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To preserve that order they sent some 50,000 Americans to die in Korea in what they called a “police action”. But there was never any such order. JFK, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon rotated some 12 million Americans in and out of Vietnam in a foredoomed attempt to define the limits of that supposed order vis-à-vis the Soviet Union by “limited war”: 58,000 never came home. As the USSR was dying of disaffection, Bush I transfused US cash to that monster to try saving the order of which he thought it an indispensable part, and told Ukrainians to be good Soviet citizens. In the name of that “world order”, he also ordered a half million US troops to undo Saddam Hussein’s absorption of Kuwait. But by doing Saddam a little harm, he helped make him the Middle East’s paladin of anti-Americanism. The troops Bush then stationed on Saudi soil ended up energising Muslim jihad against America. Bush II told Americans that they could not be free unless the whole world was made free, and ordered the US armed forces to do in Iraq the same things they had done in Vietnam: hunt down groups and individuals while infusing the country with economic and social reform. Obama defined the threat as “violent extremism” but acted indistinguishably. That term moved further into abstraction.

In sum, by 2016 the American people looked upon the US foreign policy establishment as having brought insecurity, wars without end instead of peace, and national humiliations. People who live in the workaday world cannot imagine what it would take, who are the enemies who would have to be killed, in order to establish democracy, end war, to enforce any kind of world order, to abolish “ancient evils, ancient ills”, to temper dar al-Islam’s war on dar al-Harb, or war between any of the world’s historic enemies, to make all peoples free, much less to end any kind of “extremism”.

Under Obama, the establishment was prouder than ever of itself. According to his chief adviser on national security, Obama “was advocating an inclusive global view rooted in common humanity and international order”. For example, he had “normalised” relations with Cuba, removed sanctions on Iran, delivered some $150 billion to it, and was using executive authority to make unwilling Americans take part in a supposed worldwide campaign against “climate change”. And he was doing this despite a “roiling ocean of growing nationalism and authoritarianism” — i.e. an increasingly recalcitrant public. In fact, American people were looking for a ways of saying No to all that.

Enter Trump.

Throughout the campaign, during the transition, and his presidency’s earliest days, Trump took the American people’s side against latter-day US foreign policy.

Like ordinary Americans, Trump declared himself sick of wars and sick of losing them. He would bring peace to America through victories. There would be so many that  “you’ll get tired of winning”. America’s elites had let America be taken advantage of. Its enemies had got off easy. No more. Radical Islamists are responsible for terrorism. We will exclude them from our country. We will disentangle America from the Middle East. When we fight them abroad, we will do so not as part of any occupation or nation-building, but to kill them. No more permanent war. Hence, withdraw from Afghanistan. As for Syria, just destroy IS. When American troops go abroad, they will come home shortly thereafter. Israel is our main ally in the Middle East. Its enemies are our enemies. We will be true to it as no one else has been. Obama’s “Iran deal”, never submitted to the Senate, is not the law of the land, but an abomination. We will withdraw from it. That is the path to peace.
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An Gíogóir
August 29th, 2018
9:08 AM
I'm not sure what this article is trying to say. Should Trump go with the foreign policy establishment view or not?

Lawrence James
July 2nd, 2018
9:07 AM
Americans have always desired 'to live peacefully' with their neighbours. If this urge ever existed, why did it express itself in the invasion of Mexico and the subsequent annexations. Was the war against Spain in 1898 another manifestation of this same wish for harmony with its neighbours ? And there were the wars against the native Americans and, more pertinently, the little wars waged by General Smedley Butler in various parts of the Caribbean between the wars. Aggression which he rightly denounced as undertaken in the interests of the big corporations.The Cold War and its aftermath have seen a cluster of similar coercive wars. Such selective omissions suggest that this just another Trump propaganda excercise. Fair enough but next time find someone with some knowledge of history.

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