An unholy union of the National Security State and the neocon-backed and corporate-funded Democratic Party are about to assume power: with media-supported internet censorship a key weapon.
The Trump era has engendered numerous fractures, one might say realignments, in the political order. Long-time ideological allies are now adversaries, and long-time political enemies are now in full-fledged coalitions. These shifts are not temporary or Trump-dependent but enduring, because they are grounded in shared core beliefs about the defining debates shaping our new politics and how to consolidate real power: call it the Lincoln Project Syndrome. WASHINGTON, DC - Former Obama CIA Director John Brennan (R) with The Atlantics Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg during the Washington Ideas Forum at the Harman Center for the Arts (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
One major reason for this transformation is a fundamental difference in how to understand Trump: is he the primary author of Americas pathologies or merely a symptom of pathologies which long pre-dated him? Relatedly: is removing Trump from power a vital step in returning the U.S. to its previous status as a benevolent and law-abiding republic, or is isolating him as the principal cause of the nations woes a cynical propaganda tactic for whitewashing the sins of those who are actually responsible so that they can rebuild their reputations and again assume power? Were Trumps policies some radical, unprecedented aberration from U.S. political tradition or, stylistic quirks aside, a standard continuation of it?
How one answers those questions along with whether one believed that the Kremlin had infiltrated the White House and assumed command of the levers of U.S. power through elaborate blackmail schemes or whether one recognized that this was a CIA-fabricated propaganda fraud excavated from crusty Cold War scripts determined where one fell on many of the most contentious political debates over the last four years (my answer to all of the questions is the latter choice).
Thats why the millions of Americans who, due to fear of Trump, began paying close attention to politics and consuming news products only in 2016 were such easy marks for peddling fear-mongering narratives and revisionism: because they lacked the crucial historical context in which to place Trump and understand his ascension to the presidency. Cover of TIME Magazine, May 18, 2017; Cover of The New Yorker, Feb. 24, 2017
But there is another critical debate, one that has rarely been conducted explicitly, that is also a key determinant of where one falls in this new alignment: what are the real power centers in the U.S., the ones most responsible for its worst acts and greatest dangers?
There are many places where that answer resides. One can find it right now in the ongoing effort to denounce the Trump White House for attempting to remove troops from Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been fighting and shooting and bombing in a war now about to enter its 20th year. Take a look at who is demanding that those troops remain, and there you will find the real axis of power all of its component parts in the United States.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has been condemned after unveiling its plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. In July, pro-war Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, led by their Lockheed-and-Raytheon-funded Chairman Adam Smith, partnered with Congresswoman Liz Cheney and her pro-war GOP allies to block the use of funds for removing troops (not only from Afghanistan but also Germany), as part of a massive increase in military spending. The oppositional left-right coalition of anti-war Democrats such as Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard and America-First Trump supporters such as Matt Gaetz were no match for the bipartisan pro-war coalition which attempted to block any end to the war.
A crucial weapon which Smith, Cheney and the other anti-withdrawal Committee members wielded was a widely-hyped New York Times scoop published days before the Committee vote, which in its first paragraph announced:
American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan including targeting American troops amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Repeatedly citing this New York Times story, based on the claims of anonymous intelligence officials, the bipartisan pro-war wing of the Committee insisted that to leave Afghanistan now would be particularly inappropriate and dangerous in light of this dastardly Russian interference. (Top military officials and the commander in Afghanistan later admitted the bounty program had not been corroborated by intelligence agencies and that they do not believe any attacks in Afghanistan that resulted in American casualties can be directly tied to it, but by then, the job was done).
And thus did this union of pro-war Democrats, Cheney-led neocons, the intelligence community and their chosen mainstream media outlets succeed in providing the perfectly crafted tool at the most opportune moment to justify blocking an end to Americas longest war. That is precisely the same coalition that drowned U.S. politics for more than three years in the sustained, monomaniacal disinformation campaign about Putins takeover of the U.S.
As Trump again signals that he intends in the lame-duck session to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, this same united coalition is working desperately to block it. First, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois angrily condemned the withdrawal plan with deranged reasoning: that Generals are against withdrawal (as though we have no civilian control of the military); troops will come home in body bags not by staying in Afghanistan but by leaving it; and that withdrawing U.S. forces after a mere nineteen years of fighting will endanger our national security.
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