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Be Very, Very Afraid, and Protest!

Why the surprise? To those who haven’t been asleep at the wheel, or disinterested in paying attention, the fact that a far-right military-industrial junta will take over the government of the United State on January 20, 2017 comes as no surprise. It’s been in the works since Eisenhower.

Even the New York Times (“Donald Trump’s Military Government,” December 9, 2016), the “newspaper of record,” is alarmed. And this from the folks who helped give us the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War (and really inferior 2016 election polls), and are sweating out the very real prospect that even the appearance of a republican form of democracy will go kaput on the day that Trump becomes president.

This American brand of neofascism and extreme militarism backed by the corporate elite has been in the works for a very long time. World War I saw the U.S. emerge as a superpower. World War II cemented the issue of U.S. military superpower status in history, and the collapse of the Soviet Union a quarter of a century ago put the icing on the cake, so to speak. We were the unchallenged military king of the hill. Fifty to 80 million war casualties resulted because of  World War II and our battle against fascism didn’t seem to impart any long-lasting lessons.

For those paying attention, or for those who knew what militarism meant as a result of having come face to face with it during the Vietnam War (remember Reagan’s repackaging that war from a vicious war—since when has war not been vicious—to a “noble cause?”), it was easy to see the proverbial handwriting on the wall.

Then there was the long forced march toward Trump. First there was Reagan’s low-intensity warfare in Central America, then George H.W. Bush’s war in Iraq, a country that enjoyed complete military support from the U.S. just a few, short years before, as it fought its own war against Iran.

And the wars of George W. Bush in the Middle East that took the Cold War and converted it into new and numerous hot wars in the War on Terror. And the War on Terror did not come out of nowhere. The horror of the domestic attacks of September 11, 2001 had their roots in the U.S. support of religious extremists and warlords during the 1980s as our proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. The Taliban emerged victorious after that war. The horror of September 11, 2001 was blowback on a huge scale.

The illusion that the Democrats were any different from the Republicans in matters of war was absolute rubbish. Obama kept the wars going and even revitalized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while expanding wars in Somalia and Libya and Yemen, either directly or through proxies and/or arms sales. We sell massive armaments to the Saudis while the Saudis commit war crimes in Yemen and fuel the monstrous war in Syria, one among many proxies that have taken a hand in destroying that society. The Russians play the opposite side of the field hoping to keep a niche in their diminished sphere of influence while terrorists of all stripes lay down their lethal claims.

UNICEF reports that one child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen as a result of the war there ( “UNICEF: One child dies every ten minutes in Yemen,” Al Jazeera, December 12, 2016).

These are great days for arms manufacturers. The billions of dollars they make will be further rewarded under Trump’s tax plan that will redistribute more money to the 1%, while those left in the middle class and working class who voted for Trump will have underwritten the accelerated worsening of their economic fortunes. Remember the guns and butter equation from Economics 101? Members from both of those economic and social classes who were abandoned by the Democrats decades ago and sought refuge in Republican ideology could conceivably lend material support to a Trump administration of the 1% bent on eradicating any semblance of opposition to his policies and the remnants of a domestic social safety net.

The long march of militarism was supported by the media where local and national news paid lip service to those who went off, sometimes for multiple deployments, to fight so many wars. Many had to fight the bureaucracy that denied them the care they had been promised when they returned home.

I recently had a conversation with someone who has had close ties to the federal government. A person close to this anonymous source serves in a high-level position in the federal government. The source reports that  “All the worst you can believe about Trump is true.” While this disclosure may not be news to anyone who has followed Trump over the decades, even superficially, it was like an official admonition to be very, very afraid, without using those words.

Democracy Now outlined the militarization of the proposed Trump administration in “Vowing to ‘Stop Political Correctness,’ Gen. John Kelly to Head Department of Homeland Security” (December 13, 2016):

Donald Trump has officially announced he will nominate retired four-star Marine General John Kelly to be secretary of homeland security. Kelly was formerly the head of United States Southern Command, where he oversaw the military jail at Guantánamo. Kelly becomes the third general tapped by Trump for a top position so far.

To those who believe that Trump will be an isolationist, the simple fact that he will depend on so many generals does not bode well for isolationism. His policy pronouncements are more changeable than the direction of the wind. The U.S. State Department has been transformed into a tool of military might with the Iran nuclear deal being one lone exception in the long march from diplomacy to militarism. The rules of war, that in any case were almost always ignored whenever possible by parties to hostilities, may be quickly jettisoned altogether.

The antidote to fear will be to protest and to attempt to regain the human revulsion to war that has been all but snuffed out over the last thirty-five years. The easy acceptance of militarism and military adventures have to be countered. The endless War on Terror has taken the butter out of the guns and butter equation and left profiteering by the select few unquestioned. These profiteers have even infected the fabric of domestic life with guns proliferating to unimaginable levels and gun murders almost accepted as the usual.

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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