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Monday, March 26, 2018

Donald Trump: Is He Too Dangerous to Be Head of State?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

We [the United States] spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. ... Obviously, it was a mistake… George W. Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East…

—They [President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney] lied… They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Donald Trump (1946- ), during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.

 

 Mental impairment and criminal-mindedness are not mutually exclusive; not only can they happen at the same time, when combined, these two characteristics become particularly dangerous.” Bandy X Lee (1970- ), an internationally recognized psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the book ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,’ 2017.

 

An autocrat in the making is typically an elected outsider who disdains norms, questions the legitimacy of political foes, tolerates violence, and shows a willingness to curtail the free press. Steven Levitsky (1968- ) and Daniel Ziblatt (1972- ), (in their book How Democracies Die, 2018, 312 p.)

 

 ...An empire is a despotism, and an emperor is a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy. For, although the will of an absolute monarch is law, yet his edicts must be registered by parliaments. Even this formality is not necessary in an empire. John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd American President, (1797-1801), (in ‘The Political Writings of John Adams: Representative Selections’, 2003)

 

 To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it…

To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) (1903-1950), English novelist, essayist, and social critic, (in his book ‘1984’, 1949, chap. 2)

 

Introduction

 

US President Donald Trump (1946-), as a politician, has succeeded in attracting voters who are dissatisfied or partially dissatisfied with their economic or social situation, especially working class white voters without college degrees. Income inequality and wealth inequality is growing in the United States, and the balance leans toward the winners, even though the losers are more numerous and have not been compensated through job training or social services. In other words, many Americans are disillusioned regarding their chance of living the American dream and about the way the system and public policies disadvantage them. Trump attracts also single-issue voters.

 

All this creates a fertile ground for a populist politician. This has happened elsewhere and it is now a political reality in the United States. It is also normal that Donald Trump is strongly opposed by various establishments and attacked by those to whom his populism is repugnant.

 

But beyond the purely personal considerations people have to support or oppose him, what are the characteristics of this neophyte in politics that many, and not only in the United States, consider scary?

 

For example, some observers have drawn a parallel between the current occupant of the White House and the decadent emperor Caligula (12-41 CE) of Ancient Rome. Caligula was autocratic, unpredictable, unhinged and a self-conscious populist who lacked self-restraint. He was a sociopath who enjoyed hurting and humiliating people. Moreover, he treated politics like a show. He indulged in pornography and depravity. He was disruptive and contemptuous of existing institutions, and he was a warmonger who courted the military. 

 

A biographer in the know has also linked Trump’s outrageous behavior, as a politician, to Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the subject of his book ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil’, 1998. Indeed, author Ron Rosenbaum (1946- ) explains how a constant attack on the media and the courts by Trump was also a tactic used by Hitler to gain power, in Germany. History has a way of repeating itself, and no one should think that disastrous past experiences cannot be repeated.

 

Whether all this is the case or not, what can be safely said is that never in its entire history has the United States faced a president in the White House of the sort that Mr. Trump represents. Persons closed to him have warmed us: Donald Trump is “deeply mentally ill” and “no longer connected to reality” and what is more, he is prone to loose his temper and act in anger, sometimes in pure madness. These are, we will all agree, very dangerous character traits for any U.S. President, if they are true.

 

It has been observed that the White House under Trump’s direction is often in turmoil, in disarray and sometimes, in complete chaos, and that the American president is mentally unstable and that he is prone to act impulsively, like an unmoored loose cannon, in most anything he does. It is said that Trump often acts in a bluffing and vengeful way, firing people right and left for any motive, sometimes in a most nefarious way. That should certainly be another reason for alarm and consternation.

 

It may be worth recalling here what the former Director of the CIA under Barack Obama, John Brennan (1955-), said, referring to Donald Trump and his mean dismissal of the FBI's No. 2, Andrew McCabe (1968-), Friday night, March 16, 2018, a few hours before the latter was to become eligible for a pension:

 When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you.”

 

Recently, for example, he was reported to want to launch an international trade war for the childish reason that he did not want to be “laughed at”. This is unsettling, because all this is based on faulty economic thinking and wrong facts. A protectionist U.S. President can do great harm to the world economy. —Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn had enough of that craziness, and he resigned. Trump only wants "sycophants" around him.

In the coming months, I fear that American consumers and the world stock markets will give their own assessment of Trump’s economic folly, and it won’t be pretty.

 

Consequently, many people have concluded that the current occupant of the White House is not mature enough and not competent enough to be president of the United States. In his book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, author Michael Wolff writes that Trump lived… as a real-life fictional character”, that he is a man detached and mostly cut off from reality, being comfortable in relying on so-called false and subjective alternative facts”. For such a person, only appearances matter, not reality.

People who know him well have labeled him unpredictable and inconsistent. Trump is the flip-flopper par excellence. Indeed, Trump’s intellectual inconsistency is beyond comprehension. He can adopt, almost simultaneously, two opposite positions without flinching... and without apology.

 

And, as if this is not enough, Donald Trump is also besieged by huge conflicts of interest, not the least is a level of nepotism not seen in the White House in modern times. 

 

Let us try to get a more complete picture of the political situation in the United States:

 

1. The American electoral system favors Republicans

 

First of all, let us say that it is one of the peculiarities of the American democratic system that it happens quite often that the winning candidate in a presidential election becomes president while receiving fewer votes than the losing candidate. It sometimes happens that the losing candidate receives even a majority of votes, but is still not elected. This happened in the 1876 election.

 

In fact, American presidential elections are not necessarily decided by the popular vote. According to the rules of the Electoral College, a few hundred “grand electors”, chosen in each of the 50 states, are the ones who elect the U.S. President.

 

Such a system tends to advantage the Republican candidates and it disadvantages the Democratic candidates, because it gives less weight to the votes in the most populated states than to those cast in the less populated states.

 

For example, according to the official results of the 2016 election, the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received 48.5% of the popular votes (65,953,516 votes) but received the support of only 232 “grand electors” out of a total of 538, or 43.12% of these. However, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump only collected 46.09% of the national votes (62,984 825 votes), but received 306 or 56.9% of the “grand electors” votes. Consequently, it was Donald Trump who became U.S. president and not Hillary Clinton.

 

Note that in 2000, Republican candidate George W. Bush also received half a million fewer votes than Democratic candidate Al Gore, but the Electoral College system resulted in electing George W. Bush president. — In 1876 and in 1888, similar results ensued, when a Republican candidate was elected U.S. President, while receiving fewer votes than his Democratic opponent. — It can be said that the system of the American Electoral College tends to favor Republican candidates, who are generally more conservative.

 

2- Trump is egocentric and authoritarian

 

The current sitting American president, Donald Trump, does not seem to have deep-seated personal principles. He seems to be egocentric and he is always on the lookout to profit personally from any event: if someone or something gives him pleasure, prestige or money, he is all for it. No American president before him has dared to express openly his feelings or his insults of others, and even state his policies, on a social medium like Twitter, so much so that Donald Trump has been called the toddler-in-chief.

 

That is why Donald Trump is not your normal American president, even for the United States where money plays a larger role than elsewhere in electing public officials. Being a real estate oligarch who owns hotels and casinos, among other properties, he has brought to the White House the authoritarian and plutocratic ethics found in some wheeler-dealer corners of that industry, an ethics of ruthlessness.

 

Accustomed to running his real estate empire by himself, he was badly prepared to lead a democratic government, which is, by definition, decentralized. However, his authoritarian approach seems to appeal to his supporters. In fact, Trump acts as if he were the representative of rednecks in the White House.

 

In a new book, with the ominous title of “How Democracies Die”, two political scientists (Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard University) compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:

1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules;

2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents;

3. He or she tolerates violence;

4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media. According to the authors, “a politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern.” Unfortunately, in their eyes, “Donald Trump meets them all!

Regarding violence, Trump did not hesitate to name a torturer to lead the C.I.A. Torture is an immoral practice that he has personally espoused in the past.

 

Basically, Donald Trump is an unscrupulous demagogue, being both populist and authoritarian, of the type that has become dictator in other countries. This should be a source of preoccupation because for some time now, American presidents have been stretching the law to govern through executing edicts and to keep the United States on a permanent war footing. Donald Trump has expanded that practice and brought it to a new level. In his first year in office, indeed, Trump has issued no less than 58 executive orders and some 30 so-called “proclamations”, without any input from Congress.

 

Some business leaders can be expected to line up behind the Trump administration, especially if they expect to draw financial benefits from it, when they are at the receiving end of some money largesse (such as huge tax breaks financed with more public debt). The same applies to ambitious politicians who are willing to dance with the devil, if this can advance their career. However, it is another matter when the Trump White House extends its authoritarian cult of personality to American career civil servants, supposedly sworn in to work for the nation and uphold the Constitution, not to hold allegiance to the person temporarily sitting in the White House.

 

Also, it could be considered odd when Donald Trump applauds himself, but when he requests, in a dictator-like way, to be applauded when he speaks, whether he tells the truth or not, and pretends that it is even ‘un-American’ not to applaud him, this should raise alarm.

 

It is not at all surprising that there is a widespread distaste in the United States for Trump’s personality and for his obnoxious character. A majority of Americans who cherish their democracy simply cannot stand him. He is an embarrassment even for his supporters.

 

3- Trump acts and speaks like a sociopath who enjoys making other people miserable

 

It would be comical if it were not potentially so tragic. Trump is in a permanent state of self-admiration, constantly relying on exaggerations, on overstatements and on illogical statements. No previous American president could have matched him as an adept of self-congratulation. He shows himself as a self-aggrandizing individual. He seems to be suffering from an advanced case of megalomania. In fact, Trump is an expert in erroneously declaring himself an expert in about everything. And, he does not hesitate to qualify himself a “genius”!

 

Trump has also confessed that he likes to “make the life of people miserable”, i.e. the life of journalists, authors, competitors and anyone who opposes him. An example, among hundreds if not thousands of frivolous and gagging lawsuits, is his meritless but expensive litigations, in time and money, against author Timothy O'Brien for writing the book “TrumpNation”. After his suit was dismissed in court, because it was a direct attack on the First Amendment, Trump stated to the Washington Post, I did it to make O’Brien’s life miserable, which I am happy about.” Such is the modus operandi of a very sadistic and malicious person who does not hesitate to attack the free press and the right to free speech in a democracy.

 

4- Trump is a compulsive liar

 

Numerous public allegations have also made the public aware that Trump is obsessed with sex and sex, sex, and sex again. He is also an alleged sex harasser who continually disparages women.

 

On Tuesday March 20, former Vice-President Joe Biden (1942- ) did not mince his words, while speaking at an anti-sexual assault rally, telling students at the University of Miami what he thought of Donald Trump and the way the latter talks about women:

If we were in high school, I’d take him [Donald Trump] behind the gym and beat the hell out of him”, for disrespecting women.

 

It is well known now that Donald Trump is a pathological liar who seems to fear the truth like the pest. That is because Donald Trump is fundamentally intellectually dishonest. That is probably the main reason Trump’s lawyers are adamant in not wanting their client to testify alone and under oath, in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation about his alleged electoral collusion with Russia.

 

Publicly, Trump pretends to be willing to be questioned under oath by special counsel Robert Mueller, declaring: “I’m looking forward to it, actually”; “I would do it under oath.” This could be another example of a ‘good cop-bad cop’ charade by Trump, because he would never accept to be interviewed alone, without his lawyers, under oath, and he would likely blame his lawyers for another flip-flop of his own.

 

This is also the reason why Trump has held only one formal press conference since taking office—unlike its predecessors, who held one each month—in order to avoid being questioned by experienced journalists. He prefers partisan political rallies where no one can contradict him or steal his show.

 

5- Trump is a dangerous man to have control over nuclear arms

 

Even if it were possible to disprove half of what has been written about Trump’s eccentricities, his laughable theatrics, his twisted logic, and his lies, Donald Trump would still be a monster of a human being. We will never repeat often enough that he is a dangerous person to hold power, especially in a country like the United States, which is loaded with nuclear arms. Trump is indeed an unstable and irresponsible person; he is a person with poor judgment, besides being erratic, reckless and trigger-happy. He also employs constantly a bellicose tone in his relations with foreign leaders. This is a very bad combination for a head of state in today’s complex world.

 

And to add to that image, Trump would like to return to a bygone era, when well-known totalitarian leaders favored big shows of force. Trump made it known to “his generals” that he wants a large-scale, multi million dollar “beautiful” and pompous military parade, in his honor, in Washington D.C., on Veterans Day, with thousands of soldiers in tight formation, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, with planes and helicopters buzzing by the Washington Monument and with 70-ton Abrams tanks and Patriot missiles systems rolling down before the President’s stand. Trump seems to have had this idea after attending the French military deployment of July 14th, last summer. It’s a bit as if a childish Trump had seen a toy in the neighbor’s yard and said, “I want one too!

 

Such a powwow show would gratify Trump’s infatuation with military toys he would like to play with. It would be quite an irony if the United States, which fought fascist Germany during World War II, itself adopted fascist trappings, three quarters of a century later.

 

Regarding nuclear arms, Tom Collina, policy director of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund, has noted that a recent poll indicates that 60 percent of Americans do not trust Trump with nuclear weapons. Consequently, he concluded: the public is right to distrust Trump with nuclear weapons, and we all need to speak up and oppose these new, dangerous policies.” — I totally agree.

 

Trump has not only sociopathic tendencies, being insensitive and having no empathy for anybody else but himself; he could also be considered a would-be genocidal psychopath when he talks freely saying this is the “calm before the storm”, that it (North Korea)will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before”, even going as far as threatening to totally destroy North Korea”, a country of more than 25 million people! This is even more scandalous, considering that Donald Trump uttered that insane threat during a speech at the United Nations, an organization specifically created to avoid war.

 

Therefore, one cannot completely exclude some foul acts of savagery coming from the Trump administration in the coming months and years. The current disorganization in the Trump White House could lead to inhuman disasters, considering the instability of Trump’s character and the lack of moral fortitude and vision on the part of the current Republican leadership in both the House and the U.S. Senate.

 

6- Trump can be expected to rely on “wag the dog tricks to get out of trouble

 

It is indeed common practice for some American presidents to wag the dog”, i.e. distract from domestic or personal domestic problems by provoking some conflicts abroad. On this score, since Trump’s domestic problems are presently piling up, with multiple lawsuits launched by women with whom he had sexual affairs in the past, with serious allegations that foreign governments were involved in his election, and with the looming Special Prosecutor’s report possibly raising an accusation of obstruction of justice against him, he could be expected to want to distract attention from his problems and to make dangerous, possibly catastrophic, policy decisions. Indeed, it is a modus operandi for him to attempt to deflect attention from his personal problems by creating problems elsewhere.

 

Note that Donald Trump is the first person to be elected president of the United States without any political or military experience. Recently, he has surrounded himself with sycophants who are immoral torturers and belligerent advocates of regime change in other countries. The summum of cynicism on his part—considering that he campaigned by repeating constantly that the Bush-Cheney 2003 war of aggression against Iraq was a disaster and a dumb decision—occurred on Thursday March 22, when he named one of the very architects of the Iraq War, in the person of the extremely bellicose John Bolton, as his national security adviser. I think the United States of America has a big problem in having such a person as its president.

 

Conclusion

 

Keeping in mind what I wrote in the introduction and the rational motives that motivate his supporters to be behind him, it nevertheless remains that Donald Trump is an emperor with no clothes, and a reliance on cognitive dissonance on the part of his partisans cannot hide that simple fact.

 

Indeed, when all things are said and considered, it is impossible not to conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong with Donald Trump. Many experts and observers have warned the world that his state of mind is a danger to public safety. The Republicans, in particular, who happen to control the U.S. Congress, have a great responsibility to reflect on and to act upon that information before some irreparable damage is done. If Trump were to do something catastrophic in the coming weeks or months, economically or militarily, those Republicans in Congress will have to share personal and collective responsibility in the disaster.

 

More than one year ago, because of Trump’s lack of seriousness and preparation, I warned that he was going to be “a threat to American democracy and an agent of chaos in the world”. Unfortunately, every day seems to bring forth new proofs of that assessment.

 

Therefore, as time goes on, the case for Trump’s impeachment is going to get stronger and stronger. His removal from office will become increasingly urgent and increasingly compelling. It’s a safe bet that credible steps for his impeachment as U.S. President will be taken rapidly, if the Democratic Party regains control of the House of Representatives during this fall election—and possibly faster, if enough Republicans see the light before then.

 

COMMENTS (16) in English or French

 

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International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles” and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

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Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm.

 

Posted, Monday, March 26, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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Friday, March 2, 2018

For All Practical Purposes, the American System of Government Is Failing. How and Why?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

 

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd American President (1933-1945), (in ‘Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies’, April 29, 1938)

 

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman, and author.

 

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.Lord Acton (John E. Dalberg) (1834-1902), English historian, politician, and writer.

 

The truth is there are very few members [of the U.S. Congress] who I could even name or could think of who didn't at some level participate in that system [of bribery and corruption in Washington D.C.].” Jack Abramoff, professional lobbyist and onetime power broker for the elite of Washington, D.C. (during a CBS's 60 Minutes interview, Sunday November 6, 2011)

 

Now [the United States] is just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and Congress members. ... So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors. …The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.Jimmy Carter (1924- ), 39th U.S. President (1977-1981), (in a radio interview, Tues. July 28, 2015)

 

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th President of the United States, (1953-1961), and a five-star general, gave a Farewell address that has echoed through the years. He not only warned his fellow citizens about the danger of a “military-industrial complex”, which could “endanger our liberties or democratic processes”, but he also issued a wish in saying that “we want democracy to survive for all generations to come.”

 

Observers have noticed, however, that since the 1980’s, something big has occurred in the United States: the political system and its processes have fallen into the hands of an unscrupulous money establishment in a way that has left a majority of Americans deprived of the basic services they are entitled to receive from their government.

 

This can be explained by the workings of a political cycle of corruption, through which big money increasingly corrupts basic political institutions and practices.

 

Before the 1980s, the U.S. system of government had functioned reasonably well along the lines dictated by the U.S. Constitution and following the democratic principle eloquently summarized by President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) when he said that the U.S. government is the government of the people, by the people, for the people” as dictated by the vote of citizens who elect officials and who favor the adoption of common good policies.

 

The U.S. Constitution is one of the oldest

 

The United States is an old democracy. Its Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world. It was approved on September 17, 1787, after three months of debate, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and it became effective on March 4, 1789.

 

It is a federal constitution, which created a strong federal government, but according to the principle of separation of powers. At the federal level, it establishes an intricate system of checks and balances between an executive branch headed by a President, a legislative branch with two houses forming the U.S. Congress and a judicial branch consisting of a U.S. Supreme Court and other courts. The purpose was to prevent tyranny. The fifty American states delegated certain powers to the federal government, but undelegated powers are reserved to the states.

 

This founding document guarantees constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as spelled out in twenty-seven amendments. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights and they were ratified and adopted in 1791, while the other seventeen amendments have been adopted over time, between 1795 and 1992.

 

Basically, the U.S. Constitution was a compromise between the political ideas of Alexander Hamilton (New York) and Thomas Jefferson (Virginia). Hamilton and the Federalists favored a centralized federalism, and were supported by merchants and manufacturers. Jefferson and the anti-federalists rather favored the principle of a decentralized federal system; they supported states’ rights and agriculture. Over time, economic and technological developments and various court decisions tipped the balance in favor of Hamilton’s espousal of a strong, even aristocratic, central U.S. government.

 

The electoral reforms enacted by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt

 

Since the 1980s, there has been a fundamental change in the way political institutions function in the United States. And this is not only a matter of change in the governance approach to providing public services, as some have pointed out. It is a profound change in the way ordinary citizens choose their elected representatives and in the way they convey to public officials their demands, wishes and needs. Their influence has greatly diminished over the years.

 

For most of the twentieth century, a century during which the American standard of living rose substantially, there existed in the United States a system of laws and practices that protected the sanctity of the voting system as an expression of the choices of the citizenry. Legal entities, such as corporations, banks or other organizations were prevented from using their huge access to money to subjugate the voice of the electorate and debase democracy.

 

In 1905, for example, President Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919), a Republican, in his annual address to Congress spelled out the democratic principle that “all contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.” In 1906, Roosevelt was even more explicit, saying: I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party… Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly. On January 26, 1907, President Roosevelt signed the Tillman Act of 1907, which was the first legislation in the United States prohibiting monetary contribution to national political campaigns by corporations.

 

How the U.S. Supreme Court has subverted the American electoral system

 

However, on January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. The more than century-old Roosevelt principle which had prevailed until then according to which “no corporation shall be considered to be a person who is permitted to raise or spend money on federal, state, or local elections of any kind was crudely abolished and thrown into the trash.

 

Indeed with their judgment in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices created a major revolution in the American electoral system. They rejected historic precedents and judicial restraint in order to put a radical pro-corporate spin on the First Amendment, which protects free speech. They declared that “corporations” and other legal organizations are indeed “persons”, entitled to the same human rights as living, breathing persons, and that they can spend unlimited sums of money during electoral campaigns.

 

Consequently, since the 2010 decision of the U.S. Court, the Preambule of the U.S. Constitution that says “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union...” should more appropriately be changed now for “We, the business corporations of America…etc.”, in order to fully reflect the new political philosophy of the five-member majority of the Roberts Court. Indeed, with the decision of Jan. 21, 2010, the type of government the majority of the Roberts Supreme Court wished to establish is essentially ‘a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations’.

 

Nowadays, the U.S. Government is more centralized and more corrupt than ever

 

Indeed, over the last quarter century, there has been a quiet political coup in the United States, with far right money interests taking over the American system of government, and this not only includes the U.S. Congress; it includes also the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court. Billionaire oligarchs have taken control in the United States and they pretty much do what they want with the government, irrespective of what the people think or want. This is a throwback to the later part of the 19th Century when Robber Barons could buy out politicians, pile up the public debt and plunder the public purse at will, while unscrupulously rigging markets and abusing consumers.

 

People want peace, but the oligarchs—and that includes Donald Trump—want war, permanent war, and they want to be free to line their pockets with the war industry profits all over the world.

People want social services and want to reduce poverty, but the oligarchs want to reduce the influence of government, cut taxes and keep politicians corrupted.

 

 

People want their children to be secure, safe and not the target of guns when they go to school, but the oligarchs, manufacturers and extremist organizations want to be able to sell military-style assault weapons to everybody who can afford to buy them. Indeed, cowardly American politicians refuse to ban military-style assault weapons, as they are controlled in most countries.

 

People want to live in a clean environment, but the oligarchs want to be free to pollute and pursue their own private interests.

Most people stand for the rule of law and for democracy, but the oligarchs prefer a system closer to plutocracy, in which their money can call the shots, etc.

 

The potentially corrupting influence of money has become more and more dominant in U.S. politics, and it has been openly encouraged by numerous decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, especially, as we have seen, by the Roberts U.S. Supreme Court, in favor of the wealthy, the powerful and private interest groups, and against the common good.

 

As a consequence, popular trust in the U.S. government has declined steadily over the last half century. According to the Pew Research Center, while 73% of Americans were said to have trust in the federal government in Washington D.C., in 1958, that percentage had fallen to a mere 18%, in 2017. This represents a huge erosion of public trust in government in a bit less than sixty years. This is a generational shift of great magnitude and the sign of a profound disgust.

 

What are the consequences of that shift toward less democracy?

 

Americans are the least likely to exercise their right to vote: in the 2016 election, only 55.7% of eligible voters bothered to vote, as compared to an average of 75% in other OECD countries.

 

In the U.S., politics has become a rich man’s game: In practice and in most cases, no American citizen who is not rich can expect to be elected in the current American political system, unless he or she is willing to become a political prostitute to big money interests. Moreover, ordinary citizens cannot entertain any hope, on their own, of being able to redress the situation.

 

More importantly perhaps, it has become harder and harder to encourage government to pass legislation to enhance the common good and to promote the general welfare of ordinary citizens. Wealthy lobbies, corporations and mega banks, supported by a very concentrated and partisan media, hold the upper hand in anything the government does. These powerful lobbies push the United States to spend more on its military sector than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined.

 

Not surprisingly, income and wealth disparities in the United States are indecent and growing. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality has ranked the United States dead last among the 10 richest countries on that score. Half of the U.S. population lives presently in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data, while the American middle class is losing ground, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center. To compare income and wealth inequality that prevails in the U.S. today, it is necessary to go back 100 years, just before the Great Depression. Presently, there is less social mobility in the United States and the social fabric is increasingly disorganized.

 

Social cohesion is threatened in a country when income and wealth inequalities become exceptionally wide. This has been a big problem in South America for many years. Now it has become a growing social and economic problem in the United States.

 

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ahead of Cuba, El Salvador, Turkmenistan, the Russian Federation and Thailand. Its rate is almost 5 times higher than the OECD average.

 

An ominous sign: Life expectancy at birth in the United States fell for the second consecutive year in 2016, due to a dizzying 21% increase in the death rate from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, this is the first time since 1962 and 1963, two years in which the flu caused an unprecedented number of deaths, that the United States experienced two consecutive years of declining life expectancy.

 

Conclusion

 

Since the 1980s, a vicious cycle of political corruption in the United States has become more and more powerful and has had negative social consequences. It is a cycle of corruption that has allowed the money establishment to tighten its grip on the major American institutions of the Presidency, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Such a cycle of political corruption is self-reinforcing, and as it becomes more and more comprehensive and entrenched, it also becomes very difficult to break up and reverse.

 

COMMENTS (20) in English or French

 

_____________________________________________

 

Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com.

 

Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm.

 

Posted, Friday, March 2, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Politics 101: The Influence of Money on U.S. Foreign Policy. The Cases of Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

 

 “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. — And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.

U.S. Republican President George W. Bush (1946- ), in a conversion with a Palestinian delegation in July 2003, during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

 

They [the George W. Bush administration] liedThey said there were weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq]. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destructionWe spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. ... Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”

U.S. Republican President Donald Trump (1946- ), statement made during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

 

“I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won't get in the way.”

Benjamin Netanyahu (1949- ), current Israeli Prime Minister, in a video in 2001, addressing Israeli settlers.

 

[After 9/11 in 2001, I was shown] “a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

General Wesley Clark (1944- ), in a video interview on Tues. Mar. 2, 2007 by journalist Amy Goodman.

 

Just as Republican George W. Bush invented the pretext of “weapons of mass destruction”, in 2003, to deceive Americans and the rest of the world and to justify a military invasion of Iraq, Donald Trump seems to follow on Bush’s footsteps in actively searching for a pretext for another military confrontation in the Middle East, this time against Iran. George W. Bush had even claimed, at the time, that religion was behind his military interventionism when he said, in the summer of 2003, in a bout of hubristic delusion, that God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq.”

 

Now another American Republican president, Donald Trump, appears to see himself on a similar mission, i.e. to attack another country, in violation of international law. This time the target of his nasty attack du jour is the country of Iran, a country run by theocrats, which is facing deep domestic problems, both economic and political. Indeed, for some time now, Trump has been making inflammatory remarks against that country’s domestic affairs, in the hope of provoking a response and thus justifying a military aggression.

 

According to Donald Trump, We Should Have Never Been in Iraq.”

 

Donald Trump’s attacks against Iran are all the more amazing and unreal because, on multiple occasions during the last U.S. presidential campaign, candidate Trump openly accused George W. Bush of lying to invade Iraq, adding during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, February 13, 2016, We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.” Is Donald Trump suffering from amnesia, or is he simply incoherent in his thoughts?

 

As a matter of fact, and despite the neocon propaganda to the contrary, the Bush-Cheney administration did destabilize the Middle East, and these politicians caused the death of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, and they created millions of refugees, many of them ending up in Europe. But possibly worse, from a U.S. and Israel point of view, the 2003 American military invasion of Iraq has resulted in significantly increasing the geopolitical influence of Shiite Iran in the region, by removing from power the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein (1937-2006) and by installing a Shiite government in its place.

 

This is a question that I raised in my book about the Iraq war, The New American Empire. In it, I not only questioned the legality of such a military invasion of a sovereign country, in violation of the U.N. Charter, but also its wisdom, since Iran was undoubtedly going to profit immensely from a newly installed Shiite government in Baghdad… as it did.

 

What is doubly amazing is that both Republican American presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, received the same uncritical financial and political support from the very same super rich American Zionist donors and from American Evangelical Christians, although Bush’s support was more widespread than Trump’s, due to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. This time around, however, Donald Trump is not only an abnormal president; he is also a minority president, staunchly supported by only about one third of Americans.

 

Money is King in U.S. Foreign Policy, Especially Regarding the Middle East

 

Nowadays, in American politics, money talks and big money talks even louder. In 2010, the partisan U.S. Supreme Court made sure that this be the case when it imposed its anti-democratic doctrine of Money Is Speech”, in a 5-4 decision. For instance, in 2016, because of huge campaign contributions from one-issue super rich donors (mega donors), nearly all GOP primary presidential contenders, Donald Trump in front, ended up promising to move the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and to ring up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on their first day in the Oval Office, according to a Newsweek report.

 

So far, Donald Trump has already paid some of his political debt to his mega donors by announcing his willingness to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But even before his inauguration on January 20, 2017, Trump’s entourage was actively intervening on behalf of a foreign government, the Israeli government, at the United Nations.

 

Such subservience of American politicians to the wishes of big campaign contributors may partly explain why the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts in its elections among modern world democracies. During the 2016 American Presidential election, for example, less than 56% of voting age citizens bothered to vote, a 20-year low. According to the Pew Research Center, among the 35 highly developed countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 28th in terms of turnout in recent national elections. For example, electoral turnouts in Belgium (87%), Sweden (83%) or Denmark (80%) were much higher.

 

Because of the overwhelming importance of money in U.S. politics and because rich pro-Israel lobbies are very active and prominent political donors, American policies in the Middle East have been increasingly skewed in the direction dictated by the Israeli government and its lobbies in the United States. There seems to exist a de facto US-Israel axis, which often includes Saudi Arabia, as far as the Middle East is concerned.

 

Indeed, it’s impossible to understand what has been going on for decades in that part of the world, with its string of wars, destruction and deaths, without taking into consideration the overwhelming influence of that axis, which goes beyond partisan party lines in Washington D.C. [In a speech during the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, in April 2008, when she was a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton declared If I’m President, we will attack Iran… We would be able to totally obliterate them!]

 

A Joint U.S.-Israeli Operation Against Iran could now be in the Making

 

When the U.S. government wishes to undermine a foreign government and create the conditions for a regime change, one should be on the lookout for some false flag operations by well-funded so called “intelligence or covert organizations”, which are specialists in fomenting destabilization in a country, under the hypocritical cover of defending human rights.

 

As General Wesley Clark (1944- ) revealed in 2007 (see quote above), Iran is the last country in a long list of countries, whose government the Pentagon had plans to overthrow. The fact that some superficial media fail to inform their readers and listeners about such well-known plans is nothing less than a journalistic scandal.

 

Such an overall plan would fit perfectly well with the recently announced American-Israeli “strategic plan” against Iran. It is a curious coincidence that the most important political protests in Iran since 2009 have come about just after a secret agreement was finalized between the U.S and Israel, (with the assistance of Saudi Arabia), to destabilize Iran. Indeed, in their relations with Iran, the United States and Israel seem to be acting as a single political entity.

 

This could also explain why President Donald Trump, against all logic, is so adamant in insisting that the Iranian government is not in compliance with the P5+1 nuclear deal, even though the U.N. and the five other nations in the deal (China, France, Russia, the U. K. and Germany) all agree that Iran is actually in compliance with the agreement. On January 12, Trump renewed his charges against the Iran Deal, without completely withdrawing his country from the deal, but by adding new conditions and economic sanctions against Iran, an act that is, in itself, a violation of the deal. The only government that is in violation of the Iran Deal is the Trump administration, not the Iranian government.

 

About Iran, it can be said that Donald Trump is dutifully following the long established neoconservative script, at the U.S. Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington D.C., to target this country for the same destabilization overall plan, which was implemented successfully against Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2013, without forgetting the coup in Ukraine in 2014.

 

It doesn’t matter much who sits in the White House or which political party controls the U.S. Congress, at a given time, the same political forces are dominant and the same neocon-inspired American foreign policy is implemented in the Middle East. The slight difference recently has been that Barack Obama was somewhat less enthusiastic in implementing the policy than George W. Bush or Donald Trump. The results, however, have been the same: governments have been overthrown and people have been killed.

 

Conclusion

 

In foreign affairs as in other matters, the Trump administration is going full speed ahead with improvised and dubious policies without fully considering all the consequences ahead. The crises will come later on.

 

COMMENTS (9)

 

_____________________________________________

::::Desktop:Rodrigue Tremblay.jpgRodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com.

 

Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm.

 

Posted, Friday, January 19, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Economic Implications of Trump’s Trade & Tax Policies

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

 

We should be trying to foster the growth of two-way trade, not trying to put up roadblocks, to open foreign markets, not close our own.”

President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), in a radio address to the Nation on free and fair trade and the budget deficit, May 16, 1987.

 

“Genuine free traders look at free markets and trade, domestic or international, from the point of view of the consumer (that is, all of us), the mercantilist, of the 16th century or [of] today, looks at trade from the point of view of the power elite, big business in league with the government.”

Murray Rothbard (1926-1995), American economist, (in a 1983 article, ‘The NAFTA Myth’, Mises Daily, Nov. 30, 2013)

 

“…I do think we’re much safer and I hope that [another financial crisis] will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be.

Janet Yellen (1946- ), U.S. Federal Reserve Chair, (statement made on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in London U.K.)

 

Sudden changes in trade and tax policies, the likes of those considered by the Trump administration, could be very disruptive to macroeconomic equilibrium, especially if they result in a sudden burst of inflation and in rapid interest rate hikes. Indeed, raising taxes on imports, repatriating large corporate profits parked overseas and increasing the fiscal deficit, when the economy is running at close to full capacity, can result in both demand-led and supply-led inflation. This could come much faster than most people expect, if all these measures are implemented in the coming years.

 

After 35 years of declining inflation and declining nominal and real interest rates since 1982, the tide is about to turn, partly as a consequence of the populist and protectionist policies of the Trump administration. With widely unexpected higher inflation rates and higher interest rates just around the corner, protectionist trade policies and higher fiscal deficits just as the Fed embarks upon a series of interest rates increases could have recessionary consequences. Moreover, since the end of the 2008-09 recession in June 2009, the influence of the 9.2 years economic cycle cannot be underestimated.

Let us see why.

 

1. Trump’s trade policies will be inflationary

 

For President Donald Trump and his advisors, international trade is some sort of a zero-sum game. It is, in their eyes, a win/lose proposition. When countries enter into multilateral international trade and investment agreements, some countries are said to “win” and some other countries are said to “lose”. Over time, such a trade theory has been completely discredited. Indeed, nothing can be further from the truth, because in most cases, international trade is a win/win proposition, in which workers, investors and consumers win on both sides.

 

International trade is what makes economies prosper, and all countries benefit from international trade, to various degrees. Most economists agree that, in the current state of economic development of most industrial countries, trade protectionism is a dead end, which can be dangerous for the U.S. economy and its trading partners, such as Canada.

 

However, what Donald Trump seems to believe in—judging by his pronouncements at least—is ‘managed international trade’ and government planning, preferably in a bilateral way, not in one particular economic sector for social and economic reasons, but for all sectors of the economy. Such a system was tried in the old Soviet Union, and that economic system collapsed in 1991. In fact, Donald Trump professes to want to repudiate sixty years of increased multilateral economic cooperation between countries, based on economic laws and macroeconomic accounting. His goal is to adopt a mercantilist and protectionist approach to international economic relations, i.e. develop a positive trade balance with other countries. Such an approach would be a throwback to a theory that was prevalent in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. In other words, this has been tried many times before.

 

If the Trump administration were to get his protectionist way and were allowed by the U.S. Congress to play the apprentice sorcerer with international trade and international investment, the latter will contract, labor productivity will fall and costs of production will rise, jobs will be lost, real incomes will decline even though some money wages would increase, inflation will rise and the same for nominal interest rates. It would only be a matter of time before there would be a return to a 1970-style stagflation.

 

2. Trade facts regarding the United States.

 

In 2016, total U.S. trade deficit in goods and services was $502 billion. Indeed, during that year, the U.S. imported for $2.711 trillion of goods and services while exporting $2.209 trillion.

 

In the same year, the U.S. registered a deficit in goods only totaling $750 billion, while realizing a trade surplus of $248 billion in service trade (financial, insurance and banking services, royalties and license fees, transport and business services, etc.). This is an indication that the U.S. service industry is very competitive in the global market and this has created a lot of jobs in the United States. This services trade surplus helps offset the deficit in goods.

 

3. Adjustments in the overall U.S. balance of payments

 

Of course, this is not the end of the story. The reason the U.S. economy can buy more goods than it makes, in a given year, is due to the fact that it borrows capital (savings) from other countries, on a net basis. Such net borrowings from foreign lenders helped cover its current account deficit and kept American consumption spending high. This also helped to finance part of the huge fiscal deficits registered year after year by the U.S. government. In 2016, for example, the U.S. government domestic fiscal deficit was $552 billion.

 

Thus, the main reason why the United States, as a country, has a trade deficit is because it overspends and does not save enough, especially its government with its multiple costly wars abroad (US$5.6 trillion spent on wars, directly and indirectly, since 2001).

 

The United States as a whole is spending more money than it makes. This results in a chronic domestic fiscal deficit, and this means also that the United States, as a country, must borrow from foreign lenders to finance its external deficit. In other words, the United States lives beyond its means. However, American politicians want to lower taxes by a whooping $1.5 trillion US, over the next ten years, and increase the central government’s fiscal deficit. They do not seem to see the link between their public dissaving and their external indebtedness and external trade deficit.

 

President Donald Trump professes to want to correct U.S. trade deficits in goods and services by unilaterally reducing American imports and by increasing exports. But international trade is a two-way street: countries pay for their imports with their exports. Such a beggar-thy-neighbor approach could easily lead to trade wars, and the result could be catastrophic. If this were to happen, indeed, the entire international trade system would contract and this would bring about a worldwide economic downturn from which no country would escape.

 

The Trump administration should avoid making rash decisions regarding the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took years to be negotiated and implemented. The very idea of killing a successful and functioning trade agreement in the hope of starting from scratch is a most hazardous proposition. It could have dire economic and political consequences. Such a rash decision would carry a lot of risks and would not be a wise move.

 

Basically, if a particular country really wants to reduce its trade deficit with other countries, it would need to borrow less and save more. Tinkering with border excise taxes and other protectionist policies would not change the basic underlying cause of the foreign deficit.

 

4. The U.S. dollar role as an international currency could be in jeopardy

 

Part of the U.S.’s annual trade deficit with the rest of the world results from the fact that a big chunk of multilateral international trade is financed in U.S. dollars and that the U.S. dollar is used as a reserve currency by many countries. Other countries pay the United States for using banking services in U.S. dollars. Such external revenues are called seigniorage. This allows the United States to import more goods than it exports and to borrow funds from abroad at a subsidized rate.

 

Indeed, the United States, because of the size of its money and capital markets, is the owner of a global reserve currency, the American dollar. This ensures a strong demand for U.S. dollars and for U.S. debt instruments. Imagine what the cost of imported goods in the U.S. would be if there was a drop in the demand for the U.S. dollar?

 

Some countries have attempted recently to use other currencies to finance their international trade. For instance, China has pressed Saudi Arabia to accept its currency, the yuan, as a mode of payment for its oil imports. In addition, the International Monetary Fund presently recognizes the Chinese currency as an international reserve currency. If the U.S. were to withdraw from its policy of international economic cooperation, its economic and financial influence would decline and some other country could likely pick up the relay.

 

5. Tax policies can be inflationary if they over-stimulate an economy already running at full capacity

 

The Trump administration and its allies in Congress would like to substantially reduce personal and corporate taxes and seem willing to accept a substantial rise in the yearly fiscal deficit and in the U.S. public debt. Ironically, if this fiscal policy were to lead to more U.S. foreign borrowings, it would partly contradict the objectives pursued with the trade policy. Indeed, such increased borrowing abroad would strengthen the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar, and would encourage imports while hurting exports. A larger fiscal deficit would also put pressures on interest rates. Financial markets (bonds and stocks) would suffer and this would have a recessionary effect on the economy.

 

All this would happen, when income and wealth inequalities in the U.S. are the highest in a century and when the huge speculative bubble in the financial markets could burst at any moment.

 

Conclusion

 

I would recommend that the Trump administration coordinate its trade and tax policies. It should be careful not to upset the economic apple cart when it deals with the existing system of international trade and investment, and it should be careful not to overheat an economy running at close to full capacity. Otherwise, it may be sowing the seeds of the next economic recession.

 

COMMENTS (4)

 

__________________________________________________________

Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

 

Economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com

 

Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm

 

Posted, Friday, November 17, 2017, at 8:30 am

 

Email to a friend:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/tremblay=1186.htm

 

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© 2017 by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay: The New American Empire Blog.

 

 

 

Friday, September 1, 2017

The American military empire: Is Trump its would-be emperor?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood, … in which a massed-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.” Robert Paxton (1932- ), American historian, (in his book The Anatomy of Fascism, 2004)

 

When and if fascism comes to America, it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, “Americanism.” Halford Edward Luccock (1885–1961), American Methodist minister and professor, (in Keeping Life out of Confusion, 1938)

 

Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.” Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), German-born, Jewish-American political theorist, (in The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951)

 

By now, most observers have finally realized who President Donald Trump really is. After close to eight months in the White House, Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has serious character defects in his public role as an American “showman” president. His behavior, so far, has been more than bizarre. It has been clearly aberrant and frightening.

 

For example, people are accustomed to be lied to by politicians, but Donald Trump seems to have elevated the art of lying to new heights. He speaks and acts as if he were living in some sort of permanent fantasyland, and his first natural instinct is to invent lies. This goes hand in hand with another art that Trump has cultivated and developed to the utmost, and it is the art of bullying to get his way, with anybody, members of Congress, foreign leaders, even his own staff and subordinates, from whom he enjoys extracting public praise regarding his own persona.

 

What may be the most frightening realization of all, for an American president with such responsibilities, in charge of nuclear weapons, is the fact that Donald Trump seems to be a person who adopts the views of the last person he talks to, be it somebody from his immediate family who has been appointed to an official rank in his administration, or one of the generals whom he has appointed close to himself. — He seems not to have any firm political ideas of his own.It all depends on whether or not he’s reading from a teleprompter.

 

On the last point, Trump may have reached a Summum of irresponsibility, for a democratic leader, when he transferred basic military policy on important foreign policy decisions to the military brass. I suspect that is a ploy to shed responsibility for future failures, for which he could conveniently blame the military.

 

This points to the fact that President Trump will be the puppet of his military junta in the coming months, as the besieged president retreats into his cocoon. He will be happy to let generals run the show in near complete secrecy, and with hardly any input from Congress, as the representatives of the people. The pretext this time around: America’s enemies must never know our plans”, says Trump. Indeed, an empire cannot be democratic and open. It must be run in secrecy, with no, or hardly any, democratic debate.

 

As for now, the Pentagon has divided the world into six separate geographic so-called Unified Combatant Commands to oversee and impose by force a global “Pax Americana”. For instance, Canada is assigned to the USNORTHCOM, and countries such as Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and France are assigned to the USEUCOM, Japan and China are assigned to the USPACOM, as well as tiny Vanuatu, etc. According to Pew Research and government statistics, the U.S. still has 73,206 troops in Asia, 62,635 troops in Europe, and 25,124 troops in the Middle East and North Africa.

This is the basic infrastructure. Then, there are operational plans to use it.

 

Of course, such a global military development requires a lot of resources, which have to be diverted from other domestic uses. This creates the type of “military-industrial complex”, which establishes a symbiosis between U.S. military industries and the Pentagon. That is precisely what President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people against, in his farewell speech of January 17, 1961.

 

The transformation has been long in the making. But with Trump as a would-be autocratic emperor, it is a fait accompli, notwithstanding what the U.S. Constitution says or calls for, in terms of checks and balances and the division of powers, and notwithstanding the basic wishes of the American people.

 

The conclusion is inescapable. Americans must recognize that the United States has become a de facto military empire, even if not yet a de jure empire, and Donald Trump is its current megalomaniac figurehead, a near neo-fascist would-be emperor. Where that will lead is anybody’s guess, but this is most unprecedented and most ominous.

 

Empires are very costly to maintain

 

However, as with any empire in quest of global hegemony, the ultimate danger is overextension. Military empires are very costly to maintain and they are subject to the law of diminishing returns, i.e. military investments result in lower and lower net economic returns, as negative reactions increase and the cost-benefit ratio rises. The collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991 can serve as a reminder of such a scenario. Sooner or later, indeed, the same cause and effect equation is bound to confront the current neocon-inspired American adventure as a world empire.

 

Considering the above, it is not surprising that little leeway is left in the U.S. fiscal budget for social programs on the domestic front. In the short run, this may hardly matter, since Donald Trump does not seem to be talking to anybody in Congress, after having insulted most of its leaders and having created a vacuum around himself and his office. In the long run, however, this could be a harbinger of social troubles ahead.

 

Currently, Donald Trump is bound to accomplish very little as far as domestic policies are concerned. Trying to bully the Senate with ludicrous threats to shut down the U.S. government if the former does not vote his way in appropriating $1.6 billion in border wall money, may insulate Trump even more, even if such irresponsible talk pleases his electoral base. Indeed, if the President were to carry out his threat of closing down our governmentby vetoing any spending bill that does not include funding for his pet project of building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, this would represent some dangerous brinkmanship rarely seen in politics.

 

Also, with the ominous threat of a possibly devastating report from U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, sometime late in the fall or in early 2018, a president-under-siege’s main political way out may be to coach his generals into launching or expanding overseas wars. Indeed, this could be in the Middle East and/or in Asia, or even against Venezuela — it doesn’t much matter — while hoping that his unsophisticated political base, establishment journalists and the U.S. media in general will appreciate the show, and that the public’s attention can be somewhat diverted from his ineptitude.

 

Conclusion

 

All this is to say that with Donald Trump in the White House, the United States is marching more or less blindly toward a series of major crises, politically, economically and militarily. Which one will come first and how serious it will be is hard to predict. In any case, you can expect that it will be most disruptive.

 

COMMENTS (13)

 

 

Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

 

Economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com.

 

Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm.

 

Posted, Friday, September 1, 2017, at 8:30 am

 

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