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Friday, February 17, 2017

The Imperial Presidency of Donald Trump: a Threat to American Democracy and an Agent of Chaos in the World?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics

and The New American Empire)

 

 

 In order to obtain and hold power a man must love it. Thus the effort to get it is not likely to be coupled with goodness, but with the opposite qualities of pride, craft and cruelty. Without exalting self and abasing others, without hypocrisy, lying, prisons, fortresses, penalties, killing, no power can arise or hold its own.” Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), (in 'The Kingdom of God is Within You’ 1894.)

 

“The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), (in The Conquest of Happiness, ch. 1, 1930.)

 

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President of the United States, 1861-65; (N. B.: Originally found and attributed to Lincoln in a biography entitled Abraham Lincoln, the Backwoods Boy” by Horatio Alger Jr., pub. in 1883.)

 

“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad.” James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the US Constitution, 4th American President, (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798.)

 

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), (It Can't Happen Here, 1935, a novel about the election of a fascist to the American presidency.)

 

When 46.1% of Americans who voted, in November 2016, to elect a real estate magnate in the person of Donald Trump as U.S. President, they did not know precisely what they were buying, because, as the quote above says, we really know how a politician will behave only once he or she assumes power. Americans surely did not expect that the promised “change” the Republican presidential candidate envisioned and promised was going to be, in fact, “chaos” and “turmoil” in the U.S. government.

 

President Donald Trump (1946- ) has surrounded himself with three politically inexperienced Rasputin-like advisers, i.e. his young pro-Israel Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner (1981- ), advising on foreign policy and acting as a speech writer, and his far right media executive and chief political strategist Steve Bannon (1953- ) with an apocalyptic worldview, who is, moreover, a voting permanent member of the National Security Council (NSC). Stephen Miller (1985- ), 31, also a young inexperienced senior White House adviser, completes the trio. He is working with Jared Kushner for domestic affairs and is also a Trump speechwriter.

 

Stephen Miller (1985- )   Jared Kushner (1981- )

 

JARED KUSHNER + STEPHEN MILLER

 

Stephen bannon

Stephen Bannon (1953- )

 

Three weeks after his inauguration, President Trump has turned out to be a much more erratic politician than could have been expected, even after all the inanities he uttered during the U.S. Presidential campaign. I, for one, thought that once elected president and installed in the White House, he would abandon his tweeting eccentricities. —I was wrong.

 

In fact, for a few weeks after inauguration day, on January 20, 2017, before the nominated secretaries of various government departments were confirmed by the Senate, and anxious to "get the show going", the Trump White House behaved like an imperial junta, issuing a string of executive orders and memos. The objective, seemingly, was to force the hands of the responsible departments and of the elected Congress, and to bend the entire U.S. bureaucracy to its agenda. It may have gone too far.

 

Indeed, when the heads of important departments like the Department of Defense (James Mattis) and the State Department (Rex Tillerson) were confirmed and assumed their functions, President Trump changed his mind on many policies about Israel, China, the Iran Deal …etc.

 

U.S. courts have also thrown a monkey wrench in the blanket executive order closing the U.S. borders without recourse to the citizens of seven Muslim countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen), for spurious “security reasons”.

 

Let us recall how the inexperienced Trump White House has created chaos during the first weeks following inauguration day.

 

• President Donald Trump has shown a propensity to govern by decree with a minimum input from government departments and from the elected Congress

 

A dangerous and potentially disastrous approach to government, in a democracy, occurs when a leader adopts the practice of governing by decree, without constitutional constraints, thus forcing the hands of responsible departments, of the elected Congress and submitting the entire U.S. bureaucracy to his will by governing as an autocrat. If it were to continue on that road, the Trump administration could turn out to be more like a would-be imperial presidency than a responsible democratic government.

 

This term was first coined by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in his 1973 book The Imperial Presidency, in response to President Richard Nixon’s attempt to extend the power of the U.S. president, declaring “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”. In my own 2003 book The New American Empire, I dealt with the issue of American presidents having usurped over time the power to adopt a policy of global intervention, and the power to launch wars of aggression at will, with a minimum input from Congress.

 

President Trump seems to want to outdo President Nixon in considering the White House as the primary center of political power within the American government, contrary to what the U.S. Constitution says about the separation of powers.

 

To be sure, other American presidents have issued executive orders and presidential memos early in their administration, but this was mainly to re-establish procedures that a previous administration had abandoned. They usually did not deal with fundamental and complex policies without debate, although many did.

 

In the case of President Trump, his executive orders and presidential memos have not only been multiple, they also have dealt with fundamental policies, without consulting and requesting the professional input of the Secretary and of the department responsible, be it on healthcare, abortion, international trade, immigration, oil exploration, justice, etc., and without producing policy papers to explain the rationale behind the policy changes and without outlining the objectives being pursued.

 

When such a development of governing by decree has occurred in other countries, democracy was the loser, and the consequences for the leader and his country turned out to be disastrous.

 

• President Donald Trump seems to be anxious to find pretexts to pick fights with other countries: For him, it seems to be the U.S. against the world

 

In a March 2007 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the future presidential candidate Donald Trump said that President George W. Bush had been a disaster in foreign relations and that he was “the worst American president in the history of the United States”, adding that he “should have been impeached” because he lied his way into a war of aggression against Iraq and sent thousands of people to their death. This is an assessment that he has repeated on numerous occasions.

 

However, ironically, President Donald Trump seems to be on the same track as George W. Bush regarding the country of Iran, using lies and false claims to pick a fight with that country, and in so doing, echoing the hysterical rhetoric of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has also recklessly insulted the heads of a half dozen countries, even going so far as to threaten the President of Mexico to invade his country. As to his criticism of President George W. Bush, it seems that really, “it takes one to know one”!

 

President Trump should be reminded of what he promised as a presidential candidate. In a foreign policy speech delivered on Wednesday April 27, 2016, he declared “Unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength. Although not in government service, I was totally against the war in Iraq, very proudly, saying for many years that it would destabilize the Middle East.”

 

• President Donald Trump has been less than candid regarding the influence of the Wall Street lobby on politicians, including himself

 

During the 2016 Presidential political campaign, candidate Donald Trump was very critical of politicians who do the heavy lifting for Wall Street firms in Washington D.C. On many occasions, Mr. Trump said that Wall Street is a symbol of a corrupt establishment that has been robbing America's working class and enriching the elite. He also tweeted point blank, on July 28, 2016, that Secretary Hillary Clinton was “owned by Wall Street and that Wall Street banks had “total, total control” over his rivals Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, implying that they were unfit for the Office of the President. On October 19, 2016, Mr. Trump tweeted that “crooked Hillary is nothing more than a Wall Street Puppet”, thus presenting himself as the populist defender of the working class against the financial elite.

 

But guess what? One of Mr. Trump’s first moves as President was to order the undoing of the banking regulations known as the Dodd-Frank legislation, which was adopted in 2010, after the 2008 subprime financial crisis. President Trump thus quickly answered the main request made by the very Wall Street mega banks that he had accused previously of corrupting Washington politicians. He went even further when he named a former Goldman Sachs banker, Steven Mnuchin, as his Treasury Secretary.

 

Also, Mr. Trump has reached to the mega-bank Goldman Sachs for help and support. He name Mr. Gary Cohn (1960- ), president of Goldman Sachs, head of the President’s National Economic Council, thus making sure that Wall Street bankers will have a big say in his administration’s economic and financial policies.

 

Was his lambasting of his opponents as Wall Street banks’ puppets simply campaign rhetoric without substance? That is certainly a question worth asking.

 

• President Donald Trump’s continuous attacks against the free press and against independent judges who rule against his policies is an authoritarian approach to government and is a violation of the separation of powers

 

On Monday February 6, President Trump launched a barrage of off-the-cuff intimidating insults at the American news media, accusing them of “refusing to report on terrorist attacks”, without providing any evidence to back up such serious accusations. He has also attempted to intimidate judges who have to rule on the constitutionality of some of his decrees and threatened their judiciary independence.

 

Such behavior is a violation of, and contempt for the separation of powers clause in the U.S. Constitution and is a frontal attack against the free press.

 

This is not a trivial matter, because when an authoritarian regime wants to establish itself and avoid accountability, it usually attacks the legislative and the judiciary branches of government to pressure them to toe the line of the executive branch, and it tries to silence the very institutions that can put the false statements of politicians to the test.

 

• President Donald Trump has a mercantilist view of international trade, which is rejected by nearly all economists

 

President Donald Trump seems to think that his country should have trade surpluses on goods and services vis-ą-vis other countries, the latter being saddled with trade deficits, whatever the overall balance of payments of the United States, especially its capital account, and whatever the domestic and foreign economic circumstances. This is economically false. That is not the way adjustments in the balance of payments of a country work, in a multilateral world.

 

When Donald Trump places all the emphasis on only one part of the balance of payments, the trade balance, he misses the point. For example, if a country lives beyond its means and borrows money from abroad, such foreign borrowing appears as an inflow of foreign capital in the country. Such an inflow of foreign capital causes an excess of domestic spending over its production, and that helps finance an excess of imports over exports of goods and services with the rest of the world. The capital account of the country shows a surplus, while the trade balance (more precisely the current account) indicates a deficit, thus balancing more or less each other.

 

The main reason why the United States is registering trade deficits is because it borrows too much from abroad.

 

This is partly due to the fact that the U.S. government runs huge fiscal deficits, spending more than its tax revenues, and borrowing money both from the private sector and from foreigners, thus increasing the public debt. Such deficits often are the result of tax reductions and of increased military expenditures. The fact that the world economy uses the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency represents an interest-free loan that the rest of the world makes to the United States, which allows the USA to have a chronic trade deficit. Mr. Trump and his advisers would be wise to understand these truths of international finance.

 

If his administration wants to reduce the annual U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world, the U.S. government should balance its books and reduce its foreign borrowings. Trade wars will not improve the U.S. trade balance if the country keeps over-spending and keeps borrowing from abroad. They would only make matters worse.

 

For many decades now, the U.S. government has piled up debt upon debt while running continuous fiscal deficits, mainly due to the fact that it has been waging costly wars abroad, while financing such interventions with foreign money. This is a problem that American politicians must understand if they don’t want their country to go bankrupt. This has happened in the past to other overextended empires, and there is no reason why it should not happen today when a country continuously spends more than it produces. And wars do not produce anything, except death and destruction.

 

• Hopes of putting an end to the Middle East chaos have greatly diminished

 

One of the positive results of the Trump election was the promise to end the deadly chaos in the Middle East. During the presidential campaign and once in power, Mr. Trump threw some cold water on that promise.

 

Firstly, in his March 21, 2016 speech to AIPAC, he flattered his rich Zionist donors by announcing his intention to break with the half-century policy of most western nations that considers the city of Jerusalem a United Nations protected zone and an international city occupied by Arabs, Christians and Jews. He declared “we will move the American embassy [from Tel Aviv] to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”

 

Secondly, on Thursday December 15, 2016, to make sure that everybody understands that he is one-sided in the more than half a century old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President-elect Trump announced his choice of a hardliner pro-Israeli settlements on privately-owned Palestinian lands for U.S. ambassador to Israel (in fact, David Friedman, his former bankruptcy lawyer). The new ambassador didn’t waste any time in professing that he was looking forward to doing his job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

 

And, thirdly, seemingly forgetting that he had criticized Secretary Clinton for proposing a similar dangerously reckless policy, President Trump announced, on January 25, that he will absolutely do safe zones in Syria, seemingly without considering if it was legal to do so without the consent of the Syrian government, and without consulting with the three principal countries (Russia, Turkey and Iran), which had just concluded a peace plan for Syria. He opted instead to talk to leaders of Saudi Arabia and of the United Arab Emirates— two countries known to be sponsoring terrorism in Syria.

 

• The world is afraid of President Donald Trump: Doomsday Clock scientists have concluded that humanity is just two-and-a-half minutes from the apocalypse

 

Late in January, the scientists in charge of the Doomsday Clock set the clock at just two-and-a-half minutes from the apocalypse, allegedly because of Donald Trump. They said that the businessman turned politician, with his disturbing and ill-considered pronouncements and policies, has the potential to drive the Planet to oblivion. This means that they consider that the Earth is now closer to oblivion than it has ever been since 1953, at the height of the nuclear confrontation between the USA and the Soviet Union. The existential threats facing the Earth now come from the loose talk about using nuclear weapons and the proliferation of such weapons, as well as the observed acceleration of climate change.

 

Conclusion

 

All considered, the turn of events since the election of Donald Trump has raised a number of fears that a lot of things could go wrong in the coming years. Many of the policies advanced by the Trump administration are the wrong remedies for the problems facing the United States and the world. In fact, many of these ill-conceived policies are more likely to make matters worse, possibly much worse, than to improve them.

 

Things seem to have begun to change somewhat with the arrival of newly confirmed secretaries in the decision-making process and new advisers. Let us hope that cooler heads will bring experience, knowledge and competence to a Trump administration that cruelly needs it.

 

 

COMMENTS (15)

 

_______________________________________________

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, February 17, 2017, at 8:30 am

 

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Friday, January 20, 2017

What to Expect from the Trump Administration: A Protectionist and Pro-Corporate America Government

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and

 The New American Empire)

 

Trump

 

 

 Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), Italian politician, journalist, and leader of the National Fascist Party. (As quoted in Mats Erik Olshammar’s book Dragon Flame, 2008, p. 253)

 

The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what [Adolf] Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. — With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965), American politician, 33rd Vice President of the United States, 1941-1945, (in ‘The Danger of American Fascism’, The New York Times, April 9, 1944, and in ‘Democracy Reborn’, 1944, p. 259)

 

"Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American journalist and essayist, (in ‘Minority Report’, 1956, p. 207)

 

With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! »

Donald Trump (1946- ), on January 3, 2017, after House Republicans voted 119-74 to place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under the control of the House of Representatives. (N.B.: They reversed their position after Mr. Trump’s criticism)

 

Presidential candidate Donald Trump raised the hopes of many Americans when he criticized his political opponents for their close ties to Wall Street and, above all, when he promised to 'drain the swamp' in Washington D.C. He may still fulfill that last promise, but as the quote above indicates, he may have to fight House Republicans on that central issue. Candidate Trump also raised the hopes of many when he promised to end costly wars abroad and to concentrate rather on preventing jobs from moving offshore, on creating more middle-class jobs at home and on preventing the American middle class from shrinking any further.

 

No doubt the cabinet he has assembled is filled with well-intentioned and capable persons. And, it is only normal that a new president surrounds himself with loyal supporters and people with whom he feels comfortable ideologically and personally. And, let us be fair. Not many progressives or academics supported Donald Trump during the November 2016 election. However, on paper at least, it can be said that Trump’s cabinet looks to be more to the right than himself.

 

Nevertheless, the Trump administration will probably be the most pro-business administration and the wealthiest in American history. This is somewhat ironical because, during the November 2016 presidential election, Mr. Trump prevailed in poor, economically challenged cities, while Ms. Clinton drew her support in more affluent cities and counties.

 

The overall image that emerges, indeed, is a U.S. government fit for an inward-looking industrial-financial-military complex, made up, to a large extent, of billionaires and of Wall Street financiers (Ross, Mnuchin, Cohn, Clayton, etc.), of known warmongers (Mattis, Flynn, etc.), and of known Zionists (Bolton, Friedman, Greenblatt, etc.). However, this is a corporate government that is hostile to large American international corporations (GM, Coca-Cola, etc.), hostile to economic regulations and to economic globalization in general.

 

There is a clear possibility, considering its composition, that the pro-domestic-business Trump administration could herald a new Robber Baron era of laissez faire capitalism within the United States, somewhat similar to the one that led, in reaction, to the passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890. If so, history could repeat itself. Only time will tell.

 

A genuine desire for radical change

 

There is no doubt that the 2016 U.S presidential election revealed a desire for radical change on the part of a large segment of the U.S. electorate, discontent and dissatisfied with the way things are these days with the political gridlock in Washington D.C. and with the relatively stalled U.S. economy.

 

The economic policies espoused by the U.S. establishment over the last quarter century have resulted in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, with the result also that economic and social mobility for average American families has declined and is now much lower than in other advanced economies. This has been an important cause for disillusion and anger among many Americans who feel that the economic system is rigged against them and in favor of the very rich.

 

Can President Trump succeed in bringing about fundamental, even revolutionary change, especially in reducing political corruption and in bringing more economic and social justice for American workers, or will he be engulfed in the morass of politics as usual in Washington D.C.? Here again, only time will tell.

 

On the other hand, President Trump can hardly pretend to have received an overwhelming political mandate for change from the electorate, considering that he got 2,865,000 fewer votes than Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The last time that this happened was in 2000 when Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush received about 540,000 fewer votes than his adversary Al Gore, but he was nevertheless elected president by the U.S. Electoral College.

 

Moreover, by professing to want to cumulate his responsibilities as U.S. President and those as a de facto head of his own international real-estate company, and by refusing to park his private business interests in a blind trust, thus creating a permanent conflict of interests, President Donald Trump is sending the wrong signal. And transferring the daily executive responsibilities to his sons does not pass the smell test.

 

During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump clearly said that “[I]f I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts… I wouldn’t ever be involved because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country, anything.” Public interest, indeed, is not the same as private personal interests, and it is difficult to believe that Mr. Trump has had a change of mind on such an important issue. People should expect their politicians not to use their positions, directly or indirectly, to enrich themselves. Period.

 

Let us consider how a strong pro-business Trump administration could have some beneficial results in the short run, but could also be very disruptive in the long run, both for the United States and for the world.

 

1. Donald Trump’s authoritarian approach may endanger American democracy

 

American democracy may be seriously tested in the coming months and years, as a President Donald Trump administration begins implementing a fundamental shift in American domestic and foreign policies. This could be either for better or for worse.

 

That is because the new U.S. president, Donald J. Trump (1946- ), is a businessman, in fact, an international real-estate mogul who owns hotels, golf courses and casinos in many countries, who has no government experience of his own and who has run his family business with total control. Moreover, businessman Donald Trump has tended to trust his business instincts more than his head in making important decisions, and he is also inclined to act in a self-serving manner. He is a person who, temperamentally and on occasion, does not hesitate to denigrate, humiliate and bully people around to get his way. Indeed, his modus operandi in his dealings with people seems to rely on intimidation and on bluffing in order to exact concessions on their part and to obtain some benefits for himself.

 

Some fifteen years ago, another businessman was elected to the American presidency, i.e. Texan oilman George W. Bush (1946- ), who also boasted that he made decisions with his guts. That did not turned out too well for the United States, as Bush II ended up being one of the worse presidents the U.S. ever had. Presidential candidate Trump even said publicly that George W. Bush was “the worst President in history”, and said he should have been impeached because he lied about the presence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq with the clear intention of tricking the American public into supporting a war against that country.

 

It’s true that George W. Bush did not hide his intentions of governing in an authoritarian way when he declared, "I'm the commander in chief, see, I don't need to explain, I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting part about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation", as this was documented in Bob Woodward's book 'Bush at War', 2002. Will President Trump take such a statement as a precedent, or will he be more open to outside ideas to improve things?

 

2. Fears of trade wars and disruptive protectionism looming ahead

 

President Donald Trump has made no qualms about being a trade protectionist. His spokespersons have repeatedly said that the new administration is a protectionist one. It is one thing to adopt ad hoc protectionist measures; it is another matter to adopt an overall protectionist policy that could lead to widespread economic disintegration, and trigger costly economic dislocations, uncertainty and, possibly, risk a worldwide economic depression.

 

This could also mean bringing forward destructive laws, similar to the protectionist 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which imposed high tariffs and other barriers to the importation of foreign-produced goods.

 

There are, however, international trade laws that prevent one country from singling out another country for punitive tariffs or trade impediments without cause. If the Trump administration were to violate those laws, other national governments could be expected to retaliate, and this could wreak havoc with international trade and world prosperity. In the 1930s, protectionist “beggar-thy-neighbor policies" raised unemployment and intensified the Great Depression. Nobody can be absolutely sure that this would not be repeated if similar policies were pursued today.

 

In fact, it is far from certain that increasing duties on imports would be beneficial to the U.S. economy. Such impediments to trade would push up the prices of goods in the United States, thus making it harder for workers on low salaries to buy them. American exports could also suffer when other countries retaliate and raise tariffs on goods produced in the U.S. and shipped from the U.S., creating unemployment in many American exporting industries, notably in the agricultural sector.

 

With American protectionist policies raising prices, the Fed could then be expected to raise interest rates faster, thus slowing down interest-rate sensitive industries such as the construction industry, while higher U.S. interest rates could appreciate the U.S. dollar vis-ą-vis other currencies, resulting in a further decline of U.S. exports abroad and negating the expected objective of protectionism.

 

Indeed, President Trump and his advisers could learn some lessons in economics in 2017-2018, when they see an extraordinary strong U.S. dollar, boosted by their expected protectionist policies, destroying American exports and possibly also tanking the stock market. Large American international companies could be expected to suffer the most, and those who work for them or own stocks in them would also suffer, both from the artificially strong dollar and from retaliations from other countries.

 

Therefore, it is far from a sure thing that the jobs created in American import-substituting industries would not be counterbalanced by the loss of jobs in American export industries. The result could be net negative for the U.S. economy as a whole. Protectionist policies could also lower American overall productivity, in the long run, because of a reduction in economies of scale caused by a contraction of U.S. export industries and in their investments.

 

3. The North American economy could be disturbed and political relations could possibly turn sour

 

The United States needs allies and friends in the world, and there is no better friend of the United States than neighboring Canada. In 1988, the Reagan administration reached a free trade agreement (FTA) with Canada, a country with a similar free market economy and standard of living, which has benefited both countries. In 1994, the Clinton administration enlarged the Canada-US free trade Agreement to include Mexico, the latter country having a standard of living that is less than one third the American standard of living. That was NAFTA.

 

The Trump administration intends not only to cancel the already signed trade agreement (TPP) with Asiatic countries and to end negotiations for establishing a transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), but President Trump would also like to reopen and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Such isolationist moves are bound to create unnecessary economic and political frictions besides creating a lot of uncertainty. For neighboring Canada and Mexico, this has the potential of disrupting their economies. Let us hope that cooler heads will prevail and that the baby of economic cooperation won’t be thrown out with the bathwater of trade irritants.

 

Mr. Trump and his advisers should know that trade is a two-way street and that a country pays for its imports with its exports. They must know, therefore, that Canada is the U.S.’s number one trading partner and that there are 35 U.S. states (New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Alaska, etc.) for whom the number one export country for their goods and services is Canada.

 

 

In 2015, for the record, the United States exported goods and services to Canada for a total value of $337.3 billion, and imported from Canada goods and services valued at $325.4 billion, for a net U.S. surplus equal to $11.9 billion. In 2015, Canada was the United States' number-one goods export market. Moreover, American companies had direct investments worth $386.1 billion in Canada, in 2014, while Canadian companies had direct investments in the United States worth $261.2 billion in the same year.

 

The Trump administration should know that, in 2015, nearly 9 million American jobs depended on U.S. trade and investment with Canada. Therefore, Canada is not a country posing a trade problem to the United States and Mr. Trump and other U.S. politicians should know it. The Canadian and American economies are well integrated and are complementary to each other.

The motto should be: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

 

4. Drastic U.S domestic policy changes may hurt the poor and enrich the already super rich, thus exasperating inequality, if they are not replaced by better policies

 

Presidential candidate Trump promised to lower U.S. corporate tax on corporate profits from 35% to 15%. Even though the real corporate tax rate paid by most American corporations is much lower than the posted rate, being closer to 12%, such a drastic drop in the official corporate taxation rate is bound to make the rich richer. In fact, the post-November-8 stock market rally is largely a reflection of that promise to lower the corporate tax rate.

 

Similarly, candidate Donald Trump has promised to deregulate U.S. mega banks, which were at the center of the 2008 subprime loan financial crisis, and especially end the Dodd-Frank rules, which require banks to hold more capital as an insurance against catastrophic failures. Here we go again: politicians pandering to those who can give them money, while risking the stability of the entire financial system and the jobs of millions of Americans. If this comes to pass, the next financial crisis may be called the ‘Trump financial crisis’.

 

On the social side, Trump’s promise to dismantle the Obamacare program, without advancing a credible replacement, may end up hurting the poorest Americans. Indeed, what would happen to the some 20 million Americans who previously had been left out of secured access to health services through employer-sponsored insurance? In politics, it is usually easier to dismantle something than to build something of value.

 

5. U.S. economic and political clashes with China may be very disruptive to world peace

 

The Chinese government is a communist and authoritarian government, even though it has moved, since 1978, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997), to a more decentralized market-oriented socialist economy. The biggest economic step for China came on December 11, 2001, when it officially abandoned protectionism as a policy and joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), thus integrating the world economy.

 

It is true that the U.S. has a trade deficit with China. In 2015, for example, American exports to China amounted to $116.1 billion while the U.S. imported goods from China valued at $483.2 billion, leaving a trade deficit equal to $367.1 billion. That is party due to the fact that many U.S. companies have invested in China, and they imported goods from China. This is partly due to the fact that the U.S. government has a large fiscal deficit, and some of it translates into an external trade deficit. Of course, it is true that China is also a large low-wage country, and its products are very price-competitive.

 

An important point of contention between the U.S. and China has been the value of the latter country’s currency, the Yuan. Critics have argued that the Chinese currency has been kept artificially undervalued, thus reducing the price of Chinese goods on international markets and stimulating its exports. The Chinese government has argued that the Yuan exchange rate reflects its own economic conditions, i.e. low labor costs, and that the value of the Yuan, in fact, has been appreciating over the last twenty years and that the country runs trade deficits with other countries.

 

Such an issue should be settled by a panel of international monetary experts, and should not be a pretext for a trade war.

 

6. The Trump administration, by siding even more openly with Israel than previous American administrations, may make matters worse in the Middle East

 

During the electoral campaign, candidate Trump said, on many occasions, that he wanted to reduce congressional term limits, fight political corruption and stop the influence of the tens of thousands of lobbies in Washington D.C.

 

Ironically, on Monday evening, March 21, 2016, Mr. Trump appeared in front of the most powerful foreign policy lobby in the U.S., the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an umbrella lobbying organization that boasts of having access to a vast pool of political donors. He then delivered the most demagogic and the most pandering speech that a politician can make to get votes and money from a lobbying organization. So much so that, the next day, AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus had to apologize for some of Mr. Trump’s remarks.

 

During his speech, Mr. Trump went on to please his listeners by declaring that he was prepared to turn a blind eye to the issue of illegal Israeli settlements that the Israeli government has allowed on the occupied lands Palestinians want for their future state. He went even further and said that he would veto “100 percent”, as U.S. President, any attempt by the United Nations to impose a Palestinian state on Israel, provoking cheers and applause. Mr. Trump went on promising to “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem”, a shift of policy that would be denounced by most other countries, even if this was met with cheers and applause by the AIPAC delegates.

 

Soon after his AIPAC speech, not surprisingly, prominent American billionaires, such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, casino owner Phil Ruffin, activist investor Carl Icahn, etc. became prominent donors to the Trump campaign. So much for draining the swamp!

 

7. President Trump has made incendiary and false statements about Iran

 

Candidate Trump, in his pandering speech to AIPAC, promised to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”. He even repeated the lie that the U.S. government “gave” $150 billion to Iran. In fact, that sum was Iran’s own funds that had been frozen in American financial institutions because of unilateral sanctions. This was not a “gift”. It was restitution.

 

It was said of the George W. Bush administration that it made “its own reality”. Would the Donald Trump administration be on the same track in creating “its own facts”?

 

Let us remind ourselves what the Iran Deal was.

It was an agreement reached by six countries (France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, China, and the United States), which removed the possibility that Iran develop nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. Would President Trump insult all these countries and opt to go to war with Iran to please his rich donors? I hope not. That would be crazy. I doubt very much that this is the type of “change” that American voters want, i.e. more neocon-inspired wars of aggression abroad.

 

8. The Trump administration is expected to show little respect for the environment

 

Scott Pruitt, the new Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (APA) is openly a denier of climate science and of clean air legislation. As Attorney General of the state of Oklahoma, he opposed the Environmental Protection Agency (APA) over its Clean Power Plan. He can be expected to encourage highly polluting coal burning.

 

Indeed, it is one thing to be a climate change skeptic, and another to be pro- air pollution. There are economic activities that generate pollution costs to the entire population and cause diseases. Such social external costs are not included in the market prices of private goods. They should be.

 

People have only to look at some Chinese cities, like Beijing, to see how destructive air pollution can be, when people have to wear masks when going outside their homes. In particular, burning coal on a large scale creates smog and is a recipe to generate deadly air pollution. That is what China is learning the hard way, as this results in thousands of premature deaths.

 

Numerous members of the Trump administration are climate change deniers and are opposed to climate scientists’ recommendations. For one, Rick Perry, the former Republican Governor of Texas and President Trump’s choice for Energy Secretary, denies that climate change is happening or that it is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It is undeniable, for example, that the year 2016 was the warmest ever and that the trend toward a warming climate will continue as CO2 emissions keep increasing.

 

On the environment, therefore, the Trump administration can be expected to be anti-intellectualism and anti-science.

 

9. After statements made to that effect, the Trump administration is expected to pack the U.S. Supreme Court with far-right judges

 

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is on record as willing to pack the U.S. Supreme Court with far right pro-life judges. Mr. Trump is known to have been, for most of his life, pro-choice, although he has expressed a personal dislike for abortion, except for three exceptions, i.e. when the health of a woman is in danger, in case of rape, and in case of incest. In 1999, for example, he told NBC ‘Meet The Press, “I'm very pro-choice.”

 

However, during the last presidential campaign, on August 1, 2016, Mr. Trump went further and said that I will pick great Supreme Court Justices”, …similar in philosophy to the late Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016), one of the most far right judges ever to have sat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

The most contentious proposals of the Trump administration will undoubtedly be the type of judges it nominates for confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

 

10. On the positive side, the Trump administration is bound to end the Washington Neocons’ New Cold War with Russia

 

In international affairs, the main positive contribution that the Trump administration could bring to the world would be to put an end to the artificially created New Cold War with Russia that Washington Neocons have initiated from scratch in recent years, within the Obama administration. Indeed, President Donald Trump has been most clear in expressing his desire to adopt a more peaceful approach to Russia and President Vladimir Putin. In many areas, he even considers Russia to be an ally of the U.S., not the dangerous adversary that the Neocon establishment in Washington D.C. has tried to portray it to be in recent years. If this New Détente with Russia can be achieved, it would be a major accomplishment for world peace and for American prosperity.

 

Conclusion

 

One of the weak characteristics of democracy is that, in practice, it pushes politicians to pander to special interests for votes and money, at the expense of public interest and the common good.

 

From what we know so far, the Trump administration is geared to be the most pro-domestic-business, the most economically isolationist and protectionist, and the most pro-special interests American administration, ever. This could spell trouble for the United States and for the world if it truly acts in that direction.

 

As an economist, indeed, I fear that an inexperienced Trump administration would go too far, too fast in dislocating American international corporations and in raising domestic tariffs on imports. The end-result could be some disastrous trade wars that would create stagflation and that would hurt both the American and foreign national economies.

 

This is an administration that should heed a few words of caution, and it should refrain from being an extremist administration.

Stay tuned.

 

COMMENTS (7)

 

_________________________________________

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 the book site at:

http://www.thecodeforglobalethics.com/

and his international blog at:

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

 

Posted, Friday, January 20, 2017, at 8:30 am

 

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

 

The Trump Revolution in The United States: What Will Be the New President’s Herculean Works?

 

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and

 The New American Empire)

 

 

“When you give [money to politicians], they do whatever the hell you want them to do… As a businessman, I need that.

Donald J. Trump (1946- ), in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015.

 

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 J. Trump (1946- ), during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.

 

In my opinion, we've spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.

—We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to the Middle East; we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity.

—The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory.

It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. —A total and complete mess.

—I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.”

Donald J. Trump (1946- ) in a GOP presidential debate, on Tues. Dec. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas, NV.

 

Throughout history, any profound political and social change was preceded by a philosophical revolution, at least among a significant section of the population.”

M. N. Roy (1887-1954), in ‘The Future of Democracy’, 1950.

 

 

There has just been a generational political earthquake in the United States and the after shocks are potentially going to be huge. Indeed, on November 8, 2016, against all odds, the Republican candidate Donald Trump (1946- ) was elected to serve as the 45th American President, repeating ad nauseam his main slogan “Make America Great Again”. He will be the first American president since Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) to occupy the White House without having personal political experience.

 

Trump’s rhetoric and proposals have been squarely anti-establishment and anti-status quo, both domestically and internationally. As such, Trump’s victory is a political revolution in the making because it announces a break from American policies pursued by both Republican and Democrat U.S. administrations since the 1990’s.

 

For this reason, Trump’s election inspires both fear and hope. Fear among the established elites, especially among the dominating Washington/media/financial establishments, because the Trump victory will undoubtedly be seen as a repudiation of their values and policies. And after last June’s Brexit, the writing may also be on the wall for the current crop of European elites, who have also actively pushed for a globalized world, with open frontiers, illegal immigration, technological changes, and the deindustrialization of the more advanced economies.

 

There is hope, however, among those who have been left behind economically, politically and socially, especially among those in the American middle class whose real incomes have been stagnant or declining, and who have suffered badly from the agenda and policies pursued during the last three decades. Over the last 30 years, indeed, the upper 10 % and the super-rich 1 % segments of the U.S. population have greatly benefited from a shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, while the bottom 90 % was left behind.

 

Many disenfranchised American workers, especially those with less than a high school diploma, saw in Republican candidate Donald Trump and in defeated Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders the hope to see things change for the better. It is symptomatic that Americans in large urban areas voted massively democratic, while industrial and rural areas voted massively republican. Contrary to polls, the forecasting models that included the historical context and the desire for change in their prediction had it right. This is the case of American University professor Allan J. Lichtman’s model.

 

Trump’s Herculean task ahead

 

President-elect Donald Trump and his team have a Herculean task ahead of them if they are to deliver on the promises they made.

 

1- Let us begin with the main foreign policy changes to be expected.

 

The biggest losers of the November 8 election will be the foreign policy hawks and the Neocons in the previous U.S. administrations, from the Bill Clinton administration to the current Obama administration. They are the ones who have pushed to rekindle the Cold War with Russia and who have designed the interventionist policies, which are destroying the Middle East.

 

It is expected that a Trump administration will reverse the U.S.-led NATO policy to provoke Russia by multiplying hostile military moves at its borders. Also, it can be expected that a Trump administration will strike a deal with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin to bring the disastrous Syrian conflict to an end. This is bad news for the murderous Middle-Ages style ISIS organization.

 

Of course, a Trump administration can be expected to turn U.S. trade policy on its head. Trade policy would likely be paired with an industrial policy. In practice, this could mean that the two large multilateral free trade and free investment treaties, the Transatlantic Free Trade agreement (TAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) will be stopped in their tracks.

In this sense, the Trump revolution could mean that economic and financial globalization is dead.

 

2- The main domestic policy shifts expected from a Trump administration.

 

A Trump administration will attempt to prime-pump the U.S. economy through a series of economic policies. After all, candidate Trump has promised to boost the U.S. growth rate to an average of 3.5 percent and to create 25 million jobs over the next decade. He has also promised the “overhaul of our tax, regulatory, energy and trade policies.”

 

How can a Trump administration stimulate growth? First, by proposing a massive $ 4.4 trillion tax cut to spur growth, not dissimilar from the 2001-2003 Bush-Cheney administration $1.3 trillion tax cut program, which met with dubious results, besides increasing the U.S. government fiscal deficit.

 

Second, a Trump administration will attempt to boost U.S. manufacturing jobs. For that, it would have to do better than the record achieved during the two Bush-Cheney terms, when the United States lost over six million manufacturing jobs. To reverse that trend, Trump may attempt to force the repatriation of the $2.1 trillion profits that U.S. companies are holding overseas and induce those corporations to invest more within the United States. He may also raise some import taxes to persuade American-owned corporations to create jobs in the U.S. — To what extent a Republican-controlled Congress will acquiesce to such a protectionist trade policy remains to be seen.

 

Finally, candidate Trump has promised to launch a massive infrastructure investment program, stating that he wanted to “build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, seaports, and airports.”

 

3- The Trump government’s social challenges

 

By far, the biggest challenge that a Trump administration will face will be to make good on candidate Trump’s promise to abolish the national health program known as the Obamacare. He has proposed to replace the American health care law with a transfer of Medicaid to the states, accompanied by a state block grant program, and to provide tax exemption for employer-based health insurance plans, to be extended to individuals who purchase coverage on their own. Candidate Trump has even flirted with the idea of having the U.S. adopt a single-payer health care system. It remains to be seen how such a complex issue can be resolved.

 

Conclusion

 

It will take weeks and months before the Trump administration’s real agenda becomes clear. Under a Donald Trump presidency, the United States can be expected to change direction on many policies. As this revolution unfolds, the eyes of the world will be on the Trump administration and on the new policies it will attempt to implement. Let us hope that this will be done with care and intelligent thinking, and not in precipitation and chaos.

 

COMMENTS (11)

 

________________________________

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 the book site at:

http://www.thecodeforglobalethics.com/

and his blog at:

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

 

Posted, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at 8:30 am

 

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Trump’s Herculean Works

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Monday, July 11, 2016

The New Immoral Age: How Technology Offers New Ways of Killing People and of Destroying the World

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and

 The New American Empire)

 

“It turns out … that I’m really good at killing people.”

President Barack Obama (1961- ), (as reported in Reed Peeples, ‘A President and his Drones’, June 29, 2016, —a review of the book ‘Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone’, S. Shane, 2015)

 

“We hold that what one man cannot morally do, a million men cannot morally do, and government, representing many millions of men, cannot do.

—Governments are only machines, created by the individuals of a nation for their own convenience; they are only delegated bodies, delegated by the individuals, and therefore they cannot possibly have larger moral rights of using force, or, indeed, larger moral rights of any kind, than the individuals who delegated them.

—We may reasonably believe that an individual, as a self-owner, is morally justified in defending the rights he possesses in himself and in his own property—by force, if necessary, against force (and fraud), but he cannot be justified in using force for any other purpose whatsoever.”

Auberon Herbert (1838-1906), British writer

 

“Nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right.”

Hannah More (1745-1833) English writer and philanthropist

 

“A belligerent state permits itself every such misdeed, every such act of violence, as would disgrace the individual.”

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher

 

We not only live in the computer and digital age, we also live in a profoundly immoral age, in which the use of violence against people has become easily justifiable, nearly routinely, either for religious, military or security reasons.

 

Let us recall that the Twentieth Century was the most politically murderous period ever in history. It is estimated that political decisions, mostly made by psychopaths in various governments, resulted in the death of some 262 million people—a democide or political mass murder, according to scholarly works by political scientist Rudolph J. Rummel. It remains to be seen if the Twenty-first Century will regress from this barbarism or exceed it. So far, things do not look too good. Human morality and empathy is not increasing; it is declining fast. And with nuclear weapons in the hands of potential psychopaths, the next big step toward oblivion will not be a cakewalk.

 

Indeed, a new brand of immorality has permeated into some political minds, according to which what one individual cannot morally do on his own, i.e. cold-blooded murder of another human being, a head of state, a government or a group of public officials can do, in his place. Under what moral code can individuals delegate to governments or public officials authority to do crimes that they themselves cannot do without being immoral? Wouldn’t that be extremely hypocritical and a parody of morality?

 

According to basic humanitarian or humanist morality, as the Auberon Herbert’s quote above illustrates, what is immoral for one individual does not become moral because one million individuals do it, under the cloak of a government or any other umbrella organization. In other words, a head of state or a government cannot enjoy a wider choice of moral rules than the ones that apply to every individual. The agent (the public person) cannot have looser moral rules than the principal (the people). There cannot be one morality for an individual in private life, and another one for an individual acting within a government.

 

For example, it is widely accepted under basic moral rules that an individual may only use deadly force in self-defense, when his own life or the lives of his family are threatened. Therefore, the delegated morality to a state by its citizens to use deadly force cannot extend beyond the requirements of self-defense against actual or imminent attack, of the maintenance of order, and of the implementation of justice. Any unprovoked act of deadly aggression, resulting in the untimely and extrajudicial death of people, by a head of state, a government or its officials against other people becomes automatically immoral, if not illegal, notwithstanding in what legal mumbo jumbo such an aggression is couched.

 

It is true that the current chasm between individual and official morality has been long in developing. When the Roman Emperor Theodosius (347-395), in 380, adopted Christianity as its official state religion, it was difficult to apply Jesus Christ’s pacifist and non-violence admonition that “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword”. Christian theologians such as Augustine of Hippo (354-430) were thus obliged to develop the argument that moral rules designed for individuals did not necessarily apply to an individual becoming an emperor, a king or a head of state who must administer justice or wage wars. In particular, the Commandment “Thou shall not kill” was redefined to exclude heads of state involved in so-called “just wars”, waged by a ‘legitimate authority’. It was spelled out, however, that such wars could not be pre-emptive, but strictly defensive to restore peace. Otherwise, such a war would become immoral.

 

Nowadays, there is a basic public morality inscribed in the United Nations Charter and in the Nuremberg Charter. The latter clearly prohibits crimes against peace, defined as referring to the “planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression”… A war of aggression is defined as is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense, usually for territorial gain and subjugation. The U.N. General Assembly adopted these definitions, on December 11, 1946, as part of customary international law. Such was the core of public morality after World War II.

 

However, over the years, public morality has steadily declined, most recently illustrated in 2003 when U.S. President George W. Bush launched a U.S.-led war of unprovoked aggression against the country of Iraq, assisted by British Prime minister Tony Blair. The latter unnecessary and disastrous war, launched on a mountain of lies, has been thoroughly investigated in the United Kingdom, but hardly at all in the United States, the center of it all.

 

Therefore, notwithstanding that no serious post-administration inquiry has been carried out in the United States regarding the mischief caused by the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney tandem, at the very least, future historians will have the 12-volume Chilcot Report to assess how some British and American politicians fooled the people, in 2002-2003, and launched a war of aggression against an independent country, with no direct consequences for themselves.

 

More generally indeed, in the Twenty-first Century, it can be said that killing technology has advanced at the same time as public morality and personal accountability have declined.

 

In the U.S., for instance, it has long been suspected that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), (a sort of secret government within the government created by President Harry Truman in 1946), was involved in covert illegal activities, especially when it came to sponsoring terrorist death squads in various countries. In 1975, for example, the U.S. Senate established a Select Committee to study governmental operations with respect to illegal intelligence activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID). That important committee investigated illegalities by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

 

Among the matters investigated were the covert activities of the CIA involving attempts to assassinate foreign leaders and attempts to subvert foreign national governments. Following the reports and under the recommendations and pressure by the Church committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan's Executive Order 12333) with the express intent to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.

 

Now, let us move fast forward. The most recent instance of a public official known to have assigned to himself the task of targeting some people, even American citizens, to be assassinated with unmanned drones or other means, without charge and outside of judicial procedures, and without geographic limits, is under President Barack Obama. Indeed, Mr. Obama seems to be the first American president to have institutionalized what is called the “Terror Tuesday” meetings, during which the American president, with the help of the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), decides about the assassination or the capture of individuals deemed to be enemies of the United States around the world.

 

Last July 1st, the Obama administration released its own assessment of the number of civilians assassinated by drone strikes in nations where the U.S. is not officially at war. It claimed it has killed between 64 and 116 “non-combatant” individuals in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, between January 2009 and the end of 2015. However, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that as many as 380 to 801 unarmed civilians have been recorded to have been killed with the new technology of unmanned drones.

 

Drone killing may be the most controversial legacy that President Barack Obama is leaving behind. To my knowledge, this is without precedent in U.S. history, at least at the presidential level, that assassinations of people, including some Americans, are carried outside of the legal framework, under direct supervision of a U.S. lethal president. In a democracy based on checks and balances, this would seem to be an example of executive overreach.

 

With such an example originating in the White House, it may not be a surprise that an American military officer has recently requested the “authority” to assassinate people without presidential approval, in his geographical area of responsibility, in Africa.

 

It is very disturbing to empower a government, any government, with the power to execute people without trial or due process. This may be a sign of our times, but this is not what we could call a progress of civilization or of human morality. It seems rather that as killing technology has advanced, and as power has become less constrained, humanitarian morality has badly declined.

 

It is a sad truth that advances in military technology over time have always been used to kill people. Even the dreadful atom bomb has been used to kill hundreds of thousands people. It is only a matter of time before it could be used again. It would only take one psychopathic madman in power to destroy humanity.

__________________________

Addendum:

All this immorality permeates into the management of the economy, under the motto “greed is good”. As I assessed at the beginning of this year, the world economy is ripe for a huge awakening. A mixture of wars of aggression and of financial market crashes could shake the world in the coming months.

That is because the people who fan the flames of war are the same ones who are pushing financial markets to their limits and created a huge asset bubble.

Barack Obama’s little known neocon-inspired goal has been to expand NATO to Russia’s borders and to isolate Russia. This mischievous brinkmanship policy is being played out to the fullest. Indeed, there is presently a suspicious and dangerous buildup of NATO troops at the Russian border, with the obvious intent of provoking Russia into some sort of conflict. These professional warmongers may get their wish and they may soon plunge the world into chaos.

____________________________________________

Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book

 The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”,

and of The New American Empire.

 

Please visit the book site at:

http://www.thecodeforglobalethics.com/

and his blog at:

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

 

Posted, Monday, July 11, 2016, at 8:30 am

 

Email to a friend:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/tremblay=1179.htm

 

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______________________________________________

© 2016 by Big Picture World Syndicate, Inc.

 

 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The 2016 U.S. Election: A Possible Repeat of the 1964 Election?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

 (Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”,

and The New American Empire)

 

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998)

US Senator (R-Arizona) and 1964 Republican Presidential candidate, (in his Acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate, in San Francisco, July 16, 1964)

 

“Sometimes, I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea.”

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998)

US Senator (R-Arizona) and 1964 Republican Presidential candidate, (in a December 1961 news conference)

 

We’re going to hit them and we’re going to hit them hard. I’m talking about a surgical strike on these ISIS stronghold cities using Trident [nuclear] missiles.”

Donald Trump (1946- ), Republican presidential candidate, (in an interview with ‘Meet the Press’, NBC News, August 9, 2015)

 

They asked me the question [about torture], ‘What do you think of waterboarding?’ —Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.

Donald Trump (1946- ), Republican presidential candidate, (in a statement during a campaign event at a retirement community, in Bluffton, S. C., Feb. 17, 2016)

 

The way this 2016 American presidential election is unfolding, there is a good chance that it could be a repeat of the 1964 U.S. election. In both instances, a Democratic presidential candidate is facing a flawed and frightening Republican presidential candidate who multiplies provocative and reckless statements and off-hand comments.

 

Politicians sometimes forget that, once elected, they are expected to serve all the people, not their narrow base of fanatical partisans. In that regard, their public statements are very important because they give a clue about what type of public servant a candidate would be. A candidate can easily self-destruct if he or she forgets that, when talking to partisans, the entire electorate is listening. Strong statements, good or bad, remain in people’s consciousness when time comes to vote.

 

Let us look back 52 years to the 1964 U.S. election. Seeking election in his own right was sitting Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973), who had taken office in 1963 following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and who was about to escalate the Vietnam War, which ended up costing the lives of 58,000 Americans and the lives of more than a million Vietnamese. His Republican opponent was Senator Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) of Arizona, who had fought against the party establishment and succeeded in winning the Republican nomination over New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

 

In 1964, Republican candidate Barry Goldwater soon developed an image as an extremist on many issues with a series of reckless and ill-thought out statements. For instance, in foreign policy, he advocated using ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons in Vietnam and in Europe. Domestically, he wanted to make Social Security voluntary. He even suggested that the United States would be better off if the entire East Coast of the country were cut off and sent out to sea!

 

Goldwater was never able to shake off his image as an extremist on many issues, and he was never in a position to unmask the Democratic candidate’s war plans. This was a key factor in his crushing defeat in November 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson won about 61 percent of the vote to Goldwater’s 39 percent, and took all but six states.

 

Therefore after the election, President Johnson had a free hand in escalating the Vietnam War, especially considering that the U.S. Congress had already adopted the infamous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, on August 7, 1964. The disastrous war would last ten more years, until 1975.

 

There is a good chance that history might repeat itself next November.

 

Indeed, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been acting as if he doesn’t really care whether he wins the election or not, drawing attention to himself with outlandish statements and reckless comments, presumably designed to shock and create free “publicity” for his candidacy.

 

One day candidate Trump wants to adopt torture as a public policy. The next day, he wants to prevent Muslims from entering the United States and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to stop illegal Mexican immigration. Later on, he advocates using nuclear missiles against Islamist terrorists in the Middle East, and—throwing away any humanitarian principle—even kill their families. Domestically, he wants to abolish Obamacare, but so far, he has not spelled out any replacement. Etc. etc. etc!

 

Moreover, he doesn’t mind contradicting himself. Sometimes, he rebuts the pro-Israel lobby, professing not to need its money. But then, he lets his Middle East advisor state that a Trump administration would give the Israeli government a free hand in expropriating the Palestinians.

 

Since Mr. Trump has no government experience of any kind, one would think that he would consult about policy issues he knows little about, before issuing a statement. This does not seem to be the case. He even jokes: my primary consultant is myself.” That is a sobering thought. The candidate does not seem to have an overall plan; everything seems to be left to improvisation. This indicates a lack of discipline. Indeed, candidate Trump seems to be his own worst enemy. As a businessman, Mr. Trump may have great qualities. As a politician, he seems to be lacking in political instincts, self-control and restraint.

 

As a result of his flippancy and inconsistencies, Mr. Trump's poll numbers are slipping badly, not because people necessarily like the alternative Democratic choice, but mainly because they become increasingly disillusioned by the lack of seriousness on candidate Trump’s part. They sense that he is unstable and unpredictable, that he has no plan and no program.

 

All this is a free gift to Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton who has to defend 40 years of political involvement. Unless an unexpected event occurs, and unless Mr. Trump changes profoundly his approach, the choice in the U.S. next November will be between two main candidates with net negative approval ratings, and the candidate with the lowest net negative rating will win, by default. One would think that the American electorate deserves better.

 

COMMENTS (10)

 

______________________________________________________________________

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

 

Please visit the book site at:

http://www.thecodeforglobalethics.com/

and his blog at:

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

 

Posted, Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 8:30 am

 

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Barack Obama’s Meager Legacy of incomplete accomplishments and of provoked wars: What happened?

 

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and

 The New American Empire)

 

“The evil that men do lives after them.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), ‘Julius Caesar’

 

“The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature…

—No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

James Madison (1751-1836), in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1798, (and, in ‘Political Observations’, 1795)

 

“…War is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.”

Barack H. Obama (1961- ), Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dec. 2009

 

“As a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act… today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Barack H. Obama (1961- ), in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 5, 2009, [N.B.: On May 27, 2016, Pres. Obama repeated essentially the same commitment at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, in Japan, calling for a "world without nuclear weapons"]

 

“As commander-in-chief, I have not shied away from using force when necessary. I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat…

I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.” [Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia]

Barack H. Obama (1961- ), in a speech at the American University, Aug. 5, 2015

 

Ever since Neocons de facto took over American foreign policy, after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991 and the end of the Cold war, rejecting the Peace Dividend that many had logically expected, the cry in Washington D.C. has been to impose an America-centered New World Order, mainly through military means.

 

Successive administrations, both republican and democratic, have toed the line and dutifully pursued the same policy of world domination by launching a series of unilateral, direct or covert, wars of aggression around the world, in violation of international law. This explains why the United States has over 1,400 foreign military bases in over 120 countries, and why they are being expanded.

 

First there was the Gulf War of 1991, when Saddam Hussein’s regime felt into a trap, thinking it had Washington’s tacit go ahead to integrate Kuwait, a territory that had been part of Iraq throughout the nineteenth century and up until World War I. Then there were the 1998-1999 U.S. military interventions in the Yugoslavia’s ethnic conflicts, under the cover of NATO, in order to undermine Russian influence in that region. In 2001, the “Pearl Harbor” type attack of 9/11 was also a “god-given” event on the march to the new world order. Some high-ranking U.S. officials had implicitly hoped for such an event to justify huge increases in the U.S. military budget. Nevertheless, it served as a justification to launch the 2001 war in Afghanistan, eventually leading to a U.S.-led “preventive war” to “liberate” Iraq, in 2003.

 

All this was followed by a string of covert operations to overthrow governments, elected or not, and to impose regime changes in independent countries, such as in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, Haiti, Somalia… etc., as this has been done in other countries since 1953.

 

The election of Senator Barack Obama, in 2008, was expected to stop these destructive American military vendettas around the world, most of them under the initiative of the Executive, with little input from Congress, contrary to what is stipulated in the U.S. Constitution. After all, in 2009, President Obama accepted the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize, which carried a stipend of about $1.4 million, for his promise of creating a new climate” in international relations and of promoting “nuclear disarmament“. Instead, it can be said that “Two Full Terms of War” is the legacy of his two terms in office. Mr. Obama didn’t settle any war, and he initiated many more.

 

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama, referring to the more or less discredited theory of “Just War” in modern times, said that wars must be waged “as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”

 

Note, however, that Obama was honest and lucid enough to acknowledge that there were people “more deserving” than him to receive such a peace prize, stating that his “accomplishments were slight”. —As it turned out, he was right. Antiwar candidate Obama did not rise to the high expectations placed on him in 2008: He did not bring peace to the world; he did not stop American wars of aggression around the world, he did not stop the American policy of overthrowing other independent countries’ governments, nor did he bring “nuclear disarmament”. In the latter case, he did just the reverse, as we will see below.

 

That is why, after a double mandate in the White House, it can be demonstrated that President Barack Obama’s legacy is indeed very slight, if not net negative. Let us look more closely, beginning with the positive side of President Obama’s legacy, and following with the severe failures of his administration.

 

Obamacare: A timid step in the right direction toward social justice

 

Before spelling out the Obama administration’s main failures, it is only fair to stress some important successes it has achieved, even though some may deplore that they have been few and far between. For one, in domestic affairs, President Obama succeeded in getting a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, passed by Congress, in 2010. That law brought health coverage to close to some 20 million Americans who previously had been left out of secured access to health services through employer-sponsored insurance. A similar attempt by Hillary Clinton in 1993 had failed.

 

Obamacare, a private-based health insurance program, was copied from a Republican program signed into law in Massachusetts, in 2006, by then Governor Mitt Romney. The initial objective was to adopt a universal health plan similar to the 1965 single-payer Medicare program for the elderly, but Republican opposition in Congress made that option impossible. It is estimated that slightly more than 30 million Americans are still lacking comprehensive health insurance. Nevertheless, it can be said that the Obamacare program, even though flawed, was a step in the right direction.

 

It is worth noting, however, that many American doctors are in favor of a Single-Payer Health system. Last May, an impressive group of 2,231 physicians called for the establishment of such a system to cover all Americans in need of medical care. The only presidential candidate, this time around, who proposes a universal single-payer health system, is Senator Bernie Sanders.

 

President Obama has, on occasion, stood up to pro-war pressures

 

In foreign affairs, President Barack Obama has taken some initiatives, which have distanced himself from President George W. Bush, by resisting pressures to enlarge some ongoing military conflicts.

 

For instance, in 2013, the governments of Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, anxious to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, orchestrated what is widely believed to have been a false flag operation, in order to place the blame on the Assad government for having allegedly used chemical weapons against rebels. The objective was to provoke a hesitant Obama administration into getting involved militarily in the Syrian conflict. Such a gimmick had worked in 1986 in persuading the Reagan administration to bomb the country of Libya.

 

To his credit, President Obama did not fall for the plot, and resisted the “intense” pressures coming from neocons, and from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his own administration, for a direct U.S. military involvement in Syria. He backed instead a Russian proposal to remove chemical weapons from Syria, thus avoiding the deaths of thousands of people.

 

The Iran deal as a triumph of diplomacy over waging destructive wars

 

Other neocon-inspired pressures were exerted on President Obama, coming also from the Israeli government, to have the U.S. launch military attacks against Iran, a country of 80 million people. The pretext advanced this time was that Iran was threatening Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region in allegedly developing a nuclear weapon of its own.

 

Even though the Iranian government asserted that its nuclear program was to produce energy and was exclusively peaceful, President Obama was under strong pressure to attack Iran “preventively” to destroy its nuclear installations. To his credit, President Barack Obama resisted the pressures to launch what would have been another illegal war of aggression, similar to the one George W. Bush initiated against Iraq in 2003.

 

Instead, President Obama opted to rely on diplomacy, and on July 14, 2015, six countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the United States) reached an Iran deal, which removed the possibility that Iran develop nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. Here again, an unnecessary war was avoided and thousands of lives were saved.

 

The ending of more than half a century of an American boycott of Cuba

 

President Barack Obama must also be congratulated for having accepted Pope Francis’ mediation, in 2014, to end the more than half a century of hostilities between the government of the United States and the government of Cuba, two neighboring countries. The Pope had written a personal appeal to Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro and led closed-door negotiations between the delegations of both countries. 

 

In December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would begin normalizing diplomatic relations between the two nations. On April 11, 2015, President Obama and Cuban President Castro met in Panama to finalize the new reality and declared themselves ready to “turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries”, in Mr. Obama’s words.

 

Since then, the two leaders have reopened embassies in each other's countries and normalized exchanges. President Obama even visited Cuba in March 2016.

 

Therefore, President Obama’s decision put an end to a sad chapter in the history of 20th Century American foreign policy, especially considering that the U.S. government has established full diplomatic relations with countries such as China and Vietnam.

_____________________________

 

The list of favorable actions by the Obama administration is not very long. There is, however, a longer list of policies that belie many of Barak Obama’s promises and the expectations he created when he ran for president in 2008.

 

President Obama enlarged the powers of the White House to launch imperial wars with no temporal or geographical limits

 

As the quote above by James Madison indicates, the U.S. Founding Fathers were well aware of the danger of giving a king or dictator the right to launch wars on his own. They feared that this would bring tyranny and oppression to their nation.

 

President George W. Bush, in power from 2001 to 2009, behaved in a way the U.S. Founding Fathers would have strongly disapproved, since he vied with the Congress to concentrate the power to wage war in his own hands, using Congress as a rubber stamp.

 

One would have thought that newly elected President Barack Obama, in a democratic spirit, would have attempted to reverse this dangerous move toward turning the U.S. presidency into an initiator of foreign wars. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama did the reverse, increasing rather than reducing the president’s discretionary powers to wage wars.

 

Indeed, Nobel Peace Laureate Obama didn’t waste any time in arguing that he had, as U.S. president, the authority to wage war in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, or elsewhere, without U.S. Congress’s approval, contending that previous so-called ‘use of force congressional authorizations’ remain in effect indefinitely. Indeed, President Obama claimed, just as President George W. Bush had done before him, that the broad ‘Authorization for use of Military Force’ on terror (AUMF) passed by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, and the 2002 ‘Authorization to use Military Force’ in Iraq had, in fact, no expiration date and that they authorize an American president to act like an emperor or a king, and to unilaterally use military force or wage war of his own volition.

 

This is a very serious matter, because if this theory were to be confirmed and entrenched in practice, without a formal constitutional amendment, the precedent would mean that the U.S. Constitution has de facto been pushed aside and the United States has become less of a republic, and more of an empire. [This would tend to confirm the title of my book ‘The New American Empire’]

 

What is more, President Obama has acted aggressively according to his theory of presidential war powers. He has launched eight times as many drone strikes in other countries as did President George W. Bush; and, according to his own boasting, he has “ordered military action in seven countries”. This is not a legacy he should be proud of.

 

The destruction of the independent nations of Iraq, Libya and Syria and the worsening of the chaos in the Middle East

 

As far as U.S. involvements in the Middle East are concerned, President Barak Obama did not substantially break away from the neocon-inspired imperial policies of the George W. Bush administration.

 

It is sometimes argued that president Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq, in 2011, marked a break with the previous administration. In fact, the Bush-Cheney administration had already decided on such a withdrawal in 2008, when the Iraqi government refused to grant legal immunity to American troops in that country.

 

In supervising the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the Obama administration was simply implementing a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which had previously been signed between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government to that effect. According to the agreement, U.S. combat troops had to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.

 

With one or two exceptions mentioned above (the Iran deal and the normalizing of relations with Cuba), President Obama has not failed to embrace a military solution to serve the neocons’ many narratives in the Middle East and elsewhere.

 

In fact, if it can be said that President George W. Bush destroyed the country of Iraq, President Barack Obama, through his policies and actions, most of the time without the support of Congress, destroyed two other Middle East countries, i.e. Libya and Syria, while extending the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, and while supporting an embarrassing ally, Saudi Arabia, in destroying Yemen.

 

These countries were no threat to the United States. Even though President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize, he was no peace president, by a long shot. As a matter of fact, President Obama has been continuously at war longer than any other American president in U.S. history. With his administration, it was really more of the same and a far cry from his campaign promises to “change things in Washington D.C.

 

Under the cover of fighting terrorism, and to destabilize, divide and provoke “regime changes” in Libya and in Syria, for example, the United States—but also European countries such as France and the U.K., leading members of NATO—has relied on covert operations to support foreign mercenaries and Islamist groups of terrorists in these countries, giving them arms and logistics support, and inciting them to overthrow the established governments.

 

Thanks to the financial assistance given these terrorist groups, especially the self-proclaimed Sunni Islamist State (ISIS), by Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey, the pro-Israeli neocons, who wanted to redraw the Middle East according to their mad theory of  “constructive chaos”, have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, with a devastating international refugee crisis as an extra. Ironically, European countries are, for now, the main victims of the waves of refugees resulting from the politics of chaos. 

 

As the de facto head of NATO, President Barack Obama and his neocon advisers, with the latter’s Manichean view of the world, must bear a large part of the responsibility for these disastrous results. The chaos in the Middle East is a huge failure for him, even though the neocons in his administration would deem such a manufactured chaos, a success!

 

Indeed, the countries of Iraq, Libya and Syria were considered, to different degrees, to be regional rivals of Israel, besides having large reserves of oil. Moreover, the latter countries have been on top of the list of seven countries discovered by General Wesley Clark, in late September 2001, as being the very countries the Pentagon planned to attack and destroy.

 

The destruction of Iraq can be attributed to the Bush-Cheney administration, since they are the politicians who used different subterfuges to launch an illegal war of aggression against that country, on March 20, 2003. However, what is most amazing is the fact that the Obama administration decided to follow the same policy in Libya and in Syria. Sooner or later, Mr. Barack Obama will have to explain why.

 

President Obama has sided with Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries in their efforts to spread Wahhabi extremism around the world

 

The world, and especially Western Europe, is under the threat of the most virulent brand of Islamism, i.e. Wahhabi extremism, a theo-fascist ideology, which is promoted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries, and which is, to a large extent, behind global Islamic terrorism. Instead of denouncing that curse of the 21st Century, President Obama has gone out of his way to be subservient and even to bow to the leaders of Saudi Arabia during multiple trips to that country. The question has been often raised: Why has President Obama been so cozy with the Saudi Royal Family, even when the latter snubbed him publicly?

 

There is no country in the world that violates more openly basic human rights than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One would think the United States would be at the forefront to denounce such violations. The Wahhabi, either from Saudi Arabia or other Islamic countries, have used hundreds of billions of petro-dollars to build madrassas and huge mosques in Western countries, including in the United States, to promote their corrosive ideology. The Obama administration did not raise any objection when the largest mosque in the United States was built, in Lanham, Maryland. It is worth noting that, in 2010, Norway did refuse the construction of mosques with foreign money in that country.

 

The Obama administration has extended the neocon-inspired politics of chaos to Ukraine and Russia, and it has rekindled a Cold War II with Russia

 

Why has the Obama administration been so anxious to start a New Cold War with Russia? We see here another contradiction between what President Barack Obama says, and what he does. For a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, are an aggressive military encirclement of a country and the sending of military forces to its borders acts of peace or acts of war? Why is Obama doing precisely that to Russia? Why is he risking a nuclear confrontation with Russia? That defies logic.

 

The only stretch of logic to explain such warmongering is that it is an attempt by the U.S. government to sabotage any economic and political cooperation between Russia and European countries, in order to keep Europe under some sort of an American protectorate.

 

Why is President Obama following the neocon plan? Why did he choose Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense, a known warmonger and the Pentagon’s former chief weapons buyer, who is on record as wanting a military confrontation with Russia?

 

These are important questions that should be addressed to Mr. Obama, and all the more so since Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has indicated she would push in the same direction, if she were elected president.

 

Let us keep in mind that in February 2014, the Obama administration eagerly jumped at the opportunity to support a coup in Ukraine to overthrow that country’s elected government. It also armed the putchists, and encouraged them to commit atrocities against Ukraine’s ethnic Russian population. Such interference in the affairs of another nation is part of a larger neocon-inspired policy of militarizing Eastern Europe under the cover of NATO.

 

President Obama’s personal contribution to the nuclear arms race and to the threat of nuclear war

 

Even though president Barack Obama promised a nuclear-free world, and pledged, in a speech delivered in Prague, on April 5, 2009, “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” and to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy”, and again in Hiroshima, on Friday May 27, 2016, his words have not been followed by concrete steps in that direction. Instead, Mr. Obama seemed satisfied to passively pursue the same nuclear “modernization” program that involved the development of a new set of American nuclear weapons, initiated under the previous George W. Bush administration.

 

On September 30, 2004, then Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, in a debate with President George W. Bush, complained that the Bush administration was “spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn’t make sense. You talk about mixed messages. We’re telling other people, ‘You can’t have nuclear weapons,’ but we’re pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using.

 

In a Nuclear Posture Review on April 6, 2010, the Obama administration seemed to echo Mr. Kerry and stated that the United States would “not develop new nuclear warheads or pursue new military missions or new capabilities for nuclear weapons.”

 

However, President Barack Obama wasted no time in violating his promise of not “developing new nuclear warheads” and of “reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. military strategy”. Instead, he seemingly embarked on the same nuclear program, which had apparently not been stopped at all, to develop an array of new nuclear weapons that made contemplation of their use more acceptable (smaller, more accurate, less lethal), just as the Bush II administration had done before. In other words, Mr. Obama has prepared the United States to get engaged in “small nuclear wars” in the future. This is quite a “legacy”!

 

The new American nuclear weapon is, as the New York Times has reported, the B61 Model 12, a nuclear bomb tested in Nevada in 2015. This is the first of five new nuclear warhead types planned as part of an American atomic revitalization program budgeted at a cost estimated at $1 trillion over three decades. So much for “a world without nuclear weapons”!

 

Domestically, income and wealth inequalities have continued to rise to high levels and poverty to increase under the Obama administration

 

On Jan. 20, 2014, a Gallup poll found that two-thirds of Americans were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. —People are therefore vaguely aware that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the economic system works, and they are right to think that the economy is rigged against the interests of the majority and in favor of special interests.

 

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of public data, the American middle class is shrinking, its proportion among U.S. households falling from 55 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2014. [N.B.: An American middle class family of two adults and two children, in 2014, is one earning a minimum of $48,083]. This shift has produced a wave of discontent throughout the United States.

 

Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, on opposite sides of the electoral spectrum, reflect this deep dissatisfaction and even the anger at the economic, financial and taxation policies pursued by the U.S. government and the establishment, over the last thirty years.

 

Indeed, for the last fifteen years, from 1999 to 2014, the median income of American households globally has declined by 8 percent.

-The median incomes of lower-income families fell by 10 percent during the same period, from $26,373 to $23,811.

- The median income of middle-income households decreased by 6 percent, from $77,898 to $72,919.

- And, reflecting the large inequalities even among upper-income households, the median income in that group also fell by 7 percent, even though, as a group, the relative importance of this segment of American households went from 17 to 20 percent. The group’s median income fell from $186,424 in 1999 to $173,207 in 2014.

 

In fact, the only segment of the U.S. population that has benefited from the economic, financial and taxation policies of the last three administrations (Clinton-Bush-Obama), and from technological changes that have occurred during the period, is the top echelon of the upper-income class.

 

The super rich have raked in the most, while profiting the most from various tax loopholes, which have lowered their average tax rate from 27 percent in 1992 to less than 17 percent in 2012. In fact, America's super rich get richer and they are laughing their way to tax havens!

 

There is something fundamentally wrong and corrupt going on in the U.S. economy, and obviously, the Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to address the problem.

 

Official government statistics tend to underestimate real unemployment and real inflation

 

All those wars waged abroad and the trillions of dollars spent on them have enriched some super wealthy Americans, but not ordinary Americans. Instead, they have impoverished them. Ordinary Americans are falling behind because their incomes are stagnant or falling, and because real unemployment rates and inflation rates are higher than reported.

 

According to official statistics, the annual rates of unemployment and of inflation (the consumer price index) would seem to be under control. For the first quarter of 2016, the U.S. unemployment rate hovers around 5.0 percent, while the inflation rate is just above 1.0 percent, pushed down by the decline in oil prices and by a relatively strong U.S dollar.

 

The problem with official statistics, however, is that the method to measure them has changed over time. This doesn’t mean that the new measures are willfully misleading. It only means that the old measures may be a better indicator of how unemployment and inflation impact certain sectors of the population.

 

In fact, some economists prefer to rely on the old methods of calculating unemployment and inflation to get a more realistic picture of what ordinary people are going through. For example, U.S. economist Walter J. Williams calculates so-called “alternate” statistics of unemployment and inflation.

 

For unemployment, certain categories of unemployed people have been excluded from the published official statistics. For instance, long-term and short-term discouraged workers, not actively searching for work, were excluded from the new official measure of unemployment rates, in 1994. Neither do official statistics count part-time workers who are forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.

 

As a consequence, when labor force participation rates drop because of the above, official unemployment figures indicate a decline in unemployment, even though this is not really exact. According to some estimates, if unemployment and underemployment were taken into consideration, the alternate rate of unemployment, in April 2016, would have been 22.9 percent, not the narrow official measure of 5.0 percent.

 

Similarly, official measures of inflation were changed in 1980 and in 1990, as a way to reduce the annual cost-of-living-adjustments for retirement benefits. For instance, when the price of certain items increases, they are replaced in the basket of consumer goods by other items, which cost less. Similarly, even if the price of some goods increases, such increase is reduced by a factor reflecting the higher quality of the goods available. If the old method of calculating inflation had been used, in April 2016, the alternate annual inflation rate would not have been 1.13 percent, as the official CPI measurements indicated, but would have been close to 5.0 percent, according to one measure, and even close to 9.0 percent according to another measure.

 

All this is to say that when people see their rents, condo fees, taxes, grocery purchases, etc., increase in price, and they experience a drop in their standard of living because of their stagnant or declining incomes, they are not necessarily hallucinating.

 

The Obama administration has allowed corporations and megabanks to offshore jobs and profits

 

A major feature of our times is that corporate profits are way up, while wages are stagnant, and corporate taxes are way down.

 

Indeed, a partial answer to the many issues raised above is the fact that the Obama administration has been guilty of pursuing and even intensifying the move toward lower taxes for corporations, and more profits for large corporations and megabanks on two accounts.

 

First, the Obama administration has initiated two mammoth international “trade deals”. Those trade “deals” were mostly kept secret because one of their main objectives is to guarantee legal protection to world corporations and megabanks against elected national governments and give them immunity from national prosecution.

 

The most recent examples of such “deals” are the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe and the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TTP) with countries in Asia.

 

It must be understood by all that these so called “free trade” agreements are really not genuine free trade agreements for the unhampered movement of goods between countries, based on comparative national advantages, but are really instead corporate and banking agreements to protect corporations and megabanks against national governments, their taxation and their regulations.

 

Such agreements, negotiated in near complete secrecy, pursue geopolitical objectives. They are an attempt to build a worldwide economic and financial order that supersedes national states and they represent also an effort to protect the corporate and banking elites—the establishment 1%—against national governments. In the case of the TTIP, its geopolitical objective is to prevent European countries from developing comprehensive trade agreements with Russia. In the case of TTP, the objective is to isolate China. In the eyes of Washington D.C. neocon planners, they are part of ongoing economic warfare.

 

Second, the Obama administration has not taken the necessary steps to stop rich individuals and profitable corporations and banks from using tax havens and industrial inversion schemes to avoid paying taxes at home.

 

The Obama administration, and even more so the entire U.S. Congress, are under the influence of those interests whose objective is to build a worldwide economic and financial system that shields the 1% establishment’s wealth and power against any encroachment by national governments, at least from those governments the international elite does not yet fully control. We are talking here about an unelected world economic and financial empire with no frontiers, unencumbered by normal democratic rules.

 

This may be a big factor in explaining why the economy is languishing. Indeed, when corporate profits are not reinvested in the economy, but are hoarded and stashed away in tax havens, they do not increase domestic demand. U.S. corporations have about $1,400 billion ($1.4 trillion) sleeping in foreign tax havens. If all that money were repatriated, not only would the government have a lower deficit, but also the economy would greatly benefit from increased investments.

 

This is a somewhat scandalous situation the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress have done very little about. On the contrary, both have been slow in putting a stop to so-called corporate “inversions”, which have allowed companies to find a foreign suitor and switch their headquarters abroad to dodge taxes. Both have also extended patent protection to already entrenched corporations at the expense of startup companies. And it is only recently that they have moved to block so-called megamergers—all developments that have reduced competition, created oligopolies, increased corporations’ market power and raised prices.

 

This maybe the most glaring example of a lack of economic leadership on the part of the Obama administration, second only perhaps to the imperial wars it has initiated and encouraged. It is true that Mr. Obama has himself little competence or experience in economics and in finance, and that may explain why the above issues have not received all the attention they deserve.

 

President Barack Obama let neocons infiltrate his administration at the highest levels

 

After President Obama began making appointments to senior positions in his new administration, in late 2008, a leading neocon, Richard Perle, former chair of the Defense Policy Board under President George W. Bush and a leading architect of the Iraq war, expressed his contentment in these words: “I’m quite pleased… There’s not going to be as much change as we were led to believe.”

 

Therefore, it can be said that President Obama’s betrayal of his promises to enact change began very early in his administration. For instance, he kept George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in his post, as an indication he wanted continuity and not a break with the previous administration.

 

Then, he went on paying his electoral debts. First, he named Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff, a neocon member of the House of Representatives, and also a former assistant to President Bill Clinton and a supporter of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

 

Then, in a move that brought glee to the ranks of neoconservatives, he appointed belligerent and neocon-supported Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The neoconservative Weekly Standard applauded her nomination, calling her a “Warrior Queen”! Even Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney declared to be “impressed” with her nomination. As MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough branded her, Hillary Clinton is a “neocon’s neocon”, because “there’s hardly been a military engagement that Hillary hasn’t been for in the past twenty years.”

 

President Barack Obama went on to appoint a long list of other neocons to senior positions in his administration, not the least being the nomination of Ms. Victoria Nuland, a Dick Cheney adviser, as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, in May 2013. From then on, the die was cast as to what kind of administration President Obama would lead. Real change would have to wait.

 

President Obama had zero influence in solving the secular Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (1948-  )

 

For nearly three quarters of a century now, the rotten Palestinian-Israeli conflict has endured for two main reasons: the intransigence of the Israeli government in closing the door to any new settlements, and the active pro-Israel veto of the U.S. government at the United Nations.

 

In 2008, one of presidential candidate Barack Obama pledges was to actively pursue a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He had, as he said, a two-fold strategy: restoring America’s tarnished image among Muslims and persuading the Israeli government to stop settlement expansion on Palestinian lands. On both accounts, he failed. As it has been the case with Mr. Obama’s other promises, there was less substance behind the rhetoric and the platitudes than met the eye. For example, he did not set up a special task force to implement the policy he professed to wish to put forward.

 

Consequently, President Barack Obama has had no observable influence in stopping the far-right Netanyahu Israeli government from pursuing its illegal settlements in Palestinian territory. He did not get any success either in persuading the government of Israel to enter into serious peace talks to solve the festering conflict and end the occupation of Palestine. And the reason is obvious: President Obama did not dare withdraw the U.S. veto protecting the state of Israel at the United Nations, even though there were some rumblings to that effect.

 

Worse maybe, is the fact that President Obama let himself be publicly snubbed and humiliated by Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in early 2015, when the latter disregarded a non-invitation by the Obama administration and nevertheless entered the United States and addressed the U.S. Congress. This created a weird occurrence, because this was a violation of basic diplomatic rules. It was a public display of the Israeli government’s contempt for the American President.

 

In 2001, Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that he knew what America is. —America is a thing that you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.” What Netanyahu meant, of course, is that the pro-Israel lobby in the United States is so financially and politically powerful that an Israeli leader can publicly insult the American president, with no consequences, and even with the enthusiastic approval of an obliging U.S. Congress. President Barack Obama never looked so weak and so despondent as during this awkward and unreal situation.

 

President Obama did not release elements of proof linking Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 terrorists

 

A last point is also worthy of mention. Despite numerous requests, President Obama has refused to inform adequately the American people on the extent of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in supporting the 9/11 terrorists. The families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and scores of others have called on Mr. Obama to release the classified 28-page portion of a special House-Senate congressional report on the 9/11 attacks, produced in 2002, and purportedly identifying individuals at the highest levels of the Saudi government as the financing agents of some of the 9/11 terrorists. In mid-April, President Obama even said that a decision to release the information was “imminent”.

 

After his trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last April, it seems that the “imminence” of the release was postponed sine die. Rather, President Obama went even further and promised to refuse to sign into law a bill that would have made the kingdom of Saudi Arabia liable for damages stemming from the September 11 terror attacks. However, he did not extend the same privilege to the Government of Iran, which is being sued by Americans for alleged damages.

 

Even though president Barack Obama promised, on January 29, 2009,a new era of transparent and open Government”, this seemingly did not apply to the rights of Americans to know who was behind the 9/11 attacks that resulted in 3,000 horrific American deaths. This has led some observers to call his administration “the least transparent in history”. This is another example of Mr. Obama saying one thing and doing the opposite. It seems to be a pattern in his modus operandi.

 

General conclusion

 

Why has there been such a contrast between President Obama’s words and his deeds? After all, he promised “to end the mindset that got us into war”.

 

There are three possible explanations. First, as a politician, Barack Obama may not have been completely sincere when he said he wanted to change the mentality in Washington D.C. He may have thought that these were only words to be soon forgotten. —Politicians are ambitious opportunists and Mr. Obama was not different. Second, those who wrote his speeches may not have been the same ones making the policies. Thus, the gulf observed between the flowery speeches and the actual policies. Third, there is possibly a less generous explanation: Mr. Obama may have been a convenient figurehead used by those who really control the U.S. government in the shadows. —It could be a mixture of all these explanations.

 

One can surely argue that the Obama administration, on the whole, was ‘less bad’ than the previous Bush-Cheney administration, both domestically and internationally. However, because elected presidential candidate Barack Obama arrived at the White House without any administrative experience and without having his own brain trust, and seemingly, without having a clear plan on how to implement his lofty promises, he had to submit himself to the same neocon advisers and warmongering interventionists who were omnipresent in the previous administration. He ended up reacting rather than acting; following rather than leading.

 

That is why the Obama administration’s policies, especially foreign policy, with a few notable exceptions, did not diverge appreciably from those imperial policies pursued by the previous Bush-Cheney administrations. President Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has failed to live up to the promises he made and the hopes he raised.

 

Both neocon-inspired administrations ended up creating an enduring mess in the world that future governments, and even future generations, will have to deal with.

COMMENTS (11)

 

_________________________________________

Economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book

The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”,

Please visit the book site

 

Posted, Monday, May 30, 2016, at 8:30 am

 

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April-May, 2016

Why Have Politicians Abandoned Economic and Financial Policies to Non-Elected Bankers?

The EUROPEAN FINANCIAL REVIEW pp 51-55

By Rodrigue Tremblay

 

 

N.B. La version franćaise de cet article suit ce texte.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ten Reasons Why Bill and Hillary Clinton Do Not Deserve a Third Term in the White House

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and

 The New American Empire)

 

 “Few things are more dangerous than empires pushing their own interest in the belief they are doing humanity a favor.”
 Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)

British historian, June 10, 2003

 

"It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq..." Bill Clinton (1946- ), The neocon-sponsored Iraq Liberation Act, signed by President Clinton into law, in 1998

 

“I’m going to ask for his ideas, I’m going ask for his advice, and I’m going use him [former President Bill Clinton] as a goodwill emissary to go around the country to find the best ideas we’ve got, because I do believe, as he said, everything that’s wrong with America has been solved somewhere in America.” Hillary Clinton (1947- ), during a debate on January 17, 2016

 

 “I'll tell you how good our military is doing under [former CIA Director] Michael Hayden and people such as this. We've been fighting wars in the Middle East for 15 years, 18 years. We were in for four or five trillion dollars; we don't know what we're doing; we don't know who we're fighting; we're arming people that we want on our side, we don't know who they are.

When they take over a country, they're worse than people they depose.” Donald Trump (1946- ), in a response to a public letter by establishment national security so-called ‘experts’

 

 

Polls indicate that most of the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates, with a few exceptions, have more than 50 % negative ratings. Also, poll after poll, after poll show that most Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are, and some are even outspokenly “angry” at the current situation. The polls also indicate a high degree of polarization.

 

That may also explain why two of the leading presidential candidates this year, Democratic Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, are both proposing anti-establishment and populist policies to get the United States out of its current rut.

 

On the domestic front, each, if elected, would advance economic policies designed to assist the American middle class, which has been decimated after nearly thirty years of economic and financial globalization and from so-called “trade deals” which have mainly benefited large corporations and mega banks, because they are essentially “investment and financial deals”, before being bona fide “trade deals”.

 

On foreign policy, both would like to extricate the U.S. from costly wars abroad that have been going on for so long. Most of these wars have been the pet projects of pro-Israel neoconservatives (shortened to neocons), inside and outside the U.S. government, ever since the latter de facto took over American foreign policy, after the end of the Cold War, in 1991.

 

It is indeed well documented that prominent neocons became very influential during the Bush I and Bush II administrations, in 1989-1993 and in 2001-2009. Many people remember how characters such as Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, …etc. used different tactics to push the United States into a never-ending imperialistic war, branded as “preemptive wars” in the Middle East, beginning with an unprovoked military aggression against Iraq, in 2003.

 

But, even if this has been less publicized, neocons have also played important roles in the Bill Clinton administration (1993-2001) and in the current Barack Obama administration (2009-2017), in promoting a series of wars abroad, especially in the Middle East and in Europe, and in sowing the seeds of financial crises at home.

 

Since Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has publicly declared that she intends to consult with her former-president husband, if she becomes president, it is of paramount importance to know what this means. Indeed, the question can be raised as to the likelihood that a Hillary Clinton’s presidency could be, in fact, some sort of a third term for the Clinton couple in the White House.

 

I have previously identified three major crises, which have their origin during the Bill Clinton administration.

 

Let us summarize them here and add a few more:

 

1-The de facto rekindling of a Cold War II with Russia

 

History will record that President Bill Clinton broke a promise made by his predecessor, President George H. Bush, that the U.S. government would not expand NATO into Eastern Europe, if Russia were to disband the Warsaw Pact. As we know, during his 1996 reelection campaign, on October 22,1996, President Clinton thought to be to his political advantage to promise an enlargement of NATO to include Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Nobody realized at the time that this heralded the beginning of a new cold war with Russia.

 

What is less well known is the fact that Ms. Hillary Clinton, when she was State Secretary in the Obama administration, appointed a prominent neocon, Victoria Nuland, wife of leading neocon Robert Kagan, to the post of Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. Ms. Nuland was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs a few years later, in May 2013, in the same Democratic administration of Barack Obama. Previously, she had served as the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Republican Vice President Dick Cheney in the George W. Bush administration, and later as U.S. ambassador to NATO.

 

Ms. Nuland is considered to be the key person in charge of provoking Russia into a Cold War II. (This is an indication that in Washington D.C., one can go easily from a Republican administration to a Democratic administration, provided one belongs to the neocon brotherhood).

 

2- The Clinton administration engineered the demise of the United Nations in 1998-1999

 

President Bill Clinton played a major role in undermining the credibility of the United Nations when he decided, in 1998 and in 1999, to enter the Kosovo War in Yugoslavia without an explicit mandate from the U.N. Security Council, as the 1945 U.N. Charter mandates. This was a very dangerous precedent.

 

Only a few years later, his successor, President George W. Bush invoked that precedent to launch the 2003 Iraq War, again with no outright mandate from the U.N. Security Council. Therefore, it can be said that President Bill Clinton bears an obvious responsibility for the current international state of anarchy, considering that the United Nations, for all practical purpose, has been sidelined in favor of NATO, to pursue U.S.-led imperialistic wars, which are waged outside of the international legal framework of the United Nations Charter and even in opposition to the Nuremberg Principles, which define military aggression as a crime against peace.

 

In 1991, few people anticipated that the collapse of the Soviet Union would eventually bring about the collapse of the United Nations, which has de facto been reduced to the same influence that the old League of Nations had before World War II.

 

3- Bill Clinton Sowed the Seeds of the 2008 Subprime Financial Crisis in 1999

 

On November 12, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Republican-sponsored Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which effectively removed the separation that previously existed under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 between investment banking, which issue securities, and commercial banks that accept government insured deposits.

 

Before 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act made it illegal for a bank holding FDIC-insured deposits to invest in anything other than government bonds and similarly low-risk vehicles. With his signature, however, President Clinton allowed largely unregulated super large banks and large insurance companies to engage in risky financial practices, as they are known to have done historically and as it should have been expected. The banks and insurance companies’ new financial products collapsed, and that led to the devastating 2008 financial crisis.

 

While Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has said that he would fully reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, his opponent, former Secretary Hillary Clinton, has said that she would not reinstate the banking law, preferring instead to rely on measures to better control so-called shadow banking.

 

4- The 2003 Iraq War Began in 1998: President Bill Clinton’s Iraq Liberation Act of 1998

 

On February 19, 1998, a group of prominent neocons (Robert Kagan, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Richard Perle, …etc.), anxious to get the United States involved in wars in the Middle East, wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton. They were offering him a strategy for “the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power” in Iraq.

 

President Clinton did not immediately go to war to please the neocons, after all he was nearing the end of his term, but he did sign the Republican-sponsored Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, on October 31, 1998, stating that "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq…." That law opened the door for an American-led war against Iraq.

 

Indeed, President George W. Bush, in search for bi-partisan support for his planned war against Iraq, cited President Clinton’s Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 as a basis of support for the Congressional Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq of October 2002. We can say that President Bill Clinton set the U.S. government on a warpath against Iraq as early as 1998, and he therefore must share some responsibility for the disasters that have since resulted from that war.

 

5- Hillary Clinton’s Own Personal War of Aggression in Libya, (with false and misleading claims, and resulting in a huge refugee crisis)

 

President Barack Obama was reluctant to duplicate George W. Bush’s disaster with his military invasion of Iraq in 2003. That is why, in 2011, he hesitated to launch a new American war of aggression, this time against Libya, even though neocons inside and outside his administration were pushing hard for such a war. The latter country, headed by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, had the misfortune of having been singled out in the neocons’ grand plan as one of the Arab countries the neocons wished to overthrow and to destabilize the entire Middle East, using for that purpose the U.S. military to do Israel’s heavy lifting.

 

At the time, two heavyweights in the Obama administration, vice president Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, were both adamantly opposed to getting the U.S. government and its military involved in another neocon-inspired ‘regime-change war’ in the Middle East. That wasn’t counting on the neocons’ main ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 

Indeed, Hillary Clinton overcame the Biden-Gates’ formidable opposition to a U.S. military intervention in Libya by persuading a weak President Obama that Libyan President Gaddafi had a supposed plan to carry out a “genocide” against his own people and that the U.S government had a “responsibility to protect” to avoid such a “genocide”, no matter what international law said. There is a dictum in French that “he who wants to kill his dog accuses him of having rabies”!

 

Such a proposal was in conformity with the precedent created by her president husband, Bill Clinton, who bombed Yugoslavia under similar circumstances, outside of international law, in 1998 and in 1999. It was also ironic that the President would side with her, considering that Barack Obama himself had campaigned against candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008, arguing that she had endorsed Bush's 2003 Iraq-war policies.

 

In 2011, the demonized Gaddafi government was indeed fighting some groups of rebels, supported by outside powers, who wanted to overthrow his government, but the claim of a planned “genocide” was greatly exaggerated.

 

After the U.S. intervened in Libya along with a few European nations, some rebel groups succeeded in capturing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, on October 20, 2011. They sodomized him, and they murdered him and his family. Chaos ensued and Libya is still to this day a failed state run by groups of Islamic fanatics, besides creating millions of refugees fleeing their devastated land.

 

Hillary Clinton took full credit for creating the political mess in Libya, when she appeared on a TV interview and bragged with the boast, “we came; we saw; he died!” Her neocon advisers had told her that she would be remembered as having implemented some sort of a “Clinton Doctrine”! If creating a human catastrophe counts as “experience” in a résumé, then candidate Clinton is undoubtedly ‘qualified’ to become U.S. president. Her lack of basic human empathy is evident.

 

6- Hillary Clinton: Proud Candidate of the

                                  Establishment 1%

 

As professional politicians, Bill and Hillary Clinton have become the richest political couple of all times. In 2012, their combined net worth was in excess of $112,000,000.00. In contrast, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders had a net worth of only $420,000.00. There is not a shadow of a doubt that the Clinton political family belongs to the 1% and even to the 0.1% of American taxpayers. Politics has been a most rewarding industry for them.

 

It is therefore no surprise that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is by far the establishment’s favored choice. Neocons find her a most reliable ally. If she becomes U.S. President, they will be able to continue and even accelerate their over-all plan for the Middle East. There would be joy in the land!

 

In contrast, presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are both considered outsiders who oppose neocon-inspired American involvements in foreign wars and who favor fundamental domestic reforms. Democratic candidate Sanders, for one, backs aggressive social-oriented policies while Republican candidate Trump proposes to reign in industrial and financial globalization that has resulted in the loss of millions of well paid American jobs, when U.S. corporations began investing and moving their installations and their profits abroad.

 

In the case of Hillary Clinton, the entire Democratic primary system is biased and the dice are loaded, since some 719 so-called unelected “superdelegates”, representing party officials and organizers, sitting Democratic senators and representatives, lobbyists …etc., stand to tip the balance in her favor, as the establishment candidate, even if Bernie Sanders were to obtain a majority of the people behind him during the primaries. The superdelegate system was adopted in the 1980s to give the Democratic establishment a definitive advantage in determining the party’s presidential nominee and, if need be, to cancel the choice of the people.

 

Of all the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates, none is more pro-establishment than Hillary Clinton, and none more associated to that establishment and the mess the latter has created over the last quarter of century.

 

7- Hillary Clinton’s Eagerness to Launch “Regime change” Wars and Create Chaos in other Countries

 

Belligerent Hillary Clinton appears to be a John McCain in a skirt. As a U.S. Democratic senator from New York (2001-2009), she enthusiastically supported President George W. Bush's 2003 illegal Iraq War.

 

In her many thousand personal emails containing state secrets and sent to friends when she was U.S. Secretary of State, (possibly an illegal act), and discussing American foreign policies with outsiders, Hillary Clinton indicated on numerous occasions her willingness to use the U.S. military to fulfill Israel’s objectives in the Middle East. In one revealing email of hers, for example, and sent in the spring of 2012, she spelled out her views very clearly:

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad

For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about  —but cannot talk about —is losing their nuclear monopoly…

Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted…

In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria.

 

There is no doubt that if and when candidate Hillary Clinton becomes U.S. president, she will be more than willing to use the United States military to do the heavy lifting and go to war so that a foreign country, Israel, could fulfill its political objectives in the Middle East. This is surely an important enough issue to warrant a discussion during a presidential election.

 

8- Hillary Clinton’s Close Ties to Wall Street and Special Interests

 

While candidate Bernie Sanders is mainly financing his campaign with small donations from supporters, and while candidate Donald Trump is self-financing his campaign, candidate Hillary Clinton has principally relied on large contributions from professional lobbyists and large corporations and mega banks. Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley are among her top contributors.

 

This should raise red flags as this could mean that she could naturally be more inclined to act in favor of big corporations and mega banks, before being the president “of the people, by the people and for the people”, in President Lincoln’s words.

 

U.S. financier and politician Simon Cameron (1799-1889) used to quip, “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought”. Indeed, considering the importance that big money has taken in American politics after the 2010 ‘Citizens United’ (5-4) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, stating in effect that for profit ‘corporations’ are breathing people and that the use of ‘money’ is speech, the issue of how those who control huge amounts of money can influence the results of elections cannot be swept under the rug.

 

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is the only Democratic candidate accepting donations from federal lobbyists, corporate interests and super Political Action Committees (PACs), and even indirectly from foreign donors. Any candidate to high office who primarily relies on big money to be elected should be held accountable.

 

9- Hillary Clinton’s Responsibility in Ambassador Stevens’ Assassination and the Entire Benghazi Disaster

 

There were two scandals in the Benghazi Disaster, and Secretary Hillary Clinton was involved in both of them.

 

The first was that, on September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith were left unprotected, in a hostile environment, by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. And what is worse, before they were attacked and killed by Islamic militants in the diplomatic consular compound, they had requested military assistance and had been denied that assistance. Hillary Clinton has taken responsibility for the lapse in security.

 

The second scandal is the fact that Secretary Hillary Clinton had seemingly accepted that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya be merged with the CIA’s covert operations in that country, thus placing the State Department personnel in harm’s way. As early as March 2011, Ambassador Stevens had been named the first liaison with the Libyan opposition made of Islamic rebels, to whom the CIA was channeling weapons and providing tactics to overthrow the Libyan government.

 

According to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, “The [U.S.] consulate’s only mission [in Benghazi] was to provide cover for the moving of arms. It had no real political role.” And those arms and weapons were not only supplied to Islamic rebels to overthrow the Libyan government of President Gaddafi, they were also smuggled into Syria to other Islamic rebels in their attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad.

 

This is a very murky affair considering that all those covert operations were illegal under international law, and this casts a long shadow on Hillary Clinton’s record and ‘experience’.

 

10- Hillary Clinton is Publicly Committed to U.S.-led Imperial Wars, Especially in the Middle East

 

In her 2016 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), on March 21, candidate Hillary Clinton stated clearly her intentions to push the United Nations aside when she declared, I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], including by the U.N. Security Council.” In a similar speech during the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, in April 2008, when she was also a presidential candidate, she went as far as to declare, that to defend Israel, If I’m President, we will attack Iran… We would be able to totally obliterate them.”

 

Only a political psychopath could make such an outlandish statement to annihilate a country of 80 million people. That frame of mind should disqualify any person running to become American president. Her Democratic opponent at that time, candidate Barack Obama, accused Hillary Clinton of sabre-rattling and pointed out that this was the kind of language used by the George W. Bush administration.

 

Hillary Clinton has all the credentials as a pro-perpetual war candidate. That is probably because she adopts the self-serving and dangerous myth of American Exceptionalism. In her biographical book ‘Hard Choices’ and in various interviews, she has proclaimed her belief that “America remains the ‘indispensable nation.’ ” This is a dangerous posture by politicians who control nuclear arms. The history of the 20th Century and the rise of Nazi Germany should teach any democratic leader to refrain from brandishing the superiority of their nation over others.

 

For example, candidate Hillary Clinton is still on the record as supporting a U.S. imposed no-fly zone in Syria, similar to the one she advocated in Libya, in 2011, with disastrous results, since Islamist terrorists have taken over that country. It seems that Hillary Clinton has learned nothing from the Libyan fiasco she created. That shows very bad judgment.

 

Conclusion

 

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), said, in 2015, "Hillary Clinton is a neocon, [because] she supported the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan…

If Hillary Clinton is president, we will be back at war in the Middle East."

 

Considering Hillary Clinton’s numerous hawkish statements over the years and her dismal record at the State Department, the question whether she is, or she is not, a neoconservative should be squarely put to her to be answered in a proper forum. From her statements, there is no doubt that candidate Hillary Clinton would be a pro-perpetual war American president. This is a perspective that Democrats and the American electorate in general should ponder.

 

Even more fundamentally, perhaps, considering the questionable legacy that President Bill Clinton left behind during his two presidential terms, in 1993-1997 and in 1997-2001, and considering that the former president is most likely going to be a close adviser to his wife, if she becomes president, Americans should ask themselves if they want to support the Clinton couple for a third term (2017-2021) in the White House.

 

 

COMMENTS (13)

 

________________________________________

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

Please visit the book site at:

http://www.thecodeforglobalethics.com/

and his blog at:

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

 

Posted, Sunday, April 17, 2016, at 7:30 am

 

To write to the author:

rodrigue.tremblay1@gmail.com

 

 

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