Wow. Super Tuesday was an earthquake, and not just because Donald Trump ran the tables. The best thing was the complete drubbing and humiliation that voters all over America handed to the little Napoleon from Florida, Marco Rubio.
So doing, the voters began the process of ridding the nation of the GOP War Party and its neocon claque of rabid interventionists. They have held sway for nearly three decades in the Imperial City and the consequences have been deplorable.
It goes all the way back to the collapse of the old Soviet Union and the elder Bush’s historically foolish decision to invade the Persian Gulf in February 1991. The latter stopped dead in its tracks the first genuine opportunity for peace the people of the world had been afforded since August 1914.
Instead, it reprieved the fading remnants of the military-industrial-congressional complex, the neocon interventionist camp and Washington’s legions of cold war apparatchiks. All of the foregoing would have been otherwise consigned to the dust bin of history.
Yet at that crucial inflection point, there was absolutely nothing at stake with respect to the safety and security of the American people in the petty quarrel between Saddam Hussein and the Emir of Kuwait.
That spate, in fact, was over directional drilling rights in the Rumaila oilfield which straddled their respective borders. Yet these disputed borders had no historical legitimacy whatsoever. Kuwait was a just a bank account with a seat in the UN, which had been created by the British only in 1899 for obscure reasons of imperial maneuver. Likewise, the boundaries of Iraq had been drawn with a straight ruler in 1916 by British and French diplomats in the process of splitting up the loot from the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
As it happened, Saddam claimed that the Emir of Kuwait, who could never stop stuffing his unspeakably opulent royal domain with more petro dollars, had stolen $10 billion worth of oil from Iraq’s side of the field while Saddam was savaging the Iranians during his unprovoked but Washington supported 1980s invasion. At the same time, Hussein had borrowed upwards of $50 billion from Kuwait, the Saudis and the UAE to fund his barbaric attacks on the Iranians and now the sheiks wanted their money back.
At the end of the day, Washington sent 500,000 US troops to the Gulf in order to function as bad debt collectors for three regimes that are the very embodiment of tyranny, corruption, greed and religious fanaticism.
They have been the fount and exporter of Wahhabi fanaticism and have thereby fostered the scourge of jihadi violence throughout the region. And it was the monumental stupidity of putting American (crusader) boots on the ground in Saudi Arabia that actually gave rise to Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the tragedy of 9/11, the invasion and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Patriot Act and domestic surveillance state and all the rest of the War Party follies which have followed.
Worse still, George H.W. Bush’s stupid little war corrupted the very political soul and modus operandi of Washington. What should have been a political contest over which party and prospective leader could best lead a revived 1920s style campaign for world disarmament was mutated into a wave of exceptionalist jingoism about how best to impose American hegemony on any nation or force on the planet that refused compliance with Washington’s designs and dictates.
And most certainly, this lamentable turn to the War Party’s disastrous reign had nothing to do with oil security or economic prosperity in America. The cure for high oil prices is always and everywhere high oil prices, not the Fifth Fleet.
Indeed, as the so-called OPEC cartel crumbles into pitiful impotence and cacophony and as the world oil glut drive prices eventually back into the teens, there can no longer be any dispute. The blazing oil fields of Kuwait in 1991 had nothing to do with domestic oil security and prosperity, and everything to do with the rise of a virulent militarism and imperialism that has drastically undermined national security.
It is the bombs, drones, cruise missiles and brutal occupations of Muslim lands unleashed by the War Party that has actually fostered the massive blowback and radical jihadism rampant today in the middle east and beyond.
Indeed, prior to 1991 Bin Laden and his mujahideen, who had been trained and armed by the CIA and heralded in the west for their help in defeating purportedly godless communism in Afghanistan, had not declaimed against American liberty, opulence, and decadence. They did not come to attack our way of life as the neocon propagandists have so speciously claimed.
In fact, the ever destructive Dick Cheney was the proximate cause. In an act of monumental foolishness, it was he who persuaded the Saudi King to permit the stationing of US troops on Arabian soil, thereby triggering a revolt against the House of Saud by Bin Laden and his Mujahedeen. The latter was then forced into exile by the Saudi government in April 1991 and soon metastasized into the fiendish scourge of al-Qaeda.
Misguided and despicable as their attack was, it was motivated by revenge and religious fanaticism that had never previously been directed against the American people. That is, not until the Washington War Party decided to intervene in the Persian Gulf in 1991.
Yes, the wholly different Shiite branch of Islam centered in Iran had a grievance, too. But that wasn’t about America’s liberties and libertine ways of life, either. It was about the left over liability from Washington’s misguided cold war interventions and, specifically, the 1953 CIA coup that installed the brutal and larcenous Shah on the Peacock Throne.
The whole Persian nation had deep grievances about that colossal injustice—-a grievance that was wantonly amplified in the 1980s by Washington’s overt assistance to Saddam Hussein. Via the CIA’s satellite reconnaissance, Washington had actually helped him unleash heinous chemical warfare attacks on Iranian forces, including essentially unarmed young boys who had been sent to the battle front as cannon fodder.
Still, with the election of Rafsanjani in 1989, there was every opportunity to repair this historical transgression and normalize relations with Tehran. In fact, in the early days, the Bush state department was well on the way to exactly that. But once the CNN war games in the gulf put the neocons back in the saddle the door was slammed shut by Washington, not the Iranians.
Indeed at that very time, the re-ascendant neocons explicitly choose to demonize the Iranian regime as a surrogate enemy to replace the defunct Kremlin commissars. Two of the most despicable actors in the post-1991 neocon takeover of the GOP—-Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz——actually penned a secret document outlining the spurious anti-Iranian campaign which soon congealed into a full-blown war myth.
To wit, that the Iranian’s were hell bent on obtaining nuclear weapons and had become an implacable foe of America and fountain of state sponsored terrorism. But there never was an Iranian nuclear weapons program, as the 2007 National Intelligence Estimates by 16 US security agencies documented, and the recent IAEA inspection report confirmed.
Not long thereafter in 1996, these same neocon warmongers produced for newly elected Israeli prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, the infamous document called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy For Securing The Realm”.
Whether he immediately signed off an all of its sweeping plans for junking the Oslo Accords and launching regime change initiatives against the Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria is a matter of historical debate. But there can be no doubt that shortly thereafter this manifesto became the operative policy of the Netanyahu government and especially its virulent campaign to demonize Iran as an existential threat to Israel. And that when the younger Bush took office and brought the whole posse of neocons back into power, it became Washington’s official policy, as well.
After 9/11, the dual War Party of Washington and Tel Aviv was off to the races and the US government began its tumble toward $19 trillion of the national debt and an eventual fiscal calamity. That’s because the neocon War Party sucked the old time religion of fiscal rectitude and monetary orthodoxy right out of the GOP in the name of funding what has in truth become a trillion dollar per year Warfare State.
There were several crucial moments along the way—–the first being the sacking of Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill by the White House praetorian guard led by Karl Rove. His sin was having the audacity to say that the Afghan and Iraqi wars were going to cost trillions and that stiff tax increases and painful entitlements cuts were the only way to make ends meet.
Right then and there the GOP was stripped of any fiscal virginity that had survived the Reagan era of triple-digit deficits. Right on cue, the contemptible Dick Cheney was quick to claim that Reagan proved “deficits don’t matter”, meaning from that point forward whatever it took to fund the war machine trumped any flickering Republican folk memories of fiscal prudence.
The great Dwight Eisenhower left office at the height of the cold war in 1961, warning the American public about the insatiable appetites for budgets and war of the military industrial complex. At the same time, however, his final budget attested to his conviction that $450 billion in today’s purchasing power (2015 $) was enough to fund the Pentagon, foreign aid and security assistance and the needs of veterans of past wars.
Thanks to the GOP War Party and neocons we are spending more than double that amount—upwards of $900 billion—–for those same purposes today. Yet unlike the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union at the peak of its industrial vigor, we no longer have any industrial state enemy left on the planet; we have appropriately been fired as the world’s policeman and have no need for Washington’s far-flung imperium of bases and naval and air power projection; and would not even be confronted with the domestic policing challenges posed by highly limited and episodic homeland terrorist tempests had Washington not turned Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and others into failed states and economic rubble.
The Bush-era War Party also committed an even more lamentable error in the midst of all of its foreign policy triumphalism and its utter neglect of the GOP’s actual purpose to function as an advocate for sound money and free markets in the governance process of our two parties democracy. Namely, it appointed Ben Bernanke, an avowed Keynesian and big government statist who had loudly proclaimed in favor of “helicopter money”, to a Federal Reserve system that was already on the verge of an economic coup d’état led by the unfaithful Alan Greenspan.
That coup was made complete by the loathsome bailout of Wall Street during the 2008 financial crisis. And the latter had, in turn, been a consequence of the massive speculation and debt build-up that had been enabled by the Fed’s own policies during the prior decade and one-half.
Now after $3.5 trillion of heedless money printing and 86 months of ZIRP, Wall Street has been transformed into an unstable, dangerous casino. Honest price discovery in the capital and money markets no longer exists, nor has productive capital been flowing into real investments in efficiency and growth.
Instead, the C-suites of corporate America have been transformed into stock trading rooms where business balance sheets have been hocked to the tune of trillions in cheap debt in order to fund stock buybacks, LBOs and M&A deals designed to goose stock prices and the value of top executive options.
Indeed, the Fed’s unconscionable inflation of the third massive financial bubble of this century has showered speculators and the 1% with unspeakable financial windfalls that are fast creating not only an inevitable thundering financial meltdown but, also, a virulent populist backlash. The Eccles Building was where the “Bern” that is roiling the electorate was actually midwifed.
And probably even the far greater political tremblor represented by The Donald, as well.
Yes, as a libertarian I shudder at the prospect of a man on a white horse heading for the White House, as Donald Trump surely is. His rank demoguery and poisonous rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims, refugees, women, domestic victims of police repression and the spy state and countless more are flat-out contemptible. And the idea of building a horizontal version of Trump Towers on the Rio Grande is just plain nuts.
But here’s the thing. While spending a lifetime as a real estate speculator and self-created celebrity, The Donald apparently did not have time to get miseducated by the Council On Foreign Relations or to hob knob with the GOP inner circle in Washington and the special interest group racketeers they coddle.
So even as The Donald’s election would bring on a thundering financial crash on Wall Street and political upheaval in Washington—–the truth is that’s going to happen anyway. Look at the hideous mess that US policy has created in Syria or the incendiary corner into which the Fed has backed itself or the fiscal projections that show we will be back into trillion dollar annual deficits as the recession already underway reaches full force. The jig is well and truly up.
But a nation tumbling into financial and fiscal crisis will welcome the War Party purge that Trump would surely undertake. He didn’t allow the self-serving busy-bodies and fools who inhabit the Council on Foreign Relations to dupe him into believing that Putin is a horrible threat; or that the real estate on the eastern edge of the non-state of the Ukraine, which has always been either a de jure or de facto part of Russia, was any of our business. Likewise, he has gotten it totally right with respect to the sectarian and tribal wars of Syria and Iraq and Hillary’s reckless destruction of a stable regime in Libya.
Even his bombast about Obama’s “bad deal” with Iran doesn’t go much beyond Trump’s ridiculous claim that they are getting a $150 billion reward. In fact, it was their money; we stole it, and by the time of the next election they will have it released anyway.
Besides, unlike the boy Senator from Florida who wants to be President so he can play with guns, tanks, ships and bombs, The Donald has indicated no intention of tearing up the agreement on day one in office.
Most importantly, The Donald has essentially proclaimed the obvious. Namely, that the cold war is over and that the American taxpayers have no business subsidizing obsolete relics like NATO and ground forces in South Korea and Japan.
At the end of the day, the reason that the neocons are apoplectic is that Trump would restore the 1991 status quo ante. The nation’s self-proclaimed greatest deal-maker might even take a leaf out of Warren G. Harding’s playbook and negotiate sweeping disarmament agreements in a world where governments everywhere are on the verge of fiscal bankruptcy.
He might also come down with wrathful indignation on the Fed if its dares push toward the criminal zone of negative interest rates. As far as I know, The Donald was never miseducated by the Keynesian swells at Brookings, either. No plain old businessman would ever fall for the sophistry and crank monetary theories that are now ascendant in the Eccles Building.
When it comes to the nation’s current economic wreckers-in-chief, Janet Yellen, and Stanley Fischer, he might even dust off on day one the skills he honed during his ten-year stint on the Apprentice.
Indeed, the sound of “your fired!” in that context would echo with high approbation down the pages of history.
Worse things could surely happen.
Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.