In his farewell speech in January 1961 the outgoing United States President Dwight Eisenhower warned against the growth and influence of what he called the “military industrial complex”. Nowadays we would add “intelligence” to that complex, or what today is more commonly referred to as the Deep State.
His incoming successor, John F Kennedy, did not initially heed the warning. He came to office as a classic cold warrior. The so-called Cuban missile crisis of 1962 changed his mind. In what the American author James Douglass referred to as Kennedy’s turning in his seminal study of Kennedy, JFK and the Unspeakable (2008) described the point at which the United States came perilously close to nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
The epitome of Kennedy’s changed view was expressed in his Commencement speech at the American University in June 1963. Kennedy announced, inter alia, a plan to curb nuclear weapons, a ban on nuclear testing, and seeking the goal of complete disarmament of nuclear weapons.
Kennedy could not have known at the time, but the speech was effectively the signing of his own death warrant. Five months later he was assassinated in Dallas by a team of assassins, none of whom was Lee Harvey Oswald, the designated fall guy, himself assassinated before any trial could be held. Despite the overwhelming body of evidence that Kennedy was the victim of effectively a coup d’état that did not include Oswald, the official lie has been maintained for nearly 60 years.
The intervening decades have seen the steady growth in influence of Eisenhower’s military industrial complex. The only President to go against that flow, to a limited extent whilst still in office, was Richard Nixon. After being re-elected to office with an overwhelming win in 1972, Nixon commenced secret negotiations with the People’s Republic of China.
That was not the desire of America’s deep state who never stopped wishing and planning for the return of the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-Shek. So secret was Nixon’s negotiations that they were never revealed in advance to the United States’ close ally Australia. That led to a rather hilarious situation. Then Australian Labor government of Gough Whitlam (1972–75) had also decided to recognise the PRC as the legitimate government of China. He was heavily criticised by then Liberal Party (a complete misnomer) leader Billy Sneddon who was totally unaware of Nixon’s negotiations going on at the same time.
In this writer’s view it was Nixon’s efforts to normalise the United States relationship with China that was the real reason for the political coup that ousted him, not the much quoted and overhyped incident that is known as the Watergate scandal. Even by the standards of the day, that was accurately described as a “third rate burglary”.
The so-called Russiagate scandal that the Democrats relentlessly pursued against Donald Trump for three years was a vastly greater abuse of power than the Watergate burglary. Nixon was not killed as Kennedy had been for daring to venture into new (for the Americans) political territory, but he was politically killed.
The point of this brief recap of political history, is that United States foreign policy remains as aggressive, war mongering and intent on maintaining geopolitical dominance as it ever has been. The current incumbent of the White House is a subject of unprecedented vilification by his political enemies. It is difficult to understand why.
It is arguably true that Trump has not initiated any new wars despite the 3 ½ years of his presidency to date. But neither has he ended any. The Afghan war continues despite desultory murmurings of a peace deal. Neither has Trump made any moves to remove American troops from their illegal occupation of Syria, and the theft of Syrian oil by the Americans continues unabated. He similarly ignored (as did Australia) the demands of the Iraqi parliament that foreign troops should leave their territory.
Even if Trump is truthful in his professed wish to end the Afghanistan war there are nonetheless powerful reasons why the Deep State wants no such thing. Afghanistan’s location on the borders of multiple countries the United States despises and opposes, including but not limited to Iran and China, is a vital geopolitical reason why the Americans wish to stay. As is the control of 93% of the world’s heroin supply, a factor the mainstream media unfailingly overlooks when discussing the continuing occupation of Afghanistan.
The United States’ continues its ongoing overt hostility to China, including but not limited to the threatened theft of the $1 trillion plus of Chinese government investments in the United States financial system. There are multiple legal actions why United States’ individual States legal actions against China in the American courts for China’s alleged role in the current pandemic corona virus have no validity.
Putting to one side the issue of where the pandemic actually commenced (and the United States itself is a strong candidate) it is astonishing but hardly surprising that the Americans simply ignore fundamental international law by launching civil proceedings in a United States court against a foreign sovereign government.
The truth is that the United States has no real respect for international law, as its actions over the past seven decades amply illustrate. Trump is no different in this regard from all of his post-World War II predecessors.
At the time of writing, Iranian oil tankers were en route to Venezuela, neatly bringing together two of the United States’ enemies du jour. Whether the Americans will actually intervene to prevent the oil shipments (itself an act of war) is an open question, although there is no shortage of voices within the administration, including the belligerent and highly dangerous Secretary of State Pompeo, that would like nothing more than a military confrontation with Venezuela.
Another clue is the continuing growth of the United States “defence” budget, which continued unabated through the whole of Trump’s presidency thus far. It would be a very brave gambler who bet against a continuation of this pattern post the 2020 presidential election, regardless of the actual winner.
What the Americans actually get for their vast expenditure is a separate question. It is difficult to nominate a single successful military action with the possible exception of Grenada, the overwhelming difference in size and resources of the two nations telling their own story.
The blunt truth is that the United States no longer enjoys any kind of military superiority over its major military foes, Russia and China. The range of new military hardware announced by President Putin in March 2018 is vastly superior to anything in the United States arsenal.
As the brutally frank analysis of Andre Martyanov (The Real Revolution in Military Affairs; Clarity Press 2019) makes abundantly clear, Russian military technology is years ahead of any United States military capacity. That should inhibit US military adventurism. Unfortunately, the reality is that decades of self-description as the “exceptional nation” to which the ordinary rules do not apply, makes the United States the single greatest threat to world peace we face today.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.