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John Chuckman

COMMENT ON WHETHER AMERICA CAN GOVERN ITSELF

 

Perhaps I should have known better, but I am an old man hoping to see some change in the horrible international arrangements I have known all my life, so a little unrealistic optimism was perhaps to be expected.

I regret having to say that, already, the Donald Trump, who seemed capable of at least a few large acts against the established order in the United States, is beginning to resemble yet another version of the “same old, same old.”

Getting embroiled with courts over a set of restrictions on migrants is just a big, futile waste of time and resources. When you face immense problems – pointless wars, massive refugee problems caused by those very wars, confusion reigning over much of the planet created by your own country’s policies of the last sixteen years, institutions like the EU beginning to crumble, poverty still a feature of large regions of your own country, and budgets and debt wildly out of control – it is hard to understand how you would get so entangled in this matter.

The restrictions, temporary as they mostly are, are of no real value to anyone, certainly not offering a meaningful addition to American security, but they are an unnecessary hardship imposed on a relatively small group people who already have suffered under America’s acts. And, they are creating, let’s face it, a serious public relations setback that you simply do not need. When you pay a large price for achieving virtually nothing, you are making a serious mistake.

There are other unpleasant noises being heard, too. Only the other day, Trump said something about having no choice but to become ruthless over the War on Drugs. Did I get the words right? Ruthless? War on Drugs? Richard Nixon clearing his throat and shaking his jowls, making pronouncements he could never deliver on? The year 2017?

Now, if there was ever a more failed policy than the decades-long American War on Drugs, I just don’t know what it could be. It almost resembles Christianity’s two millennium effort to end sin. Tens and tens of billions spent, small armies of black-clad heavily-armed police stomping on people’s rights and crashing into homes, great havoc and violence created in many countries – all with a complete lack of results. Hollywood and Palm Beach and Manhattan parties remain bountifully supplied with cocaine, as I’m sure some of Trump’s glitziest friends could readily assure him. Heroin and other hard drugs are everywhere on America’s streets and in its alleys. So is, by the way, a great deal of murder and mayhem over the control of the markets for those drugs, as see with the carnage in Chicago.

Most unsettling of all are the noises being made about Iran. A few recent statements made me think we were just right back fresh into the Neocon Wars, almost as though Hillary Clinton had indeed won the election and was ready to launch a new set of them. Certainly, war with Iran has the potential for the kind of violence Hillary seemed greatly amused by in Libya, but on a vastly greater scale. There was even a reliable report that the American Navy came very close to boarding an Iranian merchant ship on the high seas recently. Such an act would violate the laws governing the free use of the seas and would simply be an act of war.

Well, if you want war, nothing is easier to achieve. A total idiot can create war with very little effort. George Bush proved that for all time. Only a clever statesman, one like Putin in our time, can avoid it when the challenge is hurled into his face, as it very much was by Obama and Hillary and their Neocon Fraternity Brothers and Sisters over at the State Department, the kind of people who never gave a moment’s thought to how many they killed to make some geopolitical chess move.

Speaking of Russia, I know it is early, but I can detect almost no movement in that ominous situation created by Obama’s weakness vis-à-vis the Neocons and other Amerika über alles types choking the payrolls of the Pentagon and security services. Trump’s independent-mindedness and self-confidence, combined with his genuine outsider status, are just what seemed to offer promise in reining-in this craziness by powerful, unaccountable figures.

It is not encouraging that the mere rumor that Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak may have discussed sanctions created a bit of a storm, the Obama-imposed sanctions being pointless and productive only of hostility between two states which are capable of obliterating one another. But, remember, this is America which kept pointless, provocative sanctions in place against Cuba for half a century. The qualities of a stubborn mule are not what you might expect to feature large in a great power’s behavior, but it seems, in fact, they often do.

Troubling, too, is the very soft approach being taken towards Israel, one of the world’s most demanding, hostile, and dangerous countries. Here is the government of Israel contemptuously spitting on yet another United Nations’ Resolution and openly stealing more land. I know the United Nations does not enjoy high standing with Trump’s crowd, but respect for property rights certainly does, being the bedrock of all efforts to build wealth anywhere. The rule of law matters.

Israel is a country whose successive recent leaders have all favored attacking Iran, all having spoken openly in favor of outright aggression. Could there be a connection? The pending demise of the Clinton Foundation does not appear to have brought an end to “pay for play” in American foreign policy. The Israel Lobby, so antipathetic to America’s long-term interests and so damaging to millions of lives in the Middle East, has to be deeply involved here.

And where are the economies which America so desperately requires? We hear only of vast new expenditures for an already immensely-bloated military, of great new costs like the wall with Mexico, of costly operations like deporting millions of illegals, of investing many billions to ensure school choice, and so forth.

Draining the swamp was a catchy election slogan, but as we have seen many times, the ability to get elected is quite different than the ability to govern. Perhaps America is incapable of being sensibly governed? Too fat and rich and wasteful and arrogant? With a capital city packed with powerful and unaccountable officials? Truly draining the swamp would likely mean emptying much of Washington, a place which, by the way, when it was selected by George Washington himself as the site of the future capital, was indeed swampy land. The fault likely goes back to the very beginning.

Even the freight-train-coming-through personality of Donald Trump seems in danger of being stalled on a siding.

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