The level of irrationality, confusion, and “negative energy” is the most astonishing signal emanating from the US presidential elections. This is a strong indication that, whatever the results may be, we should be prepared for an escalation of the already serious tensions dominating our world.
This is probably the first time since the crisis of Weimar Germany that such phenomena have appeared in the center of the world, in the strongest country.
80% of the population of the USA do not trust and do not appreciate any of the two candidates. The strongest argument for voting Trump is not so much what he says, but opposition to Clinton being elected. And the main argument for voting Clinton is not to have Trump elected!
The other day, while writing this article, I sent emails to some good friends in the USA – very critical, experienced, and serious observers. I expressed that I am a little bit confused by what I am reading about their elections and asked for their opinion on Trump’s foreign policy if he would be elected.
From the answers I got, I realized that Americans are also not at all sure about what is at stake here and what the future course of the United States will be. One of them, a well known economist with quite radical ideas, answered this way: “YOU’RE confused? Ha ha ha. Nobody has a clue! Trump is such a narcissist that he may be easily manipulated. His intuitive policy is to pull BACK from war. At least a blind choice is better than Hillary’s push for war definitely. But who knows?”
Really, who knows? Another one, also a leftist and a deep student of international relations who had written an angry article last summer protesting, in very strong terms, the kind of attacks that US mainstream media have launched against the Republican nominee, was more sober than in his article: “Νothing is worse than Clinton. Trump will rely on the Republicans in Congress for foreign policy, which makes him very dangerous. If he breaks with the party elites he will mend ties with Russia and Syria but it is a big if. If he sticks to a protectionist trade policy he will face problems with China and the west coast. Nothing positive will result from these elections.”
The simile of a political life
In his Republic, Plato describes a cave inside which a group of prisoners is able to see only the shadows of beings and of their movements. But nowadays, to follow world politics, including US elections, one has sometimes the impression of looking merely at the shadows of shadows! The real game is very far away from the scene of the “drama” between Clinton and Trump and we are kept in the dark as concerns the real object of the competition. Are genuinely different strategic lines behind it and if yes which ones? On one level, they seem to be. On the other, some conspiracy theorists would argue that, at a deeper “strategic” level, all this is about the same “establishment of the establishment” proposing different products to different parts of its customers. “Who knows?”, as my friend put it.
Over the previous eight years, the strategic image was quite clear, at least for those who wanted to see it. On the one hand, we had President Obama and people like Brzezinski. Obama was elected on the basis of opposition to imperial overextension and a crazy program of wars in the Middle East which many people inside the US and international establishment, large parts of public opinion, the US Armed Forces etc., believed to be extremist, dangerous, and not corresponding to any US interests.
On the other hand, we had Clinton and the neocons (strongly supported by Netanyahu, who was also opposed by forces inside his own establishment). This camp pushed for escalation in the Middle East (and Ukraine) in order to complete the program announced long ago by the most extremist forces of the international establishment concerning the project for a “New American Century.”
Obama resisted these plans, albeit not always consequently, and often in an unspoken way. He was reluctant to stop wars in Libya and probably did not understand until it was too late what was at stake in Ukraine. His political alternative to the “extremely extremist” forces and still more coherent project of the forces behind neocons, like the “political Islam” of Erdogan, proved to be very weak. Once cannot have a serious policy when Clinton and Nuland follow other agendas than that of the president, nobody in the Administration is really sure what the CIA is doing, and senior military people use Seymur Hersh to stop extremism!
Brzezinski also resisted very strong and consequently extremist policies in the Middle East, but he was blind as to the dangers of escalation in Ukraine. The forces behind the neocons used his deep, near pathological hostility towards Russia to undermine his opposition to their plans.
Obama is rightly criticized for Afghanistan, Libya, and other things, but we should remember that the President of the United States opposed the extremists and he could not do otherwise in the general context of the pursuit of American imperial politics. History will credit him (and the Russian intervention) for stopping military intervention in Syria and sealing a nuclear agreement with Iran. Under his presidency, the international neocons had to use mainly the services of Sarkozy in Paris and Cameron in London to launch the war which destroyed Libya. Clinton was helpful in this direction.
The fact that the President of the United States was unable to close Guantanamo for instance, which he obviously wished, is telling of the kind and strength of forces which all but hijacked US state after the collapse of the USSR. This is a real “state inside the state.”
Deception, virtual realities, and conspiracies
Since the supposed end of the Cold War, we are living internationally in a historic era of deception and virtual realities. And it could not be otherwise. The infinitesimal minorities of power, money, and knowledge ruling our world cannot announce their program and the future they are preparing for us. If they did so, they would provoke a revolution. They also cannot frontally confront societies and nations. Conspiracies have always existed in history, but now they tend to become the norm. There is no more effective weapon than “smart (and evil) power” permitting you to influence your own opponent into choices leading to his defeat. Classic political, social and geopolitical analysis is still the key to understand social and international phenomena, but one has to complete it with a deep and not always easy understanding of the real strategies in play.
Look how many incredible things have happened over the last 30 years and continue to happen. The leader of the Soviet Union and “world communism” itself destroyed its own country and system in a way the most powerful foreign army could not dream of. In Iraq, Sunnis who resisted so bravely the US invasion are “provided” with a Wahhabi ISIS leadership formed out of the CIA and other allied services laboratories. In Greece, one of the (verbally) more radical of the European “radical Left” parties is now following a policy most neoliberals would consider extremist.
And in the USA, we are following a presidential campaign which is nothing but a distorted reflection, the tip of the iceberg of huge battles ongoing behind the scenes of the main centers of Imperial Power like Wall Street, the CIA, the Army, lobbies, etc.
Not many sound people would disagree, for instance, with some of the ideas expressed by Trump on foreign policy, especially in relation to US-Russia relations and Syria in his latest interview with Reuters. But does he mean them? Can we trust him that he will do what he says? Is he speaking the truth or he is just completing a maneuver which Professor James Petras predicted already back in June, when he wrote that “Trump’s electoral victory will hinge on his capacity to cover-up his neo-liberal turn and to focus voters’ attention on Clinton’s militaristic, Wall Street, conspirational, and anti-workers class politics” (http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=2086)
In fact, Trump has said a lot of quite contradictory things on various subjects, from Cuba to Korea and from Islam to Ukraine (which he visited after Maidan) to know what God he will really follow if elected. He is a very intelligent man and everything he says can have a double-reading. (For instance, he said he will not automatically ‘defend’ the Baltics, which is music to Russian ears, but he explained that US allies have to do more for NATO defense if they are to count on the US. In reality, the probability of Russia invading the Baltics is near zero. But then the second part of the equation, the increase in military spending by NATO allies, is the real point left out of such declarations).
Generals do not win the same battles a second time. To win again, one must change tactics, and war remains to a great extent a continuation of politics by other means. Clinton appears to be the war candidate much more than Trump. But let us keep in mind that Clinton will be a politically very weak President if elected. Trump will be much stronger if elected “against the Establishment”. His rise represents the anger of the popular and middle strata in the USA. The one million dollar question is in which direction he will finally channel their anger.
Globalization and Nationalism
After all, globalization is not only, or not so much about subjugating and destroying nations as nationalists claim. It is doing this, and nationalists are right to protest and oppose it, but behind its amorphous surface and ideology there also lies the domination of some nations by others and the domination of the strategically coherent wing of finance over everybody. As the decade of the 1930’s should have taught us, domination can be guaranteed not only by crashing nations, but also by using their nationalism. Already, some smart, unorthodox generals of globalization, like the member of the steering committee of Bildeberg, Peter Thiel, is drawing up his own plans on how to use Trump and the deep protest of the American demos against it. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/21/peter-thiel-republican-convention-speech)
People in the USA, but also around the globe, are so fed up with the policies of the Western establishment, especially the US and banking establishment and are so discouraged with their own incapacity to stop these policies that they are ready to blindly believe and uncritically follow any politician of the Left or of the Right promising radical change, taking at face value whatever they say. As the tragic European experience of the 20th Century amply proves, this can be the road to disaster.
Isolationism, Interventionism, Militarism
Many people believe for instance that the election of Mr. Trump will lead to a sort of “retirement” of America from world affairs. This would be a very positive evolution given the role America is playing in the world. But if Trump really wants to bring America back, then why he is proposing an increase in military spending and says that America must be militarily stronger than any other power? What does his slogan “America First” mean? Who will be the second, the third, the fourth, or the 100th in his own hierarchy? With what means and policies, other than intervention, will he be able to deliver this result?
In fact, no one should give much credit to what US politicians say about the role of USA in the world. It is much wiser to see what they do.
President Wilson, for instance, proclaimed in 1917 that Americans will never get involved in European manslaughters. Two months later, the United States intervened military in the First World War, sealing the defeat of Germany and their own domination of Europe for a century! 
Ask any political scientist worldwide about US Democrats and Republicans. You will invariably receive the answer that Democrats are the interventionists and Republicans are the isolationists. But then how did it come to be that the Republican George Bush Jr. invaded Iraq, inaugurating a “strategy of chaos” putting at risk peace around the globe?
Are political scientists stupid? Of course not. They simply don’t want to face the constant reality of US imperial policy since the Monroe doctrine was proclaimed in 1902. They don’t have any desire to analyze the deep roots of this phenomenon in the economic structure of the USA, the role of its multinational corporations, etc. This is why they prefer to focus on important, still secondary factors like the personalities of presidents or the “ideology” of the two parties. The same is true for many politicians around the globe, who prefer not to look straight into the eyes of the “monster” and, instead, try to accommodate with its existence, one way or another.
The phenomenon of US imperialism is not a result of the particular character of one or another president. It is deeply rooted in the economic structure of the USA and in the relationship the country has built with the outside world.
The USA was built as an empire during the 20th century. Only a very deep social, economic and cultural transformation could change the character and the role of this country.
Now, if one wants to make predictions about future US policies, it is better to look at the military programs of the United States rather than various declarations and “ideologies.” US militarism began its rise in 1914, firstly to supply Europeans with the means to kill themselves, and then supply Americans with the means to dominate the world. It has developed unabatedly since that time, and this happened even when the enemy of the time, the Soviet superpower, decided to commit suicide! The United States spends as much on weapons as all the other countries combined, and they have troops and bases in more than 50 countries around the globe. They have renounced the ABM treaty which used to be the cornerstone of the arms control system during the Cold War. (It is a huge irony, because it was the Americans who insisted and finally got the agreement of the Soviets for this treaty).
Coming to military spending, both Clinton and Trump are unfortunately for increasing it (http://www.defenddemocracy.press/no-matter-wins-election-military-spending-stay/).
Only Sanders, during his campaign, proposed to lower military spending, in order to provide more money for social needs. Doing this, he confirmed that only a strong popular movement and the existence of strong external opposition to imperialistic plans (from Europe, Russia, or China, or a combination of them) can really contain US imperialism and militarism. (It is the same with Keynesian policies proposed by some Western economists. Such politics would not have become the capitalist orthodoxy at their time if there had not been a strong workers movement and if the USSR did not exist at the time. Nobody would forgive Germany’s debt after the war or would have thought of the Marshal Plan if there were not very strong Communist Parties in post-war Western Europe and a very powerful Red Army in Berlin).
Only the emergence of a big popular peace movement, like the one existing in the West in the past, can stop the course towards war that is rooted in the very structure of the prevailing economic and social system. And such a movement can have a chance only if combined with efforts to defend the achievements of Western societies after 1945 and to create a better order than the existing one.
More and more forces around the globe are rising to resist the terrible aspects, be they social, ecological, or military-geopolitical, of the emerging “totalitarian empire of globalization”. But they still lack an alternative vision.
 Another classic example of “isolationist” talk in tandem with preparing an interventionist policy surrounded the case of Yugoslavia. In 1990, as the USSR was collapsing, nobody seemed to need the USA in the Balkans. All the peninsula was looking towards Europe for its future and, at the same time, had strong economic, cultural, and military ties with Russia. When Germany, Austria and the Vatican encouraged the war in Yugoslavia, Washington kept its distance, letting the Germans do the dirty job with the Serbs and provoked a lot of dissatisfaction among their own partners, especially the French, British, and Greeks. From time to time, US politicians were even saying that they would leave the Balkans and were not interested in Europe. Of course, they did not have any intention of leaving. Otherwise, they would not have simultaneously built one of their greatest military bases abroad in the Macedonia. Every time the Americans said they were leaving, a kind of panic dominated European capitals. Berlin had inaugurated the destruction of Yugoslavia, but it could not finish the job. The war in Yugoslavia was meant in Berlin as a way to reaffirm the new international role of reunited Germany. In the end, the Europeans were begging the Americans to come back.
When Germany was sufficiently exposed and Europe failed miserably, the Americans stepped in with NATO airplanes and Holbrook diplomacy to finish the “job” in two phases (the Dayton agreement and Kosovo War). They sealed the defeat of Serbia, the exclusion of Russia (which failed to protect its Serbian brothers) and the end of any ambition of an autonomous European foreign and defense policy for the foreseeable future. Nobody needed them in 1990, but in 2000 they were again fully dominating the strategic landscape in the Balkans, a region of capital importance for any future war with Russia and also a possible energy transit route. (By the way, what happened in Yugoslavia has many similarities with the debt war against Greece and the Germany/IMF role).
By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos