By Gary Olson
"People spend so much time mocking Trump or waiting for him to be impeached. And the danger with this kind of obsession with a single person is that you don’t see the system that produced him."
— Arunhati Roy
National Security Adviser John Bolton is criss-crossing the Middle East to engage in damage control, or what The New York Times derisively termed “clearing up after his boss.” Washington’s war crimes’ partners are being told that Trump misspoke when he said “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re coming back home. We won.” U.S. allies will receive assurance that American soldiers will continue to be cannon fodder, killing or being killed on behalf of Israel and various Arab tyrants in the region. U.S. taxpayers will continue to foot the bill.
Credible sources indicate that Trump didn’t know about Bolton’s contradictory statement until reading about it in The New York Times or watching it on Fox News. But turnabout is fair play as Bolton was blindsided by Trump’s initial order to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria. No longer trusting his advisors, Trump acted after a phone conversation with Turkish President Erdogan who wondered why U.S. troops were still in Syria, to which Trump reportedly replied “You know what? It’s yours. I’m leaving.”
(Not part of Trump’s inner circle, superhawk Bolton is a pawn of billionaire, ultra-Zionist Sheldon Adelson who prevailed upon Trump to appoint him as National Security Adviser. Trump has been known to refer to Bolton as “Mike Bolton” and has disparaged his ridiculous ‘stash ).
Not long ago, I asked whether we should care about Trump’s motives for withdrawing our troops. First, I agree with Arunhati Roy that focusing so much on Trump’s personality or possible impeachment is a serious mistake because it detracts attention from the structural forces at play in this in-fighting between elites. Second, we can readily assume that Trump doesn’t give a fig about the human costs of war. But then, neither do his globalist-oriented opponents. Perhaps his decision was about pleasing his base by fulfilling a campaign pledge; Did Sen. Rand Paul or Steve Bannon whisper something in his ear or was Trump simply animated by his America First rhetoric? Who cares.
Third, what’s critically important is the across-the-board, apoplectically negative reaction, especially from leaders of the Democratic Party. Why is this so important? Because for a moment the curtains were pulled back to reveal with acute moral clarity, the bipartisan support for American imperialism, endless wars and transparent contempt by our overlords for democracy. Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, praised Bolton’s contradicting the president and his mission to maintain U.S. national security interests in the Middle East. Smith is calling former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis before his committee to offer his “invaluable” advice on Trump’s grievous decision. The total disregard for our citizens is apparent in poll results showing that a majority of Americans, including 70 percent of veterans, favor getting out of Syria and Afghanistan.
Fourth, I “get” the widespread desire, oftentimes coming from well-meaning, decent people to identify some “good guys” here, not least because I’ve also harbored those illusions in the past. However, it’s evident to anyone with eyes to see and a modicum of integrity, that this battle is between Trump’s abhorrent America First nationalism and the political establishment’s neoliberal imperialism.
Finally, imperialism, as Chris Hedges put it the other day, is of one piece with the imperatives of U.S. capitalism: “The corporations that own the media and the two major political parties have a vested interest in making sure there is never serious public discussion about issues ranging from our disastrous for-profit health system and endless wars to the virtual tax boycott that large corporations have legalized.” In short, we don’t have a side in this intra-elite fight. If Trump is impeached it will be because the powers-that-be have concluded that he’s no longer a reliable tool for lining their pockets and advancing the empire.
Trump bashing, as smugly gratifying as it might be, only obscures some basic truths and handicaps our thinking about the best way to unite and struggle against a common enemy. Call me naive but I believe that when enough people understand that, the odds of prevailing will shift strongly in our favor.
February 13th 2019
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