to us. We could not bring democracy to South Vietnam at a cost that we were willing to accept. So it was a disaster. That’ is the left extreme.
Take a look at public opinion. About 70 percent of the population, in the polls, said the war was fundamentally wrong and immoral, not a mistake. And that attitude lasted as long as polls were taken in the early ‘80s. The pollsters don’t ask reasons, they just give numbers. So why did the people think it was fundamentally wrong and immoral? The guys who ran the polls, John E. Rielly, a professor at the University of Chicago, a liberal professor, he said what that means is that people thought too many Americans had beenwere being killed. Maybe. Another possibility is they didn’t like the fact that we were carrying out the worst crime since the Second World War. But that’s so inconceivable that wasn’t even offered as a possible reason.
Now what happened in the following years? Well, I think that among the educated classes it stayed the same. You talk about humanitarian intervention, it’s like Vietnam was a humanitarian intervention. Among the public, it’s quite different. Take the Iraq War, , it’s the second worst crime after the Second World War. It’s the first time in history, in the history of imperialism, there were huge demonstrations, before the war was officially launched. Actually it was already under way. But before it was officially launched, there were huge demonstrations everywhere. I think it had an effect. The public still was split.
And [after Vietnam] the type of interventions that are carried out are designed so as not to elicit public reactions. In fact, it was stated early in the first Bush [presidency], Bush I, in one of their documents they pointed out in the future, US wars are going to be against much weaker enemies. And they have to be won quickly and decisively before a popular reaction develops. And Iif you take a look, that’s what’s done. Look at Panama, for instance, over a couple of days; and Kosovo, no American troops. You wrote a great book about it.8 But I’m not convinced that it’s different from what it was.
Gibbs: With the end of the Cold War, there has been a decline of activism in the US and elsewhere around the issue of nuclear disarmament. Once again, this state of affairs differs from the period of the Cold War, when there was a mass movement that opposed nuclear weapons – recall the Freeze movement from the 1980s — but this movement largely disappeared after 1991. The danger of nuclear war remains as high as ever, but there is little public engagement on this issue, it would seem. How would you explain the disappearance of the anti-nuclear movement?
Chomsky: Well that’s absolutely right. The peak of anti-nuclear popular activism was in the early ‘80s, when there was a huge movement. And the Reagan administration attempted decided to defuse it and partially succeeded, by presenting the illusion of Star Wars, SDI, that somehow we’re going to eliminate nuclear weapons. The Reagan administration picked up the rhetoric of the anti-nuclear movement; they said “Yyeah, you’re right.” We have to eliminate nuclear weapons. And the way we’re going to do it is by having SDI, TStar Wars, the Strategic Defense Initiative, which prevent nuclear weapons from impacting. Well, that did defuse the movement.
And whthen the Russians collapsed, and it looked like as if maybe we can reduce the nuclear tensions. And for a while they actually were reduced. There was a reduction of nuclear weaponsreally were reduced on both sides. Various steps were taken. Nowhere near enough, but some of them were taken.
On the other hand, it’s very important to understand the official position of the United States. You should read it. So in 1995, this is Clinton, a very important document came out, still classified, but large parts of it were declassified. It’s called “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence.”9 What does post-Cold War deterrence mean? Deterrence means use of nuclear weapons. This was released by the Strategic Command, which was in charge of nuclear weapons planning and running nuclear weapons. I wrote about it when it came out and have been writing about it since. . Since then, I’ve never seen a reference to it. But it is an amazing document. Here’s what it says basically: It says we have to maintain the right of first strike, the right of the first use of nuclear weapons, even against nonnuclear powers. Nuclear weapons, they point out, are really constantly used, because they cast a shadow over other military actions. In other words, when people know we are ready to use nuclear weapons, they’re going to back off if we do something aggressive. So basically, nuclear weapons are always being used.
Now that’s a point that Dan Ellsberg has made for years. He said it’s kind of like if you and I go into a grocery store to rob it, and I have a gun. The guy may give you the money in the cash register. I’m using the gun even if I don’t shoot. Well that’s nuclear weapons — essential to post-war deterrence — they cast a shadow over everything. Then, it goes on to say that we must present a national persona of being irrational and vindictive, because that’s going to terrify people. And then, they’ll back off. And this is not Trump, this is Clinton. It’s not Nixon, you know. We have to be irrational and vindictive, because that’s going to frighten people. And we have to maintain this for years. And then we’ll be able to carry out the actions that we want to carry out.
That’s our nuclear weapons strategy, as of the early post-Cold War years. And I think this is a real failure of the intellectual community, including scholarship and the media. It’s not like you had headlines all over the place. And it’s not secret, the documents are there. And I think that’s probably the right picture. You know, people talk about Nixon’s “madman theory.” We don’t really know much about that. It was in memoirs, by somebody else.10 But this is real. This is the real mad man theory. We have to be irrational and vindictive, so people don’t know what we’re up to. This is not Trump and Bannon, it’s from the Clinton era.
Gibbs: I think we have time for one more question. In popular discussion, the phrase “national security” has come to mean security against military threats almost exclusively. This narrative downgrades the significance of nonmilitary threats, such as climate change, antibiotic resistant bacteria, or viral epidemics. It would seem that there is an imbalance between perceived military threats, which receive overwhelming governmental funding and press attention on the one hand, and nonmilitary threats, which receive relatively little on the other hand. How do we account for the apparent overemphasis on military threats?
Chomsky: Well [with] military threats, you can see them actually, you can imagine it. People don’t think about it enough. But Iif you think about it for a minute, you can see that a nuclear attack could be the end of everything. These other threats are kind of slow, maybe we won’t see them next year. Maybe the science is uncertain, maybe we don’t have to worry about it. Climate change is the worst, but there’s others.
Take pandemics. There could easily be a severe pandemic. A lot of that comes from something we don’t pay much attention to: Eating meat. The meat production industry, the industrial production of meat, uses an immense amount of antibiotics. I don’t remember the exact figure, it’s probably like half the antibiotics. Well antibiotics have an effect: They lead to mutations that make them ineffective. We’re now running out of antibiotics that deal with the threat of rapidly mutating bacteria. A lot of that just comes from the meat production industry. Well, do we worry about it? Well, we ought to be. You go into a hospital now, it’s dangerous. We can get diseases that can’t be dealt with, that are moving around the hospital. A lot of that traces back to industrial meat production. These are really serious threats, all over the place.
Take something you really don’t think about: Plastics in the ocean. I mean plastics in the ocean have an enormous ecological effect. When geologists announced the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, humans destroying the environment, one of the main things they pointed to is the use of plastics in the earth. We don’t think about it, but it has a tremendous effect. But these are things you don’t see right in front of your eyes. You need to think about them a little, to see what the consequences are. It’s easy to put them aside, and the media don’t talk about them. Other things are more important. How am I going to put food on the table tomorrow? That’s what I’ve got to worry about, and so on. It’s very serious, but it’s hard to bring out the enormity of these issues, when they do not have the dramatic character of something you can show in the movies, with a nuclear weapons falling and everything disappears.
1 For the recent opinions of Princeton University nuclear weapons specialist Bruce G. Blair, see Blair, “Trump and the Nuclear Keys,” New York Times, October 12, 2016.
2 Note that Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security advisor on February 13, 2017, several days after this interview took place
3 See Solomon, “Urgent to Progressives: Stop Fueling Anti-Russia Frenzy,” Antiwar.com, December 21, 2016, http://original.antiwar.com/solomon/2016/12/20/urgent-progressives-stop-fueling-anti-russia-frenzy/; Halimi, January, 2017, ; Jeremy , “Seymour Hersh Blasts Media for Uncritically Reporting Russian Hacking Story,”
4?: The End of the Cold War and the US Offer to Limit NATO Expansion,” International Security 40, no. 4, 2016.
5 On George F. Kennan’s warning about the dangers of NATO expansion, see Thomas L. Friedman, “Foreign Affairs: Now a Word from X,” New York Times, May 2, 1998.
6 Here, Chomsky references the National Security Council memorandum NSC-68, one of the key documents of the Cold War. This document was the topic of Chomsky’s lecture, which preceded the interview. The document text is now fully declassified and available online. See “A Report to the National Security Council – NSC 68,” April 14, 1950, made available through the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, https://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/coldwar/documents/pdf/10-1.pdf .
7 Regarding Bernard Fall’s writings on Vietnam, see Fall, Last Reflections on a War. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967.
8 The book Chomsky references with regard to the Kosovo intervention is David N. Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009.
9 This e full text of this declassified document is now available online. See US Department of Defense, Strategic Command, “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence,” 1995 [no exact date indicated], made available through provided by the Federation of American Scientists, Nuclear Information Project,http://www.nukestrat.com/us/stratcom/SAGessentials.PDF.
10 The idea that President Richard Nixon subscribed to a “madman” theory of international relations first appeared in the memoir by former Nixon aide H. R. Haldeman, in Haldeman and Joseph DiMona, The Ends of Power. New York: Times Books, 1978, p. 98.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.
Filed under: Al Qaeda, Chomsky, Clinton, cold war, IRAQ, ISIL, NATO, Russia, Russophobia, Saudia, Soviet Union, Trump, US Foreign Policy, USA, Vietnam, War on Syria | Tagged: 9/11 | Comments Off on “Most of the World is Just Collapsing in Laughter” on Claims that Russia Intervened in the US Election
Amid demonstrations against his first choice, President Donald Trump named Lieutenant General Herbert McMaster, whose book claiming the US was too soft on Vietnam is now required reading for US officers, as his new national security advisor this week.
McMaster’s appointment came after Michael Flynn, Trump’s original choice, was forced to resign earlier this month after it emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador back in December.
The Washington Post revealed that these conversations, which occurred before Flynn had taken up his government role, had involved discussions of US sanctions on Russia. Such a discussion not only broke the “one president at a time” protocol – that members of an incoming administration should not discuss policy with foreign powers, but also flatly contradicted his own earlier denials, made to both Pence and to the FBI.
As Flynn had supposedly been one of the key “pro-Putin” figures in Trump’s administration, his removal has been interpreted by some as a victory for the anti-Russia “hawks” in the US foreign policy establishment. This is a misreading of the situation on two levels.
First, characterising members of Trump’s team as “pro-Russia” is incorrect; rather, they have, as Tom Hardy’s character in Taboo might put it, a “use” for Russia. Secondly, this plan for Russia is likely to remain intact regardless of Flynn’s removal – or McMaster’s well-publicised anti-Russia stance.
Befriending Russia to isolate Iran
Improving relations with Russia was only one of Flynn’s two major foreign policy obsessions: the other was “regime change” in Iran. In his 2016 book The Field of Fight, he wrote that “Iran has been a major threat to the US for decades due to its sponsorship of international terrorism – but the US has prioritised diplomatic relations over national security.” Instead, he argued, “the US must change course. These countries must be prepared to face military action.”
In fact, it is highly likely that the so-called “pro-Russia” position of Flynn, and indeed Trump, is part of a broader foreign policy initiative aimed ultimately at destroying Iran. The broad outlines of this position could already be discerned in the testimony Flynn gave to the Joint Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services Committee back in June 2015. Like so many now in Trump’s team, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the nuclear deal negotiated the year before.
“Iran represents a clear and present danger to the region, and eventually to the world,” he told the committee. When asked what he believed should be done about the prospect of Iranian nuclear development, he was unequivocal, replying that regime change in Tehran “is the best way to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons programme”.
The so-called ‘pro-Russia’ position of Flynn, and indeed Trump, is part of a broader foreign policy initiative aimed ultimately at destroying Iran
Since then, of course, Syria has taught the West a painful lesson about “regime change”, namely that Russia can make it extremely difficult.
Later in his testimony, Flynn argued that there was an “anti-US” alliance being developed between China, Iran and Russia: “Just look at the [Iranian] cooperation with North Korea, China and Russia. Connect those dots and you get the outline of a global alliance aimed at the US, our friends and our allies.” He continued: “Russian assistance is part of a broader pattern. After all, the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr is Russian-built, the two countries work very closely together in Syria, and Russia is providing Iran with an effective anti-aircraft system that could be deployed against any aircraft seeking to destroy the nuclear programme.”
The message is clear: if you want to attack Iran, you’d better break their alliance with Russia first. Michael Ledeen, who co-authored Flynn’s book, put it simply: “The issue is whether Putin is prepared to abandon Khamenei.” This is what those phone calls, and all Trump’s flattery of Putin, are really about: attempting to draw Russia away from its alliance with Iran (and China) – and ultimately to buy Russian acquiescence for the next war.
Adopting Kissinger’s playbook
The restoration of governmental authority in Syria currently underway, however, is not the first time that the US has suffered a military defeat at the hands of a foreign government supported by Russia. Nor is it the first time the US has responded to such a failure with a renewed attempt to split Russia from her allies.
In 1969, Richard Milhous Nixon became 37th president of the United States, and the fifth to lead US attempts to crush Vietnamese independence, inheriting a full-scale, and disastrous, military commitment. The Tet offensive the previous year had decisively blown apart the lie that the US was winning the war, and Nixon was elected on a promise to bring about “peace with honour”.
He would achieve neither, and in fact embarked on a massive escalation of the war, including a secret carpet bombing campaign in Cambodia, which led to famine and ultimately the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Yet the US’s ongoing defeat could not be abated. This led Nixon and his advisers towards a radical rethink of US strategy.
“By the time Nixon came into office,” wrote his own national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, “East-West relations were themselves in obvious need of reassessment.” Indeed, he said, the USA’s entire Cold War strategy “needed to be reconsidered in light of the trauma of Vietnam”.
The Vietnamese victory over the US was aided significantly by support, at different times, from both Russia and China, and Kissinger’s greatest fear was the restoration of “dreaded Sino-Soviet bloc … which had inspired so much fear in the 1950s.” He added that while it was “far from clear” that the USSR was “capable of realising so vast a project … what was obvious … was that the risk could not be run.”
“If the balance of power is taken seriously,” he continued, “then the very prospect of geopolitical upheaval must be resisted; by the time the change has occurred, it may well be too late to oppose it.”
The missing linkage
In today’s terms, this formula translates into two specific policy requirements for the US: 1) Russian-Chinese unity must be resisted and 2) Iran’s increasing influence in the Middle East must be reversed (ideally, one presumes, before the recapture of Mosul by largely Iranian-allied militias solidifies such influence).
Like Trump and Flynn today, Nixon and Kissinger sought nothing less than the breakup of the non-Western alliance spearheaded by Russia and China that had stymied US attempts to destroy governments challenging their hegemony. And, like today, they believed US cooperation with Russia to be both possible and desirable for both parties.
Said Kissinger: “America needed breathing room in order to extricate itself from Vietnam and to construct a new policy for the post-Vietnam era, while the Soviet Union had perhaps even stronger reasons for seeking a respite.” In particular, “the idea was to emphasise those areas in which cooperation was possible, and to use that cooperation as leverage to modify Soviet behaviour in areas where the two countries were at loggerheads,” a policy that became known as “linkage”.
The linkage being sought today – the deal Trump wishes to make with Russia – is to use potential “cooperation” over Syria, Ukraine and sanctions as “leverage” to secure Russian acquiescence for renewed hostilities towards Iran and China.
With this in mind, it is particularly interesting to note Kissinger’s role in shaping Trump’s foreign policy today. Germany’s Bild newspaper reported in December 2016 that Kissinger was a key architect of Trump’s “rapprochement” policy with Russia, advising him to lift sanctions and recognise Russian ownership of Crimea. These will not be free gifts – reciprocity will be expected and demanded, and Trump is making it abundantly clear that he wants a free hand in confronting Iran and China.
The linkage being sought today is to use potential ‘cooperation’ over Syria, Ukraine and sanctions as ‘leverage’ to secure Russian acquiescence for renewed hostilities towards Iran
Furthermore, as journalist Nafeez Ahmed has noted, “Kissinger’s ‘unofficial’ advisory role in the Trump regime is solidified through the direct influence of one of his longtime acolytes, KT McFarland, an aide to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration on the National Security Council from 1970 to 1976.”
McFarland was appointed by Trump as Michael Flynn’s deputy. Robert Harward, a former Navy seal, reportedly turned down the national security advisor post because Trump insisted that she stay on rather than allowing Harward to bring his own team.
In his book Diplomacy, Kissinger wrote that “Nixon had managed, despite the tragedy of Indochina, to maneuver his country into a dominant international position,” snatching a victory of sorts from the jaws of defeat, by playing Russia and China off against one another.
‘Russophobes’ are part of the plan
In this light, McMaster’s apparently conflicting views on Russia make sense. According to Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defence and security affairs committee of Russia’s Federation Council, McMaster is a “100 percent hawk” on Russia.
This appears to contrast with Flynn’s approach, putting him closer to other so-called “Russophobes” in the Trump team, such as ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who told the Security Council last month that “Russian actions” in the Ukraine “demand clear and strong condemnation,” and Vice President Mike Pence, who condemned Russia at the recent Munich Security Conference.
Yet these figures and their threats are as much a part of the strategy as dangling the prospect of lifting sanctions. As Kissinger put it: “The statesman’s role is … to create a network of incentives and penalties to produce the most favourable outcome.”
To pull off his “deal,” Trump needs his “bad cops” just as much as he needs to flatter and offer inducements – to warn Russia of what they will be up against should they choose to ignore his overtures and maintain their existing alliances.
The question today is: will Russia snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Syria by allowing itself to be played off against Iran and China? The stakes could not be higher.
This article originally appeared on Middle East Eye.
Filed under: AngloZionist Empire, China, Crimea, Deep State, Iran, Khamenei, Russia, Russophobia, sanctions, Trump, Ukraine, US Foreign Policy, USA, Vietnam, War on Iran, War on Syria | Tagged: Kissinger | Comments Off on From Kissinger’s Playbook: Flynn is Gone, His Russia Policy Lives On
Can the U.S.-China relationship survive a Twitter president?
Thomas J. SHATTUCK
After a president of the United States takes office, he normally enjoys what is called a “honeymoon period,” which is when the public and Congress generally approve of his actions and policies. During this time period, the president often receives high approval ratings. The same can be said for the relationship between the president and foreign leaders. They, too, grant him time to understand the intricacies of the position and get a feel for how the United States works with their respective countries. The U.S. president receives much goodwill from many actors in order to ensure a smooth transition between administrations. With President Donald Trump, it does not appear that there will be much of a honeymoon period with the American public or even with some foreign countries—particularly the People’s Republic of China.
All signs point to China taking advantage of the transition between administrations, and Trump’s inexperience at governing, to have its own sort of honeymoon. The Chinese—along with the rest of the world—face a similar situation. Other countries will wait to see what form a Trump presidency takes. Will his actions and policies be as aggressive as his tweets? Will his online Twitter persona differ from face-to-face interactions and negotiations with foreign leaders? At the same time, they will wait to see which of Trump’s foreign-policy campaign promises and statements will take precedent over others. Which region will he focus on? Which bilateral relationships will he view as most important? Which countries will be ignored at the get-go? How will he respond to aggression by another country? While other countries adopt a wait-and-see approach, China will test the limits of Trump’s patience.
The failures of the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, and Trump’s promise not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, give China the opportunity to become the major power in the region. Its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will become the dominant multilateral trade organization in Asia, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the “One Belt One Road” initiative will ensure that all trade is centered on China. It has the mechanisms in place to dominate Asia economically and militarily as a Trump administration seeks to disengage from the world.
China Sets an Early Tone
After China seized a U.S. underwater drone in December 2016, Trump responded to the situation with harsh tweets against China’s actions. In response to Trump, the Global Times, a newspaper run by the Communist Party in China, published an op-ed that expressed the country’s rationale for dealing with the impending Trump presidency. “Trump is not behaving as a president who will become master of the White House in a month,” the op-ed states. “He bears no sense of how to lead a superpower. . . . One thing for sure is that Trump has no leverages to maneuver the world, nor can he reshape China-U.S. relations and the way the two major powers interact. . . . If he treats China after assuming office in the same way as in his tweets, China will not exercise restraint.” Recent actions taken by China indicate that it will continue its push for an increased presence throughout Asia and the Pacific, and it certainly will amp up pressure against Japan, Taiwan and claimants of islands in the South China Sea.
Also, China has ramped up its military presence vis-à-vis Taiwan. Before and after the infamous “Trump call,” China flew H-6K bombers—capable of carrying nuclear weapons—around the island. The pre–Trump call mission was the first time that Chinese aircraft encircled Taiwan. Then, two weeks later, Chinese aircraft conducted a similar mission using the same types of aircraft. The Taiwanese air force tracked and photographed the planes during the entire mission. At no point in either mission did Chinese aircraft breach Taiwanese airspace, but these missions indicate an ever-encroaching Chinese military presence beyond the Taiwan Strait. These two missions show Chinese power not only to Taiwan, but also to the United States.
And China’s strategy is not limited to flybys. In early January, China sailed its only aircraft carrier into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean and also into the Taiwan Strait. Though the carrier remained in the western part of the strait, Taiwan still launched F-16 jets and a frigate to monitor the situation. The Taiwan Strait is international waters, so the United States does not have a problem with such a maneuver as long as China abides by international laws. However, the timing is no coincidence, since it occurred as Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen was out of country on a series of state visits in Central America. It also came after another Global Times op-ed called for an increase in China’s maritime capabilities.
China became even more active in the Asia-Pacific region in 2016 than in previous years, but since the election of Donald Trump, it has conducted even more drills and exercises, which have caused Japan, Taiwan and South Korea to respond in kind. As the op-ed above promised, China has been resolute and has not let other countries’ protests and responses affect its plans.
Expect the Expected
With Donald Trump in office on January 20, the Chinese can no longer expect the measured, diplomatic responses of the Obama administration. Its recent actions in the region were tests to see what a President Trump would do in response to military drills targeted at its neighbors and a show of force to demonstrate that China will not allow the change in U.S. administrations to affect its own interests. The flybys near Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, along with the Liaoning carrier’s journey, did not warrant a response from Trump, but the Chinese seizure of a U.S. underwater drone did. He has only responded to provocations directed by China against the United States, but not toward its allies or friends. His responses and nonresponses have not gone unnoticed.
Throughout Trump’s first year in office, expect China to do much of the same with some twists. Expect more nationalistic overtones used in the rationale for any perceived aggressive actions. Expect newspapers and party officials to ratchet up anti-Taiwan rhetoric. Expect more frequent flybys near Japan and South Korea. Expect more Chinese surveillance missions to circumnavigate Taiwan. Expect Chinese aircraft to fly closer to the airspaces of these countries and their defense zones. Expect the Liaoning’s next journey through the Taiwan Strait to be closer to the “Taiwan side” or have more flourish. Expect China to be more aggressive in its claims in the South and East China Seas. Expect China to continue its current course of action and buildup.
Donald Trump has previously expressed that U.S. allies do not spend enough to defend themselves, so it is unlikely that he will care much about China annoying its neighbors as long as it does not directly threaten the United States. Make no mistake: China does not desire to start a war with the United States or drag it into one. Despite any chest-thumping by either country, the United States and China both need each other to thrive economically. China does, however, want to dominate the region and be recognized as the true power that it is.
As the Trump presidency unfolds, expect China to take advantage of that same honeymoon period. China has a limited timeframe to assert itself vis-à-vis Trump and the Asia-Pacific region. Expect China to have a different sort of honeymoon.
January 31, 2017
by Iman Safi
Part II; The “Left” Dilemma:
(for part I, please see here)
To understand where the global “left”-“right” divides stands now, we must take a quick look at some key developments and join them together within the particular context sought; because the roots of this divide go back to the times during which the Western mind was in the process of choosing between such issues as succumbing to the Church versus liberation, monarchies versus progressive and democratic governments and science versus fiction.
A quick look at all the opportunities that people have had for awakening in the past reveals, without much effort at all, that they were virtually all quickly and swiftly hijacked by individuals and organizations seeking gain and mileage. One can perhaps understand why some people are driven by ego, others are lured by financial rewards, fame, power etc, and whilst it is not easy to “forgive” them, they are easier to forgive than those who meddle with people’s minds and replace their drive for enlightenment and knowledge by unsurmountable walls of ignorance, darkness, ill-defined destinations and even no destinations at all to aspire to reach.
Western Churches had for centuries controlled the minds of their flocks. As a matter of fact, the term “flock” is quite befitting, because they did regard them as mindless sheep. For many generations, they have told them what to believe in, how to think, what subjects to discuss and what to stay away from. They have even told them what to eat, when to eat, who and when to marry, and should one dare break those rules and commandments, he/she can face the pain of death.
Whilst this monstrosity is considered to be by-and-large a thing of the past in the Western/Christian World, it is still well and alive within some of the other communities and religions, and the new wave of terror under the guise of Islamic terrorism is only a manifestation of this phenomenon that it still thriving.
The age of awakening in Western Europe did not come from the Church that did not reform despite many claims to the contrary made by the mainstream Churches as well as some breakaway factions alike. The awakening was the result of the fact that the Western mind liberated itself from the yokes of the Church and instead of listening to the rhetoric of their priests telling them that they were born sinners and that they will burn forever in hell unless they obey their orders and directives, for a change, they were able to read the works of Spinoza, Descartes, Kant, and listen to the music of Bach and Beethoven and see the creativity of Da Vinci. The scientific revolution that ensued was a result of this liberation, and the Western mind had the opportunity to lead humanity and to prosper at all levels, and it did.
To the dismay of some Americans who believe that the American Revolution was the first such popular action against oppressive regimes, the mother of all revolutions was undoubtedly the French Revolution. This is because the French Revolution was the outcome of enlightenment and social awakening, spearheaded by Voltaire, Mollier, Rousseaux and not just a haphazard revolt related to tea trade tax laws. The French Revolution was in fact the inspiration that gave rise to Hegel and Marx, and in its demand for bread to feed the poor, an economic component was therefore added. Sadly, that awakening was not to last because when the Communist Manifesto was published, the European awakening was inadvertently ready to be hijacked and take a detour from its lofty philosophical spiritual sense and be replaced by financial pragmatism.
Backed by setting up economics as a “science”, in reality, Marx’s “historical materialism” was an indirect outcome of John Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”, and became an uninvited de facto love-child, turned hijacker, of the awakening of the Western mind and the age of European enlightenment. But the “financial/economic revolution” was bound to fail because its approach and reach were not holistic, but at best practical. Somehow, Marx and Hegel have perhaps forgotten that man does not live by bread alone and that mankind seeks spirituality, even when it does not conform with rationality.
Speaking of rationality, we are now hitting a very sensitive chord. Institutionalized religions did not offer the Western mind any rationality at all, but that was only the beginning. However, even though the age of awakening based its doctrine on rationality and bolstered it with advances in science and medicine, the Western mind was only ready for a portion of it, and later on succumbed to financial pragmatism as lifestyle took precedence over the pursuit of knowledge. On the other hand, in Eastern Europe, the Communist takeover took the Eastern European mind into a seemingly opposing political ideology; Communism as opposed to Western Capitalism, but in spiritual, ideological and philosophical terms, they were not proverbial opposite sides of the same coin, but rather different corners of the same side of the same coin. However, the failure of Communism was evident with the demise of the USSR, but the demise of Capitalism continues to be met with total denial. That collapse is already here and upon us, but its acknowledgment is still in the making.
In between the demise of the influence of the Western Churches on Western masses and the rise of and fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, the political notion of “right” and “left” emerged initially in the UK to later on move to the entire world.
The political “left” did not only offer its faithful followers the promise of change, but also the promise of liberation; both in body and in mind.
The right to have a job, fair wages, financial retirement security, medical care, free education, sick pay, maternity pay and similar rights were high on the agenda of the Eastern Communist bloc, and that was perceived as the global socialist “left”. On the other hand, in the Western version of the “left”, and in addition to the above, freedom of political expression and freedom of worship and other freedoms were added to the preamble. Some, indeed many Westerners, would argue that even though the “regimes” of Eastern Europe gave themselves the adjective of being “democratic”, they were very far from it, and use the examples of lifetime leaders like former Yugoslavia’s Tito and Romania’s Ceausescu as examples. In retrospect however, the Eastern European counter-argument is hardly ever heard in the West; and this is not the time and place to present it.
Either way, whether or not the “left”, in its ideal absoluteness, did reach power in either Eastern or Western Europe or not, it has not yet given any overwhelming evidence that it has furnished the promised Holy Grail of freedom and equality and all the minor promises that come with them.
The socialist “left” ideas perhaps reached their zenith when Castro and Guevara came to prominence. Guevara is still celebrated as a hero in the most unlikely places. T-Shirts bearing his portrait are even sold in NYC.
During the USSR era, any ideology that was remotely related to socialism was tagged by Western “regimes” as being Communist. Even speaking about and advocating social justice was a dangerous act in the United States, and immediately labelled one as a member of the infamous, illusive, perhaps fictitious “Un-American Activities Committee”. And whilst many socialist movements, both within the USA or outside it, had nothing to do with Communism per se, they were all made to be perceived as being Communist. That was the establishment’s method to portray them and present them.
It was within this atmosphere that the “left” thrived in Western Europe, but even the then very popular French Communist Party has distanced itself from the Communist version of the Kremlin. Nonetheless, socialist parties in Europe have made big gains and even reached the Élysée when Francois Mitterrand was elected as French President in 1981.
But even though the Western “left” tried to distant itself from the USSR, in the eyes of many, the two remained highly associated with each other. And when British unionist Arthur Scargill visited the USSR to spite Maggie Thatcher he made no apologies at all for visiting it, and thus endorsing it, and for this, among other things, he was seen as a so-called militant unionist. That aside, in the UK and Australia, the Labour/Labor parties are highly associated with trade unions and seek social justice, and this is why they have been identified as being on the “left”. And whilst the American Democratic Party could not be given a loud and clear “left” tag per se, the Labour/Labor parties across the Atlantic and the Pacific, respectively, found in it the natural political ally.
In theory, the demise of the USSR should have put the Western “left” at ease. After all, it meant that any argument based on the alleged association of the Western ”left” with the USSR has lost its foundation. But that demise should have also meant that the “left” had fallen under a new challenge; the challenge of reinventing itself as a stand-alone force for change for the better; in a manner that promoted justice and equality, not only domestically, but also globally.
In reality however, that process of rebirth was nothing short of being disastrous.
Without di-polarity, and for the first time since the partition of the Roman Empire, humanity found itself under a so-called New World Order in which the United States of America was the unrivalled leader of the world. Whilst no bans as such were imposed on “left” ideas and “left” parties in the West, the process of rebirth needed new ideas and new preambles. This required a new generation of leaders, but those leaders were not to be found.
To say that the Western “left” merged into the establishment would be an understatement. If anything, it underpinned the establishment’s position by setting itself up as one of its corner stones. In more ways than one, the “left” in the West did not only merge into the so-called “Imperial Empire” it was meant stand up against, but also became its face and organ. It was no longer a force for the kind of change that was initially promised and expected, and thus has inadvertently lost its stature and very definition of being “left”.
In the sequel article, we shall have a brief look at surrogate principles that the Western “left” conjured up seeking survival, and possibly in another sequel, project how those newly-adopted ideas are highly likely to lead to its removal from the throne that it has placed itself on for at least two centuries.
Part III; What’s Left of the “Left” in the “Left”:
A very brief and quick look at the post USSR Western “left” reveals that it did everything BUT stick to its original principles and ideals.
To elaborate, we must look at certain examples; beginning with the highly controversial subject of refugees. The “left” in the West continues to uphold the principle of aiding and welcoming refugees, and this is good and ought to be applauded. However, the “left” does not even seem to question how those refugees have become refugees in the first place! Whilst it is a fact that most refugees are in essence political refugees who have been displaced due to wars inflicted upon their countries, mostly seeking regime change, the Western “left” seems to turn a blind eye to this reality. Even worse, when the Western “left” gets democratically elected and assumes power, it does not try to reverse the course of events that create refugees.
It gets even worse. Take the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as examples. Both wars were initiated by the “right” wing Republican American President GWB. However, his partner in crime in Iraq was Britain’s Labour leader Tony Blair; who was meant to be from the Western “left”.
And whilst the Australian Labor Party (ALP) can hold its head high because it was an ALP Prime Minister (Gough Whitlam) who bailed Australia out of the infamous Vietnam War, other ALP administrations have followed the USA into wars without too many questions asked about their legitimacy and whether or not they conform with the foundations and principles upon which the ALP is based.
Such views and politics have nothing to do with the original “left” values of promoting freedom, supporting the oppressed and working towards social justice; none what-so-ever, and quite the opposite, if anything.
And even though APHEDA, an organization sponsored by Australian trade unions, supports and sponsors humanitarian projects in Palestine, the current ALP leader Bill Shorten has recently described Israeli PM Netanyahu as a friend.
The contradictions within the Western “left” are not the result of a deliberate attempt to create confusion, but rather the direct outcome of loss of identity and soul, and an inability to reinvent itself in the post-USSR New World Order era.
A proper reinvention process requires new ideas, but instead of undergoing a serious process of soul-searching, the Western “left” shopped around for existing populist issues to capitalize on.
For fairness, when the wider community develops and evolves in a manner that it advocates such issues as marriage equality, political parties will need to listen and respect the wish of the community that it is meant to uphold and attempts to govern. It was therefore a democratically and demographically-driven shift when Western “left” parties became advocates of gender equality at all levels, including marriage equality, and for listening to their constituencies, they ought to be applauded.
That said, moves of this nature lose any genuine intention behind them if and when not done in conjunction with other new moves and directions.
It would therefore not be too cynical to say that in this particular instance, ie the issue of LBGT rights, that Western “left” parties have simply jumped on an existing and popular band wagon.
Here, we must stop and remember that whilst the Obama Administration has approved marriage equality within the United States of America, it continued to endorse the Saudi Government that does not give women the right to even drive a car. Furthermore, that same administration has helped and abetted the Saudi regime in attacking and bombing Yemen and creating a human disaster and starvation that no one in the West, including the most “progressive” parties in the “left” are trying to put an end to; let alone seem to know about.
This is not to forget the support fighters associated with Al-Qaeda and ISIL in Syria and Libya have received from the USA and EU nations; including the so-called socialist “left” French Government of President Hollande. And when we make such exposures, we should not vindicate the Western “left” in opposition in nations like the UK, Australia and in the recent past in Canada.
There was not a word, not a whisper to stop the onslaught of those wars, and if anything, the West as a whole, either directly by the action of “left” governments or by the tacit support of “left” opposition, has been actively engaged in financing and supporting the most oppressive world regimes and helping finance, arm, and facilitate the activities of fundamentalist terror organizations.
And speaking of Obama, just by virtue of being a President from the Democratic Party, he was assumed to be from the “left” side of Western politics; and which admittedly is not as hawkish as the Republican Party. But one would wonder, in the true essence of the “left” philosophy, what was/is it exactly in Obama and the American Democratic Party that was/is remotely “left” in its ideals? After all, it was Democratic Presidents who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, started the Vietnam War and created Al-Qaeda. It was the Democratic Obama who led the EU to the brink of war with Russia over Ukraine; and ironically did so by supporting the ultra-right Ukrainian Neo-Nazis. How bizarre indeed!
Where is anything that can be even remotely referred to as “left” in these actions and endorsements?
It would be therefore fair to say that with the attempts to reinvent the “left” in the West, the original principles were cast away and fantasy that is very alien to the “left” doctrine seems to have taken precedence over genuine revolutions.
This is not a call to take arms and to go back to the days of revolutions. Humanity has had plenty of that already. But to honour the spirit of Guevara all the while helping the Saudis bomb Yemen and Al-Qaeda to destroy Churches in Syria is grossly hypocritical to say the least, and forms a blatant exposure of the rot and moral bankruptcy that seems to have overtaken Western “left” movements and governments.
Without giving a lesson in history, but when Angola was under attack, Castro sent troops to help; not for any gain for Cuba at all. Whether or not one endorses this action, but that was what a “revolutionary” leftist leaders who is true to his word was supposed to do, and certainly Castro epitomized this image. If we compare Castro’s action to current leaders of the “left”, it becomes therefore fair to say that issues such as global justice are no longer on the Western “left” agenda. If we go further and say that the Western “left” has directly and indirectly been involved in creating more global injustice, it then becomes imperative to concede that the Western “left’ has become a part of problem; not the solution.
So what is really left of the “left” in the “left”? One wonders.
In reality and practice, the “left” concept was reduced to only be contingent upon supporting such issues as gender equality issues and environmental awareness; but all with a huge taint of unrealistic political correctness that bogs it down and blinds its vision from focusing on other important issues.
Even when getting facts and having them laid out to members of the Western “left” on a silver platter, they do not seem to understand that, for example, one cannot only look at certain issues of social justice, whilst totally ignoring one’s country involvement in needless wars that are flooding the world with refugees.
What is also mind-boggling about the Western “left” is its love-hate relationship with mainstream media (MSM). They opt to disbelieve their tabloids and bulletins when they themselves are the victims, but the moment someone else gets his neck under the chopping board of the MSM, instead of putting two and two together and coming up with the conclusion that the MSM make lies not only about them, but also about others, instead of putting two and two together to end up with rational conclusions, they conveniently opt to adopt the easy way out and believe the lies about others whom they choose to dislike.
Where is the sense of fairness in this attitude? What happened to the aspiration for global justice?
Rather shamelessly, they are now crying tears of blood to see Obama finish his term, in a clear indication that they are either unaware of the carnage of his warmongering policy or that they know, but they don’t care. However, when one brings out the facts to them and shows them that Obama has created havoc in Libya, Syria, Yemen and many other corners of the world, and when one presents evidence about the tens of thousands of innocent people who perished as a result, they can no longer argue that they did not know. This is a serious indictment because it ultimately means that they have not only abandoned their lofty ideals of global justice, but also that they blatantly do not give much consideration at all to Libyan, Syrian and Yemeni lives. This makes them racists to the extreme, and they can jump up and down decrying the accusation, but their actions and inactions show their true colours.
In principle, to take the fight against global injustice and racism from the “left” would be tantamount to taking Jesus Christ out of Christianity. But try saying this to today’s alleged “leftists”.
What is most bizarre perhaps is the fact that the notion of speaking about reform with the western “left” is a taboo subject. This is quite oxymoronic to say the least. After all, the “left” is meant to signify reform, is it not? So, what is really and truly left of the “left” in the “left”?
Apart from the name tag, what is left of the “left” in “the Western left” and the “left” in general is a combination of remnants of old ideas mashed together with some new-age fantasies that only merge in minds that do not seem to be able to understand the concept of compatibility. This brings back the issue of rationality, and in this case, the lack of it. There is at best very little left about today’s “left” that is well and truly “left” in its core. It’s a muddled up world of juvenile-minded dreamers and screamers, figments of a bygone past, regressive mutants who seem to run more on superficial and distorted vision rather than principles and rationality.
The truth of the matter is that the “left” is dead, and it cannot be rebirthed; unless it admits its past and present failures and rebuilds itself on its original political doctrine with a clear understanding that its objective is to achieve justice and equal rights for all humans all over the world.
At the end of the day, politics is politics, and at best, it provides the right environment for human awakening. At best, it is the prerequisite and not the ultimate objective, and for this reason, it ought to be built on ethical foundations. For as long as this form of political and ethical rationality is not the corner stone of political activism that is meant to be part-and-parcel of human awakening, any journey with any other objective(s) will fail, and history is full of such examples, and all that humanity needs to do is to look back at its past failed steps to learn.
Part IV; The Seemingly Emerging New Left
In the absence of mainstream political movements pushing for change and reform, the human aspiration for change did not go away. Not even the Western Churches, with their former draconian punishments, were able to stifle humanity and prevent it from demanding awakening and better living conditions.
Demanding change is a part of human nature, and people do this at many levels and even when it comes to mundane things like rearranging their furniture. And whilst the bigger changes they seek and pursue do not always end up with positive outcomes, the desire for change does not go away.
And as the traditional Western “left” and “right” formed the establishment and ran it in accordance with electoral alternation, the differences between them shrank and continued to shrink.
They might have continued to differ on rather minor issues such as government funding of certain projects, where to drop taxes and where to lift them, where to prioritize public spending, their relationships with trade unions and other management issues, but on basic philosophical and doctrinal matters such as global justice, they became almost identical. Ironically, they are both in denial as to how identical they are, even though their constituencies keep telling them that they perceive them as being so.
They try hard to scorn each other and quarrel over petty matters in desperate attempts to recreate the schism that once separated them, but to no avail. If even the mighty Catholic Church reached a point in time when it was no longer able to fool people, they will need to acknowledge that their power of swaying opinion and fooling people will not work.
They conjure up all tricks to accentuate the little difference they have left between them, but they also often go back to adopt some former policies of their political foes. When the Australian Liberal Party was in opposition in the 1980’s, it vehemently fought the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) so-called “Option C” in which Paul Keating, the then treasurer, advocated the need for introducing a consumption tax. Yet, the Liberal John Howard’s Government was unapologetic when it introduced it nearly a decade later. That said, the ALP was also unapologetic when it voted against introducing it, even though it was originally an ALP idea.
Western voters grew increasingly dissatisfied with their political leaders, and the percentage of citizens who actually vote in countries in which voting is not compulsory is a simple reflection.
Even in a highly decisive and highly controversial election like the recent American presidential elections, 90 million eligible voters out of 231 million did not vote. This is nearly a whopping 40%.
This is democracy in action, and ironically in this instance, perhaps a reflection of the distrust of American voters in the version of democracy that the two-party system has been pushing down their throats for a very long time. Not even a rally like the Clinton-Trump battle was enough to motivate them.
That said, the 60% who did vote, voted with a loud and clear message; but are the major parties listening? One really wonders.
There was a major twist in this election. The Republican candidate Donald Trump has actually won the elections without the support of his party. As a matter of fact, many Republican heavy weights did not endorse him and made statements that they were not going to vote for him.
Against protocol, former President George Bush Senior did not even attend the inaugural ceremony.
It is not by accident that Trump is not liked either by his Democrat foes or by his supposed Republican “comrades”. After all, he has broken the mold and based his campaign on seeking change, the kind of change that neither party wants to address, let alone bring up.
What worries the Western “right” and “left” about Trump is the fact that he has seemingly created a new force in politics and managed to get in from an open window that they least expected and one previously unheard of; the window of the “Conservative Revolution”
The impact of the “Conservative Revolution” is perhaps not any less virulent in Western politics than the impact of the age of European enlightenment was on the Church. Only time will tell.
Would it be too immature and inconceivable to say that for the major Western political parties the worst is yet to come? A close-up look at them reveals that the Trump phenomenon is likely going to be the beginning of an avalanche that will politically sweep the West and push the reset button on its party-based infra-structure.
In the opening article titled “The Conservative Revolution”, and which was not meant to be an opening article per se but rather a stand-alone one, I expressed my views about how the move of the traditional Western “right” and “left” moved to the centre, and how in doing so, they created separate vacuums in the left and right, and which were filled by the Greens and Ultra-Right, respectively.
What is intrinsically pertinent is the fact that when people are denied the opportunity for change, they will find a way to seek it.
Traditionally, the drive for change came from below; from the masses. That was how the mother of all revolutions, the French Revolution, was created.
Traditionally also, the conservative reasoning behind maintaining the status quo came from above; if from authority itself (as in the case of France’s Louis the XVI), the social and financial upper crust, or both.
The financial divide had been a major driving force that divided the ‘haves and the have nots’; those who wanted change from those who resisted it.
However, as different contemporary ideologies – political, financial, doctrinal or otherwise – seem to stem from perspectives and objectives that are invariably partial in their views, selective in their outlooks, and primarily irrational in their rationales to varying degrees; they will always eventually fall down and crumble because they all have their own and specific Achilles heel, and their heels will all be struck once they run out of steam and luck.
Thus, what was seen as a triumph of Capitalism over Communism when the USSR crumbled was in reality a forerunner for Capitalism to come to terms with reality of the forthcoming demise of its own two-party system if not more.
There is undeniably a new and unprecedented political move on the rise in the West, and if the traditional custodians of alternating Western parties in power have an iota of rationality and long-term vision, they ought to stop and look at their own status quo, and at what size hole they have dug up in the middle of the path of their own political future.
In their denial to the proximity that was created by their bi-partisan agreement on major issues, little did they see that in doing so, they had signed a mutual death warrant for each other. Little did they realize that for them to be perceived to be on opposite sides, they needed to demonstrate that they were not only the opposite sides of the same coin, but opposite in every way that was related to their modus operandi. But they did not.
The masses do not go by what is dictated to them, and right or wrong, they will invariably go against the stream when they feel marginalized and ridiculed. If anything, the more they feel they have been marginalized and ridiculed, the more vehement they become in standing up against the offender. And if the offender is the authority, the more they will be inclined to revolt.
As the “left” is clearly no longer what it used to be, and as the “right” is losing more support from its traditional power base because it is seen as being almost identical to the “left”, the drive for change had to open up for itself a new window for self-expression.
This brings us back to the issue of human awakening.
Trump’s “Conservative Revolution” is ideologically and philosophically not in a position to offer humanity an enlightened alternative by any stretch of imagination.
That said, it is presenting a challenge, a real and significant challenge.
For the West in general and the United States in particular to ignore the events that led to the election of Trump as President would be foolhardy. To blame the happening on Russia is ridiculous and laughable.
At the present time, the West is no longer divided on the Cold-War-Take-One divide of Capitalism versus Communism. It is no longer divided on any remaining remnants of that divide that once distinguished “right” from “left” Western politics either.
At the present time, the political divide that separates the traditional major parties in the West is increasingly becoming one that is only seen in the eyes of those parties and their loyal voters. But it is not the loyal voters who decide who wins elections.
The swinging voters and those who do not vote, at least not on a regular basis, are indeed those who make that decision, and their decision is becoming more prominent.
With his business background, Trump may apply fiscal business pragmatism and run the USA as a business. Whilst this sounds like an abhorrent prospect, in reality, it may mean relief to millions around the globe who wish for a cessation of American attempts of further regime changes that serve them with American-style democracy, courtesy of B-52’s.
The “Conservative Revolution” is the slap in the face that both major parties in all Western democracies need and deserve to get. At best however, it cannot be expected to be much better than just that. It is inadvertently the emerging and still ill-defined force for change; ironically a “new left”; even though it does not bear any ideological resemblance to Guevara’s “left”, but rather just by definition of seeking change.
In reality, for as long as people continue to look at each other as groups and nations of conflicting interests, they will find a reason to quarrel. They will only stop once they see that what unites them is much stronger and much more profound, and they cannot and will not do this until they seek proper awakening; the kind of awakening that ancient Greek Philosophers and the European philosophers taught and sought. Religion was meant to be an awakening, but sadly it was hijacked by institutions, twisted, diverted and turned into a tool for suppression rather than liberation.
Will humanity employ the Trump election win as a precursor and a reminder and an incentive to go back to the roots of the age of awakening? This may sound like a huge and a far-fetched call, but in reality, awakening does not necessarily need a huge nudge for it to commence.
At the end of the day, and going back to basics mentioned in an earlier article in this series, meddling with the minds of people is a serious crime. Technically, it is not defined as a form of genocide. It is not; it is much more serious.
Politics and ethics should go hand in hand, and when they don’t, we see events akin to what humanity is experiencing now.
Humanity will survive and will bring out its best, and the best is yet to come.
At the end of the day again, darkness will never be able to overcome light any more than it can stop the light of a candle from breaking darkness and disabling its light from reaching huge distances. Such is the power of light over darkness, because no intensity of darkness can stifle a single humble candle.
And finally, at the end of the day, political movements, right, left, conservative revolutions or otherwise, including the multitude of religious factions and schools, none of them mean much at all, unless they offer humanity the real salvation it needs. And the salvation of humanity will not come from politics and politicians.
But if one looks at different versions of the definitions of salvation, defining salvation as an outcome of knowledge is a definition that cannot be surmounted except by those who prefer ignorance.
Part V; The Establishment Strikes Back
With the backlash to the election and inauguration of President Trump, we are witnessing unprecedented events indeed. Certainly, much of this is based on his controversial “Executive Orders”, and this is well expected; especially the one relating to visa restrictions and the trauma and anxiety it is causing. However, in a major twist of events, and among many other things, we see THE American President attacking the Western Mainstream Media (MSM) and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer warning them that they will be held accountable.
Just a very short time ago, Obama’s Press Secretaries Robert Gibbs and later on Josh Earnest were playing “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” with the same MSM; feeding each other with stories they both loved to hear and making conclusions that suited their “business” agendas.
For decades, the machine of the “establishment” has been none but the so-called “Deep State” represented by the White House, and it’s figurehead was none but the incumbent President whoever he was. Even the seemingly benign, humane and smiley Jimmy Carter was a part of that “establishment” and its “Deep State”, and so was the former President, who promised to be unlike any other; former President Obama, the suave-looking self-made African American with his eloquence, elegant wife and perfect looking family, the President who promised the earth to end up providing scorched earth, and instead of providing hope, millions across the globe looked forward to the day they gave him the title “former president”.
Of course, those shedding crocodile tears for the departure of Obama and rampaging the streets of America and the world do not know or care to know about the carnage the Obama administration has caused across the globe; because they have such a narrow agenda of interests, and because what they are trying to protect is not human rights and women as they proclaim, but certain privileges that they personally possess and only some Western women.
That infamous “establishment” is best described as a pyramid, an octopus if one wishes, but one with a virtually countless number of legs and tentacles, and they all feed off the figurehead, and the head does not only feed them, but offers them raison d’être, protection and all that they need for sustenance and continuity.
Just like Tolkein’s Orcs cling to Sauron and imbibe their life and existence from him, the satellite entities of the “establishment” have always considered the American President to be the apex of the pyramid, the symbol, the be-all-and-end-all being, a god, upon whom their very existence depended; even when they claimed otherwise.
So when the head of the “establishment” turns away from his minions, their struggle for survival kicks in, not only because they need to survive, but also because in his departure, they inadvertently become all what is left of the “establishment” and that for them to restore their might and glory, they will first need to make sure that the “establishment” must restore its own stature first, and for this reason, it ought to strike back; albeit at the head that is meant to be its own.
Thus far, Trump is keeping his election promises; and this is to the utter disappointment and shear horror to what is left of the “establishment”.
In all of their divisions, alliances, and private/personal aspirations, they had been hoping and praying that the moment he got elected he was going to renege on major election promises. He did not. They hoped that the moment he sat in the Oval Office he would then turn his back on his election promises, and thus far he hasn’t. This is not to say that he will not, but thus far, he hasn’t.
But unlike the Orcs who were engulfed into the fissures in the earth which were generated after Frodo destroyed the “ring”, what is left of the “establishment” did not, and was not expected to cease to exist the moment the head was no longer sitting on its shoulders. After all, some of the satellites of the “establishment” are much more intelligent and conniving than Orcs; even though at heart, there is little difference that separates them.
The intelligent ones are capitalizing on the principle of “controlled opposition”; a strategy they developed for other nations in the past, in nations they wanted to destabilize, and this had worked effectively in many places. Now, they are trying this technique at home, and thus far it is working.
The technique is based on conjuring up a populist issue that inflames emotions enough to mobilize people to take to the streets; if not more. We saw this technique work quite effectively in Egypt, Libya and other places. It almost succeeded in Syria.
Those monsters specialize in social engineering, and they capitalize on the goodness in humanity and the desire that good people have for making things better. So they flag huge issues such as liberty (as in the case of Egypt), dictatorship (as they did in Libya and Syria), and they find thousands upon thousands of youth rising up in defense of those principles.
They are playing similar cards now, but this time, they are doing this within the United States of America. They are using a number of anti-Trump trump cards; including misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia.
They are desperately striking back in a life-or-death attempt that can secure their survival. What is ironic about this “strike back” is that it is banking on a support base that is extremely diverse, or at best multi-based.
Throughout history, foot soldiers have either been forcefully drafted or mobilized by some human passion; and this takes us back to the issue of the genocidal concept of meddling with peoples’ minds. The foot soldiers therefore are not the ones to blame; not now, and not at the time when the Catholic Church mobilized waves upon waves of soldiers to take back the Holy Land from the Muslim infidels.
However, unlike the revolutionaries of Soviet and post-Soviet eras, unlike the Al-Qaeda and ISIS Jihadists, the foot soldiers of the post-Obama presidency era do not have any hierarchal foundation at all. They do not have neither a specific agenda nor leadership, neither a preamble nor a strategy, and above all, the diverse backgrounds they have beggars beliefs as to what unites them.
This is because those who move them and motivate them are similar to the former initial enemies of Syria who were only united by their hatred of Syria and her President. And now, the leaders of the protests of America, who are changing the protests into riots, are united by their hatred for Trump; full stop.
And speaking of those different backgrounds, here is an interesting list of those who are anti-Trump; both overtly and covertly. The list includes the “Deep State”, Soros and his NGO’s, Murdoch and his tabloids, the Neo-Cons, the Saudi Royal family, ISIL, and of course; the Western “left”. Need one list more?
Now here is the pertinent question to ask. How do the leaders of the Western “left” feel at ease being associated with those monstrous people and organizations? Do those alleged defenders of women actually know and worry about the fact that they are currently comrades in arms with the Saudi regime? This is the world’s most oppressive anti-women regime, a regime in which women are not only forbidden to vote, but they are not allowed to drive cars either.
And how about the association with Obama himself? The President who bombed more foreign nations than any other, the one who has caused global havoc and destruction? Are the people he killed less human in the eyes of the leaders of the Western “left”? Obviously, they are.
The demise of the Western “left” has to be first and foremost blamed on the demise of its leaders and think-tanks. After all, it is leaders who pave the way and set objectives and strategies to achieve them.
But the blame game has to turn inwardly at some stage, because individuals cannot blame others for all of their actions. They can blame them for misguiding them, but surely, those individuals must reach a point in time at which they must assume at least some responsibility and be able to do their own soul-searching.
Sadly, many leaders and foot soldiers of the Western “left” alike do not seem to be remotely close to the realization that they have failed their own doctrine.
By turning the blind eyes to global social justice, the leaders of the Western “left” have reduced the struggle for freedom and awakening to specific agendas only restricted to gender equality, LBGT rights and global warming issues; and no one was “allowed” to bring in any other subject. And what a short-sighted and moronic definition some of them have to gender equality! Rather than pushing for equality in its literal sense, they want to impose equal numbers of men and women in certain positions. Why do they want to take the suppression of women into another wrong twist? One wonders. Isn’t equality supposed to be meritorious in nature? And what if in a certain area there are more qualified women than men? Do we still need to have 50% male representation?
Such a vision of gender equality is very ill-conceived indeed, and does not serve women’s rights, not the least.
And how can the alleged protectors of women turn a blind eye to the sex slave industry inflicted upon the war-torn countries in which their nations, and even respected leaders, have poked their noses?
Yes, what about the sex slaves that Obama allowed to be bought and sold under his watchful eyes and tacit quietness? Syrian and Iraqi girls as young at 10 years old were bought by filthy old Saudi, Gulfie and Qatari pedophilic men as sex slaves. Where were Meryl Streep and Madonna? Don’t Syrian and Iraqi women, and young girls, deserve protection by those alleged protectors of women? Obviously not. We did not hear a single word, not a whisper from the hundreds of thousands of them.
The West, and its “left”, cannot hide and pretend that the slave industry took off after ISIL (its alleged enemy) took control after June 2014, as facts on the ground clearly indicate that the sex slave industry started very early in the mark at a time when the West fully and overtly endorsed all anti-government forces in Syria, at times when John McCain was visiting them and taking photoshoots with them, and at times when Australia’s then Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr was calling for the assassination of President Assad.
Does the Western “left” have any intelligence or sense of shame left in it at all?
The global “left” supporters are now up in arms, not because of Trump’s infamous grabbing quote, but because he has destroyed the “establishment”; their establishment, and they are fighting for the restoration of their stature.
And how does the woman who rose to infamy by parading in a vagina dress believe that she is presenting, upholding and protecting women? Is this how she regards women? As vaginas? This is the lowest, most demeaning and most appalling act of objectifying women that I have ever seen or expected to live long enough to see. To her I would like to say that to me, women are my late and beloved mother and grandmother, my aunts, my daughter, my wife, my daughters-in-law, my nieces, my cousins, my friends and their friends, my neighbours, and all other women that I know, respect and love. The women I do not know, when I need to communicate with them not knowing their names, I give them the respectful titles such as madam and the like. I do not see them as vaginas and they do not represent themselves as vaginas.
The demeanour of the vagina dress woman is far worse than Trump’s infamous grabbing statement, but yet, no one seems to be making any comments to condemn her. If anything, she seems to be seen as a heroine.
This woman is clearly a pervert of some sort, and social misfits like her know well that for decades now, they have decimated and destroyed what is known as the “good old values”, and they also know that there are millions upon millions of people across the globe who are sick and tired of their hypocritical antics. They know that the decent people of the world are growing impatient with their debauchery and despicable demeanour.
For decades, they have capitalized on the kindness and acceptance of the majority of people who have endorsed them, protected them, and accepted them. This is because it is the decent majority of people who are the true custodians of democracy and freedom of expression; not them. It is the efforts and sacrifices of the decent majority that resulted in the creation of those attributes in civilized societies; not theirs.
My animated outcry is that of an old leftie who feels that his movement has been hijacked. I feel that the leadership of the Western “left” has fallen off the track, they are not listening to their elders. They are either so politically unsavvy that they don’t know that they have fallen into the traps of the “establishment” they were meant to stand up against, or that they have been fooled to allow to be dragged into it unknowingly. Either way, they have given the reins to a bunch of brainless scavengers, mental retards who are true Fascists in every manner of thought and demeanour. And they are all striking back together, their establishment is striking back with them, because they know that they have been decapitated and that the rest of the world has had enough of them.
If I am sounding angry, it is because I have already lost my country of birth Lebanon and was driven out of it more than 3 decades ago because the progressive atmosphere and movements that I grew up among in the fifties and sixties were all replaced by fundamentalism and strife. In the last 5-6 years, I saw the same happen to my maternal Syrian cousins and family, and for the same reasons. An age of enlightenment was just beginning to dawn in the Middle East and was hijacked by the radical religious movements that swept and destroyed everything in their path.
And now, in my adopted homeland Australia, the country I love and dedicate my heart to, is slipping into an opposite but yet very similar radicalism. That was totally unforeseeable only a few years ago, and there is no force to blame but the “left” and how it allowed itself to morph from an impetus for moving forward to a step back into different forms of spiritual debasement and lack of concern for global justice and national sovereignty.
This may sound like an ultra-right propaganda, but in reality it is not. It is the “left” who has abandoned the principles of the true left and turned it from a force of change and liberation to a force towards breakdown of society and family values. If by endorsing those values and virtues I will be branded a right-wing zealot, then so be it, because as a die-hard true leftie, I do not see any association between my principles and values with what is left of the left in the “left”.
Filed under: Al Qaeda, AngloZionist Empire, Bush, Capitalism, cold war, Communism, Corporate Media, Europe, Fidel Castro, Left, Obama, Soviet Union, Vietnam, WAR | Comments Off on The Conservative Revolution: the “Left” Dilemma
Xuan Loc DOAN
When he traveled to China for a state visit in October 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was grandly received by Beijing.
Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), was treated much in the same manner during his official trip to China last week.
Yet, while Mr Trong’s visit was aimed at developing stronger ties with China, it does not mean that the communist leadership in Hanoi is pursuing a Duterte-like pivot to Beijing.
Closer ties with Beijing
Trong’s four-day trip, which started on January 12, was his first to China since being re-elected as the CPV’s leader at its 12th National Congress in January 2016 and his first foreign tour in 2017.
He went to Beijing with a high-ranking delegation that included four politburo members in charge of four important departments in Vietnam’s one-party regime – namely central propaganda, foreign affairs, national defense and public security.
During the visit, Hanoi and Beijing reached a wide range of agreements aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two ruling parties and the two communist neighbors in various fields and at many levels.
Trong’s outing was followed by recent notable trips to the Asian juggernaut by other Vietnamese top officials – including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Dinh The Huynh, the CPV’s Permanent Secretary, in September and October 2016, respectively. Mr Huynh, an influential politburo member, is tipped to succeed Trong if the 72-year old leader chooses to step down in the near future.
All these journeys suggest Hanoi is attaching a greater importance to its cooperation with Beijing and adopting a more friendly posture toward the latter than about six or seven months ago. A combination of factor may contribute to this change.
One of these is the fact that China is Vietnam’s closest neighbor, sharing not only land and sea borders but also many political and economic similarities with the former. The world’s most populous country is also Vietnam’s biggest trading partner. Given all of these, coupled with Vietnam’s power asymmetry vis-à-vis its giant neighbor, for the country’s stability – and perhaps for the CPV’s survival – steadying its ties with Beijing is always a priority for Hanoi.
Chinese leaders’ current charm diplomacy is also influencing Hanoi’s posture. Mr Trong was the first foreign leader China received in 2017. He was given a red-carpet welcome upon his arrival at the Beijing International Airport and an official welcoming ceremony with full honors at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 12. Five of the seven members of the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC), including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, held talks with him.
Mr Phuc was given a similar treatment when he toured China last September.
The warm reception Chinese leaders extended to their Vietnamese “comrades and brothers” indicates that Beijing is also highly valuing Hanoi and its relations with the latter. This, in return, is increasing Vietnam’s trust – or at least, decreasing its mistrust – in Beijing and encouraging it to develop tighter ties with China.
It seems tensions and suspicion caused by China’s actions in recent years, notably its placement of its huge oil rig, HS-981, in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in 2014, have now eased.
Overt overtures made toward Beijing by several regional countries, particularly Malaysia and the Philippines, are another defining factor.
Last November, Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak made a six-day trip to China. During that visit, which was intended to elevate their relationship to “greater heights”, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing signed many new agreements, including Malaysia’s first major defense deal with China.
Two weeks before that, President Rodrigo Duterte also made a landmark trip to Beijing, where he eventually and solemnly announced his “separation from the US” and his “dependence” on China, after months of publicly denouncing Washington and praising Beijing.
Malaysia’s turn toward Beijing and especially the Philippines’ dramatic tilt away from its long-standing and most important ally to China’s orbit somehow influenced a rethink in Hanoi.
Like Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have outstanding territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. For years, they were among the region’s most vocal critics of their northern neighbor’s expansive claims and aggressive actions in this resource-rich and strategically vital water. They all favored multilateral approaches to the maritime disputes. Hanoi supported the Philippines’s South China Sea arbitration and welcomed its landmark legal victory against China last July.
Duterte’s wholehearted embrace of China, which resulted in his side-lining of the July ruling and agreeing to enter bilateral talks with Beijing prompted Vietnam to soften its posture and improve relations with China.
Last but not least, Donald Trump’s shock rise to the American presidency is also a key reason behind Hanoi’s current accommodating posture toward Beijing.
Under the Obama administration, Vietnam and America edged remarkably closer to each other. Their stronger ties were strengthened by – and manifested in – many key developments and agreements. Prominent among these are Mr Trong’s unprecedented trip to Washington in 2015, President Obama’s milestone visit to Vietnam in 2016, during which he officially ended America’s decades-old arms embargo on its former war foe, and Vietnam’s enthusiastic response to America’s Asia pivot and the US-led TPP.
Vietnam’s strong economic and strategic ties with the US have been in jeopardy following Trump’s election victory. Faced with the imminent collapse of the TPP and other uncertainties about America’s relations with Asia and Vietnam under Trump, Hanoi is relatively readjusting its foreign policy and improving its ties with Beijing can be seen as part of such recalibration.
But not a Duterte-like shift
Yet, while becoming more receptive to Beijing, Hanoi is not bandwagoning with the latter; and this is because of many reasons.
One of these concerns Vietnam’s economic imbalance with China. Though it has dropped recently, Vietnam’s trade deficit with the world’s second biggest economy remains enormous. According to its General Statistics Office (GSO), in 2016, Vietnam exported (US)$21.8 billion in goods to the world’s largest trading country and imported $49.8 billion from it. This means it had a trade deficit of $28 billion with China last year.
For years, Hanoi has asked Beijing to help balance the bilateral trade by creating better conditions for Vietnamese goods to enter the Chinese market. It is reported that in his talk with Nguyen Phu Trong, Xi Jinping promised that China will work harder to make the two countries’ trade relations grow faster and become more balanced.
Whether Vietnam’s companies and their goods are provided with a greater access to China following Trong’s visit remains to be seen. Yet, in any case, it will take years or decades, if ever, for Vietnam to balance its trade with China. For this reason – and in order to avoid economic overdependence on its giant neighbor and to sustain its economic development – Vietnam needs good relations with its other major trading partners, notably the European Union and the US, with which it has enjoyed a huge trade surplus in recent years. In 2016, Vietnam exported US$34 billion (in goods) to the EU, its third largest trading partner, and US$38.1 billion to the US.
As America is Vietnam’s biggest export market and second largest trader, while it is unclear how Donald Trump will view and approach his country’s relations with Vietnam, it is certain that Hanoi will try its best to sustain and improve its ties with Washington.
Another reason why Vietnam is seeking better relations with the US and other powers, including Japan and India, is its unresolved maritime disputes with China.
During Trong’s China visit, both sides pledged to manage maritime differences and avoid any acts that may complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea. Nevertheless, after “candidly” exchanging their views on issue, they could not yet accept each other’s main position.
According to a report by the VOV, Vietnam’s national radio broadcaster, in his talk with his Chinese counterpart, Trong “asserted Vietnam’s consistent stance of persistently dealing with the dispute in the East Sea [Vietnam’s name for the South China Sea] by peaceful measures in compliance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and with respect to diplomatic and legal processes.”
In contrast, as manifested by its vehement objection to the Philippines’ arbitration case, Beijing has stringently opposed any legal approach to resolve the disputes. Instead, it has forcibly insisted on bilateral negotiations.
Their joint communique mentioned neither of these two positions.
Given China’s expansive claims and its past and recent actions in the South China Sea, Vietnam does not expect – though it strongly hopes – that Beijing will willingly accept a peaceful solution to the dispute based on the principles of international law, including UNCLOS. That is why it has hedged – and continues to hedge – against any aggressive move by China by forging strong ties with global and regional powers, notably those that are also concerned about Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions.
This is supported by the fact that whilst Trong was holding talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, in Hanoi Nguyen Xuan Phuc received John Kerry. The latter’s visit might not have a major impact on future US-Vietnam cooperation. Yet, in his talk with the outgoing US Secretary of State, the Vietnamese premier expressed his delight at achievements in US-Vietnam relations and Vietnam’s desire to reinforce bilateral ties. This shows the Vietnamese leadership really values its relationship with Washington.
Just a day after Trong returned from China, Hanoi received Shinzo Abe. In their separate meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister, the Southeast Asian country’s top four leaders – party chief, state president, prime minister and parliament chairwoman – all affirmed Hanoi’s desire to deepen economic and strategic ties with Japan. For his part, during this two-day visit, Mr Abe pledged to provide Vietnam with six new coastguard patrols. The patrol vessels, worth $338 million, were part of the $1-billion loan Tokyo offered Hanoi.
Vietnam-Japan relations have significantly advanced in recent years and this is mainly due to their shared concerns over China’s maritime ambitions and actions.
Such apprehensions have also brought Vietnam closer to India, China’s other key regional rival. Six months ago, before Phuc’s China trip, Hanoi hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During that landmark visit, the first official trip to Vietnam by an Indian prime minister since 2001, the two countries elevated their “strategic partnership” to “comprehensive strategic partnership” and New Delhi agreed to provide Vietnam with a $500 million defense loan.
All of these demonstrate that while it may prioritize relations with Beijing, Hanoi is also seeking stronger ties with other powers, notably the US, Japan and India, to counterbalance China, both economically and strategically. It is also evident that the Vietnamese leadership is not overtly leaning toward Beijing and submitting to the latter’s maritime position as President Duterte has done.
Following Duterte’s China visit last October, during which he publicly promised to shift his country’s allegiance from Washington to Beijing, some international relations experts, notably those from China, predicted that America’s other Asian partners, such as Vietnam, may follow suit.
Ahead of Trong’s visit last week, an article in the Global Times, a spin-off of the People’s Daily, the CPC’s mouthpiece, also suggested that the shift in diplomacy by the Philippine leader “sets a good example for the other Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam.”
Judging by Mr Trong’s assertion of Vietnam’s maritime position in his talk with the Chinese leader and other diplomatic and strategic moves recently taken by Hanoi, it is apparent that Vietnamese leaders are not following Mr Duterte’s steps or “example”.
Instead, they remain firmly committed to their long-held foreign policy of independence, diversification and multilateralization that has enabled Vietnam to develop good – and generally fruitful – relations with many countries, including all the world’s major powers and the region’s countries.
US government in Washington, rather than world government ترامب: حكومة أميركية في واشنطن بدل الحكومة العالمية
– منذ حرب فييتنام والهزيمة التاريخية وأميركا تجاهد للخروج من العقدة والذهاب، كما فعلت في الحرب العالمية الثانية خلف المحيطات مرة أخرى، بعدما قال الشعب الأميركي كلمته برفض دفع الأثمان الغالية لتحقيق السياسات الإمبراطورية، وقد كافحت النخب الحاكمة في الحزبين الجمهوري والديمقراطي لاسترداد التفويض الشعبي الذي كان بيد الأسلاف بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية بخوض الحروب الإمبراطورية والتصرف كحاكم للعالم، واستبدلوا الإنفاق على الحروب بالإنفاق على سباق التسلح الذي لا يحتاج لدعم الإرادة الشعبية، طالما لا يكلف دماء المزيد من الجنود، حتى بلغوا وفقاً لخطط الثنائي الدبلوماسي الاستخباري زبيغنيو برجنسكي كمستشار للأمن القومي وجورج بوش الأب كمدير للمخابرات في مطلع الثمانينيات النجاح بالجمع بين استنزاف المقدرات السوفياتية في حرب النجوم واستنزاف الجيش السوفياتي بواسطة تنظيم القاعدة، كعنوان لما عُرف بالحرب الباردة، وصولاً لبدء انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي ولاحقاً نهاية الحرب الباردة، والنجاح باسترداد التفويض بخوض المزيد من الحروب في عالم لا عدو فيه ولا منافس.
– كانت حرب يوغوسلافيا أول التجارب للمرحلة الجديدة، واستدعى الأمر توظيف أو تصنيع أحداث الحادي عشر من أيلول بواسطة تنظيم القاعدة لمنح إرادة الحروب الإمبراطورية المزيد من الزخم، وخاصت النخب الحاكمة في واشنطن بفرعيها الجمهوري والديمقراطي حروبها بلا هوادة، بالجيوش الأميركية وتنظيم القاعدة معاً وبالتناوب والتشارك حيث تدعو الحاجة، ومنذ سقوط جدار برلين حتى تحرير الجيش السوري لحلب مرّ ربع قرن منحت خلاله التكنولوجيا للنخب الحاكمة في واشنطن فرصاً كثيرة لحساب نظرياتها الإمبراطورية، وربط أمن الأميركيين بالحروب الخارجية، سواء تحت شعار منع اسلحة دمار شامل مزعومة في العراق أو ملاحقة إرهاب خاضع للاحتواء المزدوج في أفغانستان، وصولاً لحروب الربيع العربي التي يقول مدير المخابرات الأميركية في إدارة الرئيس باراك اوباما جو برينان وهو يغادر منصبه أنها كانت حروباً للديمقرطية اقتضت تخيير رؤساء كالرئيس المصري حسني مبارك بين التنحّي أو ملاقاة مصير الرئيس معمر القذافي، لكن النتائج كانت سيناريو بدأ بالأخوان المسلمين وانتهى بداعش.
– فشل مشروع تحويل حكومة واشنطن إلى حكومة للعالم كلّه، هذه هي خلاصة ربع قرن، وفشلت محاولة استخدام تمويل من خارج الخزانة الأميركية عبر مشيخات وممالك الخليج، واستخدام جيش غير رسمي عبر تنظيم القاعدة، والاكتفاء بالاعتماد على المخابرات والإعلام الأميركيين، فقد أدّى صمود سورية بصورة خاصة إلى تغيير المعادلة جذرياً. وهي الحلقة التي كان يمكن لسقوطها أن يمنح للحروب الإمبراطورية مغزى النصر. وترتب على الصمود السوري فشل محاولات رسم خرائط شرق أوسط جديد، ونجحت سورية باستنهاض همّة روسيا وإيران على المزيد من المواجهة، والفوز بإنجاز تغييرات جيوسياسية في ملفات من حجم الملف النووي الإيراني، والإمساك الروسي عسكرياً بحوض البحر المتوسط بعد تركيع تركيا والسيطرة على البحر الأسود، وصولاً لنشوء حلف روسي إيراني سوري تتهيأ تركيا للتفاهم معه نحو معادلات جديدة كلياً في الشرق الأوسط.
– وصول دونالد ترامب للرئاسة الأميركية لم يكن لصناعة تغيير، بل جاء فوز ترامب ثمرة لتغيير قد حصل، فقد نالت النخب الأميركية الحاكمة في واشنطن فرصة ربع قرن لبناء حكومة عالمية موّلتها ودفعت أثمانها أرواح أميركيين ودماءهم وأموالهم، من مكلفيها دافعي الضرائب والمتمولين والرأسماليين والمواطنين والجنود، إيماناً بأن النجاح في قيام الحكومة العالمية التي تصنع في واشنطن وتدير العالم هو عائد مشترك لكل الأميركيين. كما نالت التفويض الصامت لاستعمال مال الخليج ورشى حكامه ومسلحي تنظيم القاعدة للاحتيال على الرفض الشعبي والرأسمالي لرفد الحلقات الأخيرة من مشروع الحكومة العالمية بالدماء والمال اللازمين، حتى بلغت الأخطار درجة أعلى من العائدات المفترضة وصار الفشل، فتم سحب التفويض بالجملة لصالح العودة إلى خلف المحيطات والصراخ بصوت ترامب العالي نريد حكومة أميركية وبئس حكومتكم العالمية. لم ننل منها سوى انهيار صناعتنا وكساد بضاعتنا وبطالة عمالتنا وتدهور بنيتنا التحتية، ونشر قواتنا شرطة عالمية وركوب وهم تغيير الأنظمة بالقوة لتعميم ديمقراطية مزعومة أنتجت تسليم بلدان بأكملها لتشكيلات إرهابية ترتد علينا بحروب معولمة وتنشئ «خلافتها» العالمية على نمط حكومتكم وببركة نظرياتها.
– خطاب ترامب الرئاسي هو إعلان سقوط الحكومة العالمية في واشنطن وولادة حكومة أميركية مكانها، وإعلان حرب لن تهدأ بسرعة بين أصحاب التفويض الأصليين من أصحاب المال والدماء، من جهة، والنخب البيروقراطية التي يعبر عنها إعلام عملاق ومخابرات أخطبوطية وجهاز حزبي ممتد عبر الحزبين الكبيرين ونوابهما وقادتهما ومكاتب المحامين المستعدة لممارسة الشأن العام تحت شعارات وفلسفات منمّقة بلغة هارفرد وأكسفورد، حرب أهلية ضروس تدخلها أميركا ولا تبدو فيها الفرص محصورة بفوز فريق وهزيمة الآخر، بل يبدو خيار الفوضى السياسية والدستورية فيها وارداً، ومعه الضعف والتشوّش في الاقتصاد والسياسة.
– «إن الإمبراطوريات الكبرى عندما تسقط لا تبلّغ بموعد حدوث ذلك كما الطوفان والزلزال، إنها تسقط وحسب»، العبارة لغونداليسا رايس مستشارة الأمن القومي ووزيرة الخارجية في عهد جورج بوش الإبن في آخر الثمانينيات كباحثة جامعية تعقيباً على انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي .
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