In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Goodbye ‘President’ Trump; hail ‘President’ Mattis

Posted by seumasach on August 26, 2017

This author is one of the few to see what is undoubtedly a historic development. As a historical analogy Mercuris draws on the case of Germany in 1914. However, at that point Germany had been outmanouvered by the British over several decades and was already playing a losing hand. I find the analogy, and the contrast, between the end of the Anglo-American empire and the Roman Empire more revealing. By the time of the last Roman emperor in the West the Roman army had simply ceased to exist. All the great military leaders of the late Roman Empire, Stilicho, Aetius and Rimmer, had been assassinated. The great landowners of the senatorial elite had blocked recruitment to the army in favor of building up their own bands of retainers, essentially their own private armies. The Roman elite had decided to collapse the empire rather than see it become dominated by the military who they saw as the only existing threat to their power. The bet instead on patronizing the Goths. It is notable that at the time of Belisarius’s attempt to reabsorb Italy into the empire of the East the senatorial elite in Rome was still conspiring with “barbarian” forces against him. They lost the bet however with the Lombard invasions which they couldn’t control. This marked the real end of the Western empire at around 600 AD.

The USA has seen a similar conflict with the neoconservative faction, ascendant after 9/11, only too keen to put US military forces “in harm’s way” in a series of militarily irrational ventures and equally keen to substitute mercenary forces for them. The response from the military wasn’t long in coming and led to the destitution of Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary and his replacement by  Robert Gates who clearly represented the “realist” faction. This in turn led to the Obama presidency pledged to avoid military commitments and he duly spurned opportunities and pressures to turn CIA operations in the Middle East and Ukraine into full-scale military confrontations. At the same time he failed to end tensions with Russia and failed to give a positive US leadership taking on board the new multipolar reality. The “presidency” of Mathis can thus been seen as the culmination of the countercoup instigated in 2006. Mercurio points out with great precision the character of this new leadership. On the one hand , it is certainly good news that the State Department and the CIA seem to marginalized but we are also still far from any sense of a resolution to  America’s internal tensions or the closely related issue of a positive geostrategic direction. Trump’s  much-vaunted nationalist policy may come down to simply this: America’s one credible national institution has survived to frustrate the neocon dream of a global empire of chaos.

Alexander Mercuris

The Duran

24th August, 2017

Back on 16th February 2017, shortly after the forced resignation of President Trump’s first National Security Adviser General Flynn, I spoke of the extraordinary power that US Defense Secretary General Mattis appeared to be wielding within the Trump administration

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