Antiwar Progressives Speak Favorably of Aspects of
Trump’s Foreign Policy
By John V. Walsh
June 23, 2016
- Until recently the progressive mind has been
resolutely closed and stubbornly frozen in place
against all things Trump.
are appearing in the ice. With increasing frequency
over the last few months some of the most thoughtful
left and progressive figures have begun to speak
favorably of aspects of Trump’s foreign policy. Let
us hear from these heretics, among them
Stephen F. Cohen and
William Blum. Their words are not to be
construed as “endorsements,” but rather an
acknowledgement of Trump’s anti-interventionist
views, the impact those views are having and the
alternative he poses to Hillary Clinton in the
current electoral contest.
consider the estimable
William Greider, a regular contributor to The
Nation and author of Secrets of the Temple.
He titled a recent
article for the Nation, “Donald Trump
Could be The Military Industrial Complex’s Worst
Nightmare: The Republican Front Runner is Against
Nation Building. Imagine That.”
Greider’s article is brief, and I recommend reading
every precious word of it. Here is but one quote:
“Trump has, in his usual unvarnished manner, kicked
open the door to an important and fundamental
foreign-policy debate.” And here is a passage from
Trump’s interview with the
watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’d
be blown up,’ Trump told the editors. ‘And we’d
build another one and it would get blown up. And
we would rebuild it three times. And yet we
can’t build a school in Brooklyn.… at what point
do you say hey, we have to take care of
ourselves. So, you know, I know the outer world
exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that but at
the same time, our country is disintegrating,
large sections of it, especially in the inner
about building infrastructure for the inner cities,
especially better schools for African American
children, rather than bombing people of color
halfway around the world! That is hardly racism.
And it is not how the mainstream media wants
us to think of The Donald.
Glen Ford, the eloquent radical Left executive
editor of Black Agenda Report, a superb and widely
read outlet, penned an
article in March, 2016, with the following
title: “Trump Way to the Left of Clinton on Foreign
Policy – In Fact, He’s Damn Near Anti-Empire.”
Ford’s piece is well worth reading in its entirety;
here are just a few quotes:
has rejected the whole gamut of U.S. imperial
war rationales, from FDR straight through to the
Trump’s tens of millions of white, so-called
‘Middle American’ followers stick by him, it
will utterly shatter the prevailing assumption
that the American public favors maintenance of
U.S. empire by military means.
shows no interest in ‘spreading democracy,’ like
George W. Bush, or assuming a responsibility to
‘protect’ other peoples from their own
governments, like Barack Obama and his political
twin, Hillary Clinton.
sad beyond measure that the near-extinction of
independent Black politics has placed African
Americans in the most untenable position
imaginable at this critical moment: in the
Hillary Clinton camp.
John Pilger, the Left wing Australian journalist
and documentary film maker who has been writing
about Western foreign policy with unimpeachable
accuracy and wisdom since the Vietnam War era. Here
are some of his comments on Trump:
Trump is being presented (by the mass media) as
a lunatic, a fascist. He is certainly odious;
but he is also a media hate figure. That alone
should arouse our skepticism.
views on migration are grotesque, but no more
grotesque than those of David Cameron. It is not
Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United
States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack
1947, a series of National Security Council
directives described the paramount aim of
American foreign policy as ‘a world
substantially made over in [America’s] own
image’. The ideology was messianic Americanism.
We were all Americans. Or else. …
Trump is a symptom of this, but he is also a
maverick. He says the invasion of Iraq was a
crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia
and China. The danger to the rest of us is not
Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick.
She embodies the resilience and violence of a
system whose vaunted ‘exceptionalism’ is
totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.
quote is: “The danger to the rest of us is not
Trump, but Hillary Clinton.” When Pilger submitted
his article to the “progressive” magazine
Truthout, this sentence was deleted, censored
as he reported, along with a few of the
surrounding sentences. Such censorship had not been
imposed on Pilger by Truthout ever before.
Truthout’s commitment to free speech apparently has
limits in the case of The Donald versus Hillary,
rather severe ones. So one must read even the
progressive press with some skepticism when it comes
also been noticed by the Left in Europe, notably by
the sharp minded
Jean Bricmont, physicist and author of
Humanitarian Imperialism who writes
is the first major political figure to call for
‘America First’ meaning non-interventionism. He
not only denounces the trillions of dollars
spent in wars, deplores the dead and wounded
American soldiers, but also speaks of the Iraqi
victims of a war launched by a Republican
President. He does so to a Republican public and
manages to win its support. He denounces the
empire of US military bases, claiming to prefer
to build schools here in the United States. He
wants good relations with Russia. He observes
that the militarist policies pursued for decades
have caused the United States to be hated
throughout the world. He calls Sarkozy a
criminal who should be judged for his role in
Libya. Another advantage of Trump: he is
detested by the neoconservatives, who are the
main architects of the present disaster.
Stephen F. Cohen, contributing editor for The
Nation and Professor Emeritus of Russian History at
Princeton and NYU. Cohen makes the point that
Trump, alone among the presidential candidates, has
raised five urgent and fundamental questions, which
all other candidates in the major parties have
either scorned or more frequently ignored. The five
questions all call into question the interventionist
warlike stance of the US for the past 20 plus years.
Cohen enumerates the questions
the United States always be the world’s leader
NATO’s proper mission today, 25 years after the
end of the Soviet Union and when international
terrorism is the main threat to the West?
does Washington repeatedly pursue a policy of
regime change, in Iraq, Libya, possibly in
Ukraine, and now in Damascus, even though it
always ends in “disaster”?
the United States treating Putin’s Russia as an
enemy and not as a security partner?
should US nuclear weapons doctrine include a
no-first use pledge, which it does not?
comments in detail on these questions
here. Whatever one may think of the answers
Trump has provided to the five questions, there is
no doubt that he alone among the presidential
candidates has raised them – and that in itself is
an important contribution.
point I mention my own piece, which appeared late
last year. Entitled “Who
is the Arch Racist: The Donald or Hillary?”
Like Cohen’s pieces it finds merit with the Trump
foreign policy in the context of posing a question.
let us turn to
Bill Blum, who wrote an article entitled,
“American Exceptionalism and the Election Made in
Hell (Or Why I’d Vote for Trump Over Hillary).”
Again there is little doubt about the stance of
Blum, who is author of Killing Hope: U.S.
Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II,
a scholarly compendium, which Noam Chomsky calls
“Far and away the best book on the topic.”
American presidential election winds up with
Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, and my
passport is confiscated, and I’m somehow FORCED
to choose one or the other, or I’m PAID to do
so, paid well … I would vote for Trump.
concern is foreign policy. American foreign
policy is the greatest threat to world peace,
prosperity, and the environment. And when it
comes to foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is an
unholy disaster. From Iraq and Syria to Libya
and Honduras the world is a much worse place
because of her; so much so that I’d call her a
war criminal who should be prosecuted.
(Trump) calls Iraq ‘a complete disaster’,
condemning not only George W. Bush but the
neocons who surrounded him. ‘They lied. They
said there were weapons of mass destruction and
there were none. And they knew there were none.
There were no weapons of mass destruction.’ He
even questions the idea that ‘Bush kept us
safe’, and adds that ‘Whether you like Saddam or
not, he used to kill terrorists’.”
he’s personally obnoxious. I’d have a very hard
time being his friend. Who cares?
with Blum’s words because they are most pertinent to
our present situation. The world is living through
a perilous time when the likes of the neocons and
Hillary Clinton could lead us into a nuclear
Armageddon with their belligerence toward Russia and
their militaristic confrontation with China.
is that we are faced with a choice between Clinton
and Trump, a choice which informs much of the above
commentary. Survival is at stake and we must
consider survival first if our judgments are to be
V. Walsh can be reached at