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The Age of Orange: Trumpian Policy to Reshape World Order.

Trumpian Future to Unleash a New Nightmare on Earth Tsunami of Winning! Left Needs a Blueprint for Global Democracy.

A Left Vision for Trade

The 2016 election displayed unprecedented political opposition to globalization. While President Obama made passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a top priority, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both came out against it in their campaigns for president. And Trump, who made rejection of the trade deal a pillar of his platform, won.

For Trump, talking about trade served a nativist function: he blamed Mexican and Chinese workers for stealing American manufacturing jobs but ignored the policies corporations have used to exploit cheap labor around the world and crush unions in the United States. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders’s sharp call against the TPP pushed Clinton, a longtime supporter of trade agreements, to change her mind.

Both Trump and Clinton explained their objection to the TPP in terms of the very real threat it posed to American jobs. But globalization is not going away, with or without the TPP. So how can we make it fairer?

Like previous trade deals such as NAFTA, the key problem with the TPP is the way it supports capital mobility by allowing corporations to move around the globe in a never-ending search for cheaper labor. Current trade policies encourage corporations to pursue a race to the bottom for the lowest wages and weakest pollution standards, meaning workers never have the time or stability to organize for better conditions. This is why the fortunes of workers in the United States and other developed nations are tied up with the fate of workers in the global South. As long as corporations can easily move their factories across borders, workers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada will not be able to maintain dignified lives, nor will workers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Honduras ever be able to create them.

There are ways to reduce the incentive for capitalists to move their manufacturing to countries with the laxest labor and environmental standards. Instead of simply rejecting trade deals or succumbing to Trump’s rhetoric that foreign workers have “stolen American jobs,” the left should use the political momentum around the TPP to call for policies that would ensure corporate accountability and empower the workers who produce goods for U.S. companies, wherever those companies site their factories. Trump’s election will pose enormous challenges for workers—we should anticipate direct attacks upon union rights. It is also a time when the left cannot cede debates on trade to conservatives.

Rather, we must seek to appeal to the concerns of working-class people who either voted for Trump or were so unmotivated by Clinton that they did not vote at all. Articulating a progressive line on trade policy, following the lead of politicians such as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and Keith Ellison, while also seeking to guide those politicians with new ideas need to be major goals for the labor left. Ultimately, we must spend the next four years advancing a positive agenda for global labor that both rejects the neoliberalism that has dominated national debate for the past four decades and empowers workers around the world to fight for their rights.

Ensuring corporate accountability

The United States already has rules on the books about global labor standards. For example, the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 gave the president the authority to eliminate unfair foreign trade practices that violate “acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.” But foreign policy aims typically supersede concern for labor standards, and enforcement is poor. The effectiveness of such domestic laws and policies has therefore been limited so far.

The first step in addressing these deficiencies would be to pass a new law that I call the Corporate Accountability Act, which would bind U.S. companies wherever they operate, whether at home or abroad. Such a law would need to include a regulatory function to monitor and punish recalcitrant corporations, set basic pollution and workplace standards, mandate living wages based upon the location of the factory, and ban the physical punishment of workers and violence against union organizers, among other things. Perhaps most importantly, it would seek to make corporations legally responsible for their supply chains, forcing companies like Walmart and Target to be accountable for conditions in their factories, wherever they are located.

Of course, another law does not solve the problem of enforcement. One way to do this is to open American courts for workers and citizens overseas to demand the enforcement of American treaties and laws. Specifically, activists should argue for the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) of 1789, which would allow corporations who violate the human rights of their workers abroad to be tried in U.S courts. Under the provisions of this law, U.S. district courts have the right to hear claims from foreign citizens if they have suffered from actions “in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” In Filártiga v. Peña-Irala in 1980, a U.S. court ruled that a Paraguayan national could use the ATCA to sue another Paraguayan living in the United States for torturing him during that nation’s dictatorship. This opened the door to a series of cases being tried in U.S. courts for crimes committed abroad.

In 2013 in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., when Nigerians sued foreign oil companies for aiding their government in torturing and killing civilians protesting oil exploration, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the oil companies, claiming the suit did not involve U.S. companies and therefore had no place in U.S. courts. But there is nothing in that decision closing the door to suits against American companies operating overseas, although legally it remains unclear whether this would also enable suing companies within supply chains. There are significant possibilities here for using this law to shape a global regulatory regime for companies who want to sell their goods in the United States.

Even though Trump and congressional Republicans are unlikely to support a new law such as the one above, interpret the ATCA generously, or appoint justices who will side with workers over oil companies, we must encourage leading politicians on fair trade, like Senator Sherrod Brown, to repeatedly introduce such initiatives, build support for them among Democrats, and dare Republicans to vote them down. Such an exercise would mark clear distinctions between the positions of Democrats and Republicans on trade and the economy. The Trump era will end, and when it does, our organizations and movements must be prepared with a clear vision and proposals for how corporations will be held accountable and workers will be protected, not just in the United States, but abroad too.

Organized labor in this country has often struggled to build international solidarity. Foreign or immigrant workers have frequently served as targets of hate for many American workers for the last two centuries. In 2016, this contributed to the high number of union members who voted for Donald Trump. (Exit polls showed only 51 percent of union households voted for Hillary Clinton, the lowest number for a Democrat since Walter Mondale in 1984.) Looking ahead, the American labor movement will need to see the world’s workers as allies and reject the divisive rhetoric that puts the workers of different nations at loggerheads. Breaking out of the constraints of national frameworks and matching corporations by forming an international movement for a more equitable global economy is an essential part of challenging this nativism. Encouraging foreign workers to seek redress in American courts can be a central part of that strategy.

Better trade deals

The Corporate Accountability Act would not make trade deals impossible. It would simply ensure that U.S. companies made their products in ethical conditions. The U.S. government can in fact do much more to promote fair trade. In 1997, when the House of Representatives initially rejected Bill Clinton’s request for renewed fast-track authority to negotiate new trade deals, the president had to show he took labor’s concerns seriously. So Clinton agreed to a proposal developed by American unions to provide the Cambodian government with incentives to improve conditions for garment workers. The final compromise between the Clinton administration and American labor allowed Cambodian workers to unionize in return for an increased export quota under the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA), the 1974 international agreement regulating garment export quotas from nations around the world. They received $ 50 per month for a forty-eight-hour week, a significant increase in a nation with a per capita annual income at the time of $ 350 a year. Workers also received a dozen federal holidays, vacation days, sick leave, and maternity leave. This became the only free-trade agreement with an enforceable labor provision for foreign workers enacted to date.

For a time, the plan worked reasonably well. Overseen by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Cambodian clothing exports and union density grew together. Apparel makers signed union contracts with workers. It was not a perfect system. Factory owners tried to avoid the regulations and coached workers on what to say to ILO inspectors. But it led to significant improvements and showed how government could improve workers’ lives.

The U.S.-Cambodian trade pact ended with the MFA’s demise in 2005. Cambodia now had to compete with the rest of the world without inspections or union contracts. Within weeks of the quota ending in 2005, underground sweatshops emerged with terrible working conditions. Cambodian labor saw its union pacts quickly scuttled and its wages plummet to some of the lowest in the industry. (Wages fell by 17 percent for Cambodian garment workers between 2001 and 2011.) This story starkly demonstrates the differences between a global labor system with and without regulation. But the lesson we should learn is not that such agreements are doomed to failure. Rather, the Cambodian story shows just how much the U.S. government can do to improve labor conditions if we demand it.

It is highly unlikely that a Trump administration—or Trump voters, for that matter—will care about Cambodian workers. But the left can articulate and fight for an alternative vision of trade that builds connections between American workers—including those at soon-to-be shuttered plants like Indiana’s Carrier factory, who voted for Trump because of anger over their jobs moving to Mexico—and workers toiling for American companies overseas. It is up to us to create—and sustain—the pressure that makes politicians on both the political left and right take notice.

Organized labor can play a central role here. As part of its strike against Verizon earlier this year, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) sent investigators to the company’s call centers in the Philippines. They discovered Verizon exploiting scared workers who were forced to work overtime without pay. Verizon responded by sending armed security forces after the CWA investigators. This sort of action by the CWA, however, counters corporate claims about outsourcing American jobs, calls attention to global labor exploitation, and shows a path forward for how the American left can intervene in discussions about trade policy. Such actions are far more valuable to both American and Filipino workers. And building such international solidarity will be central to our broader fight against Trumpism.

Reclaim the ISDS

Much of the left’s opposition to the TPP was directed at provisions that would expand the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) courts, an extra-national legal system that allows companies to sue national governments for lost profits. The courts are only open to lawsuits from corporations, who often sue foreign governments when they pass new laws or enforce existing measures to protect workers or the environment. In 2010, Philip Morris sued Uruguay for passing anti-smoking legislation the company claimed was detrimental to its bottom line, a case brought to intimidate other nations into not crossing the tobacco company. It took six years of litigation before the suit was finally rejected. In El Salvador, after a local court found a mining company liable for poisoning a village with lead, the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes tribunal ruled that the nation’s claim was without merit. In short, ISDS courts have so far been used to the advantage of corporations and the economic elite and simply served as a means to hold nations hostage to corporate interests.

A wide range of critics want to see ISDS courts eliminated. Even Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has stated that they “effectively annul the authoritative acts of [the U.S.] legislature, executive, and judiciary”—in other words, that they could override U.S. law. This may be a site of future cooperation between the left and at least some Republicans to ensure that undemocratic courts do not overturn U.S. law. But regulating international business and trade requires international courts. Rather than calling for the end of these courts, we should call to open them up to citizens to sue companies for violating their rights. This would also help solve one of the major problems with international labor treaties to date, which is the inability to enforce them because of opposition from rich nations with heavy corporate investment in cheap labor in the global South. Efforts to develop a legally binding international treaty to regulate the human rights impact of transnational corporations are currently underway at the UN Human Rights Council.

If the ISDS and related international courts governing trade agreements within agencies like the World Bank were opened up, citizens, unions, and environmental groups could use them to hold Western corporations accountable for the conditions in which their products are made, all along their supply chains. Much as when companies sue states for lost profits, workers and citizens could sue companies for stolen wages, unchecked pollution, and violence against union organizers. Much like the Alien Tort Claims Act or the Cambodian trade deal, but on an international scale, the U.S. could negotiate a democratic ISDS into its trade deals. When corporations violate the laws of the nations in which they operate or international labor and environmental standards, we could use the courts to ensure legal accountability and financial damages.

If unions overseas do not have the power to ask their governments to enforce workplace safety standards, their allies in the United States should be able to do it for them. For example, when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing 1,138 apparel workers, Walmart denied any of its clothing was made in the factory. It was later proven that in fact, Rana Plaza did produce clothing for Walmart. The company refused to agree to any enforceable safety reforms after the disaster. While Bangladeshi workers lack recourse to get compensation from Walmart, their allies around the world should have the right to bring suits against Walmart and prosecute them for violations of basic labor safety standards in their supply chains. Using the same mechanisms that currently aid corporations in undermining national law, the courts could instead assist workers in holding those same companies accountable.

Enforcing international labor regulations would not only assist Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan workers but also American workers by undermining the global race to the bottom. And it could help build alliances with policymakers running for office on the agenda of keeping American jobs at home, both Democrats and even some Republicans. It would tap into some Trump voters’ concerns for their economic security and draw people away from a politics of hate and fear and toward a politics of solidarity and security for workers at home and overseas.

Building a better future for global workers

Creating a legal system that empowers global workers producing for the U.S. market is not enough to bring industrial jobs back to the United States. More is needed to create good jobs for Americans—something along the lines of a Green New Deal with major infrastructure investment for a sustainable future, or the revival of something like the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act that, before it was eviscerated by the Carter administration, would have made guaranteeing all Americans a job a national priority. But a vigorous international labor rights agenda would at the very least take away the worst motivations for capital flight. It would ensure that no matter where they produce their goods, employers would be subject to the same general standards. That would give U.S. companies incentive to keep jobs in the United States. And if they chose to move their operations abroad, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, or Guatemalan workers would then have the means to hold U.S. corporations to account.

I have no illusions about what it would take to get such a program passed. The present system of globalization has been a bipartisan project, with President Bill Clinton working with Republicans to pass NAFTA and President Obama making the TPP a top priority. Yet that seems to be changing, as the bipartisan opposition to the TPP in the 2016 election showed. I have no trust in Donald Trump, his court appointments, or congressional Republicans (and many Democrats) to create and enforce a more egalitarian labor regime. But if organized labor proves itself a central part of the American left, making common cause with other organizations and movements over the Trump administration’s outrages to come, as well as rejecting divisive projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline (currently supported by the AFL-CIO), it can create a movement that shapes a more equitable trade policy in the future. Now is the time to take advantage of the new bipartisan consensus that rejects neoliberal trade. Doing so requires an aggressive agenda to reduce the suffering of workers under a system of global capitalism increasingly unhinged from national frameworks of accountability. The working-class voters who cast a ballot for Trump did so in part because they recognized that neoliberalism did not work for them. The American left must respond, not by capitulating to their worst fears—embracing racism and blaming workers in Mexico and China—but by challenging the corporate agenda that created the conditions for Trumpism to take hold in the first place.

A Left Vision for Trade

We need an alternative to Trump's nationalism. It isn't the status quo

A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost. Project Fear in the UK, the troika in continental Europe and the unholy alliance of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the surveillance apparatus in the United States are its manifestations.

The era of neoliberalism ended in the autumn of 2008 with the bonfire of financialisation’s illusions. The fetishisation of unfettered markets that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan brought to the fore in the late 1970s had been the necessary ideological cover for the unleashing of financiers to enable the capital flows essential to a new phase of globalisation in which the United States deficits provided the aggregate demand for the world’s factories (whose profits flowed back to Wall Street closing the loop nicely).

Meanwhile, billions of people in the “third” world were pulled out of poverty while hundreds of millions of western workers were slowly sidelined, pushed into more precarious jobs, and forced to financialise themselves either through their pension funds or their homes. And when the bottom fell out of this increasingly unstable feedback loop, neoliberalism’s illusions burned down and the west’s working class ended up too expensive and too indebted to be of interest to a panicking global establishment.

Thatcher’s and Reagan’s neoliberalism had sought to persuade that privatisation of everything would produce a fair and efficient society unimpeded by vested interests or bureaucratic fiat. That narrative, of course, hid from public view what was really happening: a tremendous buildup of super-state bureaucracies, unaccountable supra-state institutions (World Trade Organisation, Nafta, the European Central Bank), behemoth corporations, and a global financial sector heading for the rocks.

After the events of 2008 something remarkable happened. For the first time in modern times the establishment no longer cared to persuade the masses that its way was socially optimal. Overwhelmed by the collapsing financial pyramids, the inexorable buildup of unsustainable debt, a eurozone in an advanced state of disintegration and a China increasingly relying on an impossible credit boom, the establishment’s functionaries set aside the aspiration to persuade or to represent. Instead, they concentrated on clamping down.

In the UK, more than a million benefit applicants faced punitive sanctions. In the Eurozone, the troika ruthlessly sought to reduce the pensions of the poorest of the poor. In the United States, both parties promised drastic cuts to social security spending. During our deflationary times none of these policies helped stabilise capitalism at a national or at a global level. So, why were they pursued?

Their purpose was to impose acquiescence to a clueless establishment that had lost its ambition to maintain its legitimacy. When the UK government forced benefit claimants to declare in writing that “my only limits are the ones I set myself”, or when the troika forced the Greek or Irish governments to write letters “requesting” predatory loans from the European Central Bank that benefited Frankfurt-based bankers at the expense of their people, the idea was to maintain power via calculated humiliation. Similarly, in America the establishment habitually blamed the victims of predatory lending and the failed health system.

It was against this insurgency of a cornered establishment that had given up on persuasion that Donald Trump and his European allies rose up with their own populist insurgency. They proved that it is possible to go against the establishment and win. Alas, theirs will be a pyrrhic victory which will, eventually, harm those whom they inspired. The answer to neoliberalism’s Waterloo cannot be the retreat to a barricaded nation-state and the pitting of “our” people against “others” fenced off by tall walls and electrified fences.

The answer can only be a Progressive Internationalism that works in practice on both sides of the Atlantic. To bring it about we need more than fine principles unblemished by power. We need to aim for power on the basis of a pragmatic narrative imparting hope throughout Europe and America for jobs paying living wages to anyone who wants them, for social housing, for health and education.

Only a third insurgency promoting a New Deal that works equally for Americans and Europeans can restore to a billion people living in the west sovereignty over their lives and communities.

We need an alternative to Trump's nationalism. It isn't the status quo

Donald Trump’s Strategy? Destroy the International Community in Order to Save It.
The new president has a wrecking ball, and “internationalism” is written all over it.

Donald Trump is a worldly fellow. He travels the globe on his private jet. He’s married to a Slovene and divorced from a Czech. He doesn’t speak any other languages, but hey, he’s an American, so monolingualism is his birthright.

His fortune depends in large part on the global economy. He has business interests in nearly two dozen countries on four continents. Many of the products anointed with the Trump brand roll off a global assembly line: Trump furniture made in Turkey and Germany, Trump eyeglasses from China, Trump shirts via Bangladesh and Honduras (among other countries). Just as wealthy Americans often slight the role the domestic infrastructure has played in the making of their fortunes, Trump routinely disregards how much this depends on the infrastructure of the global economy.

The new president’s cabinet nominees are a similarly worldly lot, being either generals or multimillionaires (or both), or simply, like their president, straight-out billionaires. Rich people jet off to exotic places for vacations or to make deals; generals are dispatched to all points of the compass to kill people. With an estimated net wealth of more than $ 13 billion, Trump’s cabinet could be its own small island nation. Make that a very aggressive island nation: The military men in his proposed cabinet—former generals Mike Flynn (national security adviser), James Mattis (defense secretary), and John Kelly (head of Homeland Security), as well as former Navy Seal Ryan Zinke (interior secretary)—have fought in nearly as many countries as Trump has done business.

As worldly as they might be, Trump’s nominees don’t look much like the world. Mostly rich white men, they look more like the American electorate… circa 1817. Still, the media have bent over backward to find as much diversity as they could in this panorama of homogeneity. They have, for instance, identified the nominees according to their different ideological milieus: Wall Street, the Pentagon, the Republican Party, the lunatic fringe.

In this taxonomy of Trumpism, the media continue to miss the obvious. The incoming administration is, in fact, united around one key mission: It’s about to declare war on the world.

Don’t be fooled by the surface cosmopolitanism of the new president and his appointees. For all their international experience, these people care about the planet the way pornographers care about sex. Their interactions are purely transactional, just the means to an end. There couldn’t be less empathy for the people out there involved in the drama. It’s all about the money and that piercing sense of conquest.

The Trump team’s approach, a globalism of the 1 percent, benefits themselves even as it reinforces American exceptionalism. Their worldview is a galaxy distant from the sort of democratic internationalism that values diplomacy, human rights, and multilateral cooperation to address planetary problems like climate change and economic inequality. Such a foreign policy of mutual engagement is, in fact, exactly what’s under immediate threat. As with Obamacare, the incoming administration wants to shred an inclusive project and substitute an exclusive one for it. In so doing, it will replace a collection of liberal internationalists with something worse: a confederacy of oligarchs.

For such an undertaking that so radically privileges the few over the many, the next administration needs a compelling rationale that goes beyond assertions that the status quo is broken, international institutions are inefficient, and the United States is the indispensable power on the planet. America isn’t facing just any old crisis like failing banks or nuclear wannabe nations. For someone like Donald Trump, the threat has to be huge, the biggest ever.

So brace yourself for a coming clash of civilizations. The new president is circling the wagons in defense of nothing less than the Western way of life. As if it were a town in South Vietnam in 1968, Trump aims to destroy the international community in order to save it.

Industrial-Strength Islamophobia

In the summer of 2010, anti-Islamic sentiment was cresting in the United States. There were protests against a proposed Islamic center in New York City, arson attacks against mosques around the United States, and a fundamentalist preacher in Florida threatening to burn the Koran. A campaign was starting up to stop Muslims from imposing sharia law in America. By the end of August, the confrontations had become so intense that Time magazine put Islamophobia on its cover. “It was the Summer of Hate,” I wrote in my book Crusade 2.0 back then, “and the target was Islam.”

The Islamophobes that summer were as misguided about Islam as the terrorists they loathed. Both sets of extremists transformed a religion practiced by 1.6 billion people, the overwhelming majority of whom despise terrorism, into an enemy of Western civilization. Just as al-Qaeda found few adherents in America, the Islamophobes, too, were at that time on the fringes of society. Pamela Geller, who led the charge against the Islamic center in New York, was an obscure blogger. The man who popularized the campaign against the imaginary imposition of sharia law, Frank Gaffney, headed up a think tank that no one except radical right radio hosts took seriously. That Florida preacher, Terry Jones, had a minuscule congregation. The Islamophobia industry was well funded, but aside from a few kooks in Congress it was not well connected in Washington policy circles. The fringe continued to advance their fabricated stories—including the supposedly secret Muslim faith of President Obama—but the mainstream media moved on (or so it seemed at the time).

As it turned out, Islamophobia did anything but disappear. In 2015, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States increased by 78 percent, reaching levels not seen since the aftermath of September 11th. As the presidential election season intensified in 2016, so did those attacks on Muslims, as tallied by The Huffington Post and analyzed in a Georgetown University-affiliated study. In the months since Trump’s victory in November, the Southern Poverty Law Center has recorded more than 100 anti-Muslim hate crimes around the country.

What makes the current moment different, however, is that the previously well-funded margins have become the well-connected mainstream. Would-be officials of the Trump administration are now proclaiming as fact what only conspiracy theorists babbled about seven years ago. The dangerous twaddle begins with Donald Trump himself who, of course, spearheaded the birtherism movement against Barack Obama until he ran for president. During the campaign, he promised to keep any new Muslim immigrants from American shores and draw up a registry of all those who’d somehow managed to get in before the gates shut. He pledged to close down mosques. In March 2016, in a remarkable example of projection, he told CNN that “Islam hates us.”

True, Trump also pledged to work with “all moderate Muslim reformers” in the Middle East. That category, however, mainly seems to include authoritarian democrats like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, coup leaders like Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, and even war criminals like Bashar al-Assad in Syria. In hindsight, Trump would have supported autocrats Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi because they so effectively eliminated potential terrorists. For the new president, “reformers” really means those willing to kill large numbers of people who conveniently happen to be Muslims. Why should the United States get its hands dirty? Trump, ever the businessman, appreciates the value of subcontractors.

President Trump’s choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is even more notoriously Islamophobic. He has compared “Islamism” to Nazism and communism, calling it a “vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people.” He has perpetuated the sharia law myth, cultivated so strenuously by Frank Gaffney.

In his State of the Union address of 2002, George W. Bush infamously linked Iran and Iraq, two countries that hated each other, in an “axis of evil” with a putatively Communist nation, North Korea, that had few dealings with either of them. In a book he co-authored with neocon Michael Ledeen, Flynn went several steps further, imagining radical Islamists creating a global anti-American network that linked North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

He also attacked not just “radical Islam” but Islam in general and cast aspersions on both the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran, arguing that Islam as a whole is a religion utterly incompatible with modernity.

However objectionable the foreign policies of the George W. Bush administration, its officials at least attempted to distinguish between Al Qaeda and Islam. Not Flynn, who doesn’t have to go through the confirmation process. Count on one thing, though: He won’t be an isolated nutcase in the Trump administration. His deputy, K.T. McFarland, has made similarly inflammatory statements about Islam, as have Mike Pompeo (CIA director), Steve Bannon (White House chief strategist), and Jeff Sessions (attorney general).

Not all Trump nominees are as fond of fake news as Mike Flynn. There are some shades of nuance in the otherwise over-the-top bunch that Trump has assembled. Desperate for a sign that the next administration is not a Saturday Night Live parody, Democratic legislators and liberal commentators have looked for “voices of reason” among Trump’s nominees. They’ve praised Secretary of Defense James Mattis and his somewhat more conventional Pentagon view of the world, while prospective secretary of state Rex Tillerson has attracted support for his somewhat more conventional CEO view of the world.

But even Mattis and Tillerson share a hostility toward Islam. During his confirmation hearing, for instance, Tillerson made the ludicrous claim that the Muslim Brotherhood has been “an agent for radical Islam like al-Qaeda,” proving that he’s at least as ignorant of divisions within the Islamic world as Donald Trump (who once said that he wouldn’t bother to learn the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah until it was absolutely necessary). Tillerson’s claim just happens to coincide with the latest piece of anti-Islamic legislation making its way through Congress: the fifth attempt in five years to put the Muslim Brotherhood on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. This time, with support from Trump and possibly even Mattis, who has come out against “political Islam,” it might just pass.

Political Islam, like political Christianity or political Judaism, takes some noxious positions, particularly on civil liberties, but it can also be a force for stability and an ally against terrorist organizations like the Islamic State. And whatever you might think of the Muslim Brotherhood, it simply isn’t a terrorist organization. Indeed, because of its focus on achieving its goals through participation in the political process, the Brotherhood has earned the hatred of the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and virtually every other Islamic terrorist outfit around. It bodes ill for the Muslim world—and the world at large—when top administration officials can’t make these elemental distinctions.

Islam is, of course, an easy target in a country that has been fed a nonstop diet of misinformation on the subject, but hardly the only target. The Trump administration has far larger ambitions.

Unraveling the Institutions

At the end of December, the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israel for its policy of building settlements in territory slated for a Palestinian state. Instead of wielding its veto power, for the first time the United States abstained on such a vote, allowing the resolution to pass 14 to 0. Donald Trump almost immediately tweeted: “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

In fact, it’s hard to imagine an institution less devoted to having a good time. The soul of sobriety, the Security Council might be thought of as the exact opposite of a Trump casino. For all its flaws and contradictions, the UN sustains the flame of democratic internationalism and a belief that rules and regulations might be able to contain the chaos of conflict and help solve the world’s most pressing problems. That, not its supposedly wasted potential, is what has really earned it the wrath of Trump.

The president-elect’s first salvo in his attack on that institution was his nomination of Nikki Haley as the US ambassador to it. The South Carolina governor has zero experience in foreign affairs. Choosing her was as much a gesture of contempt as picking Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy, an agency he once expressed a desire to disband. For a UN-averse administration, that ambassadorship is the equivalent of Siberian exile.

If former UN Ambassador John Bolton becomes number two at the State Department—he’s still in the running despite some Republican opposition—he’ll immediately put that institution in his crosshairs. Bolton has never concealed his enmity toward the UN, declaring at one point that its New York headquarters would be no worse off with 10 fewer floors. Bolton was furious over the recent Security Council vote on settlements, urging the Trump administration to immediately push for its repeal. “If that fails, and that’s the most likely outcome,” he said, “we should cut our contributions to the United Nations perhaps in toto until this resolution is repealed.”

Indeed, the easiest way for the Trump administration to undermine the UN would simply be to unleash the anti-internationalist attack dogs in Congress who have long been eager to cut its financing. Now that they’re fully in charge, expect the Republican leadership to target funding for refugees (the United States is the leading contributor to the UN Refugee Agency), the UN Population Fund (which the anti-abortion crowd has been itching to challenge), the UN Green Climate Fund (a concrete way to undercut the Paris accord on climate change), and peacekeeping (a frequent target of right-wing think tanks). Even Rex Tillerson, lauded by the UN Foundation for his philanthropic efforts to fight malaria as ExxonMobil’s CEO, would find it hard to beat back the anti-UN sentiments of the congressional budget hawks.

Keep in mind that the UN represents a potential source of organized resistance to the Trump administration, a way that the “rest” can mobilize against the “West.” But it’s increasingly clear that the “West” itself is going to pose some challenges for the incoming administration. Trump, for instance, intensely dislikes the European Union (EU). He openly supported the British vote to leave it and invited Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage to his inauguration. The transition team has been on the lookout for the next exit votes to support. “I do think keeping [the EU] together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump said ominously in a recent interview with the Times of London. Like the UN, the EU has come to represent the values of inclusive internationalism, whether it’s Germany’s willingness to accommodate Syrian refugees or the diplomatic efforts of Brussels to resolve conflicts in Eurasia and the Middle East.

In its eagerness to unravel internationalism, the Trump administration won’t simply take aim at institutions like the UN and the EU. It will also target for demolition the diplomatic accomplishments of the Obama administration, including the Iran nuclear deal and détente with Cuba. It will seek to undermine liberal values of every sort, ranging from support for human rights and multiculturalism to an abhorrence of torture. A wrecking ball with Trump’s name on it is poised to demolish the house of internationalism that Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Bunche, Jody Williams, Jimmy Carter, and so many others labored so hard to build.

As with any real estate developer, however, Trump isn’t interested in simply tearing down the old. He wants to build something big and gaudy in its place.

The New Globalists

The first front in the Trump administration’s war to take back the world will, of course, be against Islam, which is expected to surpass Christianity as the world’s largest faith in the second half of the 21st century. From the Crusades to the wars against the Ottoman Empire, the very concept of “Western” developed in opposition to Islam. So it makes a certain perverse sense for Trump to tap into this longstanding tradition in establishing his supposed defense of Western (read: American) civilization.

Trump’s White House special adviser Steve Bannon, the white supremacist who made Breitbart News such a popular mouthpiece for the far right, clearly feels at home with this clash-of-civilizations framework. “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism,” he has written, a movement that wants to “completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.” Bannon can count on others in the administration just as eager to wage such an epic battle, including Deputy National Security Adviser in-waiting K.T. McFarland, who believes that “Global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western civilization.”

But Bannon and his Trumpian ilk aren’t just focused on Islam. Think of the war against that religion as just a wedge issue for them. After binge-watching nine films that the alt-right guru has directed over the years, journalist Adam Wren summed up Bannon’s message in Politico this way: “Western Civilization as we know it is under attack by forces that are demonic or foreign—the difference between those is blurry—and people in far-distant power centers are looking to screw you.”

Bannon dislikes Islam, but it’s the “globalists” who, as he sees it, represent the chief threat. “I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” he says. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—d over.” According to their critics, the globalists are a liberal elite that has benefited from free trade, pushed for multiculturalism, and joined hands with their counterparts around the world in conclaves like Davos and at institutions like the UN. They despise national traditions and disparage religious (Christian) values. Politically correct, they care only about minorities, not the majority. They want to tear down borders in order to line their own pockets. The cabal responsible for the “American carnage” joins a long list of conspiratorial groups that have supposedly poisoned the body politic. It’s just a matter of time before The Protocols of the Elders of Globalism spreads virally through the fake news Webosphere.

But don’t Rex Tillerson, CEO of a major energy company, or the multiple minions of Goldman Sachs who will join the administration fall right into this category of globalists? Surely these Trump nominees are enamored of free trade, the structural adjustments of the International Monetary Fund, and other institutions of economic globalization. That’s where Bannon comes in. He’s the right-wing equivalent of Friedrich Engels, the industrialist who supported Karl Marx in birthing Communism. Every new ruling elite needs a certain number of turncoats ready to bite the hand of the ancien régime that fed them. Having worked at Goldman Sachs before putting in time in Hollywood and at Breitbart, Bannon aspires to transform the titans of industry and finance into America-first nationalists.

It’s one thing to criticize liberal internationalism for its concentrations of wealth, political privilege, and cultural snobbery. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to find fault with a global economy that functions like a casino. But Trump, Bannon, and others are not interested in democratizing globalism. They want to create an internationalism of their own. Think of it as a new globalism of the 1 percent that is Christian, deeply conservative, and subordinate to nationalist demands. Despite its appeals to the silent majority, this globalism 2.0 will benefit an even narrower slice of the elite. Moreover, Trump and Bannon have already lined up international backers for it, figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin, French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Putin is the linchpin of this de facto Nationalist International. In 2013, the Russian leader outlined an agenda that anticipated the Trump campaign in nearly all its particulars.

“We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan. The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia.”

In Russia, the appeal to these old-fashioned values has concealed an old-fashioned looting of the economy, along with a beefing up of the military. That Trump has nominated so many titans of the corporate sector and the military-industrial complex suggests that his administration will closely follow the Russian blueprint, much as Viktor Orban has already done in Hungary.

As Donald Trump settles into the Oval Office this week, say goodbye to the one-worlders of the Obama-Clinton years and say hello to a new era of the one-percenters. America’s oligarchs will profit handsomely from the administration’s infrastructure program, its reconfigured trade deals, and its accelerated emphasis on resource extraction.

For the rest of us, much pain will accompany the birth of this new nationalist world order, this confederacy of oligarchs. The world urgently needs a new generation of democratic internationalists—or there won’t be much of a world left when Trump and his cronies get through with it.

Donald Trump’s Strategy? Destroy the International Community in Order to Save It.



Source: ONTD_Political

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