All sides pretended that Trump was a radical deviation from the norm, and so did Trump, when all he actually did throughout his entire time in office was protect the status quo just like his predecessors did. As writer and activist Sam Husseini put it, “Trump is the opposable thumb of the establishment. He looks like he’s on the opposite side, but he just helps it grab more.”
After four years everyone–left, right and center–has been proven wrong about Trump. He was neither a uniquely evil monster (indisputably not as bad as Bush) nor a hero draining the swamp and fighting for the common man against the Deep State.
In actuality Trump’s term has clearly established what he really was this entire time: he was a US president. Better than some, worse than others, but also deeply awful all around since he voluntarily served as the face of the most evil and destructive force on earth, namely the United States government. He was the same kind of monster as his predecessors.
Caitlin Johnstone, Everybody was wrong about Trump
But this post isn’t actually about Donald Trump. Though I take a while to get there, it’s about the Ukraine War and the peril to which much of the West remains seemingly oblivious …
In the run up to the 2016 US Presidential election, when Hillary Clinton was believed to have the Oval Office in the bag, I and other likeminded souls incurred liberal fury by refusing to accept what to her fan base was the self evident truth that she was at worst the lesser evil, and at best a doughty champion of women’s rights. To them, failure to back her candidacy against that of Donald Trump was proof positive of a reactionary and in all probability misogynist outlook.
You can see the reasoning – in its infancy but fast evolving – for my objection to such naivety in my letter to America of August 2016. And you can see it revisited – Forgive my not dancing in the streets – after Joe Biden’s victory of November 2020.
As Caitlin Johnstone put it in May last year, in Fake Parties in a Fake Democracy:
The US doesn’t have political parties, it has narrative control ops disguised as political parties. One of them overtly promotes capitalism and imperialism by appealing to Americans’ worst impulses, the other covertly diverts their healthy impulses back into capitalism and imperialism.
An elephant and a donkey fight in a puppet show and the crowd cheers for one or the other while thieves pick their pockets. And when people start to notice their wallets are missing, they’re told they can stop the pickpocketing by cheering louder for their favorite puppet.
People ask why the Democrats never codified Roe vs Wade into law, and the answer is, because that’s not their job. Their job is not to enact the policies you elected them to enact. Their job is not even to win elections. Their job is to keep you staring at the puppet show while the empire has its way with the world.
(The same goes for Britain but that’s for another day.)
Trump was and remains loud, obnoxious, illiberal. Clinton was and is a ‘progressive’. She would not mortify you at a society dinner by making homophobic jokes, or calling Mexico a ‘shit-hole country’. To liberals such things matter disproportionately. Since few pay heed to US conduct across the planet – and so fall easy prey to the most expensively elaborate, far reaching and evidence-defiant propaganda in history as regards that conduct – it mattered little to them that Mrs Clinton had rained death on Libya to turn Africa’s richest country, with its highly developed welfare infrastructure, into a failed state whose prime export was terror. One where slaves were openly sold on Tripoli’s quayside. 1
Nor, since they had also bought the thoroughly mendacious narrative that Syrians must be rid of evil Assad, did it bother liberal Americans that she planned for that country the very instrument – No Fly Zones – which had overthrown Gaddafi and earned her the ‘Queen of Chaos’ moniker. Nor even that in Syria – where Russian jets, at the behest of the lawfully elected government in Damascus, were conducting sorties on areas seized by Western backed terrorists – her policy would place the world’s foremost powers on a collision course of the thermonuclear kind.
What did such triflings matter – ditto her well documented venality – so long as Clinton used the right pronouns? And what did Trump’s proposal, eminently sensible if we took the War on Terror at face value, to work with Russia against jihadists matter, so long as he used the wrong ones?
As we know, Trump did win and liberal America mourned, though not for long. The tangerine narcissist’s naivety, and lack of political capital, made it easy for the deep state to reel him in. Russiagate 2 has since been proved a tissue of lies but it served its purpose. Aided by liberal credulity, and childlike willingness to get into bed with the devil himself so long as he threw them sweeties while shackling their vulgar bête noire, Russiagate placed Trump’s presidency on the back foot from the get-go.
So what are we to make of this tangerine tweet, just ten days ago?
WATCH: President Trump announces plan for immediate mass firings of “warmonger” bureaucrats at the State Department and Pentagon if he’s reelected President in 2024.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 21, 2023
So now I get to what this post is actually about. Bearing in mind Caitlin’s words as cited at the outset, I don’t spend much time pondering Trump’s chances of re-election in 2024, in the face of challenges in the primaries from the hawkish Nikki Haley and, in all likelihood, a Christian Right embodied by the as yet undeclared Mike Pompeo. Nor – in the event of (a) the world surviving, (b) Trump re-entering the White House in January 2025 – would I have more faith in his ability to change the US Empire’s direction at that point than he’d shown in 2017-21.
But I do heed the fact of his February 21 tweet having had four million views …
Gilbert Doctorow last featured on this site with a fascinating glimpse at dress codes for a night at the opera in St Petersburg. He ends his latest piece, on straws in the wind as World War III blows in, with that tweet. As it happens, the death yesterday of Wayne Shorter ousted John Lennon from the much coveted steel city tune-for-the-day slot. But as you read Gilbert’s words, eloquently erudite as ever, do bear in mind that all we are saying is give peace a chance.
Faits divers, or, if you will, straws in the wind as WWIII blows in
Now that www.smotrim.ru is back up and running, I have been immersing myself in Russian news, which in the past couple of days has included an assortment of separate items, or faits divers as the French would have it, which are frankly ominous when taken all together. Why ominous? Because they fit the description of WWIII that the most recent Russian talk shows say has already begun and is about to transition from hybrid war to hot war …
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- Logic alone can refute the fanciful notion that Gaddafi was taken out to bring democracy to Libya. Even that empire-friendly epithet, whataboutery, can’t entirely distract from the gaping holes – Saudi Arabia? Pinochet? – in such gibberish. But to logical argument we can add the empirical ones of oil (Gaddafi’s declared intent to break with petrodollars and trade it for gold or other currency) and the obstruction to Western imperialism posed by Libya’s essentially Ba’athist form of “Arab socialism”. (Necessarily ruthless given its besieged circumstances – see my 2017 post on the flaws of ‘universalism’ – but vastly more benign than the lethal mayhem HRC was about to usher in.) As with Iraq and Syria, would that liberals – and in 2003 I confess to having been one myself – had only looked beyond the human rights folderol and just for once followed the money …
- On Russiagate, do remember that as Caitlin sarcastically noted, “it’s only a conspiracy theory if it’s anti-USA“.