There’s a lot going on in this crazy world, and without further ado let’s look at the turmoil and try to make sense of it.
The Middle East Mess – While the Trump administration has been making astonishing headway in bringing peace to the Korean peninsula, in the Middle East they are making huge errors that will come back to haunt them – and us, unfortunately.
Aside from the revocation of the Iran deal, which dealt a major blow to the prospect of a calmer region, the appointment of David M. Friedman as our ambassador to Israel underscores the mentality of the Trumpians when it comes to the “special relationship”: craven appeasement of Bibi Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist government. As Max Blumenthal points out, when Friedman was briefed on the Gaza massacre he said: “I don’t understand. The people in Gaza – they’re basically Egyptians. Why doesn’t Egypt take them back?”
That one could say the same about the Israelis – who, the Bible tells us, came into Israel from Egypt – is something that would no doubt make Friedman’s head explode, an event that would expose his complete lack of brains.
What this underscores is the utter wrongness of US policy in the Middle East under Trump: from our kowtowing to the increasingly fascistic Israeli garrison state to our immoral support for the Saudi perpetrators and enablers of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the President’s blindness has us on a collision course with reality that could very easily end in disaster. The alliance of the world’s only two theocracies is one of the most dangerous developments in recent history, and Washington’s support for them is sure to drag us into their expansionist designs one way or another. Indeed, we have already been suckered into supporting the horrific Saudi invasion and subjugation of Yemen, where the Islamist theocrats are starving and slaughtering children while the US gives them valuable intelligence (and French special forces are reportedly on the ground).
Yet the Trump administration is not entirely in the iron grip of the Israel lobby and its Saudi ally: the President wants out of Syria, as he has said on several occasions, and this has the Israeli-Saudi lobby working overtime to “correct” him, go around him, and otherwise frustrate his better instincts. The history of the President saying “I want out” and the “correction” issued by his staff to the effect that we’re not going anywhere tells us that a battle is ongoing within the White House, pitting Trump against his own staff.
This internal conflict is further underscored by the fight over the “White Helmets,” an NGO that has played a key role in transmitting interventionist propaganda via the sympathetic US and British media: first they were defunded – yes, they are being subsidized by US taxpayers – and then the funding was inexplicably restored. But of course it’s not all that that inexplicable: the combined power of the Israeli and Saudi lobbies is explanation enough.
Washington, under the Trump administration, is facing westward, where the future lies, and that is entirely appropriate: the Middle East is nothing but trouble and Europe is busy committing suicide. The problem is that US policy in these areas is being handled by those who oppose the President’s “America First” foreign policy, which has been very far from consistent in any case.
For domestic political reasons, Trump has sucked up to the Israel lobby, which is nevertheless not all that enthused about the virtues of Trumpismo, for a number of reasons, first and foremost being his ambiguity about Syria. Isolated and under attack from both the left and the right, this President needs all the support he can get – but will the foreign lobbyists he’s tried to cultivate stand behind him when push comes to shove? If I were Trump I wouldn’t count on it.
Down Mexico Way – This administration is truly something new under the sun: up until now, no populist movement has ever succeeded in taking power in the US. These have always been protest movements that were absorbed by the major parties and marginalized by the elites. Now it is the elites who have been marginalized, surely a new phenomenon in American history, which is why our political class is both puzzled and unhinged.
In the foreign policy realm, this has led to some fresh thinking, as the President’s Korean peace initiative demonstrates. After our long Atlanticist romance with the Brits and the Euro-weenies on the continent, we are shifting our gaze elsewhere, to the Far East, where quickening change presents us with both challenges and opportunities, and to the South, where the mess that is South and Central America is percolating into a fresh crisis, one that has the potential to cross the Rio Grande.
Mexico, as I’ve warned repeatedly over the years, is becoming a failed state, and, further south, that failure is replicated throughout the region: El Salvador is being slowly conquered by the drug cartels, along with Honduras and Guatemala, and tens of thousands are fleeing, coming up through Mexico and appearing at the US border demanding asylum. In Mexico itself, the cartels are accelerating their attack on what remains of civilization, murdering and plundering with impunity. The country is now in the middle of an election campaign, and the carnage is increasing: as Jesse Walker pointed out the other day, 114 political figures have been killed so far.
This is happening in the midst of a presidential election in which the far-left candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is ahead of his rivals, Ricardo Anaya of the rightist National Action Party (PAN), and Jose Antonio Meade of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico without interruption from 1929 until 2000, the longest one-party rule on record.
In a race in which the candidates are competing to see who is the most anti-American, Obrador is the most vehement. He has denounced Trump, naturally, but also gone much further in declaring his support for illegal immigrants as they cross into US territory, vowing to defend them through some unspecified means. He went on tour in the US, denouncing Trump and promoting his book, entitled “Oye Trump” (“Listen, Trump”): in March of last year he filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights claiming that Trump’s policies violate international law.
The irony here is that Obrador is a nationalist in the Trumpian vein, complete with bombastic rhetoric, a towering ego, and a flamboyant personal style that had him handing out cash to crowds as he drove through the streets in a Nissan sedan during his tenure as mayor of Mexico City. He regularly denounces the corruption of Mexican politics, and he has more reason than Trump ever did to characterize the electoral process as rigged: his defeat in the 2006 presidential race was due to brazen fraud by the PRI, which openly stole the election.
This time, however, they won’t be able to get away with it: Obrador is far ahead of the other candidates. With the volatile leftist demagogue ensconced as President, anything could happen: he is calling for the release of all those arrested for drug offenses, which sounds good to libertarian ears – except that it means the leadership of the drug cartels will be given carte blanche to wreak havoc and challenge the Mexican state’s monopoly on the use of force. With his anti-American rhetoric and his leftist economic policies, American citizens living in Mexico – many of them retirees – will be vulnerable, and clashes with Washington have the potential to go beyond the merely rhetorical.
While we have been guarding the borders of Afghanistan and Iraq, the chaos enveloping our nearest neighbor to the south is increasingly a real threat to our own border. Trump’s attempt to solve this growing crisis by demonizing Mexico and Mexicans isn’t helping. What’s needed is some smart diplomacy, which doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from this administration.
While our loony-tunes Democrats and anti-Trumpistas are actually blaming the Mexican situation on Vladimir Putin – oh yes they are! – one thing should be absolutely clear: for years both the American and Mexican elites have ignored the underlying reasons for the rush to get across the Rio Grande.
Realistically, however, one wonders if there is any solution at this point. The problem has been allowed to fester for so long that there may be no way to avoid the explosion that is sure to come sooner rather than later.
The Good News – So much for the bad news, now for a bracing hit of optimism. Despite the sickening and profoundly immoral negative reaction by the political class to the Trump administration’s stunning diplomatic breakthrough in Korea, the American people are ignoring this poisonous noise: 54% of them support the President’s historic peace initiative and say the Singapore summit was a success.
This is why Trump is in the White House: the elites are so self-isolated, so removed from the reality of ordinary Americans, that they don’t even realize how irrelevant they are. Which is, by the way, a Good Thing: let them face the guillotine with a surprised look on their smug faces.
The FBI Sucks – But you knew that! And here’s more evidence of their unmitigated evil: an agent who was instrumental in the Russia-gate probe has had his emails and text messages examined, and one of them – a communication to his lover, an FBI lawyer – definitively shows how the FBI intended to set up Trump. In commiserating with his paramour about their mutual hatred of the President, agent Peter Strzok wrote: “We’re gonna stop him.” Even more damning is the revelation that the FBI tried to set up pro-Trump publicist Roger Stone by sending in a Russian who is a known informant, offering to sell dirt on Hillary Clinton. The timing is important here: the meeting occurred months before the official investigation started. This is clearly a case of attempted entrapment. If so, it failed: Stone dismissed the informant, one Henry Greenberg, also known as Henry Ohansky, as a flake.
It’s one thing to oppose Trump and all he stands for: I get that, although I don’t agree. But using the law enforcement apparatus – powerful government agencies that can break down your door, jail you without trial, and spy on you in your own home – to do it is beyond the pale. Some of my more brain-dead readers have been screeching that my covering this issue is proof that I’ve “whitewashed” the Trump administration: that’s just more evidence of their sectarian blindness. Even if I were sympathetic to the anti-Trump crowd, I would denounce this as the worst threat to our republic since the Alien and Sedition Acts. It’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it shows that the FBI and the “intelligence community” in general represent a dire threat to liberty in this country – and they must be stopped before it’s too late.
A Special Note to My Readers: Two things: first¸ a health update. I’m so much better that I’m tempted to say my cancer is in remission – but I guess I’ll have to wait for my oncologist to make this pronouncement. I feel like my old self again – which, depending on your view of my old self, could be good or just plain terrible!
Secondly, I want to remind you that Antiwar.com’s Summer Fundraising Extravaganza is still ongoing. If you haven’t contributed, now is the time to step up and do your part. We have matching funds, contributed by our more well-heeled supporters, but there’s a catch: we don’t get a penny of it until and unless we match it with a number of smaller donations. So please – we need your help more than ever. Please make your tax-deductible donation today!
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.