By way of introduction I should tell you that I have great affection for the United States of America. Just over a century ago most of my uncles and aunts migrated from a dirt-poor part of Donegal to settle in Chicago. If my mother hadn’t married a home-bird and moved to Derry with him I would now be living somewhere in the U.S. As things stand, I have hundreds of close relatives there and we keep in touch.
And so to my three thoughts . . .
THE DOUBLE WHAMMY THAT DOWNED CLINTON
All of the aforementioned has instilled in me a deep interest in U.S. politics. I feel for the poor there as well as for the dispossessed middle classes, and I am angry at the damage American neoliberals have done to many millions of their own people. These people have been conned, and the result is the elevation of a monster to the office of President.
How were they conned? Well, the Democratic Party has been wedded to the ultra-wealthy for far too long. Although neo-liberalism was first embraced by Ronald Reagan (and given the cosy title of Reaganomics) it was later taken up by Bill Clinton and endorsed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). It involved massive tax cuts for the rich, destruction of trade unions as an effective force, and reduction in public housing and deregulation. Its afterbirth was NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which was introduced under Bill Clinton in 1994 and has been catastrophic for most Americans during the past 22 years. Bernie Sanders voted against NAFTA and this, among other things, made him a thorn in the side of his own party.
Leaked emails have revealed that at a crucial stage in Sanders’ quest for the Democratic nomination, the DNC plotted against him, undermining his campaign and so ensuring that Clinton won the nomination. The consensus among my American relations is that the DNC considered Sanders dangerous to their cause and, shocking as it may seem, would actually have preferred Trump to him in the White House.
And this is where the double whammy comes in. First, if what my relations have told me is correct, a significant percentage of Sanders’ millions of supporters abstained from voting, giving a massive boost to Trump’s chances. (I know that Sanders urged them to vote Clinton but, crucially, he also asked them to follow their consciences.) And second, Trump promised loud and clear that he would do away with NAFTA, thus attracting vital support from the dispossessed in the battleground states.
Game, set and match.
THE MEDIA AS TRUMP’S HANDMAIDEN
Large swathes of American and British media are already colluding with Trump and his team. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was recently featured on the cover of Forbes as Trump’s remarkable Svengali (“This guy got Trump elected – America’s new power broker is now poised to scale.”) Upcoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions was described by CNN, the Times and the BBC as being “dogged” by his racist past. Dogged? Past? Alex Jones, tipped for a key post in the new administration, has called Hillary Clinton “a whore of Babylon” and thinks the Sandy Hook massacre was staged. Jones has now been profiled in the style section of the The Washington Post.
As if all that wasn’t enough, CNN has just soft-featured Richard Spencer, head of far-right think-tank the National Policy Institute. This is the Richard Spencer that questioned whether Jews “are people at all, or instead soulless golem.” Yesterday I heard Larry Korb, defence secretary under Reagan, interviewed on the BBC World Service and when it was put to him that General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was an interesting choice for defense secretary in Trump’s administration, he didn’t disagree, and merely tempered his enthusiasm by recalling that Mattis was famous for saying that “killing is good fun,” and then went on to assert, “It’s good fun on the battlefield, but you have to be less outspoken when you’re defense secretary.” This statement went unchallenged by the BBC interviewer.
Is this journalism? Or is it capitulation? If formerly respectable outlets such as those I have named are now treating an unspeakable bunch of anti-Semitic, racist, sexist and homophobic thugs with kid gloves – and even celebrating them – what nightmares lie ahead?
BULL IN A CHINA SHOP
As I write, there is a row brewing between China and the U.S. It has to do with the friendly phone call between president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen that has overturned decades of diplomatic protocol and prompted one Chinese spokesperson to speak of war.
China sees Taiwan as a renegade province and since 1979 the U.S. has acknowledged Beijing's claim that Taiwan is part of China, with U.S.-China relations governed by a set of protocols known as the "one China" policy.
This means there are no formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan -- so Trump's decision to take Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's call has caused serious rumblings.
Things were bad enough already. Barack Obama during his eight years in power has overseen a colossal but unacknowledged build-up of military bases close to China purely to try and keep China in its place. The U.S. has built a large number of missile bases whose weapons are trained on China. The term knife edge springs to mind here. Added to this is Trump’s oft repeated claim that China is the new enemy and responsible for stealing many thousands of jobs from the U.S.
Last month the influential Chinese newspaper Global Times wrote: “Chinese people should reject an arrogant, hawkish candidate like Trump out of hand" and went on to say that the rise of a racist in the U.S. political arena worried the whole world. It ended: "The U.S. had better be careful not to be a source of destructive forces against world peace."
I live thousands of miles from both the U.S. and China and I am frightened. With Trump at the helm, the U.S. could either run aground or find itself in the last war of all. In my opinion, one or other is almost bound to happen. Today I went to Google and saw the glory of Aleppo before the war. And it brought tears to my eyes to think of what will happen to the people there when the city is taken during the 12 days of Christmas.
I’ve seen enough sadness in my home city of Derry and it has made me weary and bitter. Our comparatively small Troubles reduced Derry to dead bodies, maimed friends and relations, broken-hearted bereaved and piles of rubble. My city has been renewed but the dead are still dead and the maimed are still maimed and the hearts are still broken. God help America.
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