All posts by James Petras

US Global Power: The Trump Period

US global power in the Trump period reflects the continuities and changes which are unfolding rapidly and deeply throughout the world and which are affecting the position of Washington.

Assessing the dynamics of US global power is a complex problem which requires examining multiple dimensions.

We will proceed by:

    (1) Conceptualizing the principles which dictate empire building, specifically the power bases and the dynamic changes in relations and structures which shape the present and future position of the US.

    (2) Identifying the spheres of influence and power and their growth and decline.

    (3) Examining the regions of conflict and contestation.

    (4) The major and secondary rivalries.

    (5) The stable and shifting relations between existing and rising power centers.

    (6) The internal dynamics shaping the relative strength of competing centers of global power.

    (7) The instability of the regimes and states seeking to retain and expand global power.

Conceptualization of Global Power

US global power is built on several significant facts. These include: the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents.

The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence.

US global power was built around encircling the USSR and China, undermining their economies and defeating their allies militarily via regional wars.

Post WWII global economic and military superiority created subordinated allies and established US global power, but it created the bases for gradual shifts in relations of dominance.

US global power was formidable but subject to economic and military changes over time and in space.

US Spheres of Power: Then and Now

US global power exploited opportunities but also suffered military setbacks early on, particularly in Korea, Indo-China and Cuba. The US spheres of power were clearly in place in Western Europe and Latin America but was contested in Eastern Europe and Asia.

The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980s.

US ideologues declared the coming of a unipolar empire free of restraints and challenges to its global and regional power. The US turned to conquering peripheral adversaries. Washington destroyed Yugoslavia and then Iraq – fragmenting them into mini-states. Wall Street promoted a multitude of multi-national corporations to invade China and Indo-China who reaped billions of profits exploiting cheap labor.

The believers of the enduring rule of US global power envisioned a century of US imperial rule.

In reality this was a short-sighted vision of a brief interlude.

The End of Unipolarity: New Rivalries and Global and Regional Centers of Power

An Overview

US global power led Washington into ‘overreach’, in several crucial areas: it launched a series of costly prolonged wars, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had three negative consequences: the destruction of the Iraq armed forces and economy led to the rise of the Islamic State which overtook most of the country; the occupation in Afghanistan which led to the emergence of the Taliban and an ongoing twenty year war which cost hundreds of billions of dollars and several thousand wounded and dead US soldiers; as a result the majority of the US public turned negative toward wars and empire building

The US pillage and dominance of Russia ended, when President Putin replaced Yeltsin’s vassal state. Russia rebuilt its industry, science, technology and military power. Russia’s population recovered its living standards.

With Russian independence and advanced military weaponry, the US lost its unipolar military power. Nevertheless, Washington financed a coup which virtually annexed two thirds of the Ukraine. The US incorporated the fragmented Yugoslavian ‘statelets’ into NATO. Russia countered by annexing the Crimea and secured a mini-state adjacent Georgia.

China converted the economic invasion of US multi-national corporations into learning experiences for building its national economy and export platforms which contributed which led to its becoming an economic competitor and rival to the US.

US global empire building suffered important setbacks in Latin America resulting from the the so-called Washington Consensus. The imposition of neo-liberal policies privatized and plundered their economies, impoverished the working and middle class, and provoked a series of popular uprising and the rise of radical social movements and center-left governments.

The US empire lost spheres of influence in some regions (China, Russia, Latin America, Middle East) though it retained influence among elites in contested regions and even launched new imperial wars in contested terrain. Most notably the US attacked independent regimes in Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Sudan via armed proxies.

The change from a unipolar to a multi polar world and the gradual emergence of regional rivals led US global strategists to rethink their strategy. The Trump regime’s aggressive policies set the stage for political division within the regime and among allies.

The Obama-Trump Convergence and Differences on Empire Building

By the second decade of the 21st century several new global power alignments emerged: China had become the main economic competitor for world power and Russia was the major military challenger to US military supremacy at the regional level. The US replaced the former European colonial empire in Africa. Washington’s sphere of influence extended especially in North and Sub Sahara Africa: Kenya, Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Trump gained leverage in the Middle East namely in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Jordan.

Israel retained its peculiar role, converting the US as its sphere of influence.

But the US faced regional rivals for sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

In South Asia US faced competition for spheres of influence from China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Latin America sharp and abrupt shifts in spheres of influence were the norm. US influence declined between 2000-2015 and recovered from 2015 to the present.

Imperial Power Alignments Under President Trump

President Trump faced complex global, regional and local political and economic challenges.

Trump followed and deepened many of the policies launched by the Obama- Hillary Clinton policies with regard to other countries and regions . However Trump also radicalized and/or reversed policies of his predecessors. He combined flattery and aggression at the same time.

At no time did Trump recognize the limits of US global power. Like the previous three presidents he persisted in the belief that the transitory period of a unipolar global empire could be re-imposed.

Toward Russia, a global competitor, Trump adopted a policy of ‘rollback’. Trump imposed economic sanctions, with the strategic ‘hope’ that by impoverishing Russia, degrading its financial and industrial sectors that he could force a regime change which would convert Moscow into a vassal state.

At the beginning of his Presidential campaign Trump flirted with the notion of a business accommodation with Putin. However, Trump’s ultra-belligerent appointments and domestic opposition soon turned him toward a highly militarized strategy, rejecting military – including nuclear – agreements, in favor of military escalation.

Toward China, Trump faced a dynamic and advancing technological competitor. Trump resorted to a ‘trade war’ that went far beyond ‘trade’ to encompass a war against Beijing’s economic structure and social relations. The Trump regime-imposed sanctions and threatened a total boycott of Chinese exports.

Trump and his economic team demanded China privatize and denationalize its entire state backed industry. They demanded the power to unilaterally decide when violations of US rules occurred and to be able to re-introduce sanctions without consultations. Trump demanded all Chinese technological agreements, economic sectors and innovations were subject and open to US business interests. In other words, Trump demanded the end of Chinese sovereignty and the reversal of the structural base for its global power. The US was not interested in mere ‘trade’ – it wanted a return to imperial rule over a colonized China.

The Trump regime rejected negotiations and recognition of a shared power relation: it viewed its global rivals as potential clients.

Inevitably the Trump regime’s strategy would never reach any enduring agreements on any substantial issues under negotiations. China has a successful strategy for global power built on a 6 trillion-dollar world-wide Belt and Road (B and R) development policy, which links 60 countries and several regions. B and R is building seaports, rail and air systems linking industries financed by development banks.

In contrast, the US banks exploits industry, speculates and operates within closed financial circuits. The US spends trillions on wars, coups, sanctions and other parasitical activities which have nothing to do with economic competitiveness.

The Trump regime’s ‘allies’ in the Middle East namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are parasitic allies who buy protection and provoke costly wars.

Europe complains about China’s increase in industrial exports and overlook imports of consumer goods. Yet the EU plans to resist Trump’s sanctions which lead to a blind alley of stagnation!

Conclusion

The most recent period of the peak of US global power, the decade between 1989-99 contained the seeds of its decline and the current resort to trade wars, sanctions and nuclear threats.

The structure of US global power changed over the past seven decades. The US global empire building began with the US command over the rebuilding of Western European economies and the displacement of England, France, Portugal and Belgium from Asia and Africa.

The Empire spread and penetrated South America via US multi-national corporations. However, US empire building was not a linear process as witness its unsuccessful confrontation with national liberation movements in Korea, Indo-China, Southern Africa (Angola, Congo, etc.) and the Caribbean (Cuba). By the early 1960’s the US had displaced its European rivals and successfully incorporated them as subordinate allies.

Washington’s main rivals for spheres of influence was Communist China and the USSR with their allies among client state and overseas revolutionaries.

The US empire builders’ successes led to the transformation of their Communist and nationalist rivals into emergent capitalist competitors.

In a word US dominance led to the construction of capitalist rivals, especially China and Russia.

Subsequently, following US military defeats and prolonged wars, regional powers proliferated in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Regional blocs competed with US clients for power.

The diversification of power centers led to new and costly wars. Washington lost exclusive control of markets, resources and alliances. Competition reduced the spheres of US power.

In the face of these constraints on US global power the Trump regime envisioned a strategy to recover US dominance – ignoring the limited capacity and structure of US political , economic and class relations.

China absorbed US technology and went on to create new advances without following each previous stage.

Russia’s recovered from its losses and sanctions and secured alternative trade relations to counter the new challenges to the US global empire. Trump’s regime launched a ‘permanent trade war’ without stable allies. Moreover, he failed to undermine China’s global infrastructure network; Europe demanded and secured autonomy to enter into trade deals with China, Iran and Russia.

Trump has pressured many regional powers who have ignored his threats.

The US still remains a global power. But unlike the past, the US lacks the industrial base to ‘make America strong’. Industry is subordinated to finance; technological innovations are not linked to skilled labor to increase productivity.

Trump relies on sanctions and they have failed to undermine regional influentials. Sanctions may temporarily reduce access to US markets’ but we have observed that new trade partners take their place.

Trump has gained client regimes in Latin America, but the gains are precarious and subject to reversal.

Under the Trump regime, big business and bankers have increased prices in the stock market and even the rate of growth of the GDP, but he confronts severe domestic political instability, and high levels of turmoil among the branches of government. In pursuit of loyalty over competence, Trump’s appointments have led to the ascendancy of cabinet officials who seek to wield unilateral power which the US no longer possesses.

Elliot Abrams can massacre a quarter-million Central Americans with impunity, but he has failed to impose US power over Venezuela and Cuba. Pompeo can threaten North Kore, Iran and China but these countries fortify alliances with US rivals and competitors. Bolton can advance the interests of Israel but their conversations take place in a telephone booth – it lacks resonance with any major powers.

Trump has won a presidential election, he has secured concessions from some countries but he has alienated regional and diplomatic allies. Trump claims he is making America strong, but he has undermined lucrative strategic multi-lateral trade agreements.

US ‘Global Power’ does not prosper with bully-tactics. Projections of power alone, have failed – they require recognition of realistic economic limitations and the losses from regional wars.

Julian Assange and the Agenda for Global War

For almost a decade Washington has sought to silence, jail and eliminate the world’s most prominent investigative journalist, Julian Assange (JA) and his team of co-workers at WikiLeaks (WL).

Never has the mass media been so thoroughly discredited by official documents which directly contradict the official propaganda, mouthed by political leaders and parroted by ‘leading’ journalists.

Washington is particularly intent on capturing JA because his revelations have had a particularly powerful impact on the US public, political critics, the alternative media and human rights groups in turning them against US wars in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Latin America.

We will proceed by discussing what JA and WL accomplished and why the particular ‘cutting edge’ of their reportage disturbed the government.

We will then discus the ‘ongoing’ conflicts and the failure of the White House to score a decisive victory, as factors which has led Washington to intensify its efforts to make JA an ‘example’ to other journalists – demanding that they should ‘shape up’ or pay the consequences including imprisonment.

Context for Whistleblowing

By the end of a decade of war, opposition to the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan had spread to sectors of the military and civilian establishment. Documents were leaked and critics were encouraged to hand over reports revealing war crimes and the toll in human lives. WL, under Assange’s leadership, were the recipients of hundreds of thousands of documents which poured in from military analysts, contractors and civilian office holders disgusted by official and mass media lies which perpetrated and covered up war crimes.

As the wars dragged on, and new ones were launched in Libya and Syria and liberal Congress-members were impotent and unwilling to expose the Obama/Clinton regimes’ lies and the falsifications accompanying the murder of President Gaddafi, WikiLeaks and JA publicized documents which revealed how the US planned , implemented and fabricated Humanitarian Wars to ‘save people’ …by bombing them!

The major networks and prestigious press, following the official line, but WL documents discredited them.

The Pentagon, the CIA, the Presidency and their Congressional supporters panicked – as their covert activities came to light.

They resorted to several desperate moves all directed to silence free speech. They accused the investigative journalists of ‘espionage’ – working for Russia or Islamic terrorists or simply being ‘traitors for cash’.

As WL message gained legitimacy, Washington turned to the judiciary in search of rulings to muzzle their critics. Free speech was criminalized. But WL continued. New and more critical whistleblowers came on the scene; Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, William Binney and others provided new devastating evidence of Washington’s gross distortions and fabrications regarding civilian deaths.

In the Pentagon’s eyes, Julian Assange was The Enemy because he refused to be bought or intimidated. WL successfully aroused distrust of the mass media and distrust of the official war news’ spread among the public.

The Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence apparatus sought the ‘internal’ spies feeding documents to WL. Julian Assange was targeted for arrest in the belief that ‘beheading’ the leader would intimidate other investigative journalists. JA fled for his life, and sought and received asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK.

After seven years of pressure the US succeeded in having the Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno violate his own country’s constitution and allow the British police to seize JS, jail and prepare him for extradition to Washington where the regime will find the appropriate judicial setting to condemn him to life imprisonment or… worse.

Conclusion

The war crimes committed by Washington are of such dimension that they have eroded the passive and submissive ethos of their public servants; having lost the trust, the government relies on threats, expulsions and criminal trials.

Investigative journalists are under pressure from the chorus of press prostitutes and face criminal trials.

Today Free speech means ‘free’ to follow the State.

Julian Assange’s upcoming trial is about more than free speech. It is about Washington’s ability to pursue global wars, to apply illegal sanctions against independent countries and to recruit vassal states without opposition. Washington, without public awareness, will be able to launch trade wars, and slander competitors with impunity. Once whistleblowers are silenced and/or jailed anything goes.

In the present period many journalists have lost their ability to speak truth to power, and young writers who seek outlets and role models, face the threat of censorship enforced by egregious punishment. The White House seeks to convert the country into an echo chamber of lies for ‘humanitarian’ wars and ‘democratic’ coups.

Today the US government pursues a war against Venezuela. Treasury seizes its resources and wealth and State appoints its president in the name of ‘democratic values’. The Trump regime is starving the Venezuelan people into submission in the name of a humanitarian mission, a ploy which is only contested by few journalists in the alternative media.

Washington is jailing JA to ensure that the crimes against Venezuela will continue with impunity.

US Negotiations: Masters of Defeats

The US is currently engaged in negotiations with at least a dozen countries — which involve fundamental political, military and economic issues.

The US has adopted diplomatic strategies in the face of its ‘inability’ to secure military victories. The purpose of adopting a diplomatic approach is to secure through negotiations, in part or fully, goals and advantages unattainable through military means.

While diplomacy is less subject to military and economic losses it does require making concessions. Negotiations are only successful if there are reciprocal benefits to both parties.

Those regimes which demand maximum advantages and minimum concessions, usually fail or succeed because they are based on very unequal power relations.

We will proceed to evaluate Washington’s success or failure in recent negotiations and analyze the reasons and consequences for the outcome.

US-North Korea Negotiations

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un have been engaged in negotiations, for nearly a year. The White House has prioritized the ‘de-nuclearization’ of the peninsula which includes dismantling nuclear weapons, missiles, test sites and other strategic military objectives.

North Korea seeks the end of economic sanctions, the signing of a US-Korean peace treaty and diplomatic recognition. A decisive meeting between the two took place Feb. 26-27, 2019 in Hanoi.

The negotiations were a total failure. Washington failed to secure any gains, nor did they advance the peace process; and there are no future prospects.

North Korea offered three significant concessions which were not reciprocated. President Kim Jong-Un proposed to (1) dismantle nuclear testing sites, (2) announced a moratorium on nuclear tests and inter-continental range ballistic missiles tests, and (3) agreed to partially dismantle missile engine test sites.

Washington offered nothing in return. Instead it demanded total disarmament, no lifting of sanctions, no signing of the end of the US-Korea war.

Washington’s asymmetrical ‘negotiations’ were pre-determined to fail. The US underestimated the capacity of the North Koreans to insist on reciprocity; they believed that future verbal promises would entice the North Koreans to disarm. The Koreans were fully aware of the recent US record of reneging on signed agreements with Iran, China and its partners in the Belt and Road agreement.

Moreover, North Korea has powerful allies in China and Russia and nuclear weapons to resist added US pressure.

US-Iran Negotiations

US and Iran negotiated an agreement to terminate economic sanctions in exchange for ending nuclear weapons development. It temporarily succeeded but was quickly reversed by the Trump regime. The White House demanded Iran dismantle its missile defense program and threatened a military attack. Washington did not bargain, it sought to impose a one-sided ‘solution’. The UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, co-signers of the agreement, rejected the Trump dictate, but a number of major EU multi-national corporations capitulated to the White House demand to tighten sanctions.

As a consequence, the US deliberate sabotage of negotiations pushed Iran closer to Russia, China and alternative markets while the US remained wedded to Saudi Arabia and Israel. The former is engaged in a losing war with Yemen, the latter has remained an international pariah receiving billions of US dollars in handouts.

US-China Negotiations

The US has engaged in negotiations with China to downgrade its economy and retain US global supremacy. Beijing has agreed to increase its imports from Washington and tighten controls over Chinese use of US technology, but the US has not offered any concessions. Instead, Washington has demanded that China end the state’s role in financing its cutting-edge technology, artificial intelligence, and communication innovations.

In other words, China is expected to surrender its structural advantages in order to avoid harsh White House tariffs which would reduce Chinese exports.

There is no reciprocity. The Trump regime operates by threats to China which will have negative effects: on US farmers dependent on Chinese markets; on US importers, especially the retail sector which imports Chinese products; consumers who will suffer higher prices for goods purchased from China.

In addition, China will deepen its links with alternative markets in Asia, Africa, Russia, Latin America and elsewhere.

As of the most recent year (2018) China’s positive trade balance with the US rose to $419 billion dollars while the US was forced to increase its subsidies to US agro-exporters to compensate for loss of sales to China.

After several months of negotiations US representatives have secured trade concessions but failed to impose a breakdown of China’s economic model.

By the middle of 2019, while negotiations continue, the likelihood of a ‘grand bargain’ is dismal. In large part this is because Washington fails to recognize that its weakened global position requires that the US engage in ‘structural changes’, which means that the Treasury invests in technology; labor upgrades and education. The US should practice reciprocal relations with dynamic trading partners; to do so, Washington needs to invest billions to upgrade its domestic infrastructure; and reallocate federal spending from military spending and wars to domestic priorities and productive overseas agreements. US diplomatic relations with China based on threats and tariffs are failing and economic negotiations are deteriorating.

US-Venezuela: Non-Negotiations a Formula for Defeat

Over the past half-decade (2015-2019) Washington has succeeded in restoring client regimes in Latin America, by military coups, political intervention and economic pressure. As a consequence, the White House has successfully ‘negotiated’ one-sided political, economic, social and diplomatic outcomes in the region … with the exception of Cuba and Venezuela.

President Trump has broken negotiated agreements with Cuba to no advantage; US threats have led to Cuba securing greater ties with Europe, China, Russia and elsewhere without affecting Cuba’s tourism business.

The Trump regime has escalated its political and economic propaganda and social war against Venezuela. Multiple overt coup efforts have backfired beginning in April 2002 and continuing to February 2019.

While the US succeeded in the rest of Latin America in consolidating hemispheric hegemony, in the case of Venezuela, Washington has suffered diplomatic defeats and the growth of greater popular resistance.

US interventionist and sanctions policies have sharply reduced the presence of its middle- and lower-middle-class supporters who have fled abroad. US propaganda has failed to secure the support of the Venezuelan military which has become more ‘nationalist’ with very few desertions.

The White House appointment of the convicted felon Elliott Abrams, known as the ‘butcher of Central America’, has certainly undermined any prospect of a favorable diplomatic settlement.

US sanction of political and military leaders precludes efforts to co-opt and recruit leaders. The US appointed as its ‘interim ruler’ one Juan Guaidó who has little domestic support – widely seen domestically as an imperial stooge.

The US non-negotiated successes in Latin America have blinded Washington to the different conditions in Venezuela; where structural socio-economic reforms and nationalist military training consolidated political support.

In the case of Venezuela, the US refusal to enter into negotiations has led to greater polarization and multiple defeats, including the failed coup of February 23/24 2019.

US-Russia: Colluding with Failed Diplomacy

Washington successfully ‘negotiated’ the surrender and break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent pillage of Russia. It was the US’ most successful ‘negotiations’ of the century. The US ‘negotiations’ allowed it to expand NATO to the Russian frontier, incorporated most of East Europeans into the EU and NATO and led the US to boast of creating a ‘unipolar world’.

Excess hubris led the US to launch prolonged (and losing) wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and elsewhere.

With the election of President Putin, Russia made a comeback, which led to the Kremlin reconstituting its military, economic and geopolitical power.

The White House reacted by attempting to ‘negotiate’ Russia’s military encirclement and to undermine Moscow’s economic growth.

When Russia refused to submit to US dictates, Washington resorted to economic sanctions and power grabs in the Ukraine, Central Asia and the Middle East (Iraq and Syria).

Washington rejected a diplomatic approach in favor of economic intimidation — especially as some US-backed oligarchs were arrested or fled with their wealth to the UK and Israel.

The US refused to recognize the opportunities which still existed in Russia – a neo-liberal economic elite, a mainly mineral export economy, and Moscow’s conciliatory approach toward US military engagement in Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iran.

US ‘negotiations’ were non-starters. The White House defined Russia as an enemy to be undermined. Sanctions became the weapon to deal with Russia’s attempt to regain its world standing. Washington’s aggressive posture included its refusal to recognize that the world had become multi-polar; that Russia had allies in China, partners in Germany, military bases in Syria, and has loyal and advanced scientific elite.

The US, operating from a past image of Russia from the Yeltsin era, failed to adapt to the new realities – a resurgent Russia willing to bargain and secure reciprocal advantages.

The US failed to recognize potential allies and economic advantages in open negotiations with Russia. Many Russian economists close to the Kremlin were neo-liberals, ready and willing to open the economy to US penetration. Russia was willing to concede the US a major role in the Middle East and offered to negotiate their oil export policies.

Instead the US refused to negotiate power sharing .US sanctions forced Russia to embrace China; Washington’s drive for global dominance encouraged Russia to build ties with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and other independent nations.

Washington’s unipolar policies turned a potentially lucrative and long-term strategic relation into costly confrontations and failed diplomacy.

US and the European Union: Dead End Deals

Bullying Europe has been a successful endeavor, which the US has put on display on innumerable occasions in recent times. Washington negotiates agreements with the French, English and German to end economic sanction on Iran and then reneges and turns around to apply sanctions on European firms which comply with the US and disobey their own government.

The US negotiates with Europe on trade policies and then abruptly threatens to impose sanctions on its crucial auto exports.

Europe negotiates with Washington on NATO security issues and then the White House threatens them in order to raise their military spending.

The US claims that the EU is a strategic ally but treats it as a junior partner.

Negotiations between the two have been a one-sided partnership: the US sells arms and names adversaries, while Europe argues and dissents, eventually submitting and sending troops to fight US wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.

The US dictates sanctions against Russia, increasing the price of EU imports of gas and oil. Germany debates, discusses, hems and haws while avoiding an outright rejection.

The US has steadily encroached on EU prerogatives to the point where it claims if the EU fails to comply with the White House’s “America First” agenda, it would cause the US to withdraw from NATO.

Despite a longstanding alliance, the White House no longer negotiates policies – it threatens and expects compliance. Despite a history of EU submission and pro forma debates, as Washington has hardened its opposition to Russia, China and Iran it no longer considers EU trade relations a point of negotiations. While Europe might consider the US as an ally, it will not be allowed to be treated as such, because it is viewed as a trade adversary.

Conclusion

Washington has succeeded in securing non-reciprocal agreements with weak countries. This was the case in post-war Europe, post-Gorbachev Russia and among Latin America’s current colonized regimes.

In contrast, Washington’s rejection of reciprocal agreements with Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela has been a failure. US trade wars with China have led to the loss of markets and allowed China to pursue global agreements through its massive billion-dollar ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure projects.

US one-sided hostile policies toward Russia have increased ties between the Kremlin and Beijing.

Washington has lost opportunities to work with neo-liberal oligarchs in Russia in order to undermine President Putin. Washington has failed to negotiate reciprocal ties with North Korea which would ‘de-nuclearize’ the peninsula in exchange for lifting economic sanctions and opening the door for a capitalist restoration.

Demanding unilateral concession and submission has led to uniform failures; whereas negotiated compromises could have led to greater market opportunities and long-term political advances.

President Trump and his top policy makers and negotiators have failed to secure any agreements.

The Democratic Congress has been as ineffective and even more bellicose – demanding greater military pressures on Russia, expanded trade wars with China and fewer negotiations with North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

In a word, failed negotiations and non-reciprocal diplomacy has become the hallmark of US foreign policy.

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens in the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his gaseous defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation is very selective and flourishes when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crises is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown of US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crises — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes ,scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens in the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his gaseous defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation is very selective and flourishes when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crises is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown of US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crises — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes ,scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

A World of Multiple Detonators of Global Wars

We face a world of multiple wars some leading to direct global power conflagrations and others that begin as regional conflicts but quickly spread to big power confrontations.

We will proceed to identify ‘great power’ confrontations and then proceed to discuss the stages of ‘proxy’ wars with world war consequences.

In our times the US is the principal power in search of world domination through force and violence. Washington has targeted top level targets, namely China, Russia,and Iran; secondary objectives include Afghanistan, North and Central Africa, Caucuses and Latin America.

China is the prime enemy of the US for several economic, political and military reasons: China is the second largest economy in the world; its technology has challenged US supremacy; it has built global economic networks reaching across three continents. China has replaced the US in overseas markets, investments and infrastructures. China has built an alternative socio-economic model which links state banks and planning to private sector priorities. On all these counts the US has fallen behind and its future prospects are declining.

In response the US has resorted to a closed protectionist economy at home and an aggressive military led imperial economy abroad. President Trump has declared a tariff war on China; and multiple, separatist, and propaganda wars; and an aerial and maritime war of encirclement.

The first line of attack is exorbitant tariffs on China’s exports to the US and its vassals. Secondly, is the expansion of overseas bases in Asia. Thirdly, is the promotion of separatist clients in Hong Kong, Tibet and among the Uighurs. Fourthly, is the use of sanctions to bludgeon EU and Asian allies into joining the economic war against China. China has responded by increasing its military security, expanding its economic networks and raising economic tariffs on US exports.

The US economic war has moved to a higher level by arresting and seizing a top executive of China’s foremost technological company, Huawei.

The White House has moved up the ladder of aggression from sanctions to provocation, it is one step from military retaliation. The nuclear fuse has been lit.

Russia faces similar threats to its domestic economy and its overseas allies, especially China and Iran .Moreover the US has broken its compliance with the intermediate nuclear missiles. agreement

Iran faces oil sanctions, military encirclement and attacks on proxy allies namely Yemen, Syria and the Gulf region Washington relies on Saudi Arabia, Israel and their paramilitary groups to apply military and economic pressure to undermine Iran’s economy and impose a ‘regime change’.

Each of the three strategic targets of the US are central to its drive for global dominance; dominating China would lead to the takeover of Asia, weakening Russia isolates Europe ; the overthrow of Iran enhances US power over the oil market and the Islamic world. As the US escalates its aggression and provocations we face the threat of a global nuclear war or, at the best, a world economic breakdown.

Wars by Proxy

The US has targeted a second tier of enemies, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

In Latin America the US has waged economic warfare against Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. More recently it has applied political and economic pressure on Bolivia. Washington has relied on its vassal allies, including Brazil, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Paraguay and domestic right-wing elites.

As in numerous other cases, Washington relies on military coups and corrupt legislators and judges to rule against incumbent progressive regimes. Against President Evo Morales, Washington relies on US foundation-funded NGOs, dissident indigenous leaders, and retired military officials. The US relies on local armed proxies to further US imperial goals in order to give the appearance of a ‘civil war’ rather than gross US intervention.

In fact, once the so-called ‘dissidents’ or ‘rebels’ establish a beachhead they ‘invite’ US military advisers, secure military aid and serve as propaganda weapons against Russia, China and Iran – ‘first tier’ adversaries.

In recent years US proxy conflicts have been a weapon of choice in the Kosovo separatist war against Serbia; the Ukraine coup of 2014 and war against Eastern Ukraine; the Kurd take over of Northern Iraq and Syria; the US-backed separatist Uighurs attack in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

The US has established 32 military bases in Africa, to coordinate activities with local warlords and plutocrats. Their proxy wars are described as local conflicts between ‘legitimate’ regimes and Islamic terrorists, tribalists and tyrants.

The objectives of proxy wars are threefold. They serve as ‘feeders’ into larger territorial wars encircling China, Russia, and Iran.

Secondly, proxy wars are ‘testing grounds’ to measure the vulnerability and responsive capacity of the targeted strategic adversary, i.e. Russia, China and Iran.

Thirdly, the proxy wars are ‘low cost’ and ‘low risk’ attacks on strategic enemies. The lead up to a major confrontation by stealth.

Equally important ‘proxy wars’ serve as propaganda tools, accusing strategic adversaries as ‘expansionist authoritarian’ enemies of ‘western values’.

Conclusion

US empire builders engage in multiple types of aggression directed at imposing a unipolar world. At the center are trade wars against China; regional military conflicts with Russia and economic sanctions against Iran.

These large scale, long-term strategic weapons are complemented by proxy wars, involving regional vassal states which are designed to erode the economic bases of allies of anti-imperialist powers.

Hence, the US attacks on China via tariff wars aims to sabotage its global “Belt and Road’ infrastructure projects linking China with 82 counties.

Likewise, the US attempts to isolate Russian via a proxy war in Syria as it did with Iraq, Libya and the Ukraine.

Isolating strategic anti-imperial power via regional wars, sets the stage for the ‘final assault’ – regime change by coup or nuclear war.

However, the US drive for world domination has so far failed to isolate or weaken its strategic adversaries.

China moves forward with its global infrastructure program;and the trade war has had little impact in isolating Beijing from its principal markets. Moreover, the US policy has increased China’s role as a leading advocate of ‘open trade’ against President Trump’s protectionism.

Likewise, the tactics of encircling and sanctioning Russia has deepened ties between Moscow and Beijing. The US has increased its nominal ‘proxies’ in Latin America and Africa but they all depend on trade and investments from China. This is especially true of agro-mineral exports to China.

Notwithstanding the limits of US power and its failure to topple regimes, Washington has taken moves to compensate for its failures by escalating the threats of a global war. It kidnaps Chinese economic leaders; it moves war ships off China’s coast; it allies with neo-fascist elites in the Ukraine. It threatens to bomb Iran. In other words the US political leaders have embarked on adventurous policies always on the verge of igniting one, two, many nuclear fuses.

It is easy to imagine how a failed trade war can lead to a nuclear war; a regional conflict can entail a greater war.

Can we prevent World War 3? I believe it can happen. The US economy is built on fragile foundations; its elites are deeply divided. Its main allies in France and the UK are in deep crises. The war mongers and war makers lack popular support. There are reasons to hope!

President Trump’s Presidency: Results and Perspectives

We need an objective evaluation of the President’s foreign and domestic polices – the means, the goals, their results and consequences. The Trump performance requires we discuss the style and substance of foreign and domestic policies.

We will ignore the fly swatting by Trump critics who ply peripheral issues – the state investigation of the fading Russian conspiracy tales — and focus on strategic issues that purport to transform global economic, political and social relations.

‘Trump at Work’: Foreign Policy

President Trump has a strategy and he works hard at realizing it.

High on Trump’s agenda is, first and foremost, asserting US global supremacy by word and deed.

In pursuit of world power, he utilizes multiple weapons: he believes in the magic powers of weapons and words. He asserts that prior Presidents ‘were weak and allowed others to exploit us’. Today, under Trump’s leadership, he claims we are strong and flexing our power everywhere at all time.

How does the President reveal strength? Through multiple wars, severe sanctions, increased military spending and greater concentration of wealth, in strategic locations. As a result, according to Trump, we intimidate rivals, competitors and adversaries.

Trump cites numerous examples. In Syria, we occupy regions, build new military bases, hire and arm more mercenaries and drop larger bombs on more Syrian cities. Trump boasts that he weakens Iran by ending the nuclear agreement, increasing sanctions precipitating an imminent collapse and regime change. Trump trumpets the success of the economic trade war against China and the downfall of Russia by encircling them with nuclear missiles, military bases and economic sanctions.

Trump hails new political successes and military allies in Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador are viewed as Trump’s market successes and providing a vassal army to overthrow the governments of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

Trump brags about his success in ‘renegotiating’ NAFTA, renaming it and claiming more favorable trade ‘deals’ with Mexico and Canada.

The European Union and each of its members have felt the wrath of Trump’s threat of trade wars, and his demands for greater military contributions to NATO.

He has demanded the Germans buy US oil and gas instead of Russian; he threatens to sanction European corporations who dare to abide by agreements with Iran; Trump boasts of hundred-billion-dollar arms sale with Saudi Arabia, while affirming US supremacy in the Middle East and North Africa.

President Trump, according to his bluster and boisterous self-acclaim, has won every war, conquered all competitors and has laid the groundwork for an ‘American Century’.

How many of Trump’s foreign policy twitters correspond to the real world and how many are empty-handed ejaculations?

President Trump: Claims and Reality

Trump’s foreign policy strategy is mostly bluster than conquest, more boisterous than business, more bluff than success.

Let’s start with Russia. Trump’s sanctions and military encirclement have failed to weaken Russia. Berlin deepens trade ties with the Kremlin – buys more oil and gas, builds pipelines and affirms EU autonomy in dealing with Russia. Military encirclement involves third rate Baltic partners, and missile bases stationed in Poland. In contrast Russia has deepened multi-billion-dollar military and economic agreements with China, a world power.

Russia has responded to Trump’s ending of nuclear missile agreements by building superior weaponry. By any measure, Russia has defeated Trump’s sanctions and military threats.

Despite Trump’s bombast about ‘squeezing China’ with tariffs, China’s trade surplus with the US has increased, while the US trade deficit has risen.

The US has grown by 2.8%, China’s by 6.5%. The US has failed to convince any of its Asian allies to join its trade war against China. On the contrary, US so-called trade war has encouraged Asia to replace US exporters. While Trump’s economic advisers threaten Wall Street’s largest bankers to stop making billion dollar deals with China, most have brushed Trump off. The bankers ignore Trump’s ‘trade war’ because profits count more than gaseous rhetoric.

Saudi Arabia signs a $110 billion-dollar military agreement with Trump and then buys only 10% … ‘fake deals’ to paraphrase the President.

Trump claims that the Saudi monarchy is a great ally, despite its boycott of Qatar, home of the biggest US military base in the region. Israel, Trump’s Middle East ally, ignores Trump’s economic sanctions with Russia and trade war with China, two of its biggest high-tech trade partners.

The US wars are losing propositions. Afghan rebels control most of the country, surround the provincial capitals and force US generals to seek withdrawal. US allies in Syria have retreated. He relies on Kurdish separatists who have their own agenda, not Trump’s.

In Latin America, Trump collects kudos from far-right regimes in Brazil and Argentina which hover on the verge of economic collapse, social crisis and political upheaval.

Domestic Success of Dubious Value

Trump trumpets his big tax cut for billionaires with overseas holdings. He claims it is a success story – creating jobs and producing growth. In fact, over three quarters of the returned profits have resulted in buy-backs increasing corporate dividends not investment in productive activity,

Trump’s trade war with China has not added jobs – it has added cost for consumers through higher prices.

His pro-business policies have strengthened the leverage of corporations in securing multi-billion-dollar concessions from local and state governments. Jeff Bezos the mega-billion dollar owner of Amazon, received over $10 billion dollars in tax exemptions, in addition to state financed concessions.

In effect Trump’s large scale, long-term income transfers benefit the rich over the poor, increase inequalities and lowering public funds for education, health and welfare.

Trump’s opposition to public health for all, international climate change agreements, national infrastructure investments and regulation of bank oversight, has increased the risk of natural disasters, financial crises and transport breakdowns.

Despite his retrograde domestic program, Trump retains electoral support and does not face an immediate political threat —for one basic reason: The Democrats offer no alternatives.

The corporate Democrats who lead the Party, back all of his retrograde policies: they support Trump’s increases in military spending; support tax reduction for the rich; oppose a national health program for all.

Moreover, during Democratic President Obama’s two terms in office, trillions of dollars bailed out the biggest banks while 3 million households suffered foreclosures; minimum wages remained below the poverty level; inequalities widened ,as did racial disparities.

Under President Obama 2 million immigrants were seized and expelled, establishing a precedent for Trump’s anti-asylum policies.

In other words, Trump’s policies are a continuation and exacerbation of the Obama regime.

Conclusion

Trump’s domestic and foreign policy demagogically capitalized on the failures of the Democratic Party’s corporate socio-economic programs and multiple wars.

As a result, Trump’s exploited popular discontent and attracted big business support by promising lower taxes and the end of regulations. In practice Trump’s aggressive foreign and domestic policies contributed and added to Washington’s isolation and decline. None of Trump’s original objectives have been achieved. The US has multiplied adversaries who have grown stronger and more unified. Washington has lost established markets without gaining new ones. His original electoral support has declined without gaining new adherents. Trump’s reliable ‘allies’ (Israel, Saudi Arabia Germany, etc.) have undermined his aggressive trade policies to China and Russia. Anti-Iran sanctions have exempted the biggest buyers of Teheran’s oil exports. While Trump failed to secure his domestic and foreign policy objectives, these failures have not led to any major loss of influence.

Europe is internally divided and unable to formulate any consequential alternatives. Latin America faces economic crises which precludes any joint military intervention despite ‘paper agreements’.

But the biggest failure is Trump’s policies to China. Each and every one of Trump’s major Asian allies has retained and increased trade agreements with Beijing. Trump’s premature celebration of diplomatic victory over North Korea has evaporated. North Korea has returned to and extended ties with China and Russia.

Trump’s strategic decisions have failed to secure his objectives. Not a single world-shaking change has taken place. Trump’s generals may abandon Afghanistan but no thanks to the Democrats or Europeans.

Trump trade wars with China has failed to secure more jobs in America, but his Wall Street critics have negotiated bigger and more lucrative financial deals.

In a word, Trump’s failures have not led to greater and better conditions for global markets, nor ended wars or improved living standards. Nevertheless many progressives are pleased by Trump’s failures even though they are not beneficiaries.

The Class Struggle from Above

Bankers, agro-business elites, commercial mega owners, manufacturing, real estate and insurance bosses and their financial advisers, elite members of the ‘ruling class’, have launched a full-scale attack on private and public wage and salary workers, and small and medium size entrepreneurs (the members of the ‘popular classes’). The attack has targeted income, pensions, medical plans, workplace conditions, job security, rents, mortgages, educational costs, taxation,undermining family and household cohesion.

Big business has weakened or abolished political and social organizations which challenge the distribution of income and profits and influence the rates of workplace output. In brief the ruling classes have intensified exploitation and oppression through the ‘class struggle’ from above.

We will proceed by identifying the means, methods and socio-political conditions which have advanced the class struggle from above and, conversely, reversed and weakened the class struggle from below.

Historical Context

The class struggle is the major determinant of the advances and regression of the interests of the capitalist class. Following the Second World War, the popular classes experienced steady advances in income, living standards, and work place representation. However by the last decade of the 20th century the balance of power between the ruling and popular classes began to shift, as a new ‘neo-liberal’ development paradigm became prevalent.

First and foremost, the state ceased to negotiate and conciliate relations between rulers and the working class: the state concentrated on de-regulating the economy, reducing corporate taxes, and eliminating labor’s role in politics and the division of profits and income.

The concentration of state power and income was not uncontested and was not uniform in all regions and countries. Moreover, counter-cyclical trends, reflecting shifts in the balance of the class struggle precluded a linear process. In Europe, the Nordic and Western European countries’ ruling classes advanced privatization of public enterprises, reduced social welfare costs and benefits, and pillaged overseas resources but were unable to break the state funded welfare system. In Latin America the advance and regression of the power, income and welfare of the popular class, correlated with the outcome of the class and state struggle.

The United States witnessed the ruling class take full control of the state, the workplace and distribution of social expenditures.

In brief, by the end of the 20th century, the ruling class advanced in assuming a dominant role in the class struggle.

Nevertheless, the class struggle from below retained its presence, and in some places, namely in Latin America, the popular classes were able to secure a share of state power – at least temporarily.

Popular Power: Contesting the Class Struggle from Above

Latin America is a prime example of the uneven trajectory of the class struggle.

Between the end of World War Two and the late 1940s, the popular classes were able to secure democratic rights, populist reforms and social organization. Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela were among the leading examples. By the early 1950’s with the onset of the US imperialist ‘cold war’, in collaboration with the regional ruling classes launched a violent class war from above, which took the form of military coups in Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil. The populist class struggle was defeated by the US backed military-business rulers who, temporarily imposed US agro-mineral export economies.

The 1950s were the ‘golden epoch’ for the advance of US multi-nationals and Pentagon designed regional military alliances. But the class struggle from below rose again and found expression in the growth of a progressive national populist industrializing coalition,and the successful Cuban socialist regime and its followers in revolutionary social movements in the rest of Latin America throughout the 1960s.

The revolutionary popular class insurgency of the early 1960s was countered by the ruling class seizure of power backed by military-US led coups between 1964-1976 which demolished the regimes and institutions of the popular classes in Brazil (1964), Bolivia (1970), Chile (1973), Argentina (1976), Peru (1973) and elsewhere.

Economic crises of the early 1980s reduced the role of the military and led to a ‘negotiated transition’ in which the ruling class advanced a neo-liberal agenda in exchange for electoral participation under military and US tutelage.

Lacking direct military rule, the ruling class struggle succeeded in muting the popular class struggle by co-opting the Center-left political elites. The ruling class did not or could not establish hegemony over the popular classes even as they proceeded with their neo-liberal agenda.

With the advent of the 21st century a new cycle in the class struggle from below burst forth. Three events intersected: the global crises of 2000 triggered regional financial crashes, which in turn led to a collapse of industries and mass unemployment, which intensified mass direct action and the ouster of the neo-liberal regimes. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, neo-liberalism was in retreat. The popular class struggle and the rise of social movements displaced the neo-liberal regimes but was incapable of replacing the ruling classes. Instead hybrid Center-left electoral regimes took power.

The new power configuration incorporated popular social movements, Center-left parties and neo-liberal business elites. Over the next decade the cross-class alliance advanced largely because of the commodity boom which financed welfare programs, increased employment, implemented poverty reduction programs and expanded investments in infrastructure. Post-neoliberal regimes co-opted the leaders of the popular classes, replaced ruling class political elites but did not displace the strategic structural positions of the business ruling class.

The upsurge of the popular class struggle was contained and confined by the Center-left political elite, while the ruling class marked time, making business deals to secure lucrative state contracts via bribes to the ruling Center-left allied with the conservative political elite.

The end of the commodity boom, forced the Center-left to curtail its social welfare and infrastructure programs and fractured the alliance between big business leaders and Center-left political elites. The ensuing economic recession facilitated the return of the neo-liberal political elite to power.

The big business ruling class learned their lessons from their previous experience with weak and conciliating neo-liberal regimes. They sought authoritarian and, if possible rabble rousing political leaders, who could dismantle the popular organizations, and gutted popular welfare programs and democratic institutions, which previously blocked the consolidation of the neo-liberal New Order.

The Neo-Liberal New Order

The neo-liberal “New Order” differed substantially from the past in several significant features.

First neo-liberal programs under the New Order were based on highly repressive leaders – they did not merely depend on ‘market discipline’ and state promoted programs. Authoritarian political regimes established a framework to finance, protect and promote the consolidation of neo-liberal systemic changes.

Secondly, political ascendancy of the New Order relied on a coalition of ruling class elites, conservative upper middle-class property and professional groups and downwardly mobile lower middle classes fearful of personal and economic insecurity and the breakdown of the old social order.

Thirdly, the New Order was led by a demagogic leadership that called on direct political intervention, by retired and active military and police officials backed by armed landowner militia, lumpen street fighters (private gangsters) willing to intimidate leftist workers, landless peasants and unemployed trade unionists.

Fourthly the New Order elites mobilized the mass base of religious fundamentalists by targeting ‘marginal groups’ (gays, people of color, feminists, immigrants, etc) who were portrayed as enemies of the family, nation and religion.

Fifthly, the New Order deflected popular discontent to leftist corruption, immorality and impotence to combat crime in the streets.

The New Order is built on perpetuating neo-liberal ruling elites by destroying the political,social and economic institutions and rules of the previous electoral order (‘democracy’).

In a word, big business led class struggle from above was not interested in free market ‘reforms’, the want it all-power, profits,and privilege-without obligations,regulations or constrains.

The Future of the Neo-Liberal “New Order”

The authoritarian New Order has gained powerful patrons in rulers like US Presidents Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. They have neo-liberal allies in Argentina, Central America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. They have embraced a powerful message of political-military bullying of traditional allies, economic warfare against dynamic competitors and a glorified vision of national grandeur to its mass followers.

Initially, the business elites prosper, the stock markets rise, taxes are lowered and state subsidies fuel euphoria and hopes among the masses that ‘their turn is next’. Profits and police state ‘law and order’, link the business elite with the affluent middle class.

The combative popular classes are demoralized and disoriented by failed leaders and the retreat of social movements and trade unions from the class struggle

In contrast the international alliance of the authoritarian big business neo-liberals has a vision of global, regional and national power.

However sustaining their advance is conditional on dynamic economic growth and overcoming cyclical economic crises; on subverting class struggle from below; on finding substitute adversaries, as older ones lose thru mystifying appeals.

The corruption of upwardly mobile middle-class rabble rousers will disillusion their voluntary followers. Arbitrary police and military repression usually extends to extortion and intimidation beyond the drug slums to the middle and working-class neighborhoods.

The authoritarian New Order usually begins to decline through ‘internal rot’ – uber-profiteering and flagrant abuse of work.

The rightist rhetoric turns against itself as its followers engage in invidious distinctions. The ruling class looks to shed its authoritarian shock troops and replace them with technocrats, free marketeers and malleable bourgeois politicians. The Left and Center-left looks to attract a new generation of followers in the street protests and seeks to form alliances with readily available opportunist politicians. A new political cycle takes shape – but will a new popular class struggle emerge?

Trump’s Alliance with Body-Choppers, Death Squads and Child Killers

In recent weeks the White House has embraced the contemporary version of the world’s most murderous regimes. President Trump has embraced the Saudi Arabian “Prince of Death” Mohammad bin Salman who has graduated from chopping hands and heads in public plazas to dismembering bodies in overseas consulates – the case of Jamal Khashoggi.

The White House warmly greeted the electoral success of Brazilian Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, ardent champion of torturers, military dictators, death squads and free marketers.

President Trump grovels, grunts and glories before Israel, as his spiritual guide Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates the Sabbath with the weekly murders and maiming of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians, especially youngsters.

These are President Trump’s ‘natural allies’. They share his values and interests while each retains their particular method of disposing of the cadavers of adversaries and dissenters.

We will proceed to discuss the larger political-economic context in which the trio of monsters operate. We will analyze the benefits and advantages which lead President Trump to ignore and even praise, actions which violate America’s democratic values and sensibilities.

In conclusion, we will examine the consequences and risks which result from Trump’s embrace of the trio.

The Context for Trump’s Triple Alliance

President Trump’s intimate ties with the world’s most unsavory regimes flows from several strategic interests. In the case of Saudi Arabia, it includes military bases; the financing of international mercenaries and terrorists; multi-billion-dollar arms sales; oil profits; and covert alliances with Israel against Iran, Syria and Yemen.

In order to secure these Saudi assets, the White House is more than willing to assume certain socio-political costs.

The US eagerly sells weapons and provides advisers to Saudi’s genocidal invasion, murder and starvation of millions of Yeminis. The White House alliance against Yemen has few monetary rewards or political advantages as well as negative propaganda value.

However, with few other client states in the region, Washington makes do with Prince Salman ‘the salami slicer’.

The US ignores Saudi financing of Islamic terrorists against US allies in Asia (the Philippines) and Afghanistan as well as rival thugs in Syria and Libya.

Alas when a pro-US collaborator like Washington Post journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated, President Trump was forced to adopt the pretense of an investigation in order to distance from the Riyadh mafia.He subsequently exonerated butcher boy bin Salman: he invented a flagrant lie-blaming ‘rogue elements’ in charge of the interrogation,– read torture.

President Trump celebrated the electoral victory of Brazilian neo-liberal fascist Jair Bolsonaro because he checks all the right boxes: he promises to slash economic regulations and corporate taxes for multi-national corporations. He is an ardent ally of Washington’s economic war against Venezuela and Cuba. He promises to arm right-wing death squads and militarize the police. He pledges to be a loyal follower of US war policies abroad.

However, Bolsonaro cannot support Trump’s trade war especially against China which is the market for almost forty percent of Brazil’s agro-exports. This is especially the case since agro-business bosses are Bolsonaro’s principal economic and congressional supporters.

Given Washington’s limited influence in the rest of Latin America, Brazil’s neo-liberal fascist regime acts as Trump’s principal ally.

Israel is the White House’s mentor and chief of operations in the Middle East, as well as a strategic military ally.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has seized and colonized most of the West Bank and militarily occupied the rest of Palestine; jailed and tortured tens of thousands of political dissidents; surrounded and starved over a million Gaza residents; imposed ethno-religious conditions for citizenship in Israel, denying basic rights for over 20% of the Arab residents of the self-styled ‘Jewish state’.

Netanyahu has bombed hundreds of Syrian cities, towns, airports and bases in support of ISIS terrorists and Western mercenaries. Israel intervenes in US elections, buys Congressional votes and secures White House recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

Zionists in North America and Great Britain act as a ‘fifth column’ securing unanimous favorable mass media coverage of its apartheid policies.

Prime Minister Netanyahu secures unconditional US financial and political support and the most advanced weaponry.

In exchange Washington considers itself privileged to serve as foot solders for Israeli targeted wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia … Israel collaborates with the US in defending Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. Netanyahu and his Zionist allies in the White House succeeded in reversing the nuclear agreement with Iran and imposing new and harsher economic sanctions.

Israel has its own agenda: it defies President Trump’s sanctions policies against Russia and its trade war with China.

Israel eagerly engages in the sales of arms and high-tech innovations to Beijing.

Beyond the Criminal Trio

The Trump regime’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Brazil is not despite but because of their criminal behavior. The three states have a demonstrated record of full compliance and active engagement in every ongoing US war.

Bolsonaro, Netanyahu, and bin Salman serve as role models for other national leaders allied with Washington’s quest for world domination.

The problem is that the trio is insufficient in bolstering Washington’s drive to “Make the Empire Strong”. As pointed earlier, the trio are not completely in compliance with Trump’s trade wars; Saudi works with Russia in fixing oil prices. Israel and Brazil cuts deals with Beijing.

Clearly Washington pursues other allies and clients.

In Asia, the White House targets China by promoting ethnic separatism. It encourages Uighurs to split from China by encouraging Islamic terrorism and linguistic propaganda. President Trump backs Taiwan via military sales and diplomatic agreements. Washington intervenes in Hong Kong by promoting pro-separatist politicians and media propaganda backing ‘independence’.

Washington has launched a strategy of military encirclement and a trade war against China .The White House rounded-up Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea to provide military bases which target China. Nevertheless, up to the present the US has no allies in its trade war. All of Trump’s so-called Asian ‘allies’ defy his economic sanctions policies.

The countries depend on and pursue trade with and investments from China. While all pay diplomatic lip service and provide military bases, all defer on the crucial issues of joining US military exercises off China’s coast and boycotting Beijing.

US efforts to sanction Russia into submission is offset by ongoing oil and gas agreements between Russia , Germany and other EU countries. US traditional bootlickers like Britain and Poland carry little political weight.

More important US sanctions policy has led to a long-term, large-scale strategic economic and military alliance between Moscow and Beijing.

Moreover Trump’s alliance with the ‘torture trio’ has provoked domestic divisions. Saudi Arabia’s murder of a US resident-journalist has provoked business boycotts and Congressional calls for reprisal. Brazil’s fascism has evoked liberal criticism of Trump’s eulogy of Brazilia’s death squad democracy.

President Trump’s domestic electoral opposition has successfully mobilized the mass media, which could facilitate a congressional majority and an effective mass opposition to his Pluto-populist (populist in rhetoric, plutocrat in practice) version of empire building.

Conclusion

The US empire building project is built on bluster, bombs and trade wars. Moreover, its closest and most criminal allies and clients cannot always be relied upon. Even the stock market fiesta is coming to a close. Moreover, the time of successful sanctions is passing. The wild-eyed UN rants are evoking laughter and embarrassment.

The economy is heading into crises and not only became of rising interest rates. Tax cuts are one shot deals – profits are taken and pocketed.

President Trump in retreat will discover that there are no permanent allies only permanent interests.

Today the White House stands alone without allies who will share and defend his unipolar empire. The mass of humanity requires a break with the policies of wars and sanctions. To rebuild America will require the construction, from the ground-up, of a powerful popular movement not beholden to Wall Street or war industries. A first step is to break with both parties at home and the triple alliance abroad.

Brazil’s Neo-Liberal Fascist Road to Power

The decisive electoral victory of far-right Brazilian presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro startled politicians and analysts of the traditional parties of the left and right.

The possible implications for the present and near future raises a number of fundamental questions whether it represents a ‘model’ for other countries or is the result of the specific circumstances of Brazil.

We shall proceed by outlining the socio-economic events and policies of Brazil which led up to rise of the highly authoritarian, neo-liberal Bolsonaro regime. We will then discuss if similar circumstances are emerging elsewhere and whether anti-authoritarian popular-democratic politics challenge the threat. We will conclude by evaluating the future of far-right regimes and their enemies.

Brazil :Two Decades of Military Rule and the Legacy of Impunity

Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship between April 1964 and March 15, 1985. Though the military formally withdrew from the regime it retained many powers and prerogatives, including impunity for the thousands of cases of arbitrary violations of human rights, including torture and assassinations.

However, during the height of the so-called ‘economic miracle’ during the 1970s, sectors of the middle class supported the rule by the triple alliance of private business, state enterprise elites, and the military. Only when the regime faced a major crisis in the early 1980’s did the military give way to electoral politics. The authoritarian legacy remained embedded in the political culture of the military and its followers. With the deepening economic crises of neo-liberalism, the corruption of civic culture and the increase of crime during the second decade of the 21st century, a militarized political movement headed by Jair Bolsonaro came to the fore.

The Social Bases of the Authoritarian regime

Most commentators have emphasized the amorphous mass of voters’ discontent with political corruption as the basis for the rise of the right. Moralism and insecurity with street crime were cited as the driving force of right-wing extremism.

Yet powerful economic power elites played a decisive role in propelling Bolsonaro to power. While masses were in the street, the Brazilian National Agricultural Confederation, the Federation of Banks and other prominent elite associations provided the funds, the legitimacy and legislative muscle. Over 40% of the Senate and Congress was controlled by the ‘ruralist bloc’, which came out in favor of Bolsonaro. Many of the voters who previously supported ex-President Cardoso’s center-right candidate Geraldo Alickman defected to the authoritarian right reducing his estimated vote by half.

The judiciary, under the influence of the agro-business and banking elite exploited political corruption to discredit and prosecute the center-left and the traditional political parties, leading to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and the arrest and prosecution of the leading left candidate Lula Da Silva.

From Authoritarianism to Fascism

Bolsonaro’s appeal to the elite is grounded in his program of savaging the working class: he promises to freeze public salaries for twenty years; lower pensions and increase retirement age up to twenty years; increase the role of the military and police in repressing strikes and land reform movements; end all restraints on pillaging the Amazon forest; lower taxes for the rich, deregulate the private economy and privatize the public sector.

In effect the Bolsonaro’s policies follow the script of a corporatist-neoliberal state: fascism with ‘free markets’. The pro-military policies are code words for mass repression; his pro-business strategy is disguised by an embrace of ‘family values’ and virulent hostility to working women, Afro-Brazilians, gays and indigenous people. His crusade against crime excludes bankers, landowners and industrialists who bribed politicians and congress-people – only the latter were prosecuted.

The Future of Neo-Liberal Fascism; Wave of the Future?

Will Bolsonaro’s version of neo-liberal fascism set the mark for other Latin American countries? Will his regime intervene and overthrow progressive countries? Will his victory in Brazil spur similar developments throughout the world?

In the aftermath of Bolsonaro’s first round electoral rout, the real (Brazilian currency) rose 3% against the dollar and the stock market jumped 4.5% in expectations of the total de-regulation of markets, and the privatization of the entire public sector.

Though Bolsonaro is compared to President Trump, there are both similarities and differences. Both share hostility to minorities, flaunt a rabidly chauvinist ideology and embrace ‘nationalist’ slogans. Yet Bolsonaro cannot embrace Trump’s protectionist policies and trade war with China. The agro-business elite in Brazil, which is an essential social bloc, would not permit him to undercut their vital export markets.

Bolsonaro’s neo-liberal fascist policy resonates with several regimes in Latin America, namely Colombia and Argentina. In Colombia large scale militarization and death squads’ collaboration in support of neo-liberalism have been in place for decades prior to Bolsonaro’s rise to power. Moreover, Colombia’s oligarchic regime does not depend on the mass base and charismatic leadership of a ‘fascism’ regime.

Argentina under President Mauricio Macri might like to imitate Bolsonaro, but his dependence on the IMF and its austerity program precludes any ‘mass base’ which might have been mobilized at the start of his neo-liberal regime.

This takes us to consider the stability and duration of the Brazilian experience of neo-liberal fascism. Several considerations are foremost.

Bolsonaro’s embrace of radical attacks of wage earners, salary employees, pensioners, debtors, small farmers and business-people may erode his ‘mass appeal’ and charisma.

The mass electoral fervor may not withstand the deterioration of basic socio-economic living standards.

Bolsonaro’s regime lack a congressional majority will obligate him to form alliances with the same corrupt parties and politicians which he denounced. The post-election political deal making may disillusion many of his ‘moral’ supporters.

If his free market program deepens social polarization and the class struggle, general strikes may result – though Brazil lacks the Argentine working-class tradition.

The agro-mineral elite, the military and the bankers will back Bolsonaro’s ‘war on crime’, and even benefit from the war in the slums, but unless he can stimulate investments, export markets and incorporate skilled workers and innovative technology, Brazil would be reduced to becoming merely an agro-mineral economy run by oligarchs and warmed over corrupt politicians.

Bolsonaro’s hostility to blacks, women, gays, trade unions and urban and rural social movements may win votes, but it does not increase profits and growth. Reactionary policies may attract amorphous middle-class voters, but it is not a program for governing nor does it serve as a coherent economic strategy.

There is no doubt that the explosive appeal of the ‘anti-establishment rhetoric has initially successful. There is no doubt that the military-regime alliance can withstand and repress a popular backlash, but can the regime rule sitting on bayonets?

The defeat of neo-liberal fascism in Brazil and its possible imitators elsewhere depends on the scope and depth of organized resistance. Bolsonaro’s ability to implement his assault on the living standards of the popular classes will depend on the scope and intensity of the class struggle. For starters Bolsonaro has won an election – but it has yet to be determined whether neo-liberal fascism is a viable, durable alternative to populist nationalism and social democracy. Likewise, it is not yet evident that the declining Left, fragmented and discredited can regroup and offer an alternative road to power.