Can’t Stomach Trump
jumping off the Republican ship for Hillary Clinton
even though Donald Trump has shifted their way on
Israel and military spending. The big reason is his
resistance to a new Cold War with Russia, says JP
By JP Sottile
- Bill Kristol is downright despondent after
search for an alternative to Donald Trump.
Max Boot is indignant about
party’s willingness to ride a bragging bull into a
delicate China policy
shop. And the leading light of the first family of
military interventionism —
Robert Kagan — is actually
lining up neoconservatives behind the
Democratic nominee for president of the United
At the same
time, the Democrats have become the party of
bare-knuckled, full-throated American Exceptionalism.
That transformation was announced with a vein-popping
zeal by retired general and wannabe
motivation screamer John Allen at the
Democratic convention in the City of Brotherly Love.
During his “speech,” a few plaintive protests of “no
more war” were actually drowned-out by
Democrats chanting “USA-USA-USA!”
This is the
same Democratic Party often criticized by Kagan &
Co. as the purveyors of timidity, flaccidity and
moral perfidy. It’s not that Democrats haven’t
dropped bombs, dealt arms and overturned regimes.
They have. And they’ve even got the Peace
Prize-winning Obama-dropper to
prove it. But unlike enthusiastically belligerent
Republicans, the Dems are supposed to be the party
that does it, but doesn’t really like to do it.
they’ve got Hillary Clinton. And she’s weaponized the
State Department. She really
likes regime change. And her nominating
convention not only embraced the military, but it
sanctified the very Gold Star families that
neocon-style interventionism creates. It certainly created
the pain of the Khan family who lost their
son in the illegal war
in Iraq. But the Dems didn’t mention that sad fact
as they grabbed the flag away from the Republicans.
feels like reality has slipped off its axis and
we’ve landed on a Bizarro
World version of America. Democrats are
acting like Republicans. Pat Buchanan is championing
the GOP’s “Peace
Candidate.” And the neocons are fleeing from
the party they’ve used like a geopolitical cudgel
for the better part of three decades.
glance, it all makes sense. Trump captured the GOP
nomination in no small part by trashing two of the
neocons’ favorite things ever — the Bush family and
the Iraq War. He also suggested early on that he’d
approach the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and
Gaza as (gasp!) an honest broker. Trump said he
really wanted to “make
that deal.” Without irony, one-time neocon
wonderboy Marco Rubio remarked that it isn’t
estate deal” when, in fact, that’s exactly
what it is.
ever-pliable Trump quickly
got religion on Israel. He did an about-face,
marched into AIPAC’s annual confab, and staked
out a claim on the reflexively
pro-Israel side of the issue. But it wasn’t
enough to assuage the angst of the GOP’s
nothing seems enough to sway the neocons in Donald’s
direction. But it’s not for lack of trying on
Trump’s part. Really, he’s checked off many of the
boxes that make neocons smile.
a “yuuge” military … the biggest and baddest ever!
So big, that no one in a million years will ever
challenge it. That sure sounds a lot like Reagan’s
“peace through strength.” Neocons do love Reagan.
And, as if on cue, the Kristol/Kagan-led “Foreign
Policy Initiative” just
posted a clarion call to spend more bucks to
buy bigger bangs for an already gargantuan
military. Doesn’t that fit with Donald’s plan to
spend defense dollars like a drunken sailor?
neocons don’t want the military to be so big that
no one will ever try anything. Maybe they want a few
challenges here and there, just for a little creative
destruction to keep the world on its toes.
But Trump’s right there with them. He wants to “bomb
the shit” out of ISIS. And he
even said America has “no choice but to bomb
Libya” and “take out” the Islamic State.
C’mon, Neocons … What’s Not to Like?
about Trump’s Islamophobia? It sure seems simpatico with
the last two decades of neoconservative
drum-beating. Trump repeatedly uses the magic words
— “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” Can’t you just hear
the longing sighs coming out of the American
wants to ban Muslims. Or “just” ban people coming
from countries where Muslims have committed
terrorism. Who knows? Either way, the message is
“Muslims bad.” It even gave neocon bushwacker Frank
Gaffney a serious man-crush on
To be fair,
other less “fringy” neocons like Kristol have repudiated the
Muslim ban idea. But, as filmmaker
Robbie Martin showed in his just-completed
series on the neocons and their “very
heavy agenda,” even the most intellectually
renowned among them has engaged in the dangerous
stereotyping of all Muslims as terrorists.
Martin featured a frightening
clip of two Kagans (Robert’s dad Donald and
his brother Fred) making the case that the U.S.
military should clean out the Occupied Territories
in the aftermath of 9/11 because radical Muslims and
“the Arabs” are all basically the same. Oh, by the
way, they only respect brute force. So why not take
advantage of the “New Pearl Harbor” and show them
all who’s boss?
like the “dancing Muslims” Trump — and
only Trump — saw celebrating the 9/11
attacks in New Jersey. Even if he didn’t see them,
or just conflated them with an isolated
incident in East Jerusalem, what’s the
difference? It’s all the same to him.
aggrieved and aggressive Muslims were all the same
to the Kagans on 9/11. Doesn’t that make Trump’s
persistent suspicion of Muslims a perfect match for
the neoconservative wrecking crew?
there’s the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has
relentlessly criticized as being so bad that it’s
He said he wants to “renegotiate”
immediately after taking office. And he wrongly
claims the deal is a fast-track to a
nuclear-armed Iran (an error that puts him squarely
in the neocon camp). As a rule of thumb, he’s livid about
all things related to Iran. So, what’s the problem?
Why can’t the neocons wrap their arms around Donald
a Word: Russia.
as a troublesome “bromance” between Vladimir Putin
and Trump. Critics don’t like Trump’s comfort with a
who, as Kagan’s wife Victoria Nuland recently
told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
engages in “aggression.” She’s currently the
assistant secretary of state for European and
Eurasian Affairs. She basically
managed the 2014
coup in Ukraine. And she’s outraged by
Russian aggression in Ukraine.
not bothered by her husband’s
role in pushing for the most blatant and
wanton act of aggression thus far this century — the
unwarranted destruction of Iraq. Go figure.
other hand, Putin has the unmitigated
gall to move military forces around inside the
borders of his own country. He’s blamed for
hacking the Democratic Party — despite a lack
of actual evidence and the NSA’s own hacking
hijinks. And he’s accused of “meddling”
in U.S. elections — a pretty rich accusation given
America’s long history of surreptitious
electioneering around the world.
There is no
doubt that “Bad Vlad” likes Donald. And
Donald likes Vlad.
But the real problem isn’t their bromance. This is
about the neoconservative desire to make sure the
United States is the lone guarantor of the
geopolitical order. This is about Pax Americana.
This is about resurrecting the faded dream of a new
stands in the way of the type of the neocon dream of
global “full-spectrum dominance?” Russia’s nuclear
the only nation with an arsenal big enough to
withstand the subtle nuclear blackmail of America’s
trillion-dollar nuclear “upgrade.”
That’s why Russia
is concerned about the missile
defense systems arrayed on their border.
Those systems can knock down retaliatory strikes,
thus making a first strike with new
nuclear cruise missiles at least
States is also using NATO expansion to increasingly
encircle a nation that once was America’s
geopolitical equal. That’s why Trump’s criticism of
America’s outsized support for NATO must’ve been the
tipping point from disdain to panic among neocon and neoliberal interventionists
is that there does seem to be more than a passing
affinity between Trump and Putin. Trump’s statements
on Ukraine would be easily dismissed if his campaign
manager Paul Manafort hadn’t worked
as a political consultant to the pre-Nuland
leadership of Ukraine. And Trump’s statements on
Crimea might be written off if he’d release his
taxes and end speculation of financial ties to
visceral reaction against his repeated calls for
cooperation — “By
the way, wouldn’t it be great if we got along with
Russia?” — exposes the extent to which the
entire foreign policy and political establishments
are squarely on the same page. They are angling for
Cold War 2.0, and Trump is the only major figure
willing to challenge that orthodoxy.
Hillary Clinton, of course, which brings the whole
thing back to the miasma of confusion hanging over
this strange election. Hillary is on
the neocon team — if not in name, certainly
in deed. She will “stand
up” to Bad Vlad. She’s targeted by Russian
hackers because Putin prefers his “unwitting
agent” Donald Trump. And Donald is, according
to an emerging narrative, a latter-day
Neville Chamberlain just inviting the Ruskies to
take over the Baltic States, Ukraine, and God knows
greatest irony of all is that Trump catapulted over
the neocons’ preferred presidential options by
slamming their pet project — the War on Iraq.
Trump’s criticism of that war and the chaos it
unleashed resonated with the very voters the Neocons
took for granted as pliable, fear-responsive
bumpkins. That left the neocons out in the cold just
as they were angling to trump the disorderly,
hard-to-prosecute mess they call “The Global War on
really want, and have always wanted, is to revive
the greatest war of all — the Cold War. That’s the
grand chessboard they yearn to play on once again.
The War on Terror was really just a stop-gap, like
methadone for imperialists. But now they’ve scored
because it looks like the supposed party of imperial
intransigence is, under the guidance of Hillary
Clinton, poised to take the reins from a
And if a recent
article in Der Spiegel is
right, Kagan’s wife Victoria has emerged as a
candidate for the prized position of secretary of
state should Hillary win. If that comes to pass, the
neocons may not have succeeded in their initial plan
for a new American century, but they will have
hastily completed their last-minute project for a
new Democratic Party. And that means this election
isn’t that Neo-confusing after all.
JP Sottile is a
freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary
filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in
Washington, D.C. He blogs at Newsvandal.com or you
can follow him on Twitter,
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