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Don't Blame It All on Donald Trump


#1

Don't Blame It All on Donald Trump

Tom Engelhardt

The other week, feeling sick, I spent a day on my couch with the TV on and was reminded of an odd fact of American life. More than seven months before Election Day, you can watch the 2016 campaign for the presidency at any moment of your choosing, and that’s been true since at least late last year.


#2

This piece suffers from the usual problem of conflating what the US government does with what the US people do or want or approve. As the Giles and Page study proved, what the US public wants has a "statistically irrelevant, near zero" effect on US policy. WE don't send OUR drones to kill Somalis (or Yemenese of Afghanis or Iraqis or Pakistanis or Libyans). The MIC does, the Pentagon does. I admit this action, as well as the domestic spying, has appalling levels of public support--the lockstep cheerleading and propagandfizing of the corporate media explain this, though it really can't excuse it.


#3

Read the constitution and other documents from the founders of the country. Discern what they were trying to prevent. That is the government we now have.


#4

I'm neither an unintelligent person nor am I uninformed. I am however angry and confused. I walk around in a state of total amazement at just how crazy things are. Thanks Tom Englehardt for distilling this information in a way that helped me make sense of it all. We are entering a new age, and with it new territory, which opens up endless possibilities for the people and the planet, but we need to get with the program really fast!


#5

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#6

Tom's article bolsters Eve Ensler's article published in CD on March 23.

The most logical conclusion to be drawn from these two articles is that we should not be surprised that Trump is a front runner, we should wonder why it didn't happen sooner ?

We should also not wonder why so few Murkins vote, we should wonder why so many still do ?

We should discount the serial media admonition that Congress is "paralyzed" or "polarized" seeing how vibrant and unified Congress is when they are delivering for the 1% , while claiming paralysis and polarization when the opportunity to deliver for the 99% arises.


#8

Fortunately or unfortunately, Englehardt has become predictably long-winded, and with only enough focus at the end of his essay, weakly focused. He would have done himself an enormous favor to have read the Peter Bloom essay (it was first published several days ago at other outlets). Reading Englehardt's opening dozen-and-a-half words in this essay reveals much more about the writer than those words directly come near. As a diet for an illness, he consumes the absolute worst junk food-supplement potions. Consequently, the essay rambled on from that to, well, where? Nevermind. It doesn't really matter.


#9

Read the anti-Federalists, and you will gain much more clarity on this very subject.


#10

We've lost that element in the American Revolution--"look just leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone." So now we're everywhere, not leaving anyone alone. Especially their airspace.

Drone warfare will come back to haunt us as an evil we promulgated on the world. Two-bit marauders will buy drones at Walmart, dirty them up a lot, and blow them up over a Clemson football game. A few casualties, maybe 5 or 6 perhaps, but the terror effect will be monumental. Then will come copycats the next weekend until Walmart and Amazon and Gizmo BigBox run out of drones to sell.

Nightmare world. Just let people alone.


#11

You are describing the logical evolution of the domestic arms race promulgated and sustained by the NRA. Now that Murkins' have personal arsenals filled with more arms and ammo than they will ever need, a fleet of drones in every Murkin's arsenal is the next NRA bonanza.


#12

" We do not send our drones to kill."
The average American has no participation in American foreign policy, because most do not realize that they are politically powerless, and completely irrelevant. The Amerikan empire is a military dictatorship posing as a democracy in order to protect the world wide, vested interests of its oligarchs.

Maybe I am naive, but I would hope the Bernie revolution will begin to put a stop to this murderous carnage that has little or nothing to do with "bad guys" AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE REAL BAD GUYS!


#14

"This is not war as we knew it, nor government as we once understood it, nor are these elections as we once imagined them, nor is this democracy as it used to be conceived of, nor is this journalism of a kind ever taught in a journalism school. This is the definition of uncharted territory."

It's not uncharted to devotees of the New World Order.

Once again, I find Mr. Engelhardt's dualistic frames problematic. There is some effort made to set up a distinction between unchecked STATE powers and the will of The People. Yet in spite of this, Mr. Engelhardt returns to that frame most cherished by warriors and men who can't seem to view the world outside of the frame inculcated during high school football season--where everyone sitting in a certain place is ergo an extension of the TEAM on the field (a/k/a "theater of war").

I am going to lay out the contradictions:

This frame turns the citizenry (which lacks agency and WHOSE will is largely not factored into actual policies) into those DOING the military's work... that of mass murder:

"If accurate, we killed 150 more or less nobodies (except to those who knew them) and maybe even a top leader or two in a country most Americans couldn’t locate on a map."

This quote attempts to show that the public (via its congressional would-be reps. has no input):

"Of course, Congress no longer plays any real role in decisions about American war making. It no longer declares war on any group or country we fight. (Paralysis!) War is now purely a matter of executive power or, in reality, the collective power of the national security state and the White House."

Having recently viewed Jeremy Scahill's chilling documentary (Dirty Wars), it's clear that the JSOC brigades are acting like barbarians killing wherever they touch down. FEW Americans know of their actions or who's orchestrating them. Here, Mr. Engelhardt subtly brushes on this item:

"It seems that if the U.S. puts advisers in place anywhere on the planet -- and any day of any year they are now in scores of countries -- that’s excuse enough to validate acts of war based on the “imminent” threat of their attack."

Having specified the lack of agency of The People, the covert nature of much of the action in foreign theaters of war, and the relative impotence of congress; he still reverts to the WE frame. And this frame, by design, conflates the citizenry directly with the military. I think it's a VERY dangerous canard and one that subliminally reinforces the U.S. AS a martial state, not a Democratic Republic:

"In these years, we’ve been marrying the latest in wonder technology, our Hellfire-missile-armed drones, to executive power and slaughtering people we don’t much like in majority Muslim countries with a certain alacrity. By now, it’s simply accepted that any commander-in-chief is also our assassin-in-chief, and that all of this is part of a wartime-that-isn’t-wartime system, spreading the principle of chaos and dissolution to whole areas of the planet, leaving failed states and terror movements in its wake."

Once again, Engelhardt swings back into a questioning frame:

"And when exactly did the people say that, within the country’s vast standing military, which now garrisons much of the planet, a force of nearly 70,000 Special Operations personnel should be birthed, or that it should conduct covert missions globally, essentially accountable only to the president (if him)?"

Since I am a writer and former English teacher, I am very sensitive to words and their intended (and implied) meanings.

I have previously critiqued Mr. Engelhardt for often appearing to chastise the MIC's foreign wars due to the fact that they don't pass the litmus test based on being WON while this form of criticism doesn't challenge the existence of The Beast, itself; and I've also challenged Mr. Engelhardt for swallowing the 911 fiction/official narrative whole. Here, I find either evidence of a mind divided against itself: that speaks on the one hand of no realistic input from The People while then reverting to the WE-frame (which signifies that same entity, The People) upon which to lay culpability. Otherwise, a piece of writing of this dualistic nature constitutes pure disinformation.

The art of disinformation is that it's difficult to define it as such. So well woven into its arguments are pieces of truth that only the most discerning of minds can recognize the ways that compelling facts are being used to fashion a narrative that ultimately proves protective of State Powers.

In other words, by appearing to criticize the MIC, Engelhardt is actually reinforcing it.


#15

The NRA is like a gang in L.A. that's run by the MIC--its national headquarters.


#16

Thank you.

Partly, because I am a Feminist I am so phucking tired of MALES telling me where I stand, what I believe, and what MY positions are!

Second, because I study subjects that are considered offbeat or taboo, I certainly don't resonate with any generalities that are applied universally (and so falsely!) to all persons.

Watching the women AND Indigenous leaders outside of the Paris climate talks--they asked the same thing: How can any consensus be reached when THEIR voices and views are not even taken into consideration? These people are wise and KNOW the land and its cycles; but they were not included.

In the past when Roe Versus Wade was in its early rites of passage, it was NOT women who were consulted as experts: it was instead panels of men and yes, nuns!

In almost EVERY photo of the World Bank or some gathering of world leaders, there is at most a token Black face and a token female face (or two). The majority that formulates decisions are white males with monetary power.

A world that is FULL of diverse populations is NOT served, neither fairly or accurately represented when the same powers that have controlled policies for many generations continue to do so.

Last night I watched a documentary about motor cycle gangs. Like soldiers (and many of them are former soldiers) these male enclaves are focused on primal, masculine, macho expressions of power.

VERY few women think like this. Of course, with militarism being so championed in all vectors of society, these days, women are joining gangs and joining the MIC.

The Page and Gilens Study PROVES that the public's wishes are NOT factored into policy determinations.

Many military missions are absolutely covert, and so secret that whistle blowers who DARE to tell the public about them are put into jeopardy or under house arrest.

Just as can be gleaned from the secrecy surrounding the latest absolutely anti-democratic rounds of trade talks (TIPP and TPP), the public is 100% left out of the equation.

The Piketty Study proves that over the course of the past decade, almost all wealth has been sent to the top of the financial pyramid. It's now known that about 200 families own almost half the world's wealth while poverty is pervasive, as are refugees, war zones, massive suffering, hunger, and poverty.

William Brandeis, a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice related that a society could EITHER have enormous concentration of wealth OR Democracy; but not both.

A very foolish Supreme Court sanctioned the Big Money interests purchasing candidates, effective election outcomes, and policy (under the erroneously labeled: Citizens United).

Many resonate with Mr. Sanders because he so clearly identifies this problem of extreme gluts of wealth and the policy-purchase-power these accumulated sums represent.

As I painstakingly pointed out in exposing the flaw in Mr. Engelhardt's analysis, EITHER an argument is made that citizens have virtually no say in policy and at this point in time, relatively no agency to change things around. )And those "things" favor big corporations, big banks, and the MIC--the muscle that pushes the agenda of the global corporate conquistadors) OR citizens DO have agency and voice... in which case, they would hold some culpability (and responsibility) for the horrendous policies put into operation.

Engelhardt makes the bi-polar case for both, simultaneously. And it's bogus!


#17

This drives me crazy; I can't understand how over half of Americans--or so we're told--support the use of drones, when the scenario you describe is so OBVIOUSLY in the offing. I mean, they've all watched all those dystopian movies--can't they see that it isn't long before anyone with a little money can kill enemies anonymously and no one is safe anywhere? But then, there is significant support for the NRA, which has become an extremist religious cult.


#18

I have been critical of Mr. Englehardt in the past and your critique, in my opinion, is right on target,


#19

Oh, to everloving flaming blazes with Donald Trump. I am sure that he has caused all manner of grief, but no, a bribe or two aside, he's just a guy who made a media persona owning up to his ex's kiss-and-tell back in the 80s and used it to sell Trump tripe. The persona sounds like a radio buffoon, so he can run and get publicity.

Of course he'd lose if anyone made sense. But Clinton must avoid making sense because few would really vote for sloppy fiat murders, savage coups, and brinksmanship against Russia and China all to wrest wealth and power from most everyone.

Trump can run because he has no major party opponents except Sanders, who probably will not be allowed to oppose him.

For ages, the US government has been run largely on the basis of a pretense of ethical validity. That is actually way cheaper and easier and more effective than running it by expending direct force against all levels of society and in all directions. But it does deliver certain limitations to individual politicians and businesses because they need to operate within some limit of behavior that might be judged as legitimate along some sort of ethical or legal lines.

Individual players chafe against ethical restrictions or just violate them. As the larger society lurches towards a resolution of the hydrocarbon and thermonuclear eras, it gets harder to support a narrative of legitimacy that involves international finance, large-scale military adventures, persistent global travel, and the people who run these things. This is partly because actions bear more obvious relation to their actual goals and less apparent relation to the goals advertised for them.

So things have gotten just one notch more shrill. Legitmacy from ethical superiority fades, and the government prepares legitimacy from brutal force directed closer and closer to home. There is nothing particularly otherworldly about this. Things are more shrill in Honduras and Ukraine, where Clinton's people were instrumental in organizing coups, than they are in the States. They are particularly more shrill in Syria, where Saudi and CIA (probaby drug cartel) money funded ISIS to topple the local institutions, such as they were, and throw Syrians across a battlefield between American and Russian forces and allies. And, while Western leaders do not altogether run these shows, they are, again, instrumental in directing them.

This sort of thing can get a lot worse than it is here in the States right now. It has been made worse in many places by Hillary Clinton, among many others, and I see no reason to imagine that Trump would not sell any human value for a fee. It is already a shooting war just over the border, where associates of Clinton and Obama fire American-provided small arms into schools and across neighborhoods to compete for markets to sell Americans drugs mostly to help us deny the circumstances of our lives.

I used to think that such violence would not cross the border, or not much, because it requires the relatively wealthy clientele at some end to drive the violence. But the systems are bending to break and reform, and the players no longer know their game. Surely there is an opportunity in that. But if Clinton gets the nomination, we have no candidate, no electoral process worthy of short-term attention, and a hard go. Batten down the hatches, friends.


#20

Thank you. Apologists for the make war state assume the role of principled reformers, but mostly they make noise about wars not being won... rather than examining the frame of Empire and its false rationales for invading other lands and leaving them so far from Democracy and any form of betterment as to make ANYTHING said by ANYONE working under the rubric of Defense beyond suspect.

I am borrowing this from Suspira (from the Peter Van Buren thread) because I think he said it all in a simple (albeit profound) statement:

SuspiraDeProfundis

Siouxrose11
"I fully concur. Van Buren always gives the appearance of "reasoned opposition to foreign policy" but uses that dissent to advance the same false narrative. It very deliberate."

Unfortunately, Mr. Engelhardt and some of the writers he frequently features all fall into the category that Suspira defines.


#22

Just an often overlooked aspect of many an empire's decline was the internecine warfare and revolts and messiness that preceded that decline and contributed to it in large part. Characteristically it derived from the internal fracturing of the society as rival groups vied for control of the weakened central authority. While we won't likely have another civil war, a certain decline is becoming evident.

However, it isn't that the central authority has been weakened but instead that it has been strengthened too much and has become controlled by a privileged elite. An almost permanent elite at that. A neo-feudal noble class of super rich oligarchs and those that serve their interests. Historians recognize the similarities of a wealthy ruling class and the peasantry beneath them throughout the centuries. It looks pretty much the same in terms of economics. Who owns practically everything and just how many don't.

The problem is that our system of government was of the people, by the people and for the people - that was our central authority - the American people were their government and that central control has been weakened. The empire in decline is beset from within by rival groups that each seek to carve up the carcass and secure the most choice portions for themselves.

Trump chases after the fascist salute, Hillary's machine disenfranchises the voters, Cruz threatens an overt blending of church and state. Congress signs the Patriot Act without reading it? Did they ever get around to reading since? Did that magically appear fully written on their desks so quickly? The 'government' no longer thinks of itself as representing the public but as representing the amorphous idea of being ' the government ' (to be defined later), trade deals whittle away sovereignty in favor of corporate rule (enacting a third level between the direct rule of the public in their government by making their government less independent of outside influence and control) and we are told that the power to wage war is not up to Congress?

We have been subverted and didn't know it, while we were getting popcorn during the commercials.

I don't blame Trump as much as I blame the media. They betrayed their own democracy ... One wonders whether in their denial whether they think about what kind of government their children may end up someday when our democracy becomes democracy in name only like it is fast becoming?

It is then that I look at Trump and start blaming him... For being ready to take advantage of the situation... Not for creating it though.


#25

Aside from not commenting on the context of what I wrote about the internal nature of the decline and the curious similarities to past empires declines, you took that quote out of context >>>

To wit... I don't blame Trump for how the media created the situation but for taking advantage of it. It is basically irrelevant that they make money from doing so. He is exploiting a tendency to disorder so characteristic of an empire's decline which of course helps accelerate it. The media is actually the soft fascism we fear in practice because they are hiding or rather obfuscating the rise of hard fascism taking place in the background. We (and they) may regret that someday. Most certainly the young will as their democracy is whittled away.