Clearly the US has escalated the pivotal role of the military in the making of foreign and, by extension, domestic policy. The rise of ‘the Generals’ to strategic positions in the Trump regime is evident, deepening its role as a highly autonomous force determining US strategic policy agendas.
In this paper we will discuss the advantages that the military elite accumulate from the war agenda and the reasons why ‘the Generals’ have been able to impose their definition of international realities.
We will discuss the military’s ascendancy over Trump’s civilian regime as a result of the relentless degradation of his presidency by his political opposition.
The Prelude to Militarization: Obama’s Multi-War Strategy and Its Aftermath
The central role of the military in deciding US foreign policy has its roots in the strategic decisions taken during the Obama-Clinton Presidency. Several policies were decisive in the rise of unprecedented military-political power.
- The massive increase of US troops in Afghanistan and their subsequent failures and retreat weakened the Obama-Clinton regime and increased animosity between the military and the Obama’s Administration. As a result of his failures, Obama downgraded the military and weakened Presidential authority.
- The massive US-led bombing and destruction of Libya, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government and the failure of the Obama-Clinton administration to impose a puppet regime, underlined the limitations of US air power and the ineffectiveness of US political-military intervention. The Presidency blundered in its foreign policy in North Africa and demonstrated its military ineptness.
- The invasion of Syria by US-funded mercenaries and terrorists committed the US to an unreliable ally in a losing war. This led to a reduction in the military budget and encouraged the Generals to view their direct control of overseas wars and foreign policy as the only guarantee of their positions.
- The US military intervention in Iraq was only a secondary contributing factor in the defeat of ISIS; the major actors and beneficiaries were Iran and the allied Iraqi Shia militias.
- The Obama-Clinton engineered coup and power grab in the Ukraine brought a corrupt incompetent military junta to power in Kiev and provoked the secession of the Crimea (to Russia) and Eastern Ukraine (allied with Russia). The Generals were sidelined and found that they had tied themselves to Ukrainian kleptocrats while dangerously increasing political tensions with Russia. The Obama regime dictated economic sanctions against Moscow, designed to compensate for their ignominious military-political failures.
The Obama-Clinton legacy facing Trump was built around a three-legged stool: an international order based on military aggression and confrontation with Russia; a ‘pivot to Asia’ defined as the military encirclement and economic isolation of China – via bellicose threats and economic sanctions against North Korea; and the use of the military as the praetorian guards of free trade agreements in Asia excluding China.
The Obama ‘legacy’ consists of an international order of globalized capital and multiple wars. The continuity of Obama’s ‘glorious legacy’ initially depended on the election of Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, for its part, promised to dismantle or drastically revise the Obama Doctrine of an international order based on multiple wars, neo-colonial ‘nation’ building and free trade. A furious Obama ‘informed’ (threatened) the newly-elected President Trump that he would face the combined hostility of the entire State apparatus, Wall Street and the mass media if he proceeded to fulfill his election promises of economic nationalism and thus undermine the US-centered global order.
Trump’s bid to shift from Obama’s sanctions and military confrontation to economic reconciliation with Russia was countered by a hornet’s nest of accusations about a Trump-Russian electoral conspiracy, darkly hinting at treason and show trials against his close allies and even family members.
The concoction of a Trump-Russia plot was only the first step toward a total war on the new president, but it succeeded in undermining Trump’s economic nationalist agenda and his efforts to change Obama’s global order.
Trump Under Obama’s International Order
After only 8 months in office President Trump helplessly gave into the firings, resignations and humiliation of each and every one of his civilian appointees, especially those who were committed to reverse Obama’s ‘international order’.
Trump was elected to replace wars, sanctions and interventions with economic deals beneficial to the American working and middle class. This would include withdrawing the military from its long-term commitments to budget-busting ‘nation-building’ (occupation) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other Obama-designated endless war zones.
Trump’s military priorities were supposed to focus on strengthening domestic frontiers and overseas markets. He started by demanding that NATO partners pay for their own military defense responsibilities. Obama’s globalists in both political parties were aghast that the US might lose it overwhelming control of NATO; they united and moved immediately to strip Trump of his economic nationalist allies and their programs.
Trump quickly capitulated and fell into line with Obama’s international order, except for one proviso – he would select the Cabinet to implement the old/new international order.
A hamstrung Trump chose a military cohort of Generals, led by General James Mattis (famously nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’) as Defense Secretary.
The Generals effectively took over the Presidency. Trump abdicated his responsibilities as President. …