In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Posts Tagged ‘neocons v.military’

Donald Trump: another neocon or finally a realist?

Posted by seumasach on August 29, 2017

The difficulties in establishing the policy direction of the USA under Trump stem not only from the clear conflict between the White House and Congress, the CIA and the neocons but within the White House itself. This is because there are contradictions within the notion of “realism” in terms of foreign policy direction. The USA was founded as part of an imperial agenda emanating from London. Since it’s foundation it has undergone a continuous process of expansion although without formally constituting itself as am empire. So the “realist” contention that the USA is simply a nation state like any other is questionable. The neocon conviction that US interests can only be met through continuous power projection seems, if anything , more realistic. And the fact that they seek only to destroy existing state structures rather create new ones gives them the confidence to press ahead with incorrigible voluntarism. Where then are the limits? Firstly, they failed to subvert internally Russia and China, to prevent their re-emergence as global powers and to divide one from the other. Secondly, CIA campaigns in Ukraine and the Middle East failed in that they merely reposed the question of US military dominance, whether the army was prepared to go head to head with Russia, which was answered in the negative. Thirdly, the neocons are themselves hostile to a formally constituted national army preferring a corporate model, to to put it bluntly, mercenaries. There is nothing new about this: the conflict between oligarchy and the military is inseparable from the history of imperialism be it Rome, Venice, Britain or the USA. It is thus no accident that Trump has surrounded himself with generals. It is precisely this which confirms the victory of the realists over the neocons. However, as this article makes clear, the Trump appears to be oscillating between both camps. The transition from aspirant to global domination to ordinary nation state, defending the welfare of its own people,  creating a secure productive base in industry and agriculture, safeguarding its constitutional structures, guaranteeing the rule of law and conducting an intelligent and fruitful diplomacy, is obviously not a straightforward one, if it can be done at all.


5th August, 2017

For many the new President of the US is a controversial figure. His firm declarations related to focusing on American interest are a source of fear among superpower’s allies. At the same time his tenure isn’t free from actions based on ideas. The world is wondering: is Donald Trump a continuator of George W. Bush’s neoconservative diplomacy or rather an author of its own doctrine founded on the realist school of international relations. For all of us it would be better, if the second option were the actual one.

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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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