Just hours ago Donald Trump was finally sworn in as the President of the United States. Considering all the threats hanging over this event, this is good news because at least for the time being, the Neocons have lost their control over the Executive Branch and Trump is now finally in a position to take action. The other good news is Trump’s inauguration speechwhich included this historical promise “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow”. Could that really mean that the USA has given up its role of World Hegemon? The mere fact of asking the question is already an immensely positive development as nobody would have asked it had Hillary Clinton been elected.
The other interesting feature of Trump’s speech is that it centered heavily on people power and on social justice. Again, the contrast with the ideological garbage from Clinton could not be greater. Still, this begs a much more puzzling question: how much can a multi-millionaire capitalist be trusted when he speaks of people power and social justice – not exactly what capitalists are known for, at least not amongst educated people. Furthermore, a Marxist reader would also remind us that “imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism” and that it makes no sense to expect a capitalist to suddenly renounce imperialism.
But what was generally true in 1916 is not necessarily true in 2017.
For one thing, let’s begin by stressing that the Trump Presidency was only made possible by the immense financial, economic, political, military and social crisis facing the USA today. Eight years of Clinton, followed by eight years of Bush Jr and eight years of Obama have seen a massive and full-spectrum decline in the strength of the United States which were sacrificed for the sake of the Anglo-American Empire. This crisis is as much internal as it is external and the election of Trump is a direct consequence of this crisis. In fact, Trump is the first one to admit that it is the terrible situation in which the USA find themselves today which brought him to power with a mandate of the regular American people (Hillary’s “deplorables”) to “drain the DC swamp” and “make America”, as opposed to the American plutocracy, “great again”. This might be somethhing crucial: I cannot imagine Trump trying to simply do “more of the same” like his predecessors did or trying to blindly double-down like the Neocons always try to.
I am willing to bet that Trump really and sincerely believes that the USA is in a deep crisis and that a new, different, sets of policies must be urgently implemented. If that assumption of mine proves to be correct, then this is by definition very good news for the entire planet because whatever Trump ends up doing (or not doing), he will at least not push his country into a nuclear confrontation with Russia. And yes, I think that it is possible that Trump has come to the conclusion that imperialism has stopped working for the USA, that far from being the solution to the contradictions of capitalism, imperialism might well have become its most self-defeating feature.
Is it possible for an ideological system to dump one of its core component after learning from past mistakes? I think it is, and a good example of that is 21st Century Socialism, which has completely dumped the kind of militant atheism which was so central to the 20th century Socialist movement. In fact, modern 21st Century Socialism is very pro-Christian. Could 21st century capitalism dump imperialism? Maybe.
Furthermore, Trump inaugurational speech did, according to RT commentators, sound in many aspects like the kind of speech Bernie Sanders could have made. And I think that they are right. Trump did sound like a paleo-liberal, something which we did not hear from him during the campaign. You could also say that Trump sounded very much like Putin. The question is will he now also act like Putin too?
There will be a great deal of expectations in Russia about how Trump will go about fulfilling his campaign promises to deal with other countries. Today, when Trump pronounced the followings words “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first” he told the Russians exactly what they wanted to hear: Trump does not pretend to be a “friend” of Russia and Trump openly and unapologetically promises to care about his own people first, and that is exactly what Putin has been saying and doing since he came to power in Russia: caring for the Russian people first. After all, caring for your own first hardly implies being hostile or even indifferent to others. All it means is that your loyalty and your service is first and foremost to those who elected you to office. This refreshing patriotic honesty, combined with the prospect of friendship and goodwill will sound like music to the Russian ears.
Then there are Trump’s words about “forming new alliances” and uniting “the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth”. They will also be received with a great deal of hope by the Russian people. If the USA is finally serious about fighting terrorism and if they really wants to eradicate the likes of Daesh, then Russia will offer her full support to this effort, including her military, intelligence, police and diplomatic resources. After all, Russia has been advocating for “completely eradicating Radical Islamic Terrorism from the face of the Earth” for decades.
There is no doubt in my mind at all that an alliance between Russia and the USA, even if limited only to specific areas of converging or mutual interests, would be immensely beneficial for the entire planet, and not for just these two countries: right now all the worst international crises are a direct result from the “tepid war” the USA and Russia have been waging against each other. And just like any other war, this war has been a fantastic waste of resources. Of course, this war was started by the USA and it was maintained and fed by the Neocon’s messianic ideology. Now that a realist like Trump has come to power, we can finally hope for this dangerous and wasteful dynamic to be stopped.
The good news is that neither Trump nor Putin can afford to fail. Trump, because he has made an alliance with Russia the cornerstone of his foreign policy during his campaign, and Putin because he realizes that it is in the objective interests of Russia for Trump to succeed, lest the Neocon crazies crawl back out from their basement. So both sides will enter into negotiations with a strong desire to get things done and a willingness to make compromises as long as they do not affect crucial national security objectives. I think that the number of issues on which the USA and Russia can agree upon is much, much longer than the number of issues where irreconcilable differences remain.
So yes, today I am hopeful. More than anything else, I want to hope that Trump is “for real”, and that he will have the wisdom and courage to take strong action against his internal enemies. Because from now on, this is one other thing which Putin and Trump will have in common: their internal enemies are far more dangerous than any external foe. When I see David Horowitz declaring himself a supporter of Donald Trump, I get very, very concerned and I ask myself “what does Horowitz know which I am missing?”. What is certain is that in the near future one of us will soon become very disappointed. I just hope that this shall not be me.