It has been nearly six months since Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States. The lavish inauguration at the Capitol Building in Washington DC stood at odds with the country’s struggling economy, growing poverty and financial uncertainty for millions of Americans.
Since then, Republicans and Democrats have been locked in one of the ugliest political fights in the history of their nation.
While Democrats are exposing every perceived failure by the Trump administration, chastising every decision and scrutinizing every word, Republicans are caught in a dichotomy. While they are aware of Trump’s unpredictability, and still suspicious of his unconvincing Republican credentials, they are still eager to use his term in office to implement their long-dormant agenda, including the repelling of The Obama health care plan, known as the Obamacare.
Media coverage of Trump’s performance has followed a predictable pattern, with the so-called ‘liberal’ media - the likes of CNN, New York Times and the Huffington Post - regularly condemning, belittling and criticizing the White House performance.
On the other hand, rightwing, populist media, like Fox News defend Trump’s actions, blocking any attempt at espousing a healthy and democratic debate. They constantly parade and exploit every opportunity at levying counter accusations at their enemies in Congress or media.
The country is thus split at the seams, leading to unprecedented political uncertainty.
However, since Trump’s inauguration, the dominant debate has largely focused on Trump himself – his misguided policies and personality. It has veered from any wholesome examination of the state of US economy or the miserable state of foreign policy and unwinnable wars that have preceded Trump.
Since 1945, the United States has vied for total global leadership. The 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, accorded it global hegemony. As a result, the US became the force that stabilized and destabilized any region in the world, at whim - as always, serving the interests of itself and its allies.
Political opinions and ideological strands in the US, and globally, were formulated around this reality. Often unwittingly, we are all pushed into one of two categories: pro- or anti-American.
For decades, many critical voices warned of an uncontested unipolar world. Conformists fought against the “un-American”, and ‘unpatriotic’ few, who dared break rank.
In the late 1980s, Francis Fukuyama declared “the end of history”, now that the US and its Western allies managed to defeat Communism. He prophesied the end of ‘sociocultural evolution’, where a new form of a single human government can be formed.
It appeared, however fleetingly, that all the obstacles before the American vision of total domination have been subdued.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times imagined such a world in his bestselling book, ‘The World is Flat’. He wrote, with the wisdom of a sage and the triumph of a victorious war general, “Communism was a great system for making people equally poor – in fact, there was no better system in the world for that than communism. Capitalism made people unequally rich.”
But history never ended. It simply went through a new cycle of conflicts, problems and alliances. Unchecked consumerism was hardly a triumph for the neoliberal order, but a defeat of a delicately balanced planet, where global warming emerged as the world’s greatest enemy. American military power could hardly wait to re-arrange the Arab world, as once promised, by former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
As this progressed, the so-called “New Middle East”, has become a horrifying nightmare that haunts many countries and has destabilized the entire region. Worse still, the US economy has crashed, taking with it the global economy and reducing some of the smallest, most vulnerable countries to abject poverty.
Omitting the Past
When President Barack Obama came into power in 2008, his administration promised to be the ‘most transparent in history.’ At the end of second term in office eight years later, the discussion focused mainly on whether the Obama administration was, in fact, the ‘least transparent in history.’
By the end of his terms, Obama spoke of his success in stabilizing the economy and creating more jobs in a process of swift recovery. Yet, a US Federal Reserve survey last year concluded that nearly half of all Americans “did not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.”
Trump represents an amalgamation of American military power, business monopoly and media savvy. He seems smart enough to understand that his country requires a change of course, but lacks the will, wisdom and skills to guide it adequately.Ramzy Baroud
The truth is, Americans did not elect Trump simply because they are ‘racist’, as some have self-righteously presumed, but because they are desperate. He knew how to exploit the many woes of his people with his ‘Making America Great Again’ mantras.
Expectedly, the greatest backlash to Trump’s chaotic politics emanates from the liberal and neoliberal forces in politics and economy that had assiduously defined and defended the failing American order for many years.
They continue to rebrand the failures of the past as either astounding successes, or well-intentioned but unsuccessful endeavors to make the world a better place. Read this confused language in the Brookings Institute to understand the complete lack of introspection:
“No American president since 1945, whether Republican or Democrat, has broken so decisively with the American stewardship of the postwar liberal global order,” wrote Constanze Stelzenmüller recently, with reference to Trump’s policies towards Europe and the rest of the world.
She opines: “In the service of the higher good of world peace, even the victorious superpower was willing to be bound to universal rules—a concession that admitted the existence of a worldwide community of humanity based on shared values rather than the principle of ‘might makes right.’“
Yet, immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US ‘might makes right’ phrase became the new doctrine that was championed by every US administration. In fact, Iraq was bombed by all US presidents since George H. Bush in 1991.
It has to be acknowledged that Trump is an outcome of the same American political system that gave birth to the Bush and Obama presidencies, not an alien life-force that is completely inconsistent with the past.
Trump represents an amalgamation of American military power, business monopoly and media savvy. He seems smart enough to understand that his country requires a change of course, but lacks the will, wisdom and skills to guide it adequately.
After six months in the Oval Office, Trump is presiding over the same old power struggle between the neo-conservative-type ideologues, seeking more interventions in order to re-arrange the world as they see fit, and the military brass who want the US military to reign supreme, but on a steady and predicable course.
While Trump himself rejected the idea of regime change during his campaign for office, Politico reported on June 25 that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, “appeared to endorse subverting the Iranian regime,” and the “philosophy of regime change.”
Meanwhile, the ideologues vs. the military brass battle, which had defined both terms of the George W. Bush administration, has returned. Foreign Policy detailed that ongoing fight in a revealing report on June 16. Indeed, contradictions in US foreign policy have become the norm, not the exception.
While chaos and contradictions abound, Trump’s allies are simply unable to sum up the ‘Trump doctrine.’ A top administration official tried, but failed. He told the Time that it is a “combination of very good personal skills - one-on-one … defeating ISIS and … commitment to people that there are certain things that the United States isn’t going to put up with.”
Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.