Gambling on the Unknowable Trump

Donald Trump’s victory may have shaken up the System but it also revealed a recklessness (or a desperation) among Americans in handing over such immense power to someone so untested, says Michael Brenner.

By Michael Brenner

At this moment of unprecedented upheaval, it is striking that some things never change. We are being subject to a tidal wave of interpretation and speculation as to what a Trump administration means for American foreign relations in regard to inter alia Russia, Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, the “pivot to Asia,” trans-Atlantic ties and, of course, Mexico.

It is entirely natural for a distraught political elite to wonder what comes next from this unstable, quixotic showman who soon will be sitting in the White House. It is neither natural nor appropriate, though, to make believe that Washington in experiencing a transition of power to be approached in standard terms. The unpalatable truth is that we have no idea as to what Trump will do or not do.

President-elect Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign remarks are the sole evidence available for indications of the direction that he will take. That is an extremely flimsy basis for forecasting actions abroad. For two reasons. Candidates’ calculated sound bites while running almost never are a reliable guide to their thinking – in its rudimentary form or as it takes shape under the influence of real life conditions and the counsel of advisers.

Consider Barack Obama, a far more thoughtful, sober and intelligent man. Remember the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons (rather than committing $1 trillion to the development of a more “usable” arsenal). Remember closing Guantanamo and reining in electronic surveillance of Americans. Remember ending the engagement of American troops in the “GWOT” (we now are fighting in 38 places by one means or another).

Remember “resetting” relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia to emphasize dialogue. Remember the stated goal of normalizing relations with the Mullahs in Teheran instead of treating them as inherently hostile to America. Remember promoting democracy as the long-term cure to what ails the Middle East (instead, backing full tilt the Gulf autocracies, including Saudi Arabia’s homicidal war on the Yemeni people; Sisi’s oppressive autocracy in Egypt; and Israel’s increasing brutalization of the Palestinians).

Points of Demagoguery

Second, Trump’s comments about foreign policy were mere points of demagoguery meant, as with everything else he said, to appeal to the primitive instincts of an aroused audience. There is not the slightest sign that he had thought seriously about any of it. Donald Trump finds serious thinking itself an alien mental activity.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions donning one of Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" caps.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of the few Senate Republicans to support Donald Trump, donning one of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” caps.

Moreover, he has few experienced advisers in his entourage. Apart from some conversations with retired General Michael Flynn, the off-beat former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the chairman of his national security advisory panel, James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, his “advisers” have been a collection of odd-balls, non-entities and dogmatists. Woolsey himself is an uber-hawk whose views on all matters of consequence align with those of the neocons, the Cheney-like hard nationalists and Hillary Clinton – and are diametrically opposite to Trump’s much publicized iconoclastic remarks.

So what we will be seeing between now and the Inauguration, and afterwards, is a mad rush by a horde of aspirants for the power and access to occupy Donald Trump’s mind – if they can find it.

This is the brutal reality. Since it provides little of substance for the habitual commentators, they are inclined to play a game of make-believe – conjuring supposedly meaningful evidence from what is a kaleidoscope of emotional outbursts and a fantasia of day dreams.

There is good reason to believe that within six months of Trump’s taking office, when his administrations undertakes its first half-baked measures abroad, the think tank crowd will be writing articles and monographs on “The Trump Doctrine.”

In other words, the same mentality that helped get us into this mess. Americans have become committed to a new categorical imperative: I sound off, therefore I am.

If Truth be told, the America we have known and imagined is ended. It never will return. In terms of relations with others, image is of enormous importance. The United States has gained great advantage from being seen as exceptional. From its earliest days, it fascinated and gave inspiration as the first working democracy, as the embodiment of the hope-filled New World, as the land of the common man and common decency.

Later, as it grew into a world power, it held the allure for many as being somehow beyond the world’s pervasive tawdriness. These images held even as contradicted by slavery and racism, by imperial wars of expansion, by signs of hypocrisy. America did tip the balance in favor of the right side in two world wars; it did demonstrate uncommon magnanimity in its support for German and Japanese reconstruction and democracy. Even when playing the game of power politics, it retained a measure of credibility as the one underwriter and arbitrator to whom others might resort.

The resulting “soft power” or “soft influence” has been a unique asset. Already dissipated to a high degree over the decades of the Global War On Terror, it now is destined to fade into a shadow of its former self. A blatantly racist, xenophobic, studiously ignorant, and belligerent country cannot retain the respect of other governments or the high regard of their peoples.

A country so feckless as to choose Trump the buffoon as its President is mocking itself. The negative impact will be compounded as the United States is riven by internal conflicts of all kinds, repressive actions and perhaps another serious economic crisis.

The damage to America’s standing in the world should hardly be a surprise; yet many are inclined to underestimate the effect. One cannot appreciate what we have become by talking to foreign friends on the Washington circuit, or by listening to the polite regrets of those around the world who are interviewed by the media. Walk the streets of cities abroad for unscripted reactions to this historic act of national self-mutilation.

We can expect that whoever winds up in senior policy positions in a Trump administration will downplay these intangibles – if they even acknowledge them. In this, they will be encouraged by the tradition of self-delusion that has become a feature of American thinking about its place in the world.

Think of the Middle East where just about everything that we have been doing since 2001 has been guided by a fantastical view of the region – from Iraq, to Syria, to Yemen, to the Gulf, to Turkey, to Palestine and Israel.

Divorced from Reality

This tendency to divorce ourselves from reality so as to perpetuate myths of American omnipotence and superiority is also witnessed at the operational level. Consider these examples:

President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his "Mission Accomplished" speech about the Iraq War.

President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his “Mission Accomplished” speech about the Iraq War on May 1, 2003

–The U.S. habitually characterizes anybody who resists our use of force against them as evil and criminal. Thus, the insurgents in Iraq are “anti-Iraqi” forces; the Houthis in Yemen are Iranian proxies, the Palestinians are nothing but terrorists, the Russian population in the Donbas region of Ukraine are Russian commandos directed from the Kremlin with the aim of unraveling all of Europe and NATO, etc. etc.

–American policy-makers find it convenient to pursue strategies that entail squaring circles. The outcome is predictable. The outstanding case in point is Syria where for four years they have committed themselves to ousting Assad by force while continuing the fight against violent Islamist groups. That has placed us in the absurd position of allying with Al Qaeda (providing indirect material, and indirect political support) while still fulminating about the grave danger of terrorism.

–We present ourselves as the promoter and well-wisher of democracy while giving unstinting support to oppressive regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and elsewhere while facilitating the ouster of democratically elected reformist leaders in Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil.

These self-delusional practices have prepared the psychological ground for the grand illusion to come in assuming that the America of Trump will continue to draw the world’s admiration and its deference to American leadership.

Normalizing Trump

The inclination to “normalize” the transition in treating Trump, his utterances and his odd-lot entourage as if they somehow could be squeezed into conventional molds is understandable. It is a manifestation of an unwitting coping strategy for coming to terms with the shattering event of his election.

Americans in general are pursuing a similar psychological strategy for the sake of preserving the conception of themselves and their country deeply rooted in their consciousness. Hence, the impulse to minimize the singularity of this revolutionary development without precedent – not only in the United States but anywhere in the democratic world. This is one instance where American “exceptionalism” is not prized.

This is a natural reaction to a brutal Truth about Americans – and its dire consequences. For the choice of Trump reveals most Americans as immature and prone to juvenile behavior. To vote for Trump is the ultimate act of political immaturity.

There are, of course, identifiable reasons why many were drawn to the flamboyant candidate, why his demagoguery resonated, why his exaggerated imagery struck a receptive nerve. However, for that emotional response to translate into the actual selection of this man to be President crosses a critical threshold.

Children – at times – let emotion rule their conduct. Children only weakly feel the imperative to impose logic and a modicum reason on their impulses. Children disregard consequences. Children overlook the downside in their implicit weighing of the balance in giving in to those impulses or not. Grown-ups do not.

Immediate satisfaction – at all and any cost – does not eclipse other considerations for adults. Even a child’s tantrum usually lasts no more than ten minutes or so. The tantrum of Trump voters has lasted 18 months.

That’s pathological – anyway you cut it. Admittedly, some Trump supporters share his perverted view of the world – even if contradicted by his own personal history. Let’s say 12 to 15 percent of the electorate. A larger slice was represented by dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who relished sticking it to the Hillary and the Democrats to such a degree that their thrill at the spectacle overcame their realization that Trump was unfit for the office. Indeed, many probably expected him to lose and, therefore, felt free to go along for the fun of it.

That leaves roughly 10 to 20 percent of the electorate who placed their emotional gratification above their responsibilities as citizens and above the wellbeing of the Republic. That is the difference between the nearly 50 percent he received and what a broad rejection would represent. They constitute the hard core of the culpable juveniles.

What about those who could not stand Hillary, who felt an irresistible impulse to express that feeling somehow? Many options were open to them: abstain, vote for one of the minor candidates, go to the gym and exhaust oneself on an elliptical trainer, get drunk, smoke some weed, pick a fight with one’s spouse. Any of these represents more grown-up behavior than voting for Donald Trump.

By comparison, in France when Jean Marie Le Pen – candidate of the racist far-right party, the Front National – FN, made it into the second round of their presidential election, he and his party were rejected by 82.2 percent of the electorate. In other words, the French rallied together to reject Le Pen. That is what a mature polity does. And Le Pen is sane, albeit a crypto-fascist.

Michael Brenner is a professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. mbren@pitt.edu

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27 comments for “Gambling on the Unknowable Trump

  1. Eric Sundin
    November 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    An article that may just tell it as it is, thank you!

    “In this Nation Exceptional
    with its culture cartoonish,
    discourse rarely conceptual:
    Why not a Prez buffoonish?

    Weary World, don’t hold you breath:
    We shall keep up wreaking death.”

  2. November 14, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Conventional economic competition is considered a zero sum game, one side wins, the other loses correspondingly.
    Conventional war is a negative sum game in that the war damage on both sides subtracts from the presumed zero sum.
    Nuclear war might be considered a minus infinity sum game, since both sides lose everything.

  3. November 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    There are of the order of 15 current Consortium articles about the election of Trump on Consortium’s current page. All manner of issues are explored, but the elephant in the room is virtually ignored, except in the comments sections. This situation once again points to the root of the problem which Consortium should be able to determine. The election was not about picking the best candidate, but about assiduously avoiding the worst, deemed Clinton, who was in “the establishment’s” back pocket, and was commonly believed to be a war, and definitely not a peace candidate. I thought of voting for a candidate out of the two party system, and then decided not to vote my conscience and essentially lose my vote, and voted for Trump instead. I personally have many reservations about Trump, but he seemed committed to peace, and I felt I had more time to MAD, if that was even an issue, than if Clinton was elected. In time and seeing how things may work out, how positions are changed with education, the reservations I and others have could well be resolved. That remains to be seen, and hopefully, we have the time to see it.

  4. Zachary Smith
    November 14, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Another story about Obama’s power grab and the consequences.

    Barack Obama has spent eight years expanding the national security state. He will soon hand its full power to Donald Trump.

    It’s an apparatus that was built by both parties. George W. Bush massively expanded the system after the September 11 attacks, taking measures that were at the time viewed as extreme and unprecedented. But Obama’s ready acceptance and expansion of this national security state upon coming to power has helped entrench it, while also making it more powerful than Dick Cheney’s wildest dreams. Now it’s in Trump’s hands.

  5. Herman
    November 14, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    People much like Professor Brenner are fond of castigating those who voted for Trump yet I read the comments on the Professor’s article and find they are express anger but in a reasoned way and I wonder if the claims of the “washed” that the majority of Trump voters are bumpkins really could stand careful scrutiny. As for Trump, if he does only one thing, to have the courage to walk up to Putin, shake his hand, and say let’s put an end to this corrupt enterprise called the Cold War and work together on problems facing us all. As to his views on domestic policy, maybe he and Sander’s should get to know each other.

  6. The Codbotherer
    November 14, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Picture the scene. You are on a busy train which is slowly accelerating down a slope towards a great bridge which spans a great chasm. A ginger headed guy is jumping up and down because from where he is sitting he is the only one who can see that a span of the bridge has collapsed leaving a 300 yard gap. He’s shouting to everyone to jump for their lives because the bridge is down and the drivers delusional enough to think he can make the train jump the gap. The longer you prevaricate the greater the chance of being injured or killed when you leap from the train.
    That was the unenviable choice faced by the average American. Against all expectations enough of them displayed the courage plus the intellectual and emotional intelligence to assess the risks then take their lives into THEIR OWN HANDS and jump.
    They deserve a round of applause!!

  7. Dennis Rice
    November 13, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump outlined and spoke to what is on the minds of the American people. Yes, there are some different opinions among followers of the two, but still, both Sanders and Trump spoke to their concerns.

    The so called “leadership” of this country still do not get the message.

    The American people have started a (currently) peaceful revolution against the Democrats, the Republicans, the Corporations, the Main Stream Media, the Elite, who didn’t listen, and still (reading and listening to current media comments) are not listening; especially the Republican party who are currently drunk over their political gains.

    This political revolution is just beginning….and we will all have to wait and see just how it plays out.

    And, as usual, Hillary Clinton is blaming everyone else for her failure to the White House. (Can anyone recall a time when she accepted blame for a failure?).

    As to the “swamp” mentioned by Chris above, we can hope. Presently all I see is more muck.

    Alas,

  8. November 13, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    @ “This is a natural reaction to a brutal Truth about Americans – and its dire consequences. For the choice of Trump reveals most Americans as immature and prone to juvenile behavior. To vote for Trump is the ultimate act of political immaturity.”

    Perhaps the most brazen symbol of an unsustainable argument is an ad hominem attack on your opponent. It is a logical fallacy because it ignores the substance of the opponent’s argument to attack the opponent personally. To rest the premise of an article on such an attack without so much as window dressing evidentiary support seems to me to be beyond excuse.

    Professor Brennan, what you have written is an excuse for denial, for learning nothing about your mistake in backing Hillary Clinton. That is hardly excusable in the field you address, foreign affairs. Mrs. Clinton is beyond question a war criminal who has acted time and again on the unprincipled impulse that “might makes right,” backing U.S. wars of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as violating the international customary law of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other nations in places such such as Ukraine, Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela.

    Abiding by international law is of course a requirement of our Constitution’s Treaty Clause, taking precedence over all other constitutional provisions:

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    That Mrs. Clinton repeatedly transgressed that boundary rendered her unfit for the office of President and left the untested Mr. Trump as a fit candidate. It bears remembering in that regard that our government has no physical existence, it does not exist in the real world. We have only human beings as our government, acting under the restraint of law. To the extent that government officials are willing to ignore the law, they are unfit for public office.

    “The law, Roper, the law. I know what’s legal, not what’s right. And I’ll stick to what’s legal. . . . I’m not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain-sailing, I can’t navigate, I’m no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh there I’m a forester. . . . What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? . . . And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? . . . This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — Man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down . . . d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow the[n]? . . . Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

    R. Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, Act I, pg. 147 (Three Plays, Heinemann ed. 1967), as quoted in Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 195-196 (1978), https://goo.gl/tQ5HCL (construction of major dam halted to protect the endangered snail darter fish; “[t]o sustain that [government] position, however, we would be forced to ignore the ordinary meaning of plain language”).

    I’m a combat veteran of the Viet Nam War, where over the course of my more than 27 months in that country I helped kill between 3 and 5 million Vietnamese; Lord only knows how many were permanently maimed. I took a personal vow of non-violence when I returned from that war and expect the same from my elected officials. With the body count in our Mideast wars since 9/11/2001 now approaching 8 million, I voted for Stein but would have voted for Trump or stayed home if Stein and Johnson had not run.

    Mrs. Clinton is, as Mr. Trump said, a “very nasty woman.” She is a homicidal sociopath. That Mr. Trump was willing to claim the moral high ground of a future less interventionist foreign policy makes him worth the risk to me. I do not approve of killing innocents. Do you? If not, how might you rationally defend your choice of Mrs. Clinton for the Presidency? Surely it is not adequate merely to accuse those who voted for Mr. Trump “as immature and prone to juvenile behavior.”

    • Bill Bodden
      November 14, 2016 at 1:53 am

      Exceptionally well said. Thank you very much.

      I do not approve of killing innocents. Do you? If not, how might you rationally defend your choice of Mrs. Clinton for the Presidency?

      Meryl Streep justified her support of Hillary Clinton on the basis of three women giving Clinton credit for saving their lives. It is beyond my comprehension to understand how Ms. Streep could be oblivious to the millions of women who suffered death, loss of children, maiming and displacement because of policies supported or promoted by the Queen of Chaos.

  9. aquadraht
    November 13, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Surprisingly, the comment by Mr.Bruni on NYT was ways saner and more sober than Mr.Brenner’s rant: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/opinion/the-democrats-screwed-up.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

    I agree to much of it. The Democrats messed it up, and they will have a hard time to regain a stance unless they are cleaning up the Augias stable the Democratic party apparatus and establishment represents. Only when getting in touch with the populace and not only their echo chamber of wage winners and their servant class they will have a chance to recover.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 13, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      Only when getting in touch with the populace …

      will they continue their routine of feeding the people bullshit. See my comment above on oligarchs.

      • aquadraht
        November 14, 2016 at 4:30 pm

        I widely agree. My problem is remaining: Will there be a chance to break up the incrusted structures of the political system of the USA towards more popular and less oligarchic rule? This is more decisive for the future of the country than the one or the other candidate, as long as she or he does not blow up the world.

        All criticism notwithstanding, I consider the institution of primaries a great idea, ways superior to back room nominations as usual in Europe. Even the last nomination process demonstrates that democracy is not dead in the US. Ironically, it was the Russian Federation who recently adopted the institution of primaries.

        Still it is hard to see how this encrusted duopoly of hard to distinguish parties and their strangling hold on political life can be broken up.

  10. Wm. Boyce
    November 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    “Donald Trump’s victory may have shaken up the System but it also revealed a recklessness (or a desperation) among Americans in handing over such immense power to someone so untested, says Michael Brenner.”

    Well Mr. Brenner, I say the same thing to you that I say to people who talk about the “election” or “re-election” of G.W. Bush: those elections were stolen, as was this election. The exit polls showed that Clinton won in multiple swing states, but strangely enough, if there were Republicans running the elective process, she somehow “lost.”

    Look at Harry Enten’s article for 538.com : http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/there-were-no-purple-states-on-tuesday/

    Somehow, for the first time in U.S. elective history, every Republican state that voted for Trump also elected a Republican senate candidate. Now don’t you find that a trifle strange? Of course, all of these states had Republican officials running the election.

    Wake up, people. You can theorize all you want, but without federal electoral reform, it’s all over.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 13, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Donald Trump’s victory may have shaken up the System

      Like a bull in a china shop.

  11. Joe B
    November 13, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    All bad luck with Trump will be good news for the US. The worse he is on domestic issues, the stronger the progressives will be. The Dems in discredit will have to clean house or concede to a third party, and probably they won’t, so with luck they are finished this time, and the Repubs will discredit themselves once more.

    The danger is that any new party will be financed by the oligarchy and zionists.

  12. Jeremy
    November 13, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I agree Mr. Brenner is blaming the victim here…the American people who were basically given 2 unacceptable candidates. With Hillary representing more disdain for average working/middle class America and possibly a nuclear war with Russia, I can see how many went with the wild card. I don’t agree, and voted for Stein myself, but I understand. The questions running through my mind as a read through the artical is “how on Earth does Brenner let the DNC off who so arrogantly dismissed Sanders, all his supporters, and his basic message that spoke to the concerns of the masses?”

    I lay blame for this at their feet for undermining the will of the people and assuming they knew better. The story of how we have a president Trump is that the DNC rigged the primaries with the help of super delegates, the MSM, and in some states committing election fraud (ie. California, Nevada, and Wyoming). They stole the nomination from Sanders gave it to Clinton and this is the result. Now we will all suffer at the hands of this sociopath.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 13, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      I lay blame for this at their feet for undermining the will of the people and assuming they knew better.

      The oligarchs of both major parties are only concerned with the will of the people when it threatens their power, which is their primary concern. Otherwise, concern for the well-being of the people, morality, ethics, and judicious judgment are not factors in deciding political issues.

  13. Brad Owen
    November 13, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    The Era of the Elephant and the Donkey, the Lamb and the Bald Eagle, is waning. The Era now dawning is that of the Coyote, yielding unpredictable & surprising results from unknowable, unwitting agents.

  14. Zachary Smith
    November 13, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Consider Barack Obama, a far more thoughtful, sober and intelligent man.

    It’s a lot easier to make those claims than it is to provide evidence for them. “Sober”? The Obama who said this: “Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

    “Thoughtful”? The Obama who in a mindless knee-jerk reaction authorized the firing of Sherley Sherrod?

    As for the intelligence issue, I’d pay a couple of bucks to watch a supervised IQ test of the sort taken for Mensa. And I’d not bet a bit of money on the outcome. Being a certified asshole doesn’t necessarily make a person stupid.

    Regarding the unimaginable Presidential Powers being handed to Donald Trump, we can thank Bush the Dumber and Obama the Nobel Peace Prize winner. Those two jackals are the primary reason Trump (or Hillary if it had gone the other way) will have such unaccountable power.

    Commander-In-Chief Donald Trump Will Have Terrifying Powers. Thanks, Obama.

  15. Bill Bodden
    November 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    We present ourselves as the promoter and well-wisher of democracy while giving unstinting support to oppressive regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and elsewhere

    Surely, “elsewhere” includes Israel.

  16. Bill Bodden
    November 13, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    The resulting “soft power” or “soft influence” has been a unique asset. Already dissipated to a high degree over the decades of the Global War On Terror, it now is destined to fade into a shadow of its former self. A blatantly racist, xenophobic, studiously ignorant, and belligerent country cannot retain the respect of other governments or the high regard of their peoples.

    As the perceptive Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  17. Bill Bodden
    November 13, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    If Truth be told, the America we have known and imagined is ended. It never will return. In terms of relations with others, image is of enormous importance. The United States has gained great advantage from being seen as exceptional. From its earliest days, it fascinated and gave inspiration as the first working democracy, as the embodiment of the hope-filled New World, as the land of the common man and common decency.

    Unfortunately, much of this America was illusion and myth.

    • Joe B
      November 13, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Agreed; the US inspired no one. Its own inspiration and success came largely from France, which had a much more difficult and unstable path to democracy. If Simon Bolivar was inspired by Enlightenment writings or by the US, he could not have been much inspired by the US refusal to help S American revolutions on the grounds that politicians thought that Catholics could not be democratic. The hope inspired by the US was primarily the hope of resources for immigrants.

  18. Steven M Zerbey
    November 13, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburg … big whoop dee do! Sure, the average Trump voter lives in a house trailer and works at Walmart to pay the rent on it. He knows his life is f***** and his children’s will be a lot worse so he has rolled the dices. What does he have to lose? The answer is nothing, it’s the elite’s future he is gambling with now.

    • Brad Owen
      November 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Well said. Make “Them” sweat ‘n’ panic, for a change, for having made us blue collars sweat ‘n’ fret in a decades-long life experience of “defeat-and-retreat”.

  19. November 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Well, my first instinct is to say “what a huge pile of crap” and move on. Having said that I can understand Brenner’s POV because I was in and around Washington for most of my life and his point would be well-taken where he not engaging in deeper fantasies than Trump. First, he is wrong in calling Trump “Quixotic” and displays his lack of critical thinking skills. Trump, an outsider to power, took on the Republican establishment and won, he took on the Democratic Establishment and won and, above all, he took on the mainstream media and won–I dout Brenner would read these comments but if he does then please explain that statement? Quixote, unless Brenner did not read that work, did not have much success in his little crusades. And what does he mean by “untested”? U.S. foreign policy is in utter shambles–anyone associated with it needs to provide some pretty convincing arguments why they should not face arrest or at least public shame.

    Hilary and the mainstream Democrats and Republicans want the American people to fund permanent war and a hot or cold war with Russia to assure the neocon dream of “full-spectrum dominance” which means that they want an Imperial regime ruling the entire world from Washington. If that’s what Brenner wants he should have the intellectual honesty of admitting it. One thing I like about neocons like Kagan et. all., is they are honest and were honest about their intentions in many ways.

    I voted for Trump because we needed at least some swamp drainage and because I oppose the Empire as many leftists once did.

    • eugene
      November 14, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      Dream on!!

Comments are closed.