Brief Reflections on Trump, War, and Militarism

Trump’s motto: In generals I trust. It didn’t work out so well for him. Or the country.

W.J. Astore

As the Senate prepares to acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, I thought it would be a good time for a quick look at his legacy on war and militarism. Trump’s fans like to say he started no new wars. But he was hardly a man of peace, and his legacy on war and militarism is almost entirely negative. Here, in no particular order, are my quick thoughts on this subject:

  1. He boosted military spending and weapons sales. Trump basically bought off the military-industrial-congressional complex by throwing scores of billions of dollars its way while selling weapons around the world. It’s an old formula for U.S. presidents and it worked.
  2. He boosted a militant nationalism vis-a-vis rivals and even traditional allies. Trump was no friend to Russia and aggravated relations with China. Relations with NATO allies were also aggravated as he pressured them to spend more on weapons and wars.
  3. He boosted militarism at home and specifically with police forces. Trump supported and encouraged violent police crackdowns of BLM activists. He called for the deployment of active duty military in the streets of Washington, DC. He even called for a massive military parade (which never happened).
  4. He boosted overseas bombing and drone strikes. Recall the use of MOAB in Afghanistan, or Trump’s missile strike against Syria, and increased bombing in Afghanistan.
  5. He boosted tensions with Iran nearly to the breaking point. Trump’s drone strike against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was an act of war; harsh economic sanctions and withdrawal from the Obama-era nuclear treaty with Iran also heightened tensions.
  6. He boosted the chances of nuclear war in the future. Trump was a fan of nuclear weapons; he seems to think of them simply as bigger, mightier bombs. His pursuit of “smaller” tactical nuclear warheads and their deployment on Trident-class nuclear submarines increase the possibility of nuclear war in the future.
  7. He boosted economic sanctions against Venezuela while pursuing a coup. Trump knows Venezuela has vast oil reserves. Why not overthrow their government and take their oil? That was Trump’s policy, more or less. (It doesn’t appear to have changed under Joe Biden.)
  8. Creation of a Space Force. Yet another military competitor for U.S. taxpayer dollars, even as space itself becomes another sphere for the U.S. military to “dominate.”
  9. Failure to end wars that he promised to end. Trump was talked out of ending the war in Afghanistan by generals like James Mattis and H.R. McMaster. Ending such wars was a promise Trump foolishly abandoned.
  10. Reliance on Generals as wise men. Trump, overall a weak and vainglorious man, surrounded himself with generals like Mattis, McMaster, John Kelly, and (briefly) Michael Flynn. Thus he got narrow-minded war-mongering advice.
  11. Seeing the world as a zero-sum game of winners and losers and debasing the art of diplomacy. Putting Mike Pompeo in charge of the State Department was a new low in the pursuit of peace through diplomacy.
  12. Aiding genocide in Yemen while kowtowing to Israel and Saudi Arabia: Trump was a willing participant to genocide in Yemen while pursuing a “peace” plan with Israel that was totally one-sided vis-a-vis the status and rights of Palestinians.

Off the top of my head, that’s my top twelve of Trump’s legacies in this arena. What do you think, readers? Can you think of others? And will any of this really change under Joe Biden?

18 thoughts on “Brief Reflections on Trump, War, and Militarism

  1. While it looks as if Biden may be working to alleviate the disaster in Yemen, it would appear that his hard lines with and posturing to Russia and China are ratcheting up the confrontational vibes. And status quo continues in the Middle East and Afghanistan to date. So….on balance, no. No real change so far. I’d be surprised if there’s any change for the better anytime soon. But then, as we’re less than a month into this administration, who knows?

    What really, REALLY scares me is the recent statement by Charles Richard at STRATCOM that nuclear war is “a real possibility.” Madness!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Regarding the status of the war on Yemen, just read this remark made subsequent to Biden’s announcement about arms sales:

        “Look,” Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes reassured investors anticipating this move, “peace is not going to break out in the Middle East anytime soon. I think it remains an area where we’ll continue to see SOLID GROWTH.” [emphasis mine]

        Full article is here:
        https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/12/ending-the-other-war-in-yemen-2/

        Are we appalled yet??????

        Like

  2. Well, two things come to my mind. First is our war in Syria, a war which has no stated objective or rationale*, nor any congressional authorization. Trump did proclaim that the war there was about oil, which, seeing the rather small Syrian oil reserves, doesn’t make sense. And is also a transparently obvious and inescapable violation of the Geneva Conventions, something that nobody in the entire of US politics, law, or media is willing to say a peep on. Second thing is the other endless ongoing war that is even older than our glorious little adventure in Afghanistan. By this I refer of course to the War on Nigg…. I mean Drugs. Nothing changed in that war under Trump either.

    Things changing under Biden? I’d laugh, except there’s no humor there and it might bring up more of the scorn and bile that I try and keep down when talking about old senile Joe and his despicable crew of worthless greasy-pole-climbing second-rate hangers-on.

    Iceberg in my subconscious about this current state of political failure is whether or not it is a cover by the powers that be to stay one step ahead of the rest of us and remain on top from what appears to be an oncoming economic disaster coming our way. Or are we just that sociologically and politically broken and incompetent these days? Dunno.

    Best–

    Dan

    *Couple of years back now I had the rare opportunity to ask the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in person, in front of an audience, just what our war objectives were in Syria, and what exactly Syria had done to damage this country’s interests to where we were justified in starting a war against them. Mike McCaul had no answer and gasbagged for about three minutes straight. He had obviously never considered the question before. Gadzooks.

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan: I’ll take a stab at your questions to Mike McCaul:

      1. Objectives: Continue to destabilize Syria, which is in the interests of Israel. Demonstrate to other Middle Eastern countries that resistance to the U.S. and Israel comes at a high price. At one time the U.S. wanted Assad overthrown; now I think some may realize from the Libyan disaster that there are worse things than a dictator you don’t like because he won’t play your game.

      2. Syria poses no direct threat to U.S. national security and there is no legal justification for war.

      I assume McCaul is smart enough not to say (1) or (2), so he probably said something about Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism and how that represented some vague threat to U.S. forces in the Middle East and possibly to the U.S. “homeland.” So the AUMF applied and we’re working to spread freedom and democracy by supporting moderate rebels fighting against a bloodthirsty dictator yada yada Putin.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. After all the hoopla over the predictable acquittal of our former Fascist-in-Chief today,
    how about your reaction to Biden’s nomination of Robert Malley to head the Iranian consulate
    position ? Looks like the perfect appointment and full disclosure, I agree with all his
    insights and historical diplomatic positions, but I’m an amateur observer–what say you?

    Like

      1. I understand that Mr. Malley replaces the neocon regime-changer — and convicted felon — Elliot Abrams, so that would appear a positive step. But, as you say, we have yet to see how things will play out. The extremely powerful Apartheid Zionist lobby wants the US to wreck Iran just as it did Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and — to a lesser degree — Syria. And, so far, the Zionist Occupation of Palestine has gotten everything from the US that it wanted, and more.

        As well, President Biden has yet to phone Bibi Netanyahu — whom the first President Bush wouldn’t even let into the country — and that also seems wise. But Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a good many of the Biden administration’s appointees, if not Biden himself, consider themselves ardent Zionists. Therefore, Mr Malley, if he feels so inclined, will have a rather vicious struggle on his hands if he actually wishes to amend relations with Iran.

        China and Russia, however, have already beaten the US to the punch when it comes to making win-win deals with Iran, so I don’t see what the US has to offer the Iranians if the US won’t lift its ruinous sanctions on that country and start behaving like a sane and respectful government. Former President Trump wished to repair relations with Russia in order to “pull Russia away” from China — I think arch war criminal Henry Kissinger convinced him to try this foreign policy gambit — but that train has long-since left the station. The Russia-China relationship continues to mature and prosper and Iran seems interested in joining up with these more reasonable and competent governments. Again, what does the US have to offer Iran but threats and ultimatums?

        So I think we will just have to wait to see what the US does. What it says has long since lost any credibility on the world scene.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. This is probably the wrong comment section for my concern, but–how come I can
      engage in these conversations on one day (2/14), then the next (2/15) it won’t let me sign
      in with either my user name or email address, saying that I have no account and neither
      exists. Should I just open a new account? Maybe I shouldn’t have voted to convict? ;>}

      Like

      1. Thanks for your patience. I have trouble too! It may be a browser issue. I was using Goggle Chrome; now I’m using Firefox and things are better.

        Like

  4. It seems to me that we (the US) would have a lot more influence in the middle east if we had full diplomatic relations with Iran. I guess I’m naive but I think its time we got over the seizure of the embassy in ’79. Unfortunately, most Americans who know even a little about Iran only go back that far in discussion of our relations, forgetting or never even knowing in the first place about our actions there in the early 50’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #6 freaks me out
    I’m reading this week about the science behind the development and testing of the first hydrogen bombs. This is some frightening technological territory. What knocks my mind a kilter… once they understood what they had discovered about fission and fusion… ??? How could they walk this stuff out of the laboratory and onto a battlefield. ????
    It stops my mind, and I cannot come up with one good reason to let these ideas leave a lab… these powers are not know to be of our dimension… they come from another dimension … the wisdom and understanding that exists on that whole other level, to possess and wield such power, happens because they know how to properly apply it … we stumbled onto a force we have no business discovering because we lack the wisdom to be granted such awesome fury. If people truly understood what may happen; they may begin to demand to pull pull the plug on this psychotic madness.

    Like

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