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Trump and his generals

Not even U.S. President Donald Trump’s worst enemies would deny that he has fulfilled many election campaign foreign policy promises, including opting out of international agreements on climate change, the Iran nuclear accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and pressurising allies to pay more for joint defence. A matter for surprise then, is that another Trump campaign pledge, to end the ‘endless wars’ and bring American troops abroad back home, specifically to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan, is met with denunciation and open or indirect obstruction from both civilian and military circles. The opposition within This opposition, marked by some high-level resignations such as Secretary of Defence James Mattis — which have been accorded hero-martyr status by the media — has been provoked by Mr. Trump’s decision to repatriate some 2,000 forces from Syria and around 7,000, which is around half the total number, from Afghanistan. Mr. Trump’s moves are condemned as isolationist and favouring the ‘enemies’ of the U.S., especially Russia and Iran. Regarding Afghanistan, his opposition was not astute enough to perceive that the drawdown was a necessary prelude to direct negotiations with the Taliban. The objectors also imply that Israel is exposed to greater danger, a cause certain to enjoy bi-partisan favour. General Mattis, in his resignation letter, wrote he was leaving “because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.” It is amazing that it took him two years to detect any mis-alignment. No proposal to draw down the U.S. military presence abroad will be acceptable to Mr. Trump’s critics, because the American military-industrial complex referenced by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 still holds the civilian authority in thrall, and since World War l, U.S. foreign policy has been totally militarised. To every international problem, Washington has only two responses: the application of sanctions, and the threat or use of force. Mr. Trump is vilified as isolationist by the mainstream media, evidence that the neo-imperial spirit and god-given right to hold military hegemony is deeply internalised in the entire U.S. establishment. So also is the Francis Fukuyama prediction that “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution [is the] universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” Insinuations about a sellout foreshadow whatever contact Mr. Trump wishes to make with the only world power that can incinerate the U.S., though every previous U.S. leader held talks with his Russian counterpart to make the world a safer place. This has less to do with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interminable inquiry about Russian collusion, and more with the imagining of America’s role in the world. The New York Times writes of a “world order that the U.S. has led for 73 years since the Second World War”, accusing Mr. Trump of reducing that “global footprint needed to keep that order together”. The same theme is dutifully echoed by compliant European allies such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in July 2018 bewailed that under Mr. Trump the U.S. could not be relied upon to “impose order”. But whose order?

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/trump-and-his-generals/article26198669.ece

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