Just Asking, Again
Typical was a piece in the Times by Susan Rice, Obama’s former national security advisor, who writes: “Mr. Trump has already delivered to Mr. Putin much of the benefit he might have sought by supporting Mr. Trump’s election. The balance due is the agenda for Helsinki.””
Ceding total victory to Russia over what? Are we at war with Russia? Have we gotten to the point where undeclared wars with the client states of major powers, achieved by executive fiat through unconstitutional means, are the same thing as a declared hot war between major powers?
More to the point, what victory is Russia winning over us? The ability to have a client state, or, rather, two client states, in the Middle East? So--let me get this straight--the idea here is that if Russia succeeds in having a couple of footholds in the Middle East, one of which feeds them additional petroleum for their economy and military, they have won a "total victory" over us? Is it a "total victory" because we didn't manage to wrest their two client states from them?
Doesn't the United States already have several client states in the Middle East, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, and perhaps even Egypt? Between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, don't America's client states control rather a large amount of petroleum? Given that America has at least five Middle Eastern client states, how is it possible that Russia having two Middle Eastern client states constitutes "ceding [a] total victory" to Russia?
At what point was this war, or competition, or rivalry--it's hard to know what to call it in this era of mushy, poorly-defined foreign policy--for total control of global petroleum resources officially declared? At what point was it publicly debated? At what point were the American people told why we are fighting Russia, what would constitute losing, and what would constitute winning? Do people in Washington even refer to the Powell Doctrine anymore, or do they content themselves with consulting the Powell memo?
What is the defeat Rice really fears? Put in plain English, doesn't Susan Rice fear that the United States will fail to eradicate all other powers in the world except itself? Doesn't she fear that the United States will fail to take the total control of petroleum and methane necessary to becoming the world's only imperial power? Are we expected to accept the terms of the Project for the New American Century as a given these days? Do most of the American people even know what the Project for the New American Century actually is? If what Rice fears losing is the prospect of complete control over Middle Eastern oil resources, shouldn't we ask ourselves if achieving complete control over those resources is desirable or even possible?
What is the reason these two substances remain so important? Even within the context of global capitalism, isn't the petroleum economy essentially a fossil? Is there any real reason our economies and lives should be shrink-wrapped in petroleum products, limited by the availability of oil and methane? Isn't the value of these increasingly scarce products propped up by those who wish to control the globe and can think of no better way to do it than to have one or two essential substances concentrated in a few regions which can then be dominated by whoever has the biggest war machine? In fact, doesn't the petroleum-based economy (and its adherents in politics and the media) actually suppress the entrepreneurship, invention, and progress that capitalism supposedly values, in favor of protecting an entrenched de facto aristocracy of oil merchants and war profiteers?
Doesn't the fact that that the American war machine still runs largely on petroleum and methane create an odd conflict of interest, perhaps even an ugly symbiosis, between those who make their money off of weapons and those who make their money off of oil? Is there any foreseeable future in which this symbiosis will not drive foreign policy globally, almost to the exclusion of all else? Is there any foreseeable future in which this symbiosis will not overwhelm both the purported virtues of capitalism and the possibility of representative or democratic government, basically everywhere? Doesn't that symbiosis even threaten and undermine the American empire it resides within and purports to serve? Leaving aside the question of whether it is desirable to perpetuate an American empire, doesn't the constant protection of oil barons and weaponsmakers above all else actually undermine the American empire? In fact, isn't that unquestioning, unquestionable loyalty to those interests above all else currently shaking the foundations of that empire and threatening to bring it down?
Are we going to talk publicly about these issues, or is it now enough to accept via political fiat the idea that of course we must defeat Russia in some poorly-defined battle which happens mostly in Syria? Is it now proof of treason to advocate for drawing down troops in Syria? Does wishing to pull our military out of Syria constitute becoming a political fifth column devoted to advancing Russian interests over the United States' own? Are we going to discuss what those Russian interests even are, or are we going to simply assume that Russia is looking to beat us in some ill-defined way and then to do some ill-defined evil thing to the United States? Does Russia maintaining a foothold in the Middle East really threaten our lives and culture? How?
Didn't there used to be left-wing people and liberals who objected to this sort of unilateralism? Didn't the left used to disagree with George W. Bush's foreign policy? When did vague, unproved assertions of the use of chemical weapons and other atrocities become enough to justify war? When did simply asserting that the chosen enemy was a bad man who did cruel things and must be stopped become an acceptable basis for foreign policy? When did the left decide it was acceptable to suggest that people who disagree with these assumptions are traitors, moles, or at best dupes of a vast Russian plot?
Can we justify this transformation in ourselves by saying that Russia rigged the 2016 presidential election? Does it matter at all that that charge remains unproved and largely evidence-free, or that there is actual technical evidence that the DNC hack was done from within, and thus was not a hack at all? Is is a coincidence that the rise of concern about this putative election-rigging coincides with a widespread cultural amnesia about actual racist election-rigging that was allowed to happen twice at the beginning of this century? Is it a coincidence that those rigged elections provided PNAC signatories the political power that now allows Susan Rice to assert that if we draw down troops in Syria, we will have "ceded total victory" to Russia?
Is it a coincidence that George W. Bush and prominent members of his administration are now embraced by the Democratic party as allies against Trump? Is it a coincidence that liberals at the grassroots now believe that Bush, Cheney, and others from those administrations are so preferable to Trump as to make them desirable leaders? Isn't it interesting that so many liberals now say they "never thought Cheney would look good" or that "Bush now looks like a paragon?" Can the evil of Donald Trump really excuse the evil of inventing a war for gain that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead? Can the evil of Donald Trump really excuse the evil of defrauding Black America out of its voting rights and climbing on a staircase of Black faces into the Oval Office?
When did the left decide to become the sons and daughters of Joe McCarthy, Lee Atwater, and the Dulles brothers? If you accept that legacy, and further it, can you be called "left" in any meaningful sense? If the left embraces McCarthyism, while the right remains in its traditional position, who will ask these questions?