Trump in Europe: an expression of capitalism in turmoil

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jk1921
Trump in Europe: an expression of capitalism in turmoil
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Trump in Europe: an expression of capitalism in turmoil. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
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jk1921
The contradiction between the

The contradiction between the weight of military spending on the overall "health" of the US economy and the need for the US to continue in some role as a global hegemon is just that: a contradiction. It is the same contradiction that previous administrations have faced. Trump is not the first US President to raise the issue of other NATO countries' not carrying their weight in regards to military spending. He isn't even the first raise the issue of the Russia-Germany pipeline. The difference appears to be that while previous administrations desired to maintain the structures of US hegemony, of which NATO has been an important feature, by attempting to further integrate the other nations into them, Trump may actually be working to sabotage them, demanding other nations raise their military spending by 4 percent, rather than 2, which would appear to be impractical and designed to provoke future tensions. Of course, there is also the danger that too harsh an approach to the NATO "allies" could only alienate them and further encourage the everyman for himself tendency, which Trump may not actually have a problem with, having been variously described as the first "post-exceptional" President or as a "transactional" President who recognizes other powers have their own legitimate foreign policy (read imperialist) interests and that the neo-liberal consensus of the US remaining the only legitimate power in the world can no longer be maintained.

Of course, Trump's position, whatever motivates it, is simply anathema to the bulk of the "permanent (deep) state," and as such he is being viciously opposed by all the mainstream and legacy media outlets, while non-peripheral figures in the Democratic Party scream about "treason," "collusion" and suggest that the entire Trump presidency is nothing more than a Russian op. While it is possible that Trump's time in office will not last much longer, there is nevertheless deep fear in the main factions of the ruling class that the damage he is wrecking will be permanent and the institutions of the post-WWII order will finally collapse as erstwhile allies figure that even if Trump stands outside the main factions of the US bourgeoisie, the US political process can no longer be relied upon to produce stable outcomes that support the neo-liberal consensus going forward.

As for the anti-Trump demos in the UK and elsewhere, to say they remained on the "bourgeois terrain" is quite an understatement. A complete farce may be more accurate. But in this, Trump is proving a certain worth to beleaguered leaders and parties in other Western countries, as he takes the heat off of them becomming the focus of global outrage--so easily parodied and mocked. Of course, why the UK's own Draconian immigration policies never provoked the same domestic outrage is a mystery, which demonstrates the role of a certain anti-American ideology and a certain personalization of evil (which Trump obviously facilitates) in dampening down a genuine questioning of the global nature of this system. Is a leader who summarily strips citizens of their passports without so much as hearing (which May did during her time as Home Secretary--after which some of the subjects were promptly droned) any less of a moral abomination than one who uses the seperation of children from their parents as a detterent to immigration?

baboon
It's easy to write Trump off

It's easy to write Trump off as a buffoon but, despite his eccentricities, he is in many ways representative of the needs of American interests and the real face of US imperialism. At the outset of the developing crisis with North Korea I thought that Trump's original, out-of-the-blue proposal to hold direct talks with Kim Jong-un was very astute. It was dismissed with some contempt both from within the administration and by US allies abroad. But months on, with the US line-up refined to an "open to a deal" hard-man Trump on one side and "soft-cop" Secretary of State Tillerson on the other, talks eventually took place and a potentially serious crisis was successfully avoided. If the missile and nuclear capacity of North Korea remains an open question and US/Chinese agreed sanctions against the Kim regime are dead on the ground, this has nevertheless been a result for Trump and US imperialism.

Some incredulity has now been raised, particularly amongst his allies, over Trump's decision to pull his troops out of Syria. But here again, against Secretary of State Mattis and elements of the Pentagon, this is absolutely the right decision for the interests of US imperialism. The present primary concern for US foreign policy is to bring Turkey fully back into the Nato fold and if this means sacrificing the Kurds and their own nationalist aspirations so be it. Betrayal of the Kurds by the larger imperialisms for their own ends has been a constant feature of the twentieth century.

It seems likely that some elements of the American state, through Nato, were involved in the 2016 coup against Erdogan. If this was the case then he would know it. Erdogan has played a clever game of gradual moves towards Putin's Russia that pre-date the coup attempt, upping the ante as he went along. His drip-drip feed of Khassogi's murder has diminished and weakened an MbS-led Saudi Arabia which the US now has firmly in its pocket. The Saudi's are good for business, both for the US and Trump himself, but their very expensive mercenary army, backed by the latest air-power, can't even beat local Houti regulars in one of the poorest countries in the world. There is no comparison of the Saudis with Turkey's army and its military efficiency. To have this ex-ally fully back on board would be a major asset for US imperialism. The war in Syria has been lost by the US-led coalition and it's been won by Russia and Iran. Sacrificing the Kurdish YPG and its statelet, the existence of which the Turks will not countenance, is a price worth paying for present and potential US interests and Trump, with his relationship to an Erdogan who he understands, has made what appears to be a clear decision on this.

None of America's allies were even consulted on this sudden decision, taken purely in the former's interests. Macron vows to "stand by" the Kurds but he's in no position to fight a serious war. Trump has seized this imperative and Erdogan looks like he's responding.

jk1921
If it is true that Trump is

If it is true that Trump is acting in the national interest here, what accounts for the near universal damnation of this move in the media, among most serious pundits, "military experts," etc. who almost all described it as an early Christmas present to Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, Putin, etc. and called it a terrible sell-out of the Kurds, weakening the US's standing in the world, demonstrating it will not stand by its allies?

Alf
global versus national

I think you both could be right. Trump is not incapable of calculation, even if the sums he comes up with lead to increasingly disastrous consequences. It would be quite logical to say that Syria is lost, we get that, but let's turn Turkey back towards us. In this he becomes an agent of the more general tendency towards the final break up of the post-war order which survived even the collapse of the old bloc system. Other, very experienced parts of the bourgeoisie are not willing to follow this logic and insist on preserving some tried and tested policies, like maintaining an organised Europe and NATO, and keeping Russia at bay. So the resignation of Mattis does represent a deep schism within the ruling class.

jk1921
Alf wrote:

Alf wrote:

I think you both could be right. Trump is not incapable of calculation, even if the sums he comes up with lead to increasingly disastrous consequences. It would be quite logical to say that Syria is lost, we get that, but let's turn Turkey back towards us. In this he becomes an agent of the more general tendency towards the final break up of the post-war order which survived even the collapse of the old bloc system. Other, very experienced parts of the bourgeoisie are not willing to follow this logic and insist on preserving some tried and tested policies, like maintaining an organised Europe and NATO, and keeping Russia at bay. So the resignation of Mattis does represent a deep schism within the ruling class.

Obviously, there are deep divisions, which reflect the contradictions of imperialism and decomposition, but to what extent and for how long can we say that the minority faction in the bourgeoisie represents the "national interest"? Those who challenge paradigms and consensus are never popular at first, but Trump's Presidency is under severe threat from all sides, including within his own administration and the chances that his "America first," policies will survive the demise of his administration seem dim, although of course that is not written in stone, as "liberal internationlism," seems on the defensive at the moment globally.

jk1921
This is a few months old, but

This is a few months old (http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/13cf816e-8e40-41c8-bb76-d453a3261d8b), but so apparently unanimous is the sentiment that the US should not sell out the Kurds that even a staunch critic of US imperialist policy as Noam Chomsky thinks the US should stay in Syria in order to protect them. Such is the ultimate logic of anti-fascism. Of course, facing the imminent loss of their US buffer, there are suggestions that the Kurds will cut a deal with Assad to protect them from the coming Turkish onslaught.

Domestically, Trump's announcement of an imminent withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan have had the effect of driving a wedge between elements of the "resistance," with the left denouncing the war hawk rhetoric of the Democratic Party establishment. Notably, Sanders has been silent about the move.

baboon
I'm not sure what your

I'm not sure what your position is Jk. You say that Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria has been greeted by surprise and disdain. But I say much the same above in relation to his unilateral proposal to hold direct talks with North Korea and more lately in relation to the Syrian pull-out. So we have no disagreement on that. However, if you are saying that Trump's latest move regarding Syria with respect to relations with Turkey is not in the interests of US imperialism then you should put forward an argument to that effect.

You ask, "what accounts for the near-universal damnation of this (Syrian pull-out) move in the media", the pundits, allies and senior members of the US military? Unlike Obama, the US and British media hate Trump and his allies are rightly nervous about him and his next move - as they have been for some time now. But the policies of US imperialism in the Middle East, as represented by Mattis say, have been a complete failure, open-ended and with no clear strategy and objectives. Regime-change has failed, relying on proxies has failed and while Trump has talked about the war being "won" against Isis, the US coalition's proxy war in Syria has been lost (as the war in Afghanistan is being lost). At any rate, this move by Trump has turned out to be very popular among rank-and-file troops - look at the reception he got when he announced to them in Iraq on Wednesday that "We're no longer being the sucker's folks". And this also plays very well with his domestic political base, particularly given the Pentagon's open-ended commitment to keeping troops in Syria and Afghanistan without a plan for any long-term strategy or any clear goals.

It's not like this came out of the blue and Trump has frequently signalled that he would be "bringing the troops back home". Six months ago Trump gave six months notice that he would withdraw US troops from Syria and, while the Commander-in-Chief of US forces has been true to his word, he's been nudged along somewhat by Erdogan's implicit threats and the nightmare prospect of Turkish forces firing on American soldiers who are protecting the Kurdish YPG. The one thing that Trump doesn't want, and again this coincides entirely with the interests of US imperialism, is another open-ended, directionless war in the Middle East that have led to so much US failures and set-backs. And all this lack of direction and purpose which led to these failures have been backed and maintained by elements of the US military, Mattis and co. included. Of course, this doesn't mean that's Trump's approach can be any more successful, particularly given further problems already brewing and those down the line.

As far as the abandonment of the Kurds illustrating the fact that the US will not stand behind its allies, this has already been illustrated to death. In 2017, the US ruthlessly double-crossed the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and abandoning the Kurds to their fate (theYPG are already scrambling around for new allies who will eventually betray them) is by no means peculiar to the Trump presidency nor the twenty-first century.

It's similar in Afghanistan where, right in the middle of sensitive talks with the Taleban, Trump has pulled the rug from under the feet of his Afghan proxies and negotiators, by announcing a 50% cut in the fourteen thousand US troops in the country. This was the concession that the Taleban was looking for and it's been given to them in typical Trumpian style as a gift.

None of this undermines the analyses of the break-up of the blocs and the developments of centrifugal tendencies and present-day populism and decomposition; on the contrary, it's part of it and contributes to it as Trump has no more of a "solution" to the problems of imperialism as anyone else and can be more dangerous to stability than anyone else. But Trump sees a rapprochement with Erdogan's Turkey, moving it away from closer ties with Russia, as more important than anything for the interests of US imperialism at the moment and I think it's hard to argue with that.

jk1921
Baboon, you can't tell what

Baboon, you can't tell what my position is, because I don't have one. You on the other hand, in deciphering what the US national interest is in the current embroglio in the Middle East, have placed yourself on the other side of virtually the entire US political-military establishment. The only factions echoing your position are the Trumpists (and not even all of them), pro-Assad leftists and paleo-conservative isolationists.

That, of course, doesn't mean it is wrong. But can you explain why this policy has met with such universal derision? Will it be reversed when Trump is impeached or loses the next election? Will the "adults it the room" talk him out of it yet? Or is the united front against him all for show, a ramping up of the "resistance" theatrics for domestic consumption? That seems unlikely.

baboon
This is going to be longer

This is going to be longer than I like but it's necessary.

First of all jk writes: "the only factions echoing your position are the Trumpists (not even all of them), pro-Assad leftists and paleo-conservative isolationists". I'm used to this sort of thing of libcom where if you denounce A you are automatically supporting B. None of these elements that you quote share my position jk because, even if it's totally wrong, it's a position based on a Marxist understanding of the communist left of the current geo-political situation in the Middle East and its perspectives. I can't be lumped in with various bourgeois expressions when I am trying to defend an internationalist position.

Jk21 asks why then has the Syria policy announcement been met with "such universal derision". Let's look at the "universal" nature of this derision and who's doing the deriding. For a start, they are the spokespeople of British and French imperialism who, hanging on the coat-tails of the US military, have been playing their own squalid war games in the Middle East, leaching off US power and assets in order to maintain the defence of their own interests. Who else? The pundits and Pentagon-backed think-tanks that have invested all their authority in covering up the weakness and failure of US foreign policy in the Middle East along with the Trump-hating media. Who else? First and foremost the "adults" in the US military, in the White House and their cliques in the State Department, that is the very people who are and were responsible for the unfolding disasters of US imperialist policy (or rather the lack of policy) in the Middle East over the last quarter-century. And of course by the Kurds whose pathetic imperialist ambitions have been betrayed time and again by US and British imperialism.

As for Trump's "sudden", "abrupt", "surprising" decision as reported by the above, the general framework was announced by him prior to his election and it has been refined and repeated many, many times since. I think that top US military elements expected Trump to fold like Obama or to take part in "the all goes well in the Middle East" charade that Hilary Clinton played a full part in when she was Secretary of State - which I believe contributed to her losing the election. But Trump, quite clearly, is another kettle of fish. And the one thing missing from jk's current list of supporters of his "abrupt" decision is the great number of US troops underneath the higher-ranking "adults" who are its enthusiastic supporters. And it's not just Trump's political base that welcomes this move but it extends to his political opponents, pacifist and elements of the left, as jk himself notes.

The post-89 analysis of the ICC on imperialism overall and the Middle East in particular, has, in great part, been the weakness and failure of US imperialism. It's a very useful analysis which the CWO, as is its wont, carefully ignored for some time, taking it up only when some of the more far-sighted and perceptive bourgeois political commentators, less prone to illusions and mystification than the "adults" in the Pentagon and their "successes", began to talk about the unfolding US disaster in the Middle East.

Despite "Shock and Awe", boots on the ground, overwhelming air-power, Cruise missiles, regime-change and war by proxies, US military actions in the Middle East have not only failed but directly contributed to greater chaos and instability which has spread much wider than the Middle East and cost the leading world power so much treasure. Within the context of the post-1989 collapse of the blocs the adventures of US imperialism in the Middle East have gone from bad to worse. Contrary to Trump, the "adults" in the US military wanted to continue with their "headless chicken" policy with an absence of long-term goals and no feasable strategy for an end-game.

Unlike its upper echelons and supporting cliques in the State Department, Trump has openly recognised and called-out the failure of the US military in the Middle East. It may well end in further disaster but it is a calculated policy change by the Commander-in-Chief of US forces. Yesterday the US Defence Department issued a statement, probably through gritted teeth, which said that Trump's Syria decision was "deliberate, well thought-out, mutually supportive and controlled". And these same elements will definitely try to undermine Trump on the ground with proposals already being made by them about the Kurdsh YPG keeping their weapons and artillery (and "advisers") and continuing air-strikes launched from Iraq, etc. But, going on his record, I'd say that they will have to impeach Trump or have him assassinated in order to maintain their positions that have led to such a disaster up to now; and nowhere does this mean that Trump's policies will be any the less disastrous. The only solution for imperialism here is wider war.

Trump's Syria decision goes hand-in-hand with his attempted rapprochement towards Erdogan and Turkey. And though jk has not argued against this decision being significant, primary even, for the needs of US imperialism, I maintain that this is the most important developing aspect of his recognition of the failure of US imperialism in the Middle East.

 

jk1921
Maybe it was all just a

Maybe it was all just a Trumpian ruse? Or is that the wishful thinking of the establishment?

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/12/31/lindsey-grahams-descript...)

 

"What explains Graham’s newfound optimism about Trump’s plan to leave Syria? Well, there is one big but rather confusing reason. In Graham’s retelling, Trump’s plan to leave Syria sounds suspiciously like a plan to stay in Syria — one that could be extended indefinitely, too. Speaking to reporters Sunday, Graham described Trump’s Syria plan as a 'pause situation' rather than a withdrawal."

jk1921
[quote=baboon]

[quote=baboon]

This is going to be longer than I like but it's necessary.

First of all jk writes: "the only factions echoing your position are the Trumpists (not even all of them), pro-Assad leftists and paleo-conservative isolationists". I'm used to this sort of thing of libcom where if you denounce A you are automatically supporting B. None of these elements that you quote share my position jk because, even if it's totally wrong, it's a position based on a Marxist understanding of the communist left of the current geo-political situation in the Middle East and its perspectives. I can't be lumped in with various bourgeois expressions when I am trying to defend an internationalist position.

[quote]

No one is lumping you in with bourgeois expressions, Baboon. I did not mean to imply that because your assessment of the US national interest is the same as some of the more fringe elements of the US bourgeoisie on the particular question of whether or not the US should withdraw troops from Syria, you somehow support those factions. So, no this is not like LibCom, if that is what goes on there.

But you expressed a position on what is in the US nationalist interest (withdrawing from Syria) that most of the main factions of the US bourgeoisie at least appear to disagree with it. You would think some of them would approximate their "real" interests.

As far as "defending an internationalist position," I am not sure what that means when it comes to divining the national interests of a particular state. How can we know this in anymore than a general way and why is this even a task for proletarian internationalists? Isn't our position that the bourgeois interest is racked by contradictions and really nothing more than that? We can ascertain particular strategies and show what this or that bourgeois faction really wants to do against the ideological reasons they express to the public, but to conclude that one particular direction is the national interest over another, when there is nothing but contradictions seems a reach at the granular level we are talking about here.

It may be the case that there is an attempt by Trump to cozy up with Erdogan, or with Putin, and in some ways this may fit a particular vision of US interest at the moment: let Turkey, Russia and Iran get bogged down in Syria, cut US losses and regroup, focus on more critical conflicts ahead (China). Or try to break Turkey away from is own rapprochement with Russia, pull it back into the Western orbit, by letting it pursue its interest against the Kurds. Or more ambitiously try to form some new axis against Iran and ultimately China, based on the mutual interests of US and Russia to prevent the rise of another Super Power (breaking Russia away from Iran). I don't know. But at the same time, the US will lose a presence on the ground, allow more free reign to Iran in the region (which for all the coziness with Putin and other "authoritarians" who are at least nominally allied with the Islamic Republic, the Trumpists despise) and this will discredit the ideology of "liberal internationalism," that still lays at the base of US international power, although less so under Trump. This is an important point in the main factions campaign against Trump, who they see turning the US into just another self-interested power like Russia, shedding the ideological force of its claim to represent a liberal order based on international norms. W. Bush had already done much to erode that, but Obama was in the process of restoring it and Clinton would have almost certianly made it the basis of her foreign policy, even if she would have been more agressive than Trump in opposing Russian ambitions in the region (In fact, because of it).

Similarly, there may be a growing unease in the population about "endless war," although this still seems limited to certain constituencies, like the emerging "socialist left," (apparently not Chomsky necessarily!) who are getting louder, but still garner the sympathy of only a minority of the population. Although ending the wars was a part of Trump's idiosyncratic campaign, his heartland base has very contradictory consciousness on militarism, nationalism, etc. Many don't like the burden their communities have suffered in terms of military service that they can't see the immediate American interest, but appearing to back-down from military challenges is not popular either. There really isn't a social movement at this time on the scale of those that gave the US bourgeoisie second thoughts about continuing the Vietnam quagmire.

I think one can debate back and forth here over whether a particular move represents the national interest all day and come to no definitive conclusion. We could maybe do the same with things like Brexit, which there is still general consensus among opinion makers was a mistake, but which the more "responsible" factions of the UK bourgeoisie recognize must go through on some level to maintain the democratic legitimacy of the state. In other words, there are contradictions.

baboon
Contradictions everywhere

There are contradictions everywhere throughout capitalism. But it would be foolish not to see that the Trump presidency, another contradiction and a gamble in itself for the US bourgeoisie, didn't represent something of a different direction for US imperialism - a direction surrounded by contradictions within the overall framework of capitalism's decompositon and its centrifugal tendencies.

Martin Chulov is a respected columnist for The Guardian who writes on international affairs. He wrote about Trump's decision on Syria being, a shock, abrupt, sudden, surprising, etc. He wrote this in April 2017 and virtually repeated the same article a few days ago. It's easy for Trump to point out to his supporters how much "fake news" this is. Similarly they are regurgitating the same "shock", "suddeness" and "surprise" in the US media. I think that personally Trump enjoys pointing out these media absurdities which bolster his ego, consolodates his base to some extent and reinforces his zeal. And now they are criticising me, Trump adds, for fulfilling my election promises; for doing what I said I was going to do.

The US has lost a signficant war in the Middle East which has increased the clout of Russia and Iran, the culmination of a policy of disasters that have followed one after the other by the US military and its inflated, unachievable goals, where such goal existed.  I think that the full consequences of this loss have yet to be assimilated but we are seeing Trump's reaction to it confirmed by his statement to his troops that the US "won't be the world's policeman any more" and his vow to them to end the US's "never-ending wars", which is what he has been saying before, during and after his election. Though critical of Nato, demanding in mafioso style that its components stump up more of the ante, Trump has never really broken with it. He's a calculated bully and wants to fashion Nato as his self-financing enforcer. And this is what makes it so important to get Turkey back into the fold with the potential, among other things, for using the latter against Iran.

baboon
Despite the hoo-hah over

Despite the hoo-hah over "surprise" and "postponments" the actual draw-down of US troops in Syria began over a fortnight ago. Around that time al-Jazeera reported that locals in al-Hasakah, northern Syria, reported that the US base of around fifty military personnel and equipment was shut down overnight and sent back to Iraq. This was a small but significant US base and one of 18 in Syria. More significant the next day al-Jazeera picked up a report from a Qatari newspaper which contained an interview with a commander of the Kurdish-controlled council, who said that in the previous day a hundred US military trucks and equipment had withdrawn from their base in Dier ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria and were sent to Iraq. A couple of days later Press TV reported that a US base in al-Malikiyah had been shut down - this latter report was unconfirmed and this may be the same as the first example.

Meanwhile US diplomacy turned into a real circus with National Security Adviser John Bolton virtually kicked out of Turkey by a furious Erdogan after saying that US troops would continue to protect the forces of the Kurdish YPG - which looks like he directly contradicted the private assurances that Erdogan had from Trump. Whatever the case here, and whatever the time-scale, the withdrawal of US troops from Syria is underway and this is US government policy.

baboon
Just a few more thoughts on

Just a few more thoughts on this and the general strategy unfolding:
There were various reports (I don't have any references) prior to Trump's election that there were elements within the US military who disagreed with their country's Middle Eastern policy and the strength of its committment to that region including Syria. There were probably various "shades" to this disagreement but there were real differences expressed with the generally consistent, if shambolic, foreign policy of both Republicans and Democrats with regard to the Middle East overall.

The "America First" of Trump, ultimately as doomed as the policy he criticises, plays into this as well as playing well with his populist position of "bringing the troops home". In fact I think that this latter position is reflected in general among the exploited who, as far as can gather, can make little sense of wars in the Middle East (or "Sand and Death" as it known by the more literate) and why US soldiers should be dying there. It's not the same as the anti-war sentiment during and post-Vietnam, but the ideological mobilisation for war from 9/11, limited anyway, has now worn off somewhat. There are gung-ho elements for war in the US and these are natural Trump supporters but the fact is that the US is in no position to put boots on the ground in any numbers anywhere. Certainly not the sort of numbers it needs to occupy territories and win wars and, showing its weakness, it has to rely on proxies that further contribute to complicating matters.

This is the particular framework that demands the inclusion of Erdogan's Turkey back on the US side. The much-vaunted Israel/Saudi alliance looks a bit fractured with MbS still in the driving seat making Erdogan all the more important and Trump has openly boasted about how he's going to shakedown the Saudi coffers to pay for his policy. A US military "withdrawal" from parts of the Middle East will not mean that the US will not be active, one way or another, in the region; there will be plenty of opportunity for such activity. But it would be a significant redeployment of military forces possibly with, as jk suggests above, China in mind. It could well be that the withdrawal of US forces from Syria could well be extended and possiby post-date a Trump administration.  

 

jk1921
I think the presentation of

I think the presentation of Trump as a kind of trascendent figure refashioning US imperialist stragtegy in a more rational, albeit rational within the frame of options available under decompostion, direction doesn't really comport very well with our previous understandings of him, and populism generally, as themselves products of and evidence of a deepening of decomposition. Are we revisting this now?

This maybe "alternate history," but what would the US strategy be in Syria if HRC had won the election like she was supposed to do? Certainly, her campaign rhetoric was much more belligerent and confrontational than Trump's and she has continued that criticism today, along with most of the rest of the political, military, media, foreign policy establishment. This camapign has had its effects as recent polling now shows a complete flip in the attitudes of partisan voters towards war, with more Democratic voters favoring keeping troops in place compared to a majority of Republicans who now want to bring the troops home. Although how stable this is is not clear, given that partisan opinion appears to have changed on a dime with the election of Trump. Notable here, have been the near complete silence of left voices over Trump's decision to withdraw troops. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez have said nothing about it, prefering to milk the politics of denouncing Trump as a terrible racist over the government shutdown related to the border wall. Could they ever admit that even a racist might do the right thing once in a while? This contradiction only highlights the deepening crisis of bourgeois ideology, particularly as it has to be expressed in a two-party system, and a left-right dichotomy, that is showing serious signs of fraying.

There were some suggestions that Obama was pushed into involvement in Syria against his better instincts and that his attempts for a kind of soft rapprochement with Russia in Syria were several times sabotaged by the generals and the spies. I don't know the extent to which this true, but obviously there are powerful establishment forces who continue to think Trump's moves are a disaster for US interests.

There was one possible exception to this: Senator Elizabeth Warren, who Trump mockingly calls "Pocohantas" over her less than credible claims to have Native American ancestry, said on the Rachel Maddow Show, much to Maddow's astonishment, that it was time to bring the troops home. Warren will almost certainly run for President in the Democratic Primary, which should set up an interesting dynamic between establishment Democrats who have slammed Trump's decision and the so-called "progressive" faction, who need to speak to their own anti-war constituency, but who may have already painted themselves into a corner with too much anti-Trumpism.

baboon
"transcendent" is certainly a

"transcendent" is certainly a good way to describe the Trump phenomenom jk but his "otherworldliness" is just the other side of his worldliness and he is the prime representative of US capital at the moment and, even though they are all over the place, he's very much calling many of the shots albeit within an overall situation that is riven by oppositions, rivalries and contradictions.

Trump, the Middle East, the Russian revolution, etc., all these question need to be revisited constantly but that doesn't mean that they have to be revised.

Opinion polls can be deceiving but I think that the one quoted by jk, based on around 2000 people, is generally an accurate state of the moment account on the question in hand, troop withdrawal from the Middle East, as well as other questions relating to US politics. The conclusions of the report on the poll are clear: "Far more" people support getting US troops out of the Middle East that keeping them there or increasing their number. There's another "surprise" here and that is more Hilary Clinton voters polled said that they would keep troops in Syria than Republicans. I don't want to split hairs but the poll specifically says "people that voted for Clinton in 2016" wanted (more than the Republicans) to keep troops in Syria. This is another surprise that's no surprise: as jk says Clinton's campaign, like herself, took a very belligerent line towards military involvement in the Middle East. I believe in great part this is what cost Clinton the victory in the election as she alienated a great deal of the working class base that tended to vote for Democrats while retaining a strong anti-war sentiment. I think that if her campaign had paid more attention to this base she would have beaten Trump easily but that wasn't the strategy and they didn't vote for her. So it's not surprising that the people that voted for Clinton, this particular constituency that also hates everythingTrump,today want to keep or increase direct US involvement in the Middle East, maybe under the guise of "protecting the poor Kurds".

I think that the comments above from jk regarding the probable presidential candidate Senator Warren, indicates that a Middle East military withdrawal of some kind could well post-date a Trump administration.

jk1921
The reasons HRC lost the

The reasons HRC lost the election are myriad. It is true that her belligerence during the campaign turned off some voters who may have otherwise supprted her over Trump and decided to abstain or vote for a smaller party. In places like Wisconsin and Michigan, this could have been the difference. Still, with that said, it is also true that she lost as a result of the specific dynamics of the Electoral College. She won the popular vote by millions and racked up large margins in supposedly liberal bastions like California and New York. She may have been a neo-liberal warmonger, but the majority of the voting population preferred that to a racist, xenophobic, possibly mentally deranged, fearmongerer, who for whatever his promises to bring the troops home, also said he would bomb ISIS into smithereens.

Trump is President almost entirely against the wishes of the neo-liberal establishment and one could say he won the election largely by accident, through the machinations of an antiquated 18th century institution. HRC should be the President today and every indication at this juncture suggests Trump will be ousted in 2020, if not sooner. While the Democrats have a left-progressive insurgency within their ranks that should agree with Trump on pulling troops out of the Middle East, it is unclear how this will manifest itself in the Demcoratic primary. Sanders has been been oddly quiet on the issue (he had no problem expressing his agreement with Trump's decision to pull out of TPP) and it is likely that the candidates will use any suggestion of agreement with Trump on anything to bludgeon their opponents.

Yesterday, a bombing in Syria killed four US soldiers and the media has been ablaze with "I told you so," talk about withdrawing troops, while ISIS is clearly not defeated. Whoever was responsible for the attack (I imagine false flag accusations will fly in certain left alternative media), the timing couldn't be more convienent for the more openly warmongering factions of the US ruling class.