Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism

Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/23/2017 - 03:33
Khatyn Memorial, Belarus
Khaytyn Memorial, Belarus by John Oldale (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Dear Friends,

Mocking Donald Trump comes easily. He provides sufficient fodder each and every day. Trump is vulnerable to such mockery. He dislikes being mocked more than anything else. A voracious consumer of the media, Trump studies how he is covered with great care. His advisor - Steve Bannon - calls the media the 'official opposition'. It is what they have trained their gunsights against.

These are dangerous men. The 'humanitarian interventionists' and the 'neoconservatives' gathered around Hillary Clinton, eager to use American force against the countries of the world. It seemed, therefore, that Trump was an isolationist - someone eager to withdraw from 'regime change' and 'nation-building'. But this is a poor reading of Trump. Trump's cruel populism does not want to use the dangerousness of US power for 'humanitarian' purposes - whatever that means - but for inhumane reasons. Either way, for a town in Iraq or in Libya, the net result is the same.

In today's The Hindu, I have a leader article on the foreign policy of cruel populism. The basic assessment of the article is here:

  • We have not entered into a period of isolation. Nor is the old doctrine of humanitarian intervention alive and well. It has certainly been set aside. Our new period, with the cruel populists in power, is defined by ruthless inhumane intervention. Bombs will fall, no doubt, but these will not be dropped to draw countries into the global order. Their purpose will be to encage areas seen to be lesser and inherently dangerous.

You can read the rest of the article here.

The audio version of the article, in discussion over fifteen minutes with John Harrison, is here.

The image above is from the statue in Khatyn (Belarus), which commemorates that Nazi massacre there in 1943. The sculpture was made by Sergei Selikhanov, for which he won the Lenin Prize.


The Helmet Project
'The Helmet Project'


The violence of the Trump years opens up with a bombing raid in Mosul (Iraq) that takes the lives of several civilians, an echo of the US attack in Yemen that killed many civilians. This is not a sign of isolationism.

In today's Alternet, you can read my report on the use of Depleted Uranium in Syria by US forces in 2015. This bombing run came at the same time as Donald Trump threatened to use nuclear weapons against ISIS. These are dangerous comments, but they came as the Obama administration used radioactive weapons in Syria as the Bush administration had done in Iraq.

I go back to the diary of the great Iraqi artist Nuha al-Radi, who died of leukemia in 2004. She kept a vigil for her country, which the United States turned into a 'cancer-infested country'. The use of Depleted Uranium across Iraq in 2003 and then in Fallujah in particular in 2004 continues to harm new generations born in that country. That the US used such weapons in Syria two years ago suggests that it has not stopped using weapons of mass destruction in its wars. Trump's national security team (Mattis-Kelly-McMaster) all served in Iraq during Bush's war. These are men with their fingers stained in radioactivity.

My report can be read here.

The picture above is from an installation by the American artist Cindy Kane.

Warmly, Vijay.