Posted in Politics

Trump’s Inauguration Speech

Well, the wars continued under Obama and the dead mounted up. However, having just watched Trump’s speech, it might be that the hype man’s administration was indeed a lesser of the two evils. Coming straight from the horses mouth, it does appear that we are about to enter an era of protectionism and trade wars …. and the real wars?

Well, should we give the “daddy gave me a head start” man the benefit of the doubt with his “America first and only America first” “Weltanschauung”? Could, perhaps, if it weren’t for the fact that for “America” we should read “Donald” and, even if it were, “America”, where does that leave the rest of humanity? No benefit of the doubt and we should expect the trade wars and very real wars to be just around the corner.

Indeed, in thinking about the post on this blog regarding a very possible war with China, straws have to be grasped and might a little hope be gleamed from the report in ‘The Guardian’ that Obama was apparently heard saying to Trump: “Well as I said, we’ll be right around the corner.”  Oh, desperate days when it is the hype man who offers us hope. Academic caution might be advised, but the evidence would appear to suggest that we are all pretty well fucked.

 

Posted in Politics

Trump and the world after the 20th of January

Are we heading for a Donald Trump version of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as the new administration starts to prepare for the big one even before it assumes office? Yes, it would appear that Donald might even drag all of us into a war with China and, if that is not enough, there he is praising Britain’s decision to leave the EU, having a go at Angela Merkel, and telling us that NATO is obsolete.

Then there is the other big news; Theresa May has delivered her much-anticipated speech on Brexit” and the portents  would appear to suggest that a far from ideal globalisation is unravelling into something even more sinister. With Trump threatening to put up trade barriers and little England trying cherry pick the best of all possible worlds, are globalisation, the post-World War 2 order, and the European project doomed?

Perhaps, but, more importantly, with the new administration in Washington already threatening China, it might be that not only is the post-WW2 order about to be buried, but also that the United States, and the little island off the coast of Europe, are about to seek their saviour in xenophobia, racism and in a search for autarky that can only come about through a war. A war which will bear a lot of the traits of that conflict which became all the more certain after the 30th of January 1933.

Still, solace can be sought and it can be found in the fact that the world that Germans woke up to on the 31st of January 1933 was no different from the one they went to sleep in the previous night. Similarly, the world will not be a noticably different place on the 21st of January 2017 and nothing is inevitable. That is why resistance has to be possible.

Indeed, if we are looking for a big positive at the moment, it might be found in the fact that resisting the new xenophobia and the inevitable war-mongering that will accompany it, should mean that we also don’t return to that Washington Consensus and those neo-con wars that Trump’s own new wars will superceed,  while in fact simultaneously pursuing the continuity that the hegemon demands.

For, just as Nazi Germany’s search for autarky and “Lebensraum”, deemed Germany’s imperial “Weltpolitik” to be superfluous, or to use Trump’s vernacular, “obsolete”, there was still a continuity in German foreign policy that can be traced from Bismark to Hitler. Similarly, the new administration  in Washington will see itself in the tradition of a hegemon who is used to getting its way. Therefore, in resisting Trump it might very well be that we can also avoid returning to the unilateralism of an arrogant super power and instead establish a new multilateral global order.

 

Posted in Politics

Rex Tillerson’s Conflict of Interests and the potential Conflict in the South China Sea

Much has been said about Rex Tillerson’s business interests in Russia. Therefore, despite his referring to reports of Kremlin instigated hacking attacks as being clearly  “troubling”, while also saying that NATO is right to be “alarmed at a resurgent Russia,” it might be unsurprising, and all the more so when we consider his business interests, that he won’t commit to sanctions.

That is the bottom line from Trump’s nominee for John Kerry’s job and, even if he does refer elsewhere to Russia as a danger and actually says he would keep sanctions, he believes that Putin is neither a war criminal, nor unpredictable,  and that the United States can work with him. In other words, despite the “alarmed” and “troubling” soundbites for the gallery, Rex Tillerson has every intention of working with Russia and protecting his company’s business interests there.

Of course, it might be argued that this can be no bad thing and, certainly, an easing of tensions with Russia is to be welcomed. However, when Trump’s nominee targets China’s activities in the South China Sea by saying that it is necessary to “…..send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your (China’s) access to those islands also is not going to be allowed,” it is, perhaps, time to worry, while asking if the man from Exxon Mobil is really concerned about the Chinese flouting international law, or is he worried about them having unfettered access to the oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea?

The planet could be about to experience a nuclear holocaust partly because a man who is hard to label a “denier”, but who views climate change as nothing more than an “engineering problem”, is ultimately in search of even bigger profits for big oil. In other words, we are in the process of moving a step closer to a third world war, a war which will in all probability destroy the planet as we know it, because greedy bastards, like Rex Tillerson, want even more of those resources that are ultimately responsible for destroying the planet in the first place.

Posted in Politics

Has Anything Changed with Trump?

Having read Andrew J. Bacevich’s ‘Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War’ , it is very likely that his ‘America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History’ will be perused in the not too distant future, even if, as is invariably the case with follow-up books like this, it might be expected that the author’s theses will be repeated.

It is a theses that is both pertinent and admirable and in ‘Washington Rules’ Bacevich goes a long way in showing how American foreign policy has been accompanied by illegal coups, illegal wars, murders and mass murders. That, however, is why it is difficult to see the exact point he is making when commenting elsewhere on the advent of Donald Trump. Indeed, a healthy scepticism is required when describing the coming of this particular buffoon as anything more than a farce.

Anyway, in his article ‘How We Got Here’ Mr Bacevich appears to lament that with Trump becoming President “there is no vision to which Americans collectively adhere”, although, when we consider the extent of Washington’s criminal activity, a criminal activity which allowed Americans  the luxury of that vision, and which Bacevich himself, as mentioned above, documents admirably, it really might be worth asking, has anything, apart from it all being so out in the open with Trump, really changed?

The answer might be no along with the conclusion that those liberal values, which Americans did, and do share and which are at the basis of that shared vision, in turn prepared a contributing role in the United States’ imposing the Washington Consensus. With Bacevich admirably exposing that for the crime it indeed was, his not linking the two is a slight disappointment.

Trump, however, does represent a change of sorts and that is not because of the spectacle of a man who is about to be the President of the United States responding to an actress’s criticism with a very personal and public attack, or the fact that he appoints his son-in-law as senior advisor. No, beyond the farce, Trump and the conflict between capitalist factions represent a danger for all of us, and not only for the downtrodden of this planet, which means that in a conflict which will engulf all of us. there will be very little room for those shared and to a large extent myopic values Americans held and hold.

Yes, Trump is an overgrown child and he is liable to throw public tantrums, but without Obama’s guile, or Hillary’s sanctimonious hypocritical hyperbole, he just might be easier to deal with. In dealing with him there should be a new shared vision and that vision should be one that sees not only emperor with no clothes, but also reveals the naked crimes of an economic and political system which can no longer hide behind its wall of lies.

Posted in Politics

The Neo-Cons have their Agenda

The last sentence of yesterday’s post began with “déjà-vu, perhaps” and, with the Guardian stating British intelligence reportedly provided a vital tipoff to the US in 2015 about the extent of Russian hacking on the presidential election” , that might be an appropriate way to start of this short post.

“Allegations about the depth and nature of contacts between the Trump camp and Moscow have been passed to the FBI”, we are told, and, with Trump afterwards still saying  “no evidence that foreign interference had influenced the outcome of the election” , caution at least must be advised when it comes to believing what is in essence unsubstantiated evidence.

Oh, and the “déjà-vu”? Well, is it really so long ago that key intelligence based on fabrication, wishful thinking and lies”  was provided by Britain and was used to justify an illegal war. The neo-cons have their agenda and it might be suspected that they will have their next war by hook or by crook, even if that means a full confrontation with a revisionist, right-wing president.

Posted in Politics

Trump and the coming Conflict between Capitalist Factions

Despite more of his hyperbole, hypocrisy, and platitudes on the way out, there is no need to reassess Obama’s presidency. The fact is that, as the wars went on, the killing never stopped, and only the most myopic among us cannot see that the United States, and American foreign policy in particular, was not run by the man in the White House. Furthermore, with the intelligence community putting Trump in his place before the takes office, it might be believed that there is no real reason to believe that this will change after the president-elect takes office.

Indeed, with the Guardian proclaiming that a Declassified assessment says Russia ‘had clear preference’ for Trump” and with US intelligence chiefs producing a report, which they say points to Russian interference in the US elections, but which lacks detail while also failing to publish any data which might prove that the Kremlin did interfere in the elections, it might be suspected that moves are already underway to at least limit the new administration’s ability to alter the course of American foreign policy.

However, while academic caution is always advised, an even more sinister scenario is being expounded by Michel Chossudovsky who argues that the latest hype from the hype man and the intelligence community is part of an effort by the Clinton faction and the neo-cons to destabilize the Trump presidency. Of course, none of this will stop Trump’s inauguration. Nevertheless, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that the conflict between the warmongering neo-cons and their backers and a racist right-wing administration, which is dominated by bankers and oil executives, is still to be played out.

It is not easy to predict what direction things will take. However, it is also difficult to disagree with Professor Chossudovsky when he says that America is gearing towards a deep-seated political crisis, with major social, economic and geopolitical ramifications” . The crisis will be a clash between competing capitalist factions and it will be to the detriment not only of the American people, but of all of us. Déjà-vu, perhaps, but this is the absurdity that is capitalism, although with Trump there is already enough evidence to suggest that we have all the elements of both tragedy and farce.

 

Posted in Politics

Observations from Hanoi

“Đổi Mới”, which was initiated in 1986, might be seen as the Vietnamese equivalent of Deng Xiaoping’s attempt to build socialism with Chinese characteristics. Of course, even if many social indicators point to a more equal development in Vietnam, the reality is that there is no Chinese road, or Vietnamese road, to socialism. Or, at least not a road which requires what is, in effect, uninterrupted capitalist growth. Especially, a growth that is based on fossil fuels and the rich getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer

Therefore, even if Vietnam feels more equitable and even freer – and it does – than China, there is this reality of walking around the Hoam Keim lake and looking at the poor souls with big cameras around their necks hoping to earn a few thousand dongs with a photo of a tourist, while all and sundry have their iphone 6s attached to selfie sticks.

Nevertheless, there has been enough to impress me here; students who are interested in learning for learning’s sake and a level of education that I have seldom, if ever, encountered with Chinese students. Moreover, even if there is no road to socialism through uninterrupted economic growth based on fossil fuels, the discussions going on in Vietnam regarding sustainability give grounds for hope and maybe even the realisation is around the corner that Vietnam’s problems cannot be separated from imperialist and, yes, Chinese control of the world market.