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June 26, 2018

Power and perception in the US


June 26, 2018

US President Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents triggered a wave of anger across America, forcing the “whimsical president” to revisit his “inhuman policy”.

Trump has been mired in challenges since he assumed office more than 17 months ago. His decisions to scrap the Paris climate deal, abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, construct a wall along Mexico’s border with the US, leave the Iran nuclear deal, and shift the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem have come under fire from various circles. He recently earned the wrath of his European allies by slapping various tariffs on their products. The US president has also infuriated China – Washington’s largest trading partner – by imposing tariffs, triggering a trade war with the second largest economy of the world.

At home, Trump is said to have selected the richest cabinet in American history besides promoting a culture of fealty. The president has been accused of stuffing the White House and various government offices with his loyalists, sending many dissenters packing from the federal government departments. According to a report of The New Yorker, “in Trump’s first nine months, more than seventy-nine thousand full-time workers quit or retired – a forty-two percent increase over that period in Obama’s presidency”.

This has prompted Trump’s detractors to portray him as evil, careless and irresponsible, and a megalomaniac. Some have gone to the extent of declaring him a racist.

There has been some good news recently though: the American president did manage to play a role in cooling down temperatures in the Korean Peninsula after hurling threats at the communist leader of North Korea. His decision to cancel a military exercise in one of the hottest conflict zones in the world may appear naïve for warmongers sitting in the military-industrial complex, but for pacifists all over the world it is the most sagacious decision that he has taken since he assumed public office.

In fact, many have argued that the business tycoon-turned politician was least bothered about policing the world after ascending to the position of world’s most powerful executive. The perception was that he wanted Washington to mind its own business, improve its economy, reduce its trade deficit, and end reckless squandering of money on American troops stationed in various parts of the world. He was apparently also seen to be amenable to the idea of hobnobbing with his Russian counterpart, putting an end to the hostilities between the two superpowers armed with more than 7,000 lethal nuclear arms.

Interestingly, this – according to many observers – may just have enraged the powerbrokers (including the American deep state) of the US. A stream of leaks appeared, aimed at creating the impression that Russia had meddled with the presidential elections. The smear campaign ended up putting Trump on the defensive, forcing him to take a hardline towards Moscow. While this hawkish stance may have benefited the mandarins of the American intelligence agencies, such an unwise position has pushed the world to a precarious point.

Washington’s sabre-rattling and the ruthless use of American military might against various states forced Moscow to come up with advanced super-sonic nuclear missiles that cannot be traced by the Western defence system. Moscow has claimed that the new missiles have a range that is “dozens” of times above the current models and are capable of flying at unpredictable trajectories and low altitudes.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the landmark agreement between the former Soviet Union and America to prevent nuclear war. On June 22, 1973, the two superpowers had agreed to make the removal of the use of nuclear weapons an objective of their policies. But after the end of the USSR, Washington adopted a belligerent posture. It threatened to use nuclear arms, invading country after country, and went to the extent of expanding Nato up to the borders of Russia, reneging on the promises made by the American leadership to Gorbachev. This fanned ultra-nationalist sentiments in the US, prompting it to once again become irredentist and assertive.

There is a perception that, had Trump been allowed to hobnob with Putin, it could have led to the cessation of hostilities between Moscow and Washington. This would then have enabled both Russia and the US to direct their precious resources towards the betterment of their own people, who gain nothing out of this mad race of arms.

However, it is probable that the idea of normalising relations with Russia did not go down well with the elements of the American deep state. This is because they want an America that pumps over three trillion dollars into the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan but is unable to contribute a meagre $50 billion that could extend health, education and sanitation facilities to all people of the developing world – or just $15 billion that could be enough to wipe out malaria, measles and other diseases from Africa. They love to see a superpower that amasses 40 percent of the world’s one billion firearms but ends up losing more than 20,000 of its own citizens in senseless sporadic firing incidents that appease no one except arms traders.

For them, a Washington brimming with nuclear arms and planning to upgrade these agents of destruction by 2026 at a whopping $400 billion price tag is fabulous because this would help the superrich multiply their wealth. They seem to believe that this upgradation will be a blessing for a world that is already burdened with 14,465 nuclear arms and where more than 800 million people are struggling to battle rampant poverty.

Their definition of patriotism demands that over $700 billion from the hard-earned money of Americans should be spent on 1,347,300 soldiers while a meagre $3.2 trillion is more than enough to ensure the health of around 300 million Americans, 45000 of whom would have perished annually prior to Obamacare.

Such powerful forces, with the connivance of the military-industrial complex and corporate media and oil barons, create the bogey of the invincible enemy that cannot be vanquished despite America’s military might. Hollywood happily collaborates in promoting the bogey man. They create demon after demon to justify their useless existence that thrives on fear.

The friction between the Trump administration and other American institutions and power-brokers could be converted into a blessing if saner elements are able to sharpen this divide. Trump may have violated US laws in the Russian interference case, but such leaks aren’t legal either. It is time the American political leadership reined in these elements by curtailing their unlimited powers. The reduction in their powers will go some way in putting an end to US aggression against various states because it is always the flimsy evidence advanced by such powerful elements that is used to justify the invasion of various countries across the world.

Since 1777, the US has militarily intervened in other countries more than 223 times. Even today, it has more than 800 military bases in over 150 states. One of the ways to end this American policing of the world would be to clip the wings of those institutions and elements within the American state that make such policies.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Email: [email protected]

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