Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three Empires

Donald Trump has a fevered brain. But, James Laxer writes, there is a method to his madness. Under the tutelage of Steve Bannon, he seeks to establish a new world order -- something quite different than the system which was established after World War II:

Since 1945, America’s political leadership has developed an international, liberal global order with the United States at its centre. The system privileged the American dollar and American corporations, bolstering the “free world” with the might of the U.S. military. The goal was to keep America at the core and to push the Soviet Union to the periphery.

In the post Soviet era, the American response to Russia has continued to be to keep its own alliance system intact and to sustain the liberal international order.

Bannon has always seen Trump as an empty vessel -- the perfect instrument to remake the world in his image: That image seems disjointed. But Laxer argues that the pieces fit together:

An entente with Russia would permit the world’s two leading nuclear powers to seek naked dominance in their respective spheres. Russia would be allowed a freer hand in its “near abroad” with dire potential consequences for Ukraine and other eastern European countries bordering on Russia.

In its own much larger sphere, the United States would be free to pursue its economic, political and military goals without much regard for the interests of so-called allied powers. The guise of defending the “free world” against Russia would be set aside along with the rules based trading system of the WTO and regional trading blocs. Trump has already ditched the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Trump and Bannon prefer a more openly brutal system of bilateral relations between the U.S. and other countries. Canadians take note. Within NAFTA, Mexico is the chief target now. Canada could be later. Bilateralism would allow the U.S. to exert maximum pressure on trading partners, one by one.

Add China to the mix and you get three empires. What Bannon wants to establish is a newer version of what existed before World War I:

Such a global arrangement would not be the first time in history that major powers have made common cause in pursuit of their own interests. In the late 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck fostered, for a time, an entente among Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia.

Like most modern conservatives, Trump and Bannon want to turn back the clock -- while the present goes to hell. 

Image: Amazon UK


the salamander said...

.. there's nothing original, brilliant or wise in the outflow from the Bannon/Trump septic tank outflow pipe. Its Trump potshotting from the bow via Twitter at night while potbelly Bannon burns the midnight oil drafting policy notes.. a bit of Stephen Miller gets rolled in, weird stuff from Kushner the son in law & the odd quack from the Trump heirs. All in all its just what was to be expected from any of the GOP contenders or pretenders.. but its Trump atop the winter's manure pile as urine seeps from the bottom. Priebus is a functionary for Bannon, who pushes the buttons and lets Trump's shallow brain & ego believe its in charge & can golf whenever he wants.. just like before. Its the naked emperor syndrome with emin nce grise Bannon playing Rasputin. Trump could not point to The China Sea if it was sitting on his face or place Pakistan or Afghanistan on a map. Russia of course & its inhabitants or military capabilities, indeed the inhabitants of the USA & its military capability are a complete mystery to this fat clown. The seeking of wisdom is not in his plans.. and Bannon is hard wired with his own personal worldview. Their only common ground really is the fable that they're each the smartest guy in the room.

This is Harper/Flanagan all over again.. the two political ideological & economystic savants playing poker with Big Money, Big Energy & the poker chips were our votes, our tax $, First Nations primacy, our environment & our children and children's children's future. Its all a game.. some kind of intellectual circle jerk for the wise guys.. laughing at all the rest of us.. In reality its sickening. This is old Hudson's Bay collect the furs mentality.. or kill all the buffalo and the 'indian problem' is solved. LNG and oil and bitumen are just the current 'furs' that must get to Asia.. and any impediment to that must be swept away toute suite. In The USA, a good old fashioned war is needed. Distraction, enrich the American Arms sector.. and go slay the infidel.. God is on our side eh..

Trump is the loud blunt sensational instrument.. hawking his wares, preening always
Bannon is the chemist.. & the guy with the hidden knife, edging forward from behind you
In a bar fight, Bannon is the one to watch out for..
Trump will be like Beiber.. behind his bumboy bodyguards.. shouting threats

Owen Gray said...

It's important to understand which man is truly dangerous, salamander. And, like the Wizard of Oz, Bannon is pulling the levers from behind the curtain.

The Mound of Sound said...

One month in and it's obvious that there's a war underway within Trump's White House. Bannon's group subvert the traditional order, sidelining traditionally powerful cabinet posts - defence, intelligence, national security, even the State Department. Trump says one thing, his Vice says another, a third version comes from some principal secretary and, suddenly, no one knows who to believe (although ruling out Trump seems to be the inevitable first elimination).

At last week's Munich security conference, the Euros were left to reconcile the conflicting, even contradictory statements made by Trump, Pence, Mattis and McCain about fairly important matters such as the EU and NATO. Finally McCain said to ignore what Trump says and focus instead on what he does. And then Trump angrily denies his administration is in chaos.

America has indeed been "privileged" in the postwar era. The willingness to accept the US dollar as the sole reserve currency is one such privilege. The willingness of the global community to made good America's perpetual debts and deficits by buying US government bonds and securities is another. America likewise enjoys preferred access to global resources at preferred prices. Hard as it is to imagine, all of that could collapse rather quickly. Then what? Does America use military force to coerce its creditors to stay in line? The fact is, no one knows.

Owen Gray said...

The world still relies on a credible American President, Mound. It's clear from the statements coming from Trump's cabinet officers that you can't believe a word that Trump says.

Wouldn't it be ironic if Trump the "business man" engineered the collapse of the American financial system? Who will invest in an enterprise run by a man whose word can't be trusted?