The major – perhaps only – redeeming virtue of the Donald’s ersatz campaign platform was his clear intent to seek a rapprochement with Russia, revamp America’s commitments to NATO and other cold war relics and to discard "Regime Change" as the core tenant of foreign policy in favor of an "America First" approach to domestic security and safety.
Those eminently sensible notions struck the Deep State’s raison d’etre to the quick. The fact is, there would be no justification for the $800 billion defense, intelligence and foreign aid apparatus on which the very prosperity of the Imperial City depends in the absence of a large state-based enemy; or, better still, without an imperial foreign policy that is implicitly designed to either bully or remove recalcitrant governments anywhere on the planet – whether or not they have the intent or capacity to harm the US homeland.
And that’s not the half of it. Lurking not far below the surface of the "America First" slogan was the ghost of Senator Robert Taft’s profoundly correct understanding that free enterprise prosperity, minimal government and maximum personal liberty were incompatible with a permanent, fiscally debilitating Warfare State leviathan designed to function as the world’s boots-&-suits-on-the-ground hegemon.
Consequently, Taft strongly opposed a big peacetime navy, a large standing army with forward stationing and rapid global deployment capacities and the proliferation of foreign treaties and aid commitments. To the contrary, he reasoned that in the nuclear age a US-based bomber and missile force of unquestioned striking capacity would more than adequately protect the homeland from foreign military aggression, and at a fraction of the cost of what amounted to permanent imperial legions assigned to patrolling the better part of the planet.
Today Taft’s vision of a homeland defense would be more apt than ever. It would constitute an even cheaper and more efficacious guarantor of the safety and security of the American people than in his time because there are now no rival superpowers with the military and economic might of the Soviet Union. Moreover, missile technology has become so advanced that a relative handful of submarines and hardened domestic launch sites can deter any conceivable foreign threat, which is inherently a nuclear one.
That is, in this day and age there is absolutely no conventional military threat to the safety and security of citizens in Omaha NE, Spokane WA or Springfield MA.
That’s because there is no nation on earth that could mount a giant Naval and Air Armada sufficient to invade the American homeland. Or, if it were foolish enough to try, could it survive the guided missile blitz that would send its forces to Davy Jones’ locker long before they crossed the blue waters which surround the North American continent.
Stated differently, nuclear deterrence, the great ocean moats and a territorial military defense is all that it would take to keep America secure in today’s world. There is no need for Pax Americana, even if it could succeed, which manifestly it has not; and even if it could be afforded, which clearly it can’t be.
To be sure, the Donald is too full of egotistical bluster and too infatuated with militarist trappings to go the full Taft-isolationist route, but given a fair chance his campaign slogans might have shimmied policy in that direction. Clearly a rapprochement with Russia would have enabled a de-escalation of Washington’s imperial presence in the middle east and avoided a dangerous buildup of military tensions and expense in eastern Europe.
In any event, the Deep State was not taking any chances. Trump’s crude and bombastic articulation of the America First proposition amounted to a frontal attack on the intellectual superstructure which keeps the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf, 35,000 troops in Germany, 28,000 of America’s military personal in harm’s way on the Korean peninsula, 11 carrier battle groups on the oceans, a continued expeditionary force of 100,000 troops, dependents and support personnel in Japan and military operations and economic and military aid in more than 100 other nations around the planet.
We are referring here to the utterly bogus notion that Washington represents the indispensable superpower and that American Leadership is always and everywhere the sine quo non of stability, order and peace all around the planet. Indeed, even though Trump has been totally throttled by the War Party in his discombobulated and amateurish pursuit of America First, that has not stopped its leading spokesman and institutions from lambasting him for allegedly sullying Washington’s self-assigned "leadership" role in the world.
In that respect there are few grand poobahs of the War Party who better embody the arrogant pretensions of the American Imperium than the odious president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Hass. According to the latter, the trouble with Trump after one year in office is that he still doesn’t get it; he’s turned his back on the core predicate that animates the Imperial City:
"Trump is the first post-WWII president to view the burdens of world leadership as outweighing the benefits. The United States has changed from the principal preserver of order to a principal disrupter."
Exactly what hay wagon does he think we fell off from?
How did the war on Vietnam, the First Gulf War to save the Emir of Kuwait’s oil wealth, the futile 17-year occupation of Afghanistan, the destruction of Iraq, the double-cross of Khadafy after he gave up his nukes, the obliteration of much of civil society and economic life in Syria, the US-supplied Saudi genocide in Yemen and the Washington sponsored coup and civil war on Russia’s doorstep in Ukraine, to name just a few instances of Washington’s putative "world leadership", have anything to do with preserving "order" on the planet?
And exactly how did the "benefits" of these serial instigations of mayhem outweigh the "burdens" to America’s taxpayers – to say nothing of the terminal costs to the dead and maimed citizens in their millions who had the misfortune to be domiciled in these traumatized lands?
Likewise, have the refugees who have been flushed out of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere in the middle east by Washington’s wars done anything for the peace and stability of Europe, where Washington’s victims have desperately fled in their millions?
Yet, there would have been no long-lasting civil war in Syria without the billions of cash and weapons supplied to the so-called rebels and the real jihadis by Washington and its Persian Gulf vassals; nor would Yemen by sinking into famine and cholera plagues without the American bombs, missiles and drone dispatched by the Saudi pilots essentially functioning as hired Pentagon mercenaries.
Indeed, the smoldering ruins of Mosul, Aleppo, Fallujah, Benghazi and lesser places in their thousands hardly speak to a beneficent hegemony. Yet had Washington never brought its fleets and occupying forces to the Middle East after 1970 and had the region not come under the heavy boot of the Central Command and Washington’s assorted proconsuls and plenipotentiaries, the plague of radical Sunni jidhadism would never have arisen, nor is it likely that the ancient rift between the Sunni and Shiite confessions of Islam would have erupted into today’s lethal conflicts.
It is well to note that before 1970, no American soldiers were killed in the middle east; after 1990 virtually all US servicemen who were killed or wounded in combat were stationed in the greater middle east.
It is also worth noting that the answer to high oil prices is high prices, not the Fifth Fleet. In fact, global oil production today has doubled since 1973 owing to price, technology and the worldwide quest for profits by state and private oil companies alike – even as constant dollar prices per barrel stand far below the peaks reached during that decade. There never was any economic imperative whatsoever to bring the American armada into the region.
So when candidate Trump said the Iraq invasion was a stupid mistake, that Hillary’s war on Khadafy was misbegotten, that he would like to cooperate with Putin on pacifying Syria and that NATO was obsolete, he was actually calling into question the fundamental predicates of the American Imperium.
And that gets us to the Russian threat bogeyman, the War Party’s risible demonization of Vladimir Putin and the cocked-up narrative about the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 election.
When Trump captured the GOP nomination against all odds and expectations in the spring of 2016, the War Party went into hyper-drive. Each of these bogus themes were promoted to a fare-the-well through the MSM in order to derail his candidacy; and then, after the fact, to delegitimize and imperil his presidency.
Yet when you examine the thin gruel behind each of these memes, its is fair to say that the Donald has caused the Imperial City itself to become: Unhinged.
In the case of the election meddling meme, there are few more hypocritical instances of the cat-calling-the-kettle-black than this one. The total US intelligence community (IC) budget is upwards of $75 billion – 25% more than Russia’s entire military budget including ships, planes, tanks, ammo, fuel, rations, operations, maintenance and even spare boots – and a big part of that giant IC spend goes to, well, meddling, hacking and sabotage of foreign nations!
The Targeted Access Operations (TAO) unit inside NSA alone has a multi-billion budget which funds thousands of in-house and contractor personnel who spend day and night hacking the communications channels of virtually every government in the world, friend, foe and enemy alike. The very purpose of these intrusions is to interfere with the domestic politics and governance of most of the planet’s population, and in some cases to actually sabotage perfectly appropriate operations, such as the Natanz centrifuges in Iran which were destroyed by the Washington’s stuxnet virus.
If you are not caught up in the War party’s self-serving groupthink, of course, it seems entirely plausible that in the face of these massive Washington cyber-assaults that targeted nations might indeed seek to counterattack, as apparently the Russian security services have done. But for all the beltway bluster, what military or intelligence secrets have actually been compromised by the Russians?
In fact, none have been claimed or have been made public in recent years, and you can be sure that LeakyTown would have made it known had any material national security breaches actually happened.
So what the whole Russian meddling meme boils down to is an assertion that Kremlin operatives have been attacking America in plain sight. That is, they hacked the DNC’s gossip and intrigue-ridden computers and breached the content of Podesta’s password protected political skullduggery. But airing intra-party skullduggery is neither a national security matter nor does its disclosure jeopardize American democracy in the slightest.
For crying out loud, if political parties and operatives don’t want to be embarrassed owing to being hacked by commercial blackmailers, political adversaries, just plain misanthropes or foreign security services, as the case may be, they can do what every business in America is required to do. That is, purchase the requisite protective services and software on offer from the world’s $200 billion internet security business.
The very idea that these two alleged hacks amount to some grand assault on American democracy is just plain laughable; and it surely does not take a dozen congressional investigations and the rogue Mueller witch-hunt to preclude any future recurrence. The DNC can just buy some protection – or maybe even run a level playing field during the next presidential primary.
Besides, as the Donald rightly said, any 400-pound fat guy laying in a bed in Brooklyn could have figured out "password" to gain entrance to Podesta’s computer; and if Russian operatives actually penetrated the DNC computers why weren’t they even examined by the FBI or any other IC agency?
Instead, we have only the word of the Russophobic proprietor of a cyber-security company named Crowdstrike. Need we mention that he is in the business of selling computer security services and software and promoting his apparently dubious products in a field bustling with first rate competitors?
In that context, the $50k of pre-election Facebook ads allegedly purchased by a mythical Russian troll farm are not even a bad joke. That is, not in an election that saw $6 billion of registered campaign expenditures and multiples of that by independent committees and the anti-Trump media.
At the end of the day, we are supposed to believe that a country with a puny $1.3 trillion GDP, which is just 7% of the US’ $19.5 trillion GDP, and which consists largely of aged hydrocarbon provinces, endless wheat fields, modest industrial capacities and a stagnant Vodka-favoring workforce, is actually a threat to America’s security.
And we are also supposed to fear the military capacity of a country that has no blue water Navy to speak of and no conventional airlift and air-attack capacity which could remotely threaten the New Jersey shores, and that spends less in a full year than the Pentagon consumes every 35 days.
Oh, yes, and this midget military is run with an apparent iron-hand by the Cool Hand Luke of the modern world. Putin may well jail his adversaries in ways that offend western sensibilities, but the last thing he is going to do is commit Russian national suicide by launching a nuclear attack on America.
Yet that’s all he’s got: To wit, a nonexistent military threat and a justifiable desire to protect the Russian-speaking populations on his doorstep in Crimea and the Donbas from the depredations of the Civil War that was instigated on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 by the advance guards – the CIA, NED, State Department and Washington funded NGOs – of the American Imperium.
But here’s the thing. The Dems were caught so flat-footed and befuddled by the Donald’s "impossible" win that they have succumbed to the rank anti-Russian propaganda that was fed to them by Brennan, Clapper, Comey, and the rest of the Obama inner circle on the eve and aftermath of the November 8th election.
They have now turned this preposterous malarkey into a fevered witch-hunt that has made them – and most especially the MSNBC-following progressive Left – handmaidens of the Warfare State, even as the baseless claim that Trump colluded with the Russians paralyzes the White House and blocks any movement at all toward the America First promise that flickered briefly during the Donald’s run for the Oval Office.
Needless to say, we know how this movie will end. The Donald is destined to be shown the way by his GOP Capitol Hill "friends" to his last ride on the Richard Nixon Memorial Helicopter. That is, when the polls indicate a Republican mid-term election massacre is in the making.
And that will leave the neocon War Party firmly in control of the GOP and the hysterical Russophobes on top of what was once the Peace Party in post-Vietnam America.
Throughout the length and breadth of the Imperial City, the military-industrial-intelligence-think tank-War Party complex will be laughing all the way to the bank.
It is American democracy and the disenfranchised citizens of Flyover American that will be hung out to dry. Again.
David Stockman has agreed to send every Antiwar.com reader a free copy of his newest book, Trumped! when you take his special Contra Corner offer. Click here now for the details.
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.