Ethics Observations On The Mattis Resignation

President Trump announced that he was ending the U.S. mission in Syria, and drawing down the troop level in Afghanistan. His Secretary of Defense,General Mattis, resigned in protest, and copied his letter of resignation to the world.

The news media, social media, and full time anti-Trump hysterics, among others, went bonkers.

  • What’s going on here? A President who has long held that U.S. domestic priorities are more important than “being the world’s policeman” followed through on his promise. As is his wont, he sprung the actual news without laying a foundation to cushion the blow. Nobody knows whether the decisions will work out or not, but the assumption is that because this President is the one making the decisions, they must be stupid, evil, or both. This, despite the fact that Barack Obama essentially did the same thing regarding Iraq, except that Iraq gave much more promise of stabilizing with continued U.S. presence. Syria is still in chaos, and nobody can confidently say when and if it will not be. As for Afghanistan, the U.S. has been expending lives and treasure there for a mind-blowing 17 years. What is the mission? Funny—I thought the original mission was to punish the country for sponsoring the 9/11 attacks. We could have declared the point made long, long ago. Is the President wrong to say “Enough is enough”?

I have no idea—and neither do you.

  • Having no idea, not having seen the data, not having been advised, and not being President of the United  States, I have little basis to challenge or deride the decision. But what’s really going on here is what has been going on since January, 2017. Any decision or action by this President is immediately assumed to be wrong. The analysis attached to it afterwards is superfluous. The position is that President Trump did it, it’s wrong because he’s a Nazi/idiot/ grifter /fool, and that’s all we need to know.

This, of course, makes it impossible, literally impossible, to get honest, trustworthy analysis about anything.

  • Anyone who criticizes Trump in public, even certifiable slime like Steve Bannon, James Comey, and Omarosa, suddenly is embraced by “the resistance ” and the news media using the formula that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This rewards unethical conduct, and “Mad Dog” appears to have fallen into the trap, to his eventual shame. As a lawyer, I know it is unethical to drop a client, my employer, and make any pubic statements whatsoever impugning his or her judgment or conduct. It is also unethical to do this in any professional relationship. Professionals know this: I presume at one time Mattis knew this. But having paid attention to how routine betrayals of this President have been cheered and praised, he apparently couldn’t resist temptation.

Now, as a lawyer, my duties are codified. That doesn’t mean that professionals who don’t have the same duties codified aren’t obligated to follow them.

  • Astoundingly—in fact, this is a microcosm of the entire 2016 Post Election Train Wreck, and the false narratives it has spawned—the fact that Mattis behaved atrociously, disloyally and destructively by writing and circulating his resignation letter is being blamed on Trump, as if Mattis is the first Secretary of Defense to resign over policy disagreements with the President. Of course he isn’t—he’s just the first to be so unprofessional about it. This is the “Trump violates norms” narrative, the “Trump made everyone else violate norms” chapter.

Michael Beschloss, the once respectable Presidential historian who has found it profitable (or something) to re-brand himself as an anti-Trump partisan hack—he was the one who on election night launched the myth that poor Hillary was bound to lose because Americans almost never elect the same party to the White House in three straight years—except for 1988, 1948, 1944, 1940, 1928, 1924, 1908…you know, virtually never—took to the airwaves to point out that Mattis’s  public resignation was also virtually unique (Cyrus Vance quit Carter in protest, but wasn’t nasty about it, and apparently doesn’t count).

Well, why do you think they call him “Mad Dog”?

  • I especially love the pundits and social media trolls who are writing that Mattis was “the only adult in the room,” the room being the Trump Presidency. Not only is this pure ad hominem, does it occur to these sudden fans of perpetual warfare that the only adult in the room just threw a tantrum?

35 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Mattis Resignation

  1. does it occur to these sudden fans of perpetual warfare that the only adult in the room just threw a tantrum?

    They don’t know adults aren’t supposed to throw tantrums.

  2. I have enough ‘data’ to know this was a horrible decision by Trump. His worst so far.

    Even if withdrawal is ultimately a better pursuit of American interests, the sudden end of the announcement and the rhetoric which implies to our allies that it may as well be happening in the next 5 minutes is absolutely appalling AND unethical.

    Congress (certainly the Senate with its constitutional role in foreign policy) should censure the president and then Congress should pass legislation defining what an appropriate de-escalation looks like to compel the executive to act appropriately. The executive is granted wide war power authority, but he’s not granted authority to wrecking ball foreign policy that’s been developed over several administrations AND legislatures.

    • So Michael, puzzle me this. In Syria, who were we fighting for and who were we fighting against? Who were our allies and who were our enemies?

      • Mattis is concerned for the Pesh Merga fighters PKK (Kurds) who are expected to be attacked by Erdogan’s Turkish army who are supposed to be our allies.

        Turkey is playing a duplicitous game. It has no skin in the fight in Syria. With Nato allies that attack our fighting partners after we leave tells us that our experts cannot tell who is really with us. They are afraid of confronting Turkey.

        • Apparently Mattis told the Kurds on Tuesday that the US wouldn’t let them down as long as he was SecDef. Hence the Pentagon announcement of policy on that date.

          Then Trump had a brainwave as he is permitted to do as President, and made an Executive decision without discussing it with anyone first, least of all the Pentagon, who have no plans in place for any withdrawal.

          Hence the somewhat curt and even forthright resignation letter.

          • So the Pentagon ignored the directive from 8 months ago to create a plan to leave Syria within 6 months. Mattis knew Trump wanted an orderly withdrawl but ignored the order.

        • “It has no skin in the fight in Syria.”

          Turkey sure does have skin in the fight in Syria. Only a century ago Turkey owned Syria. It still remembers the Ottoman Empire. And we’d be good to factor that in in ALL of our calculations towards Turkey, who we WANT to be on our side *enough* to block Russian influence in the region.

          I don’t think there is a Syrian solution that involves a Syria status quo antebellum. Syria, even more than Iraq, was a inexplicably uncomfortable arrangement under Sykes-Picot. Whereas Iraq essentially consisted of a Shia Arab majority, and a Sunni Arab and Kurdish minority, plus a very minor handful of borderland “legacy” culture groups – like Yazidis, Assyrian Christians, etc, Syria is THAT PLUS the ruling Alawite *minority*, Turkish enclaves, Eastern Christians, and more. When people figured Iraq would break up into 3 “ethno-states”, it DID NOT, but actually proved quite resilient, as the Kurds chose “remain” after their referendum and the Shia majority still make overtures (though corrupt) to the other two demographics.

          Syria…that’s a different animal.

          Assad’s ruling minority (the Alawites) is a MUCH smaller component of Syria than Saddam’s Sunnis were in Iraq. Assad IS a Russian puppet, so any Syrian “solution”, for US interests must end with an Assad with much less territory for Russia to rely on. And that’s doable, given the Alawite area is essentially western Syria.

          Turkey wants to punish ALL Kurds because Kurds inside of Turkey perpetually agitate for greater autonomy.

          But the Ottomans (the “spiritual” forebears of Turkey), left the Middle East a grand mess (not that France and England resolved that mess very well when they won the territory in WW1). None of them want to be dominated by another Ottoman Empire, yet the Ottoman Empire really wants to grasp at what it once was.

          Turkey is ONLY our friend insomuch as it comes to blocking Russia.

          The Kurds have been loyal actors on our behalf even if they, like most Middle Easterners, don’t like “America”. Since we established “No Fly Zones” in the north, to protect Kurdish dissidents in 1991, they have, like it or not, become an active force for our policy in the region.

          If we leave them to hang out to dry for a resurgent ISIS to toss them off of buildings and cut holes in their necks and for Turkey to hammer THEM as it pretends to be Ottoman again…then we’ll repeat the betrayal of the late 60s and early 70s from Southeast Asia.

          We’ve got 2 conflicting interests to balance here. The Turks and the Kurds. Giving EITHER group free reign against the other IS NOT THE ANSWER.

          • It is our supposed ally Turkey that threatens the Kurds. So, your argument is that we need to side with the Kurds to protect them from a NATO ally. Respect goes both ways. Remember it was Erdogan that blocked our use of airbases for our earlier tactical activities.

            Turkey has no desire in defeating ISIS as Erdogan is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and seems ambivalent about the caliphate forming in that region despite his diplomatic doublespeak.
            The ascendency of Erdogan has changed dramatically the relationship between the US and Turkey. Turkey is far less oriented to western thinking regarding human rights since Erdogan took office and began consolidating his powers.

            No doubt Turkey is geographically strategic. No doubt Russia wants as much influence in the region as possible and a warm water port makes that possible. If Russian influence, which was there for decades are you willing to take out the Alewhite faction.

            I am willing to change my mind when we have a definite end state that we can agree to. Syria is a small footprint for our troops but the argument that bad actors will fill the vacuum if we leave is an impossible condition to eliminate unless we are willing to pound every bad actor into begging for relief. Up to now no such plan exists. Moreover, if the PKK are our defacto allies if not dejure ones then Erdogan must give us assurances they will not attack the Kurds. If Turkey attacks the Kurds then Turkey is no ally.

            The simple fact is that the Ideology of Erdogan is more in line with our adversaries than with NATO or the US.

            We contained the Russian influence in Syria before the civil war so we are ahead of the game now. The only way to eliminate the Russian influence is to level Damascus and their seaports.

          • I’ve long thought that the US needs to be a peace broker between the two. We should be attempting to get the Kurds to agree to depopulate Turkey, with Turkey agreeing to leave the Kurds alone once they do. We then make Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq a safe place for the Kurds. While they’re at it, we can provide back door help with messing with Iran.
            We have few friends in the area as loyal as the Kurds. I do not want to see them betrayed.

      • Who are we fighting for?

        Directly?

        1) Iraq
        2) The Kurds

        Indirectly?
        Lots, including Turkey insomuch as they can expand territorial pressure on regions Russia sees as essential to its Mediterranean objectives.

        Who are we fighting against?

        Directly?

        1) ISIS

        Indirectly?

        1) Russia
        2) Iran
        3) Turkey insomuch as they have expansionist designs into Kurdish regions.

          • Yours, in my view, are the most important questions.

            We should have never been on the side of ISIS/generalized Islamic spring rebellion against Assad. (Don’t get me wrong. He’s horrible, but not as horrible as those who would replace him.)

            We inherited a pro-Islamist policy from Obama. And, like most bureaucratic inertia, kept at it.

            We should let the Turks fight the Syrians / Russians on their own and safeguard the Kurds and strangle the Islamists for resources against the Turks. Yes, even if that means the Kurds become Kurdistan and part of NATO and the Erdogan Turks leave it.

            Let Erdogan fight the Russians and Syrians while having to justify himself to the less extreme Islamic world and to his own people. It may be the quickest way to be rid of him. (While showing we have no sense of Christian empire and the good sense of withdrawing from the front line.)

    • Michael
      Trump gave Mattis 6 months to develop the exit strategy 8 months ago. Mattis not only failed in the assigned mission he grew the forces in Syria.

  3. It seems to me that the “experts” today have had virtually no success in winning wars.

    The same people that are condemning this drawdown decision are the same ones that claimed Trump was going to start WW3 with his rhetoric. Funny how Obama and Clinton referred to Iraq and Afghanistan as “quagmires”. Obama ignored the recommendations of Chuck Hagel relating to troop drawdowns and gave him the boot when Hagel slow walked the reductions and transfers of detainees from Gitmo. Not a peep from Obama sychophants.

    Trump cannot give Syria to tbe Russians because Syria has been a client state of the Soviets for as long as I can remember because it offered them a warm water port. I suppose the critics would grant Trump carte blanche to level Damascus to ensure the Russians were expelled from the area. Did Mattis suggest any significant attacks against Basher el Assad in his little corner of Syria. We could have crushed his regime and the Iranians in several weeks of round the clock bombing. We didn’t.

    Keep in mind Mattis is overseeing the Article 32 hearing of a Special Forces Major who after 10 years is now being charged with the murder of a known Taliban bomb maker. The bomb maker was a combatant not a detainee at the time. He is charged with murder because the bomb maker was not on the official kill list.

    Our experts prosecuting the wars have shown an astounding lack of will to win and seem to be more concerned with image.

    • It’s not about Assad or Syrian freedom fighters. It’s about Iraqi security, Israeli security, and disrupting Russian influence (which as you note is solidly established via Assad).

      Iraqi security is primarily impacted by the no-man’s land of the western Iraqi and eastern Iranian deserts where extremism can always hide, with it’s latest incarnation in ISIS. Until ISIS is truly crushed (and it isn’t), Iraqi security is undermined.

      Israeli security is easier, but similarly though less so, impacted by the same factors facing Iraq.

      Disrupting Russian influence doesn’t require an overthrow of Assad’s regime, just requires a perpetual inward look by Assad at his own backyard. A de facto cession of Syria-east-of-the-Euphrates to Kurdish dominated forces provides just that perpetual inward look and pressure on Russian interests. AND adds a buffer zone for the Kurds and Iraq proper.

      • Michael, is this the Henry Kissinger school of foreign affairs or the Rube Goldberg school? You really think a policy can be this finely tuned? And imposed? On the ground? In the Middle East? By despised, non-believing, Godless Americans?

    • It seems to me that the “experts” today have had virtually no success in winning wars.

      Yet what if there was not and there is not an intention to *win* a war, or the wars? It is a reasonable question for a number of reasons.

      • Small fact: Keeping our forces in war has fringe benefits no one wants to talk about. The most obvious is seasoned troops, who can teach new troops. But other interests are just as important, if you are the Pentagon. For instance, we keep refining our tactics in a variety of situations. We develop new weapons and refine the ones we have. We get first rate intelligence about a variety of forces we are or are not allied with. And so on…

        Not saying it is good or ethical. Just that there are more reasons than the officially states ones for Eternal War.

  4. I can remember someone writing this;

    ” During the campaign, General Mattis criticized Trump’s comments about a temporary ban on Muslim immigration as a move that was “causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through the international system.” The risk Trump takes by ignoring such opinions is that eventually a cabinet member will get fed up—and Mattis would be a good candidate–and resign in protest.”

    The same guy wrote;
    ” Trump would probably love to get rid of Kelly, because inmates always hate the warden, and not firing him could be fairly called The King’s Pass in action. Yet without someone like Kelly keeping order, the “resistance” could yet get its wish, as we discussed here a year ago.”

  5. Mattis, if he vehemently disagreed with Trump decision should have resigned quietly. This reminds me a bit of MacArthur’s attack on Truman’s Korean War policies which eventually got him fired. Looking at it now, I think MacArthur was right as the Soviets were unlikely to enter the war and both the North Koreans and Chinese armies were destroyed under MacArthur and Ridgeway. Still Truman was the Comander and Chief.

    • Wayne I agree. However, Mattis has not exhibited McArthur’s willingness to bring an end to all hostlities by commiting overwhelming force to bring about an unconditional surrender.

      The first photo of a maimed child will prompt outrage leading to an American retreat. Instead of suffering any civillian casualties we are accepting thousands of American casulties over a long period. War is horrific and extended wars simply keep people in extended pain.

      • Mattis doesn’t have that authority to exhibit MacArthur’s willingness…

        Constitution doesn’t give executive, much less a department head the authority to wantonly expand a military endeavor. Congress didn’t want Syrian action under Obama, but 4 years of congressional inaction constitutes an endorsement of the military action.

        This is now on Congress to compel a direction for American foreign policy in this realm. and they can either acquiesce to leaving a reliably friendly group to die on the vine or not.

      • War is horrific and extended wars simply keep people in extended pain.

        But there is more. Some people talk about how war is ‘pre-constructed’ and becomes a foundation within a given culture or situation among nations. It is not sufficient to notice (they say) that war alway ends up as terrifyingly destructive, but that to confront it require systemic changes.

        Therefore, to confront a situation in which Endless War is an outcome, a natural result, one has to examine a whole range of contributing factors.

        What I find interesting — though I do not know exactly what to conclude or what precise policy to support — I have noticed that thoughtful people whose discourse I respect have begun to examine ‘the causal chain’ that produces wars, and endless wars, as its outcome.

        Here is a talk by Graeme McQueen titled The Fictional Basis of the War on Terror. Essentially, I see him as a peace activist (and he writes about ‘peace studies’ and from him I got the idea that, literally, peace must be ‘studied’ and therefore ‘war’ and its machinations must be studied in-depth.

        His ideas came to him from out of his 9/11 studies (and his investigations of those events, and his talks about them, are also worthwhile).

        I would connect his discourse with ‘people’s discourse’ and say that the *we* that he uses is distinct and different from the *we* that I notice friend Michael West use. Which is the proper *we*?

  6. I have written on this elsewhere and don’t have time to replicate right now. Will try to work it on tomorrow. Suffice to say, I disagree strongly and am convinced, by reason and history, that it was the only ethical thing to do. Will try to get back to this.

    • Hope you get this done as well.

      I understand Jack’s assessment that Mattis was unprofessional, but I’m not convinced. I recognize the almost last measure of devotion to this nation for which Mattis’s life is a complete resume. So his resignation SHOULD be ringing alarm bells that require a bit more consideration that this may have been a “loyal” act and NOT grandstanding.

      And of course, I won’t disagree with Jack’s assessment that the Left’s take (which includes the media) is naturally going to automatically disdain Trump and extol someone who disagrees with him. On that, Jack is 100% correct. They are curs. But I can’t help but wonder, though the media is reaching their pro-Mattis conclusion via ALL the wrong methods, if the a pro-Mattis conclusion is wrong…

  7. I think the best way to justify the withdrawal from Syria would be to ask on what basis are we there? Was the US invited? No. Did Congress pass a declaration of war? No. So we’re there to meddle and project power, piggy backing off the AUMF for Afghanistan, I think. If it’s really important for us to be there, let’s have Congress pass a resolution. Oh yeah, that’s hard. I see nothing wrong with reigning in the imperial presidency. We need to ween off of this tendency to start oversea military endeavors without any Congressional backing. If it’s important enough, should be good enough to convince legislators.

    • We didn’t need to be invited.

      1) An ALLY was attacked by a wide-ranging pseudo-governmental entity – ISIS.

      2) That Ally was attacked FROM the territory of a failed state that was in NO condition to handle the attacker in any timely manner.

      3) Congress wasn’t happy with Obama’s initial forays into Syria, but 4 years of not stopping Executive action there is tantamount to approval and policy — and therefore of national interest to win.

      4) Congress is ethically obligated to compel further action (even if it isn’t expansion and even if it has an eye to withdrawal) to at least mitigate this foolishly precipitous and sudden declaration by Trump.

      • Some thoughts (they seem coherent) offered by Pat Buchanan:

        We are extricating America from the forever war of the Middle East so foolishly begun by previous presidents. We are coming home. The rulers and peoples of this region are going to have to find their own way and fight their own wars. We are not so powerful that we can fight their wars while we also confront Iran and North Korea and face new Cold Wars with Russia and China.

        Note:

        1) Mention of unending ‘forever’ wars. Wars with no defined beginning, and no defined (nor, it might be observed, possible) endings. Wise to consider the implications here. These forever wars are also extraordinarily costly. If one things in terms of ‘interests’, certainly national treasure must be considered. But there are other levels of cost: the cost in American lives and the psychological costs.

        2) Wars ‘foolishly begun’. If a war was foolishly begun, it stands to reason that it will likely develop into a *quagmire*: the nation gets stuck in it. It can’t *win* since winning is not defined. But it can’t retreat and ‘lose’ either.

        3) To ‘come home’. That is, to focus uniquely on national interests, which can only mean the people of the nation. But his use of that phrase also is ironical commentary on ‘global interests’ and, therefore, on interests that are not the nation’s, i.e. not popular. Coming Home, if it is sincere, and if it is possible, means a kind of renouncement of foreign embroilments. Question: Is it really even an option to continue in the Forever Wars?

        4) Allow people in the region to ‘fight their own wars’ and work things out. I find this an interesting assertion since I do not believe that intervention in the region had a proper and *noble* purpose to begin with. Those who say such things are ‘selling something’.

        5) Recognition of declining power and economic ability to wage Forever Wars. Again is any other alternative (but withdrawal to focus on national interests) really an option? (The way that withdrawal is carried out is certainly important, but is the opposition of the need to withdraw wise?)

        6) The notion of ‘confronting Iran’ needs to be examined. In geo-political games, and in the propaganda-wars that accompany them, enemies are often sought-out. If there is not *enough* of an enemy, an enemy is invented. They also provoke situations to create enemies. I think that is what some people have been saying about the *Gulf of Tonkin Incident*, isn’t it? If an enemy is needed, an enemy is found. But why the provocation of a war against Iran? Wars serve purposes. They do not really serve people. Why is war being provoked? And what, if any, is the alternative? A war was sought with Iraq when other alternatives were said to have been possible. And what resulted? Was it worth the price paid? Is it worth it to risk the same thing all over again? Therefore, this talk of war with Iraq might require confrontation.

        Yet, despite the heavy casualties and lost battles ISIS has suffered, the collapse of the caliphate, expulsion from its Syrian capital Raqqa and Iraqi capital Mosul, and from almost all territories it controlled in both countries, ISIS is not dead. It lives on in thousands of true believers hidden in those countries. And, like al-Qaida, it has followers across the Middle East and inspires haters of the West living in the West.

        The idea of having ‘created haters’ is a good one to examine. One good way to ‘create haters’ is to invade, destroy, and then occupy a region under murky terms. Unless I am really mistaken here, this will tend to create an ever-so-slight sense of resentment. And if — as it has been proposed and which seems probable — these Endless Wars have been set in motion by Neocon-defined interests that have a certain amount to do with Israel’s aims and desires in the region, it seems inevitable that resentment will result. And highly motivated people are capable of a great deal of harm when they fight for some ideal.

        How did this begin? Who began it? For what reasons? Cui bono? The notion of a *we* has to be examined. Who is *we*? When people speak as though they are the *we* but they are just powerless citizens, what is the *we* that they speak about and for? It is not at all clear.

        The war party project, to bring about regime change in Tehran through either severe sanctions leading to insurrection or a U.S.-Iranian clash in the Gulf, will suffer a severe setback with the U.S. pullout from Syria.

        However, given the strength of the opposition to a U.S. withdrawal — Israel, Saudi Arabia, the GOP foreign policy establishment in Congress and the think tanks, liberal interventionists in the Beltway press, Trump’s own national security team of advisers — the battle to overturn Trump’s decision has probably only just begun.

        The ‘war party project’? What is that? And what is this policy? Who set it in motion and for what reasons? I am curious about the entire language structure that sets up conversation of these geo-political embroilments as being completely natural and necessary. We must do this, and we must do that. It is structured within a whole group of assumptions that, I think, can be questioned. I think that people definitely have a right to question them. As well as an obligation.

        But obviously, Buchanan is referring — and negatively so — to a ‘war mongering project’. He could only be referring to factional interests that desire war, destruction and destabilization. Who are they? And what *interests* do they represent?

        If an internal policy war will now begin, indeed everything gets more complex. But is this not one of the results of ‘entanglement’? And if entanglement leads to these sorts of outcomes, and these outcomes are like *quagmires*, is it a good policy choice to remain in the quagmire? or to devise a plan to get out of it? And ‘return home’?

        What will likely happen? Well, if one is paranoid, it stands to reason that the ‘war-making faction’ (the War Party and their Project) will engineer the ways and means to continue in the quagmire. At least that is one of the tropes in the opinion of those who oppose such wars and policies.

        Therefore, the larger question turns back to: What is going on in the Halls of American Power? Something very large is afoot. Who knows about this and who is capable of explaining?

        I have no sense that there is a capable expert who can explain.

      • Michael, we may not see eye to eye on this one but you have made many reasonable assertions.

        I am not as sure as you that Russian influence is as much a strategic threat as it once was. I am also concerned that when we enter these conflicts seem unwilling to crush our enemies quickly. As for Trump’s decision how many of us bashed Obama for telegraphing our timetable for withdrawl from Afghanistan because it would allow the enemy to simply wait us out. Ideologies are nearly impossible to crush permanently. The best we can reasonably do is wipe out as many as we can given the public’s stomach for collateral damage which means children being killed.

        Perhaps we could create an airbase in Kurdistan to position some troops to protect the Kurds and look into Russian influence. That will make Turkey less necessary as an ally; or should I say unreliable ally. We should demand Turkey end their hostilities toward the Kurds outside of their sovreign territory.

        As for alliances we might want to revisit General Washington’s farewell address. I think he covered that topic well.

      • Jack wrote: “I especially love the pundits and social media trolls who are writing that Mattis was “the only adult in the room,” the room being the Trump Presidency. Not only is this pure ad hominem, does it occur to these sudden fans of perpetual warfare that the only adult in the room just threw a tantrum?”

        I have been thinking about Michael West’s position and trying to understand it better. I think his ideas of geo-politics might be similar to those of George Friedman. George Friedman asserts that the US is an empire and has an empire, but yet does not seem to want to face this fact squarely. When you listen to George Friedman talk — and all those who are aware of America as an empire will, I think, talk like this because it is the realpolitik thing to do, anything else is folly — you hear a man who is not only an apologist for America and its choices, but who describes American influence and rulership (its broadcast of power) as inevitable and in this sense as ‘natural’. I do not mean to say that this is ‘wrong’ though. But he does come from this position and it is a worldview (and kind of a metaphysic: an unseen, underlying, determining view is what I mean).

        The way that he talks, his mental frame, is oddly seductive I noticed. You sort of get sucked into it is how I would describe it. He has a Hegelian view of history, and Hegel is his favorite philosopher, and listening to him I hear those notes. I do not say that I disagree with him, and I also think that many of his predictions do seem to come true, but the real point here is to bring to the fore that because America has become an empire, and because this means that military power and corporate power combine into a pan-governmental ethic (not sure how to talk about this), that in a substantial sense America is no longer America. What is it?

        What America is requires a newer and a more specific definition. It is not any longer the same sort of Constitutional Republic it was at one time. It cannot any longer be seen in this way. Why? Because it is now a post-American empire and there has been a shift in focus. Therefore, the rhetoric that comes from the former relationship to itself as a Constitutional Republic is outmoded. Referring to George Washington’s Farewell Speech is therefore . . . totally out of tune! It has no relevance nor relationship except as history or rhetoric . . .

        Now, it is necessary even for the constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms to be circumvented. And to a substantial degree that have been circumvented (by the Patriot Act, et cetera). A new Serious Game has now become more manifest than at other points (though my perspectives are limited). When did the New Era begin? I am uncertain what date to set. But something dramatic changed after the events of 9/11 and the launch into these Endless Wars. I think everyone knows this. But how to talk about it? What does it mean? What does it mean going forward for the State and the Nation?

        Therefore, what these Endless Wars are — what they are for, what they mean, and what effect they will have on those who suffer under them — needs to be presented as a question.

        In order to have this stance of Endless War, the Republic has to relinquish being the ideal republic with the ideals and aspirations it had. We live in the shadow of all that. fading away. We have to wake up and see what is real, not what we wish or hope must be there.

        That is the idea I am working with here. If it simultaneously uses raw power to gain its objectives — and those objectives are geo-political, business and stability objectives — and pretends to lofty democratic idealism based in Constitutional values, it is with that that The Lie comes into focus.

        Telling the truth is therefore simply getting more clear about what is. More honest.

        There is a book out now: National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy by Matthew Goodwin and Roger Eatwell.

        [They] “relish demolishing liberal and globalist illusions about National Populism, arguing that it cannot be dismissed as mere fascism or racism; nor can it be dismissed as a mere flash in the pan, the product of ephemeral events like the 2008 recession or the migrant crisis; nor is it the last hurrah of “old white males” who will simply die off and be replaced by tolerant millennials; nor, finally, is it merely the product of charismatic politicians”.

        The apparent withdrawal policy of President Trump is linked to his nationalist and populist campaign promises to get out of these wars and, according to the NYTs, he has at least to seem to make good on his promises to his *political base*, or lose the 2020 election.

        Here is another observation (from a review of Goodwin and Eatwell’s book):

        Eatwell and Goodwin [instead] argue that National Populism is the product of deep social and political trends which they call the four Ds: Distrust, Destruction, Deprivation, and De-Alignment. Distrust refers to the breakdown of popular trust in political elites. Destruction primarily means destruction of identity, i.e., the destruction of peoples and cultures by immigration and multiculturalism. […] Deprivation means the erosion of First World middle-class and working-class living standards due to globalization and neoliberalism. De-Alignment is the breakdown of voter identification with dominant political parties.

        I have no idea who Trump *really is* nor do I think does anybody. I fear that Trump may not know. However, whoever he is and whatever he is doing, he is *disturbing the forcefield* and this leads to power-struggles of a profound sort. But where is this going? Where will things end up?

        In other countries (what are said to be) genuine nationalist movements are gaining foothold. And as a result from the ‘Four Ds.’

        Yet it does seem clear that whoever is Trump’s base, is not, will not, and cannot be concerned about these geo-political machinations that do not have any benefit for it! They are paying the price in the same way that, for example, the middle-class and poor French are paying the price. Therefore, the Four D’s become relevant for consideration.

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