The Opportunity of This Moment

by Berry Friesen (January 16, 2017)

The empire is very reluctant to accept Donald Trump as its next President.  We know this from all the thrashing around we see in Washington as the political elite struggle to bit-and-bridle Trump and bring him into line with the foreign policy trajectory of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The thrashing around is serious.  The more measured observers describe it as an attempt to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.  Others describe it as an attempt to force Trump from office, either through resignation or impeachment.  The more extreme consider the leading role of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in the opposition to Trump and see the distinct possibility of another assassination.

You think I am exaggerating?  Have a look for yourself here or here or here or here or here or here or here and here.

There is an opportunity in this moment.  It is to speak about why the empire is so reluctant to accept Trump as its President.  Not because we like Trump or admire him, but because his presidency opens a space for speaking truths that have been suppressed for decades.

When we speak those truths, we plant seeds for positive change.

Yes, let’s be candid in our criticism of Trump, let’s be vigilant in resisting the authoritarianism of his approach.  But let’s also be bold in reminding one another why the empire so dislikes this man.  That’s a necessary part of preparing for a better world.

So on with it:  why is the empire in such distress over the prospect of a Trump presidency?

1. In contrast to his predecessors going all the way back to the final year of the Carter Administration, Trump apparently does not support teaming up with Islamic Salafists (e.g., al-Qaeda, ISIS) to overthrow legitimate governments (e.g., Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya and Syria).  He’s blown the whistle on the evil, duplicitous game US politicians have been playing for more than a generation now—one hand supporting the terrorists, the other hand waving the bloody and frightening flag of terrorism.

Would we really prefer a President who collaborates with terrorists, uses them as proxies to do the empire’s dirty work, and then pretends to be shocked when those same terrorists strike Western targets such as Paris, Barcelona and Berlin?

2. In contrast to nearly all Republican and Democratic members of Congress—and virtually all the mainstream media—Trump does not want to base US policy toward Russia on fear, misinformation and confrontation.    He recognizes that Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and its presence in Syria are actions based on narrow national interests, not imperialism.  He recognizes that the US and NATO are primarily to blame for strained relations with Russia.  And he recognizes that this business of Russia hacking our recent election and interfering with our utility grid is fake news.

Would we really prefer a President who promotes another “Red Scare” to ensure our national wealth will be wasted on enriching weapons-makers and a planet-destroying nuclear weapons exchange will be just one tiny mistake away?  Or one with an honest assessment of US-Russia relations?

3. In contrast to President Obama and most Republican and Democratic members of Congress, Trump apparently is not willing to use so-called international trade deals to limit national sovereignty for the benefit of private corporations.

Consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is the new trade deal most Democrats and Republicans in Congress are eager to support.  As Rob Urie points out, the purpose of the TPP isn’t so much trade, but giving “multi-national corporations more control over our lives.”  For example, the TPP would give private coal companies the right to sue for lost profits from environmental rules adopted by governments.  In effect, “this would require utility customers, taxpayers or both to pay for the coal not burned and the replacement fuel,” an impossible state of affairs that would effectively kill any meaningful environmental regulation.

Would we really prefer a President who uses international trade deals to give private corporations the power to win monetary damages against our own government when it acts in the public interest?

Of course, Trump is himself an imperialist.  That’s one of the reasons why I voted for Jill Stein instead of Trump. Generally, I perceive Trump to personify many of the worst attributes of the empire: hubris, self-indulgence, arrogance and racism.

Yet here he is, opening space to critique that very imperialism.

Obviously, the mental dissonance you and I feel about Trump’s peculiar mix of attitudes and perspectives is real.  But let’s not get stuck there.  We don’t expect to live dissonance-free lives, right?  So we can’t allow the dissonance we feel about a Trump presidency to cause us to miss this opportunity.  

Here at this blog, our purpose is to strengthen the anti-imperialist impulse.  That’s why we refer so often to the Bible; it’s the best anti-imperial resource we’re ever encountered. That’s why we talk so often about events such as the war in Syria; it reminds us how corrupt and brutal the empire is.

So let’s get on with it and let’s go deeper than whether we despise Trump, like/dislike him a little or like him a lot.  This is our opportunity to let the light shine in.