Thursday, 5 January 2017

Who's where? Trump and the Neo-Con oppo

It’s too early to see what the new alignment among the Masters of the Universe will look like despite all the howling and sniping and facile talk of The Resistance. But I have serious doubts about the assumptions many of us are making about who is on which side.

In one version of the new scenario, the bruised Democrats are getting ready to somewhat or partially dig in their (tiny) heels to try to stop some of the worst damage coming from the Trump Administration. In that narrative we should be paying attention to who is in charge of this pushback, trying to keep the reins out of the DNC/post-Hillary camp (this would be view from the Bernie wing), or letting the Dem establishment take the lead to block the worst Supreme Court nominees and hope for a reveral in 2018/2020 (this would be the more mainstream liberal attitude).

The assumption in both cases is that we are all more or less on the same side and are going to fight over nuances of strategy and tactics. I’m not convinced.

There is clearly a major catfight taking place at present, partly in full view and partly, we can presume, out of sight between the security/spy/war-making apparatus that was comfortably engaged in building up tensions with Russia and the unexpectedly uninterested commander-in-chief-to-be. Trump has signaled that he doesn’t think brinksmanship with the Russians is necessary or good for business, which is heresy for the neocon-influenced wing that backed Clinton. (Recall the enthusiasm with which the Hillary campaign trotted out all sorts of establishment Republicans to endorse her and warn against dangerous Donald.)

My personal view of the Russian Hack kerfluffle is that whether or not there is any truth to it is beside the point. There may have been more than the usual snooping that everyone does on everyone else, and there may not; the concrete evidence is sorely lacking so far.

If Trump were on board with the anti-Russian policy consensus, the issue probably would have been let die a natural death—even if the worst accusations are true—as part of the dirty dealings common to our electoral process, certainly no more grave than Nixon’s treasonous 1968 deal with the North Vietnamese to delay a peace settlement and let him win the presidency. Hillary would have been dismissed as a weak candidate who didn’t figure out how to play nasty enough.

But given the policy stakes, the Manchurian Candidate angle is too useful for discrediting Trump in advance and trying to force him back into line. Anonymous “intelligence” sources can keep up a steady drumbeat of alarming news about threats from the big grizzly indefinitely, given the eagerness with which Beltway reporters will rush into print anything whispered to them in the cloakrooms.

That’s where the composition of the teams breaks down: many of the Bernie-wing commentators are NOT on board with the hack consensus, recalling a similar rush to swallow the phony WMD story that justified launching a war of conquest the ongoing Iraqi debacle. For establishment Democrats, daring to doubt puts people like Taibbi, Greenwald, and any others in the traitorous Breitbart/O’Reilly camp. Even Bernie himself may not escape tarring—he has been remarkably mum on the topic.

The implications are disturbing given the sudden proclivity to label anything not in conformity with the permitted narrative as “fake news,” which is coming to mean things certain big players don’t agree with. There is even a new bill being introduced in Congress with one Democrat and one Republican sponsor, called the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act”, whose purpose is to “strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to track and combat disinformation and propaganda overseas, especially by Russia.” Although it’s sponsors, including Connecticut liberal Chris Murphy, insist that the act is not aimed at domestic newsmakers, check out its ambiguous language in the link provided and ask yourself if you feel safe with tools like that in the hands of Steve Bannon.

Murphy is from a blue state and touts his liberal credentials, but he also brags about bringing home the defense-spending bacon to Connecticut's many armaments producers. There are plenty more in his camp who we can presume were not at all unhappy about the possible largesse from a new Cold War and might be disposed to oppose The Donald as a threat to Pentagon contracts. We should be alert to the possibility that the authoritarian impulses so obvious from the incoming White House team may be echoed—and deepened—by our erstwhile allies.

1 comment:

LC said...

There is much uncertainty as new alignments shape up. Everything from whether we'll face Brown Shirt style violence to possibilities of neo McCarthyism. For those of us old enough to remember our parents huddled around the radio during HUAC testimony, this is sobering. Already I feel cautious when people appear to equate patriotism with demonization of Russia (not that I think Russians are "the good guys"). As intimidating as this may be, I am trying my best to quietly and courteously speak my truth - which is that we we are looking at something very complex, with many hidden agendas - and that it's a citizen's job to entertain healthy skepticism, whether its one's own party speaking or the other guy's.