Will Trump get trumped?


By Brig (R) Samson Simon Sharaf

The writer is a political economist and a television anchorperson. He can be contacted at samson.sharaf@gmail.com

It must have been an embarrassment for the Trump administration on two emotive decisions within hours of assuming power.
While the world follows the legal battle over the travel ban (more or less decided in the federal court), it is shying from condemning an ill planned US strike in Yemen killing innocent people that included women and children.
This was the first overseas action by US forces under President Trump; an assertion of Trump muscle.

As reported in the New York Times, a three judge federal appeals panel unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations.
The panel suggested that the ban did not advance national security as no evidence relating to terrorist acts against USA was presented.
Adversely, each country mentioned in these bans has become chaotic because of US policies in the past sixteen years.
They are not only under the hammer but also being blamed for US failure, whose reasons lie elsewhere.

As the courts, civil society, churches and institutions of USA rise and protest against this presidential order, it reminds me of President Bush who on 9/11 was caught completely off guard, declared a war to bring democracy to the world.
Though the policy is reflected in his speeches and policies, it ultimately came down to pursuing US security interests in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The end of war and the new peace that was declared aboard a US carrier never came.

Unilateralism with support of UK, France and NATO was the name of the game.
Ever since, hate has bred hate.
Ethics and questions of conscience have been set aside with complete abandon in pursuit of Total Broad Spectrum Dominance.
If the two instances mentioned above are any indicator, Trump’s declaration of ‘making America great again’ is as emotional and instinctive as ‘bringing democracy to the world’ by his predecessor fourteen years ago.
Something is not right and US civil society and courts have challenged it.

Though 9/11, linked to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, provided the jump off point, the US and its allies took a 180 degrees swing to debouch on Iraq with “sexed-up” dossiers.
Why Iraq was the first choice and not Al Qaeda is a question that lingers with many doubts?  (See The Nation,  Chilcot: The tip of absolutism).

The answers have since been found in Syria, Libya and Yemen.
This single act destabilised the entire Middle East and brought destruction and misery.
Now the countries that became victims of this military and intelligence led unilateralism are being declared havens of terrorists.
The proven fact is that though Afghanistan became a hideout of Al Qaeda, the tentacles of this extremism lay in the Middle East amongst the dynasties that are US allies and support such travel bans and military strikes.

It was also during the Bush years that US secret services unleashed the worst operations in Iraq.
The indiscriminate bombing in Afghanistan caused a deluge of people and extremists that Pakistan has only recently managed to contain at a very high economic and human cost.
Back in 2002, I had described this thoughtless unilateralism as a ‘War of Hate’ and so it remains.

Though the excerpts of what could be summarised as Bush Doctrine are wrapped in diplomatic language, President Trump has been more blunt and undiplomatic.
On analyses, the end point of George Bush Junior and President Trump is the same; a notion of US superiority and muscle flexing.
Such policies will only add to the misery of people who suffer and create more hate.
Instincts will be met raw instincts.

But the Democrats during Obama’s presidency were no different.
Playing on sectarian divides in Middle East, rise of ISIS, civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen- all happened during this period.
Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan combine to make one triangle of instability (Nation: The Devil’s Triangle, March 22, 2014), where USA, despite its inherent advantages.
is losing the crucial space of hearts and minds.

One cannot single out the mindset of one administration from the other.
They were in many ways a continuation.
Many policies of Bush-Chenney-Rumsfield-Blair nexus were pursued covertly by the the Democrats accounting for a new wave of ultra-sectarianism.
Retired Colonel Jim Steele, a veteran of US atrocities in El Salvador and Panama was appointed as Vice President Cheney’s and Donald Rumsfeld’s personal advisor to Iraq’s Special Police Commandos.
A Shia majority in Iraq was used against a Sunni minority that comprised Iraqi servicemen and Baathists.
In due course, there was a Sunni uprising in Fallujah and Mosul that became the epicenter of ISIS/ISIL/ Da’esh.
Arab Monarchies pumped it with Salafists, Turkey used it against Kurds (The Nation, Dirty Wars, November 21, 2015).

US policies of the past sixteen years and beyond indicate an obsession with dominance.
Though godless communism is long dead, US obsession with domination of Eurasia is not yet over.
US legislators have failed to question the ethics of a policy that creates upheaval in the targeted countries.
The double standards in applicability of human rights are visible in justice through Guantanamo and what happened in Iraq.
For a democratically conscience UK, Iraq reflects how public mandates can be misused to combat nonexistent threats.
The Chilcot Report minces no words about it.

There is no doubt that the world has been heading towards absolutism till put in check by Russia in Ukraine and Syria.
For a time it appeared that President Trump was a neo-nationalist with the objective of making USA great once again; but why?

For people world over, USA despite building its foundations on colonization and ethnic Americans has always been a great country.
The American Civil War is the finest example of upholding human dignity.
In the two world wars, USA played a decisive role in defeating fascist nationalism.
USA played a lead role in developing war ravaged Europe, East Asia, Japan and South Korea.
USA is an agglomeration of diverse people who built it from zero to what it is today.

Yes, development and its fruits are a cake to be shared.
USA in the past hundred years has benefitted from the brain drain of Europe, Africa and Asia.
Why this vengeance, and for what reason? As the most powerful country of the world, it is the responsibility of USA to define a better future for the suffering masses the world over.

Brexit and Trump victories are indicators of neo-nationalism.
Like the late 19th century, when nationalism and mercantilism became the major causes of conflicts, such trends could create fissures that will take a long time to remedy.
Is the most technologically advanced and economically advantageous slowly drifting towards the most basic human instincts of survival? Framing the psychological causes of war, the school led by Konrad Lorenz sees war as an extension of animal behavior such as competing for dominance, territoriality and competition.
It is for this reason that peace does not actually exist.
What we see in ‘inter war years’ in not peace but preparation for war.

But there is a catch 22 situation.
Because the inherent destructiveness of nuclear weapons makes war prohibitive, the urge for dominance has moved to other bands of the spectrum like trade, economics, work force and proxy wars.

Because Trump’s policies though forcefully enunciated lack detail and clarity, the world waits in shock and awe.
The US system of checks and balances has already come into play and hopefully President Trump will emerge as a leader who will bring prosperity to his people and peace to the world.
He has a golden opportunity to break away from the divisive policies of past sixteen years.
It will be a tragedy if he is consumed by old notions in new skins.