To readers who are estranged from the comfortable complacency of the political center and who were initially skeptical of the first media reports yesterday that Trump had ordered complete withdrawal of US ground troops from Syria, I say: there is no deception here, the news is authentic. Trump has finally found his backbone after months of giving in to his Neocon advisers and hawkish generals – we are leaving.
The reality and seriousness of Trump’s decision is confirmed by the shrill intensity of its condemnation by the Democratic (liberal internationalist) and Republican (Neocon) opposition to what Trump announced. For a starter, may I suggest that the reader go to The Washington Post and take a look at the invective from Victoria Nuland, the leading Cold Warrior at State during Obama’s tenure in office and the author of the coup d’etat against the legitimate government in Kiev that has brought us into our present dramatically heightened international tensions.
And the media drum beats for Trump’s scalp pick up where our Establishment politicians leave off. Not just in US media but here in Europe in the oh-so- independent and sophisticated BBC World news, for example. In this morning’s Briefing program, the BBC’s Washington reporter explains how Trump yet again has shown his disruptive character by this move which runs against the expert advice of all his generals and political advisers and cedes Syria to Russia and Iran!
Disruptive! Allow me to put such an anodyne and objectively correct assessment into context, given that the reporter meant it as a slap across the wrist for Donald, as if he were the juvenile caricature his many enemies choose to hang around his neck.
I am a great enthusiast for a couple of almost unique pillars of US and UK democracy: the first past the post principle in designating the winners of elections and the winner takes all notion of governance following the elections. To anyone who finds these principles unexceptional, I must explain that they run directly against the operative principles of many if not most nations on the Continent, where progressive political theories stressing consensus and inclusiveness have given us executives and legislatures which are utterly incapable of being disruptive. What we get here in Old Europe tends to be coalition governments or power-sharing in which parliamentary majorities are hobbled together by distributing the spoils of office, assigning ministerial portfolios with utter disregard for policy coherence or the competence of the appointees. The stasis in policy results in voter apathy and works directly against the vibrancy of democracy.
The fact is that polarization and disruptiveness are what the whole democratic process is supposed to be about. Throwing out the bums is one side of the story; throwing out bum policies is the other side of the story. Anyone questioning this, as all of Trump’s critics do, is arguably subverting our democracy, not defending it.
The election of Donald Trump was supposed to result in both sides of the disruption story being realized. His foreign policy, which exposed him to gratuitous attacks and about which he could have but chose not to be silent during the campaign, was precisely for cardinal change in the way foreign policy is conducted. And, notwithstanding the way his enemies in the political elites and in the mass media pilloried him for these positions, he won the 2016 election fair and square.
Trump had called for a move away from war, towards accommodation with adversaries like Russia, for ending the unnecessary and never-ending wars initiated by the previous administrations while improving America’s big stick – allocating new funds to modern equipment and weapons systems.This put Trump in the framework famously set out by President Teddy Roosevelt a hundred years ago. Roosevelt, it will be remembered, was The Realist American president and together with Richard Nixon was a direct ideological forerunner of Donald Trump. Roosevelt’s nemesis, Woodrow Wilson, was the direct ideological forerunner of all the Idealist hot-war fighting presidents we have had in between.
As we know, Trump in office has been a mess. His utter inexperience in running organizations larger than his own Trump Organization with its 12 loyalist direct reports has shown up at every turn. His management style, based on the principle of keeping one’s friends close and one’s enemies still closer, has rendered him utterly surrounded by policy enemies who have largely run away with the show on all elements of foreign policy.
It is hard to say what precipitated this latest turn in direction of POTUS 45, but it could conceivably have been the disastrous sentencing hearing of his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, during which the full mania of the anti-Trump warriors was presented with perfect clarity: a policy characterized by vicious partisanship and indecent mob mentality that we have charitably called McCarthyism. Let us hope that he stands firm now, throws out more of the bum policies as well as bum individuals he inherited or appointed, and proceeds from Syria to an about face on Russia and much more.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2018