To conclude this series of posts anticipating the imminent change of residents at the White House, it is worth paying mind to the issue of foreign policy.
It’s funny how quickly the Trump campaign mantra of “drain the swamp” really, properly stopped being a thing.
Not that I ever thought it was a thing anyway; but Trump’s ‘movement’ hasn’t even taken office yet and has already exposed itself as a cabal of extremely wealthy banking and business interests, hawkish figures, evangelicals and – to be frank – a couple of psychopaths for good measure.
To add to that, he also appears to have been acquiring more and more Bush era establishment figures to his incoming administration.
Which tends to undermine the popular perception or self-image of Trump as an isolationist not interested in foreign entanglements. In a piece from a couple of months ago at Mint Press News, Robbie Martin sceptically noted how many Bush era Neo-Cons Trump appears to be bringing into the fold.
Describing the group as part of the ‘clique of Bush-era neoconservative outliers who whipped Americans into a frenzied state of fear and anxiety after 9/11,’ he sets the stage, writing, ‘Now they’re back, lurking in and around Trump’s transition team.’
These include signatories to the Project for the New American Century, the infamous think tank co-founded by Robert Kagan and which laid out the Neo-Con agenda from 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq and beyond. In fact, politically and geopolitically, it could be argued that the world we’re living in right now is largely a consequence of PNAC – which essentially makes those people being involved in the Trump administration about as far away from ‘anti establishment’ as you could get.
We should’ve suspected as much just from how close 9/11 insider Rudy Guliani was and is to the Trump action (it is also interesting to note that the ‘9/11 mayor’ Guliani, just like Netanyahu, happened to be in London on the morning of 7/7: a remarkable coincidence that makes this seem like a much smaller world than it really is). Guliani (pictured above), of course, has been confirmed as part of the Trump administration.
John Bolton, when serving as Under-Secretary of State for arms control and international security, was considered a temperamental risk by George W. Bush and removed to a different position: but he is fine for Trump.
Bolton, by the way, openly called for the execution of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
And James Woolsey (pictured below), another Neo-Con (and former CIA Director) and liar/conspirator, once said angrily that Edward Snowden should be hanged; as did Trump’s CIA man Mike Pompeo.
Woolsey was also, as it happens, the first American official – even before Rumsfeld or Cheney – to publicly engage in the bullshit pantomime of blaming Saddam Hussein for 9/11.
Indeed, as Martin reminds us, arch Neo-Con and PNAC architect Paul Wolfowitz had hired Woolsey – behind the back of then Secretary of State, Colin Powell – to gather “evidence” to prove Saddam was the mastermind behind 9/11.
These are all people involved in – both actually and ideologically – the 9/11 conspiracy, the Iraq War deceptions and the post-9/11 Patriot Act and subversion of the United States. It becomes fairly obvious that Trump and those around him were never against the ‘Establishment’: just specifically against the Democrat Establishment and particularly Obama.
Obama – though not an anti-establishment figure by any means – could, by reasonable logic, be considered to have had greater ‘anti-establishment’ credentials than Trump or anyone connected to Trump. Obama wanted to pull out of Iraq, avoid US troop deployments into foreign countries, refrained from direct or forced regime-change in Syria, and was essentially drawn into Libya by Hillary, the State Department, the CIA and France. He also persisted with the Iran Deal despite enormous opposition in Washington and the Senate (and from Israel), persisted with the Senate Torture Report despite outrage from Republicans, and had on multiple occasions asked Hillary Clinton to cease her Clinton Foundation activities.
I’m not trying to hold up Barack Obama as some great leader or rogue change-maker; simply highlighting that he could be cited as just as much, if not more, the ‘anti-establishment’ figure when he came into the presidency in the context of what had then been eight years of a Neo-Con regime that had included the 9/11 inside job, the Iraq War, and had been based on the Project For the New American Century charter.
Now, after an Obama administration that has been just as disastrous for the Middle East as the preceding Cheney/Rumsfeld administration, President-Elect Trump appears simply to be bringing back the pre-Obama and post-9/11 crowd.
This of course contradicts Trump’s campaign rhetoric about having opposed the Iraq invasion and having thought Gaddafi and Saddam should’ve both been left in control of their countries: it makes no sense to make those kinds of statements and then to start bringing in Neo-Cons who were involved in the post-9/11 Middle East agenda.
David Clarke, until recently reported to have been Trump’s likely pick for the leading role at the Department of Homeland Security (overseeing immigration enforcement, the Secret Service, the TSA, the Coast Guard and FEMA) is an eccentric, slightly unhinged-seeming, bulldog-type who has advocated for indefinite detention of suspects – illegal under US law. As noted in the previous post, Clarke has called for Americans who sympathise with terrorists or with causes that terrorists might have (even just on social media or verbally) to be rounded up and sent to Guantanamo Bay.
With any hope being a dim memory now of President Obama being able to fulfil his promise to close the illegal prison on Cuban soil, Clarke has gone the other way entirely and said he wants to greatly expand Guantanamo Bay prison (against the wishes of the Cuban government and people), and allegedly has said he wants to sent up to 1 million people to Gitmo.
It seems that almost everyone involved in Trump’s camp – including Trump himself, who has said so openly – are massively pro torture and generally pro Guantanamo.
This is in stark contrast to Obama, who had wanted to close down Guantanamo for years, and to the Democrats in general, who went to lengths to expose and condemn the Bush/Neo-Con era torture practises.
This now is beginning to smell like the Cheney/Rumsfeld era Neo-Con regime on steroids. It would almost be funny; if it wasn’t also so ominous.
It is curious that, while pro-Trump commentators had been saying he would bring in some more establishment figures to counter-balance more controversial figures like Breitbart/Goldman-Sachs man Steve Bannon, the establishment figures Trump has gone for seem to be Bush-era Neo-Cons who’ve already got dirty track records. With the probable exception of retired marine general James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, virtually everyone involved in the Trump operation or being offered a role in it seems like a bad omen. Even Education Secretary Betsy Devos, as previously mentioned, is the sister of the founder of the Blackwater mercenary firm that earned its infamy in Iraq.
It is also worth considering that, although Trump himself expressed ambivalence about going after Assad or being involved in Syria, he has shown clear aggression towards Iran and China. In terms of Iran, he has been absolute about his desire to nullify Obama’s Iran Deal, signalling a policy that will bring his administration back into line with Netanyahu’s right-wing Israeli government – something that Obama certainly didn’t do.
The Israel connection to the Trump administration could prove significant: Trump has joined some of his people in suggesting support for Jerusalem being made into Israel’s capital – a policy that, if pursued with Netanyahu, could tilt the already-unstable Middle East into an even worse situation and will probably ignite or play into open conflict with Iran and Hezbollah (and therefore quite possibly Syria again, if you can imagine that).
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is known to have financed illegal nationalist Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories; and is expected to play a major role in the administration, having already played a big role in the campaign.
The Breitbart/Goldman-Sachs mastermind of the Trump campaign, Steve Bannon, is also a supporter of – and supported by – illegal Israeli settler groups. Bannon belongs to that strange school of current Far-Right groups in Europe and America that promote anti-Semitism towards Jews as a ‘race’ and yet staunchly supports the right-wing Israeli government and the settlement building.
Given the evangelical element in Trump’s camp – particularly through Vice President Mike Pence – the possibility of a Christian Zionist Crusade married to the PNAC/Neo-Con agenda becomes a not-unthinkable possibility: and this was something even the Bush administration didn’t engage in.
Netanyahu and Israeli nationalist right-wingers are celebrating the Trump administration’s arrival, after having to tolerate years of the more lukewarm Obama attitude towards Israel. The fact that we recently saw Obama and Kerry break with US/Israel norms and condemn illegal Israeli settlement building in the Occupied Territories was more than curious: as was Trump’s extraordinarily ominous response to it – he literally put out a statement telling Israel to ‘stay strong’ and wait for January 20th, because everything would change then.
The Obama administration knows the extent to which the incoming Trump cabal and the right-wing government in Israel are linked: and so Obama decided to join the EU in condemning Israel in order to strike one last – admittedly tepid – blow to the Trump/Netanyahu agenda before it fully comes into play.
Obama and his administration of course should’ve been doing a lot more for a lot longer, instead of waiting to the last minute and then throwing out a minor condemnation. And we should remember that Hillary Clinton – unlike Obama – was also openly and entirely pro-Netanyahu and would’ve hardly been one to break formation with Israeli nationalist interests.
But it is also unlikely she would’ve been quite as rabidly and openly pro-Zionist and pro illegal settlement- building as Trump and his people are.
Where all of this goes in anyone’s guess. We live in uncertain, dangerous times.
The big plus in terms of Trump foreign policy would appear to be – as it always seemed to be – an improvement in US/Russia relations; which is certainly not what would’ve happened under a Hillary presidency.
However, Trump’s ability to sustain friendly relations with China is very much in question at this point. This is a danger that has been explored at length by John Pilger, with the suggestion that a war with China – which is actually a much more frightening prospect than even the feared war with Russia – could be on the near horizon.
What is clear, at any rate, is that this Trump era isn’t shaping up to be one of diminished foreign entanglements or even necessarily one of peace. And, again, if the Trump team had any interest in maintaining the ‘anti-establishment’ or ‘drain the swamp’ campaign pantomime, the last thing they would be doing is bring back old Neo-Cons into key positions.