What does the security establishment attack on Trump say about the establishment?

They say Donald Trump "lacks the character, values and experience" to be Commander-in-Chief. What they mean is, he is not enough of a warmonger.

Mikhail Molchanov
10 August 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Las Vegas, 2015. John Locher / Press Association. All rights reserved.In a recent letter, 50 Republican national security experts lambast Donald Trump, saying he "would be the most reckless president" in US history. Given his latest statement on the “Second Amendment people” and their right to change the government by force it seems hard to disagree. Yet the question of whether reckless and even unacceptable rhetoric in a modern ‘civilized society’ necessarily translates into political action – be it the revolutionary upheaval of the masses or bold, path breaking politics of the elites – remains.

The presidential candidate’s reminder of the American people’s right to hold the government accountable by force if necessary must surely apply to Trump himself. And, at the end of the day, one train of thought that Mr Trump’s outrageous remark might provoke is, how did it come to this that the democratically elected president, regardless of name, race or gender, once elected, appears truly accountable only to the top echelon of the ruling capitalist class.

The only real choice that the American people face in these elections is, what section of the ruling capitalist class will rule them and how the victorious section of the ruling capitalist class will be making its money to continue its domination.

It will be a stretch of imagination, when speakers for the ‘civilized society’ establishment in the US present Hillary Clinton as “the lesser evil, by a large margin,” to think that their first thoughts are about the plight of the poor, minorities, or women. What they truly mean is, how dangerous this or that candidate might be for the financial interests of that section of the ruling capitalist class with which these pundits associate themselves.

Hillary Clinton has the endorsement of the globalizing, liberal-interventionist, imperialist segment of the elites: the blowers of the bubbles that, when they erupt, plunge the world into one financial crisis after another. These same elites are also those who sent American soldiers to die in far-away lands, so that the world would become more open for business. Meaning, the American financial elites’ business.

Donald Trump, behind his boorishness, bravado, gaffes and plain insults hurled at the opponents, seems to be championing the interests of the domestic developers and investors that do not profit that much from an expansionist foreign policy. This segment of the elite is more concerned with the overall health of the American economy, since most of their money is made domestically. The inward-looking section of the ruling class does not support the outward-looking globalizers in their relentless drive to suck more profits overseas, even at a cost of near-full disintegration of domestic manufacturing capacity and the continued recession back home.

Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for adventurous politics overseas is what makes him dangerous for the American imperialist elites. In contradistinction, Clinton’s foreign policy hawkishness is precisely what endears her to the neocons who feel threatened by Trump’s promise to focus on domestic issues while abandoning costly engagements abroad.

Perhaps outwardly more moderate, thoughtful, responsible and experienced than Trump, Clinton has never hid her militaristic and interventionist inclinations. Both as a Senator and as a Secretary of State, Clinton supported practically all and sundry US military interventions abroad. Without a doubt, she is the mouthpiece and the chosen candidate of the military-industrial complex. She supported bombing of Belgrade, the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, the Libyan war and the regime change in Syria. She threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran. She pushed for Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO membership and provoked a new cold war with Russia. She compared Putin with Hitler and promised to oppose Russia’s plans to create a trade bloc with its neighbours as “a move to re-Sovietize the region.” She employed the neocon standard-bearer Robert Kagan as her foreign policy advisor and appointed his wife and ideological double Victoria Nuland spokesperson for the Department of State. Few months later, Nuland became Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and did her best to destabilize Ukraine and antagonize Russia. Should Clinton become President, Nuland may emerge the Secretary of State or the national security adviser.

There is little wonder that Robert Kagan and other neocons are now backing Clinton. President Hillary Clinton, flanked by supporting hawks and warmongers like Nuland, will no doubt go further in inflicting more pain on Russia. She may not stop at the use of economic sanctions alone. On numerous occasions, Clinton said Putin was a “bully” who must be contained. The “containment” theme harkens straight back to the idea of mutually assured destruction – the once-infamous MAD, which kept the cold war cold and the relationship between superpowers relatively stable in a mutual balance of terror. No wonder Hillary Clinton is also a staunch advocate of the further expansion of NATO and the provision of more substantial military assistance to Ukraine – assistance, which, as more than one observer noted, will then be used to kill more of Ukraine’s own civilian population in Donbas, while lying to the American taxpayers that it is used to repel the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

By contrast, Donald Trump says that NATO is obsolete. He says that the US should cooperate with Russia in solving common global problems, like the scourge of terrorist jihadism and the threat of the Islamic State’s creeping encroachment on lands not so long ago “liberated” by the US military machine from their rulers unsympathetic to the US leaders. He argues that American interests should come first, and to reclaim its global role, that the United States should stop wasting its blood and treasure on toppling the governments that do not bow to the US supremacy every step of the way.

These ideas are called “reckless” by security gurus of the establishment. They say Donald Trump "lacks the character, values and experience" to be Commander-in-Chief. What they mean is, he is not enough of a warmonger. His values extend beyond war profiteering at someone else’s expense. He realizes that the profits of the US military-industrial complex would be paid for by further decline of the rest of the US economy, further demoralization of the middle class, further slide to poverty of the working masses, more body bags sent back home to America from some distant lands of no use or concern to the vast majority of the American population. He lacks experience of voting for or authorizing America-led wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Ukraine.

Donald Trump is a boorish populist, but the lack of political correctness is not what makes him so hated by the establishment. Rather, it is his views on foreign policy. He is dangerously close to isolationism  – a neo-Jeffersonian alternative to the so-called liberal interventionism shared by the Clintonians and neocons alike. Because this semi-isolationist alternative, the “America first” course in foreign policy, is the US’ only hope to rebuild its global power while addressing burning problems at home, Trump has been supported by unprecedented numbers of rank-and-file Americans for a political outsider.

In equal measure, because this course, if implemented, will likely cut into the cash flow of America’s numerous war profiteers and block the career advancement of the even more numerous apologists of US global interventionism, Trump becomes a target of a concerted choir of condemnation by people who are invested into the interventionist, imperialist status-quo.

In the end, Trump’s appeal to the ‘Second Amendment people’ is detestable precisely because it is nothing more than empty rhetoric, one more act of hooliganism from a person who stands no chance to become a genuine revolutionary leader or even a radical reformer. Whether Clinton or Trump is elected, in America the establishment always wins.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData