Reflections on the Trump Era (Late Spring 2017)
It's difficult to assess the Trump administration thus far. Its chaotic nature and moment by moment shifts in action, narrative and presentation have created an air of bedlam and disarray. While sometimes unintentional, a strong case can be made that in many cases this is a deliberate tactic.
Trump is in the end not what everyone thinks he is. He or more correctly his administration is not the 'rogue outsider' that many of his followers think. But at the same time he's really upsetting people within the US and world Establishment... but again not necessarily for the reasons everyone thinks.
Though he's been in office a matter of months, already many volumes could be written about the various policies, shifts in policies, abandoned positions and the scandals both small and great.
Some of it I find interesting while much of it becomes increasingly mundane.
I am interested primarily in the Christian response and posture to his administration and secondly in what is happening in terms of US power and the way in which the Establishment and Deep State are responding to his administration. I'm interested in what Trump means in terms of world geopolitics because these issues will also directly affect the Church.
Evangelical support for Trump remains strong despite the fact that he has already all but abandoned many positions he ran on. From the Mexico Wall to the Export/Import bank, the immigration deal with Australia and the failures to repeal the Obama healthcare legislation, to his administration of generals and Wall Street insiders, Trump has demonstrated he's not what many people thought he was going to be.
With regard to NATO, he continues to upset its leaders and to the dismay of many within the US diplomatic Establishment is driving Europe toward a path of independence and autonomy... and yet his official position (now pro-NATO) represents a reversal of his campaign position.
He's flipped on Wikileaks and the question of leakers. Listening to conservative radio a process of 'memory hole'-esque revision is already underway. Trump is being made out to be tough on leakers and Obama is criticised as weak, despite the indisputable fact that Obama went after more leakers and journalists than all previous administrations combined. His Justice Department was a bane to investigative journalism.
Trump's fiscal posture is largely out of control. While many cuts are being put forward, the proposed spending is driving US debt into the stratosphere. There are returns to the Reagan era of massive military spending, tax and budget cuts, coupled with deregulation. The financial class can continue to sing "We're in the money" but the effects of Reagan's policies on the 'heartland' and industrial sector were nothing short of devastating. Ironically it was largely Reagan's policies, continued by Bush I and Clinton and amplified by Bush II that led to the present state of industrial decline and the decimation of the Middle Class. Trump's proposed solution (a return to Trickle-down economics) is only set to pour gasoline onto the fire. The coal jobs are not coming back. A few people are beginning to realise it. Even if he were to remove every restriction on coal... the old days would not return. The market has changed as well as the extraction methods.
A few intuitively seem to know this... that Trump is self-serving scammer... and yet were tired of the Democrats and Labour Unions, who have for decades betrayed the working class, telling them how great things are and what wonderful things are being done for them.
Many hoped and continue to hope that Trump will break the system and drain the swamp. Instead he has filled it with a host of creatures deeply wedded to the Imperial Establishment. In some cases they are figures from the fringe and yet well within the Establishment circle of money and ideas.
The GOP of course has proven ineffective. This is due to its internal battles and the deep corruption which permeates its ranks. They are unable to function and while there are some in their circles who would challenge Trump, they are for the most part willing to endure his destructive tendencies if they can retain control of congress.
The more I follow the Trump administration, the more I am convinced that his role is largely ceremonial or at least functionally so. What is meant by this can be misunderstood. He still holds the nuclear football. He can call military strikes. He can speak publically and shake things up and yet his West Wing is largely weak and ineffectual. His cabinet has been filled with generals and people connected to corporate and financial power and they are toiling away to effect policy goals. The bureaucracy is in some cases obstructing them and in other cases the administration is clearly incompetent. The combination of the two is proving to be somewhat neutralising, a result many of his opponents and defenders of the status quo will find satisfactory.
Trump is in many ways isolated in a way that few presidents ever are. And those that reach this point do so during the last year or so of their administrations. The chaos is so great and the controversies so abundant the Trump team has in many ways tied its own hands.
But through the fog it has become clear that despite the fact that Trump is not pursuing the foreign policy agenda the Establishment wishes to see, he's beginning to tack toward the centre. Steve Bannon enjoyed a few weeks of tremendous power. Now, he's been knocked back a few pegs if not marginalised. What's being called the Kushner Faction is (apparently) steering policy toward a more centrist and Establishment-friendly posture.
The big turning point was the Syria airstrike in April. The press fawned over Trump, declared that he had now become president and quoted song lyrics to praise the action. That said, a faction of Deep State intelligence and military-connected figures from John Brennan and James Clapper to John McCain continue to push for the dismantling of his administration. The US project to dismantle Russia, (a top priority for many) has been sidelined by his administration and its advocates will not relent until the situation is remedied. This is despite the fact that Trump has largely abandoned his conciliatory stance toward Russia. The faction within his administration that sees Russia as an ally has been sidelined. Trump is being constantly pushed toward a bellicose position with Russia and the media is certainly playing its part. The hysteria has reached a level comparable only to the WMD propaganda campaign of 2002-2003.
Despite the recently leaked NSA document which upon closer examination is not what it's being made out to be... figures like John Brennan when pressed will still admit there's no actual proof of Russian attempts to hack or meddle with the US election. There is but a mere suggestion. The Deep State is in many cases overplaying its hand. The idea that all 17 intelligence agencies would agree or that every intelligence agency was focused on this question was and is a patent absurdity. And at this point that has been admitted, though the press hasn't got the message. The recent American endorsed bellicosity toward Qatar illustrates yet another example. Determined to continue the anti-Russian campaign, the US Deep State is trying to implicate Putin as a provocateur in the Saudi-Iranian struggle. It's almost as if they're getting desperate. And they're counting on public ignorance. Anyone paying to attention to the Qatar crisis knows that Russia has nothing to gain from it and potentially much to lose.
Once again James Clapper the perjured ex-DNI is leading the charge.
We are indeed in an unprecedented era of 'fake news' and its coming from all sides. When it comes to the Russia policy, even much of the European media has jumped on board. Middle Eastern news outlets associated with the regimes opposing Assad have also jumped onto the 'smear and destroy' Russia bandwagon.
Like the WMD reporting in 2002, to reject the Russia-Putin narrative is to be relegated to a lonely and isolated wilderness. And yet as I've said before, if you were following Iraq in the 1990s (as I was) you knew the Bush administration narrative was false and even though the public and media Establishment were convinced of the imminent threat of Iraqi WMD, it didn't matter. They were wrong. It was a pack of lies. The same is true today.
Trump wields power, but poorly and with a large measure of weakness. He's already proven himself unable to run an imperial presidency. He doesn't have the staff and doesn't understand how the bureaucracy works. Some of the recent shifts in staffing (McMaster at NSA comes to mind) represent an attempt to remedy this. His shifts in policy and move to the centre have even driven some within the media and Establishment to back off on attacking him and calling for impeachment. Clearly they wish to contain him, tamp down his buffoonery and even utilise his 'madman' posture for the benefit of US foreign policy.
The US war machine cannot stop. It is the economy. This more than anything is the cause for concern. This is why the Syria missile strike, the change in posture toward Damascus and the amplification of tension with North Korea is so important. The Neo-Conservative agenda marches on. As I've stated before the Neo-Conservatives never represented a real shift in goal but in style and presentation. The Establishment battle with the Neo-Cons was always something of an intramural battle. Its presentation as a large-scale or macro- clash in ideologies just wasn't true.
Many thought Trump would reinstate an era of American isolation, that he would tone down the Empire but this is to misunderstand everything that has happened not just since 9/11 but since 1989. The US invasion of Panama and especially the Gulf War inaugurated a new era and everything happening today is connected to these shifts in policy. In fact the recent Trump endorsement of Saudi Arabia's agenda vis-à-vis Yemen, Qatar and Iran signals yet another layer of escalation. Isolation? I think not. The United States is at the core of Middle Eastern instability and has been for more than 25 years.
At this point no one knows what will become of Trump. His administration has shaken up the world order. Many people are upset. Others are not as upset as you might think. Sometimes we speak of a healthy correction to the market or one might think of a controlled burn. I am reminded of the purging that took place in the 1990s. The end of the Cold War and the dawn of a new era meant a lot of broken relationships and re-alignments. Fortunes were made and lost. That's the nature of the beast. In this case the true proverb reflects a theological point. Lines are being re-drawn. The WWI geopolitical boundaries of Sykes-Picot are collapsing. Will the European lines drawn in 1945 and the 1990s revisions continue to hold? It's too soon to tell.
The situation in Europe bears watching. The finance-connected Macron signaled a win for the Brussels Establishment but in the meantime the forces of chaos are churning. The various terrorist attacks have enveloped Europe in a cloud and the dust has by no means settled. While the Far-Right is being contained, the general public and official policy continue to push Right and toward the embrace of authoritarian measures.
In my opinion we are seeing a repeat of the 1970s. In virtually every case the attackers are known the security and intelligence apparatus. This is true in Germany, France and certainly Britain. As May's numbers falter, the terrorist attacks are increasing. I don't believe this is an accident. I also don't believe she necessarily is ordering these attacks or knows anything about them. But I believe people connected to her government certainly do. It's clear MI5 is protecting various groups of jihadis. The US has since the end of World War II laboured to establish complete control of the various intelligence and military establishments of Western Europe. In many cases they are quite literally managed by the Pentagon and Langley.
During the 1970s in particular Europe was assailed by waves of false-flag attacks in which Leftist terrorists attacked civilian and political targets. In numerous (even a majority) of the cases the actual perpetrators were in fact connected to the Far-Right and the military-intelligence establishment. What should have been one of the great scandals of the century was revealed briefly in the 1990s and early 2000s and while an ongoing story in the alternative media it was swept under the rug and today few people know about these investigations and what they revealed.
I believe the same thing is happening today. The Western Intelligence relationship with Islamic guerilla and terrorist groups was established in the 1980s and though it has moved through several incarnations has continued through the present. The Syrian War and the facilitated rise of ISIS have taken this story into a new phase. And today Europe is the recruiting ground for fighters in Syria. The intelligence agencies are running these fighters along with weapons into the Middle East. The fact that some of them are turning on Europe itself is either being conveniently ignored or in some cases directly facilitated for political purposes. The Years of Lead and the Strategy of Tension are alive and well.
While the scandal has already faded, Trump's 'slip up' with Lavrov and the giving away of intelligence data about ISIS was obscured. The focus was on Trump's 'chummy' relationship with Russia which is untrue. The story was actually about how the US had this inside intelligence regarding some sort of ISIS laptop plot. All the evidence points to the Israelis who for years have (to the astonishment of some) worked to support both al Qaeda and ISIS within Syria. If you understand the Israelis it's not the surprising and they're not even denying it. They don't talk about it openly but some figures with the Zionist Establishment have been fairly candid when asked. The enemy of their enemy is their friend. But what it does reveal is that rumours of Israeli and Western intelligence agency contact with ISIS (while undoubtedly subject to exaggeration) are nevertheless true.
With regard to Europe, what's the point? Like in the 1970s, official policy is driven to the Right. Look at the UK's 'extreme surveillance'! This achieves the desired goal while at the same time it takes the wind out of the sails of Right-wing populism. These various Right-wing parties serve a purpose. They drive the narrative but in time they too are corrupted and brought into the mainstream. We see this all the time. From France's Front National on the Right to Greece's Syriza on the Left... money always works wonders.
Theresa May's snap election gamble may fail. We'll know soon enough. Even the Establishment is struggling to manipulate democracy these days. Even the all-too-convenient terrorist attacks aren't helping her numbers. She's exposed her own hypocrisy from her days as Home Secretary and at this point all she has to offer is austerity coupled with draconian legislation... laws that will also keep down attempts by the working class to protest Tory policies. Corbyn while still loathed has caved on so many issues and tacked to the Right. If you want to know what a Corbyn administration will look like... look at Alexis Tsipras. In fact Tsipras has it easier. He doesn't have a Blair-ite wing in his party to deal with. Corbyn won't have to bow to Brussels but both May, Corbyn and Tsipras bow to the banks in Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Zurich and London.
Regardless of who wins in the UK, the various terrorist attacks are bringing Trump and the UK together. Despite sharp differences, the attacks (and the Russia hysteria) are also steering NATO and the West Wing toward a common cause and course.
Another point needs to be made. The various Trump scandals are also proving convenient. They're marginalising his ability to function, miring his administration in damage control and also distracting the public. Despite some noise, there's actually been little opposition to his policies. Everyone on the Left is too busy screaming about Russia. Despite this his administration is so incompetent, and the GOP so hindered that they're failing to get anything done.
The morally bankrupt Christian Right continues to support him. His numbers remain strong among Evangelicals. This is all the more disturbing as his administration continues to push for war in Eurasia and to advocate for policies that will all but crush the poor and downtrodden in the United States.
Eventually this will boil over and yet just as Americans continue to be fooled with regard to economic and foreign policy the Democrats more than any other party continue to divide the lower classes and obscure the real issues. Despite some Left-wing social policies they too are an Establishment and thus Right-wing party. Supporters of US militarism and Wall Street, they continue to facilitate divisions over race and identity politics. One need only visit a place like Detroit, Camden NJ, or Youngstown, Ohio to see how potentially volatile our society is. If the poor (whether white, brown or black) ever unite to take on the financial Establishment, this country will be shaken to its foundations. The Democrats and figures like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders continue to labour, striving to channel these disaffected and increasingly angry forces into the corrupt circles of the Democratic Party. The Establishment is divided on certain issues but collectively they fear the masses. The political theatre is just that... a charade.
It's the greatest show on Earth and the largely bogus forms of Christianity and its corrupt and foolish leaders continue to be fooled by this endless cycle of obfuscation and deception. Of course they are. They're invested in the system.
That said, the social tensions and threats are real. The Establishment is involved in a struggle. If it becomes much more hostile it will reverberate within the larger society. It's a time to watch, pray and speak truth. Political machinations, calls to violence or 'survivalism' are the devil's work and run the risk of falling into the category of love grown cold in the face of abounding iniquity.
This story isn't over. Far from it. But beyond purely pragmatic concerns I don't care about what happens to the United States. It deserves whatever ends up happening to it. It will reap the blood-harvest it has sown. It's only a matter of time. Just today Trump offered 'prayers' for the people of Iran even while he all but said they had it coming. As sponsors of terrorism they must expect such deeds to be done on their shores. He's absolutely right and yet if anyone had said such thing within the United States in September 2001, they would have been ripped to pieces. The United States remains the great rogue state and greatest sponsor of terrorism and dictatorship on the earth.
Such was Rome... even so-called 'Christian Rome'.
I continue with great angst to observe what is happening within the Church. Its errors and follies, its open embrace of sin are a source of despair. I'm not just speaking of the 'obvious' sins such as divorce, fornication, feminism and sodomy. These are indeed egregious but the self-worship, avarice, gluttony, violence and cold-blooded embrace of violence toward the poor and other nations in the form of militarism and nationalism are increasingly driving faithful Christians into the spiritual wilderness.