He campaigned on promises to ‘drain the swamp’ and radically alter the United States’ course in the world, but not even a week has passed and President Donald Trump has already made it clear that he’ll be following a very familiar agenda.
WASHINGTON — On the campaign trail, Donald Trump successfully wooed many Americans desperate for an end to Obama’s brand of neoliberalism. However, his nationalist “maverick” persona has quickly unraveled as his allegiance to the country’s real decision makers has become more evident with each passing day of his young presidency.
Within his first week, Trump has announced plans to build a missile defense system to guard against attacks from Iran and North Korea and entered into the early stages of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to East Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. He’s made clear departures from his promises of anti-interventionism and neutrality in the Israel/Palestine conflict, among other things.
Despite some positive moves, like calling for peace with Russia and removing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deeper look at Trump’s policies reveals a continuation of policies that suit the political elite.
While Trump’s about-face on some issues may come as a disappointment to his supporters, it is not altogether surprising given that the vast majority of past U.S. presidents have conformed to the same general strategy of ensuring the continuity of American imperialism regardless of political party affiliation or campaign trail promises. The most recent example of such a drastic turnaround was Barack Obama’s rejection of his own campaign rhetoric: His promises to bring change and reform to Washington ultimately fell flat as he expanded the drone war, brought catastrophe to the Middle East, and launched a chilling crackdown on whistleblowers and journalists.
This uniform, over-arching agenda is and has been set by the same handful of powerful American oligarchs who rose to unprecedented prominence on the heels of industrialization. Many of these titans of industry and their descendents went on to establish influential foundations and organizations that continue to guide U.S. political consensus. Their hold over not just U.S. politics, but global politics, grew following the formation of oligarch-owned central banks and private international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
While these institutions claim to work for the benefit of all humanity, their actions are directed by a handful of “economic and political heavyweights” who use loans, debt, and other financial tools to force the hands of governments throughout the world. As the chief vehicle for manifesting this imperialist agenda, the United States is no exception. Indeed, private banking interests have had a stranglehold on the American economy since the formation of the Federal Reserve in the early 20th century.
It should come as no surprise that Trump has surrounded himself with Bush-era neoconservatives, including several architects of the Iraq War and signatories of the highly imperialist and pro-war Project for a New American Century. These individuals, John Bolton, Bill Bennett, and James Woolsey among them, consistently proved their dedication to the advancement of U.S. corporate and “deep state” interests during the Bush years. Far from “draining the swamp,” Trump’s actually filling it with an administration that promises to allow the nation’s wealthiest inhabitants to continue to dominate political decision-making.
Allegiance to Washington insiders and elite
But for those who have been paying attention, Trump’s allegiance to Washington insiders and the elite has been evident for some time.
Trump’s shift from populist to globalist was heralded by his numerous meetings with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a war criminal responsible for illegal bombings in Cambodia, a bloody coup in Chile, and the expansion of the Vietnam War. It was Kissinger, in fact, who set the precedent for U.S. foreign policy founded on perpetual war.
In a November interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Kissinger defended Trump. He urged that “one should not insist on nailing [Trump] into positions he had taken in the campaign” as Trump is undergoing “the transition from being a campaigner to being a national strategist.”
Also indicative of Trump’s true allegiances are the shifting attitudes of pro-Clinton oligarchs and power brokers who are now glowing about the dawning of the Trump era.
Larry Summers, secretary of the Treasury under Clinton and loyal servant to international banking interests, told Bloomberg News on Jan. 20 that he has been “very troubled by the attitude of business people from the U.S.”
“People who were terribly afraid of what [a Trump presidency] would mean for America’s place in the world are now hailing those who surround Donald Trump as great geniuses,” Summers said.
It seems much of that fear was assuaged by Trump’s numerous “flip-flops” on key issues following his election in November.
While many Trump supporters continue to insist that the president has maintained his independence, as evidenced by his attempts to restore diplomatic relations with Russia, for example, much of his action so far ultimately serves the agenda of the American ruling class. This agenda, which aims to ensure the continuation of American hegemony and military superiority, is too important to the global elite to let any one man — president or otherwise — stand in its way.
Trump: President of the Zionist States of America
Former Vice President Joe Biden once said, “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. The embrace of Zionism, a belief in the establishment of a Jewish-majority nation in the Biblical “Holy Land,” is a common bond not just among U.S. presidents, but among the nation’s entire political establishment, transcending party affiliation. This explains why U.S. politicians often ignore Israel’s egregious war crimes, illegal activities, and apartheid regime despite the United States’ purported interest in spreading “democracy” and protecting human rights.
The practically unbridled power of the Zionist Israel lobby has ensured the prominence of Zionism in the U.S. political landscape, thanks to its potent influence and near-limitless financial support from many American oligarchs, many of whom are themselves Zionists. The organizations that comprise this lobby, the most well-known of which are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and the JStreet PAC, contribute millions of dollars to politicians annually. JStreet alone contributed $3.4 million to U.S. politicians between 2015 and 2016. Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate, avowed Zionist, and political mega-donor, contributed more than $92.8 million to conservative politicians during the 2012 election cycle and, together with his wife Miriam, $77.7 million in the 2016 cycle.
Largely for that reason, U.S. presidents have nearly always prioritized Israel’s concerns, which partly explains why Israel continues to receive unparalleled amounts of U.S. military aid — subsidized by U.S. taxpayers — that funds much of its domestic activities and regional war machine.
To the outside observer, Trump’s campaign promises to “Make America Great Again” and “Put America First” seem in clear conflict with the established U.S.-Israel relationship. Indeed, on the campaign trail, Trump shied away from this position, promising to be the “neutral guy” regarding Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine. A handful of disagreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the condemnation he received from American Jewish groups over his ties to Steve Bannon, created the perception among many American voters that this would be the case.
However, Trump’s transition from campaign trail persona to commander-in-chief has indeed shown him to be a staunch supporter of Zionist causes. The shift from promised neutrality to Israel’s “true friend in the White House” has been marked most notably by Trump’s announcement of his plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an extreme stance that Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway insisted was “a big priority” for Trump.
In addition, Trump’s support for Israel’s encroachment of Palestinian lands could bring about the end of the feasibility of the “two-state” solution as right-wing Israeli politicians, particularly those of the Jewish Home party, are already seeking to annex more illegal settlements thanks to Trump’s position on the internationally contentious issues.
Even more troublesome than Trump’s support for Israel’s crimes would be his support for Israel’s long-standing geopolitical goals in the region. If Trump follows the agenda set out for him, it could plunge the world into chaos.
Robbie Martin, a journalist and director of “A Very Heavy Agenda,” a documentary series which explores how neoconservatives tied to the banking and military industries influence the media establishment and political landscape, told MintPress News that “Trump’s recent embrace of Zionism is opportunistic.”
“It speaks to the strong influence of neoconservatives in the Trump administration,” Martin continued.
These same neoconservatives, following the lead of the oligarchs who exert undue influence on U.S. and Israeli affairs, have already pushed Trump and key members of his Cabinet to embrace what Netanyahu has designated the “supreme goal” of the state of Israel: the containment of Iran.
‘Inevitable’ war with Iran & North Korea
Trump, who on the campaign trail painted himself as an anti-interventionist, has recently emerged as strongly hostile toward Iran, continuing the decades-long U.S. policy of isolating the Islamic Republic. Just minutes after his inauguration, the Trump administration announced that it would be developing a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect Americans from Iran and North Korea.
Leaders of the Gulf monarchies are also “optimistic” that Trump will confront Iran, with some even going as far as to hail Trump as “another Ronald Reagan.” During his first weekend as president, Netanyahu spoke with Trump, focusing mainly on Iran — likely to gauge Trump’s commitment to Israel’s “supreme goal” of stopping the Iranian “threat” despite Israel having an untold number of nuclear warheads at its disposal.
For much of the past few decades, U.S. antagonism against Iran has been a driving force in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution which ousted the U.S.-installed dictator the Shah of Iran, Iranian politics has been bolstered by the belief that third-world dependence on the West was an intrinsic result of neocolonialism and monopoly capitalism, with the only remedy being “working class internationalism.”
In the process, Iran staunchly spoke out against the new colonialist project in the Middle East: the creation of Israel, its military occupation of historic Palestine, and Western meddling in Iranian politics and industry.
Despite these historical tensions, U.S. and Israeli politicians alike have often expressed their disdain for Iran as born out of concern for the threat of nuclear disaster that presents to Israel, despite the fact that the CIA and Israel’s Mossad have stated that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program nor has it ever been interested in one.
Though it often goes overlooked, one of the main reasons behind the hostility toward Iran is the independence of Iran’s central bank. Iran is one of the few nations that are not totally beholden to the global oligarchical interests tied to the global banking establishment which constitutes the U.S. empire.
Even more telling is Trump’s stated belief that “we’ll end up going to war with Iran.” In a 2013 interview with Fox Business, Trump said the inevitability of an armed conflict was due to the weak negotiation skills of the Obama administration — the administration which would go on to seal the controversial Iran nuclear deal in 2015.
Although Trump’s presidency remains in its infancy, his posturing thus far reveals the significant oligarchical influence on his developing stance on Iran, a nation that doesn’t have nuclear weapons and has never threatened to attack the United States or Israel.
The illusion of Trump’s independence
Diplomatic relations with Russia plunged to new lows under Obama, and Trump’s work to mend those ties drew supporters across the nation who were weary of Obama’s wars.
From his nomination of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state to his stated goal of working together with Russia in Syria to eviscerate Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL in the West), all indications seem to suggest that Trump is genuine in his desire to resolve the tensions that nearly escalated into an armed conflict between the two military powers.
Yet, upon further examination, this too falls in line with the predominating geopolitical strategy of American oligarchs. As journalist Pepe Escobar pointed out in a Jan. 19 piece for The Saker, the ultimate goal of this maneuvering is to “seduce Russia away from its strategic partnership with China, while keep harassing the weakest link, Iran.”
Daniel McAdams, director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and foreign policy expert on U.S. empire, echoed Escobar’s analysis in an interview with MintPress, saying that “Trump’s tilt towards Russia is a classic ‘grand strategy’ type of move to attempt to peel Russia away from China” — a textbook case of the divide and conquer strategy.
Indeed, the intelligence community, Congress, and the mainstream media continue to play “bad cop” on the Russians, vilifying Moscow at every turn in order to manipulate them into cooperating with Trump, who plays the role of the “good cop.” Of course, the added bonus of this is that Trump gets to look like a great negotiator, diplomat, and an anti-interventionist of sorts while still allowing him to advance neoconservative goals of containing the threat to American hegemony presented by a China-Russia-Iran alliance.
However, as McAdams noted, it remains to be seen if Russia will ultimately fall for the ruse. That, he said, “depends on how the Russians can balance their desire for improved U.S. relations with a sober look at their long-term regional interests and the veracity of U.S. promises.”
Other commonly cited evidence of Trump’s “independence” from globalist plans has been his efforts to bring U.S. jobs back from overseas. Recently, Ford Motor Co. canceled a planned $1.6 billion factory in Mexico, choosing instead to expand an existing plant in Michigan in what was widely viewed as a capitulation to Trump. In addition, Trump’s removal of the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his promise to re-negotiate NAFTA have often been taken as proof that he is indeed putting America first.
However, an anonymous but high-ranking source told Escobar that U.S. oligarchs need jobs to return to the United States from Mexico and Asia chiefly because the shift of labor overseas is a major reason why the United States has “lost control of the seas and cannot secure its military components during a major war.” Essentially, the same financial elite who grew wealthy as a result of the initial labor transfer also stand to gain financially from shifting jobs back to the United States as part of a strategic decision to mitigate the strength of China and its regional allies.
Serving the establishment, not the people
Many Trump supporters fell for the same promises of “Hope” and “Change” that got Obama elected in 2008. While Trump has a unique persona that sets him apart from prior presidents, his actions so far indicate that he is willfully following a path laid out for him by the nation’s wealthiest inhabitants.
Like Obama, Trump won the presidency through attempts to paint himself as a maverick, an outsider. The widespread condemnations of Trump from the U.S. political establishment and the mainstream media were strategic, granting Trump the ability to appear anti-establishment even when he advances the goals of the establishment.
“This strategic antagonism has given Trump the ability to use the press and U.S. political elite as a foil. This allows him to negate his critics in a way unimaginable in previous administrations,” Robbie Martin warned.
This unconventional setup is just the latest iteration of the public cover needed for a U.S. president to advance the agenda of American oligarchs while convincing his supporters and large swaths of the American public that he’s really working for them.