In an op ed titled “Losing Both Elections” (Common Dreams) Gwynne Dyer sees Trump’s presence in the White House as exposing the U.S.’ racism leading to its being “extinguished”, a “necessary evolution of American history.” That is a very positive summation, but it comes about through some very strange presentation of information.
Dyer is a Canadian historian/journalist with degrees in military history and military philosophy (military rationales?) but surprisingly misses out large components of what history has actually recorded.
He begins the article noting how Europeans have a “deep well of respect” for the U.S. That may or may not be true but the arguments used to arrive at that statement are simply wrong.
His first joint is “Even if the United States was years late to both world wars, it showed up both times in time to save the day.” This is not true.
World War I didn’t save any days, and would have ended in the full attrition of the warring empires of the day (Russia, France, Britain, Germany, Turkey [Ottoman Empire], Austria-Hungary) and a long process of unwinding the mess. As it was, the Paris Peace of 1919 created a long process of unwinding the mess – and in truth it is still not unwound today as the U.S. revives its Cold War policies against Russia.
World War II was already ‘won’ by the time the U.S. entered into the European fighting. The Soviet Union/Russia had decimated several German armies and were well on their way to conquering Germany itself. This came at a huge cost to the Russian defenders who incurred the largest personnel losses of any country in the war.
His next argument is “And American troops stayed in Western Europe to protect it from Soviet power throughout the Cold War.” This is not true either. The U.S. stayed in Europe to realize and optimize its new found position as the world’s industrial global leader and strongest economy – thanks mainly to the war and the fact that none of it was fought on U.S. territory.
He does argue correctly “Most Eastern Europeans see the United States as the instrument of their liberation from the Soviet Union,” but the other side of that coin is the unilateral decision by Russia to withdraw its troops and allow that freedom on the provision – partly – that NATO would not move “an inch closer” to the Russian border. Admittedly, the East Europeans feel liberated from Russian dominance, but their economies have not benefited greatly from the western imposed austerity programs and the rising right wing governments currently supported by the U.S.
His conclusion from the above is “But would two terms of Trump mean the end of American democracy? Not necessarily.”
The fallacy here is that the U.S. is actually a democracy, if the word democracy is correctly defined as ‘people + power’ as the root words indicate. The U.S. is truly an oligarchy, a government run by the wealthy, who also happen to have a strong militaristic viewpoint, the military solution being the main solution for most U.S. problems (domestically, “law and order”; foreign affairs, “rule of law” but mainly oil and the petrodollar).
Dyer’s argument then proceeds into the race problem and ends with “Having been so exposed, it will probably finally be extinguished….It is a necessary evolution of American history, for which some people living elsewhere may also pay a substantial price.”
This conclusion is somewhat bizarre. Whether Trump is re-elected or not, the race problem will not go away. The U.S. has since its inception been a racist state, a heritage of the British Empire, indeed of all western European thought especially after the “Doctrine of Discovery” was formally announced as early as 1452 in Papal Bulls. Strangely enough, and supporting the idea of U.S. racism is the Doctrine’s usage as recently as 2007 to remove indigenous land from the original inhabitants. [see this]. The chances of racism being extinguished any time soon are very remote.
The final statement – “some people living elsewhere may also pay a substantial price” – is also bizarre. Ever since its inception, and even before it, “people living elsewhere” have always paid a substantial price – in their lives, their resources, their environment, their freedoms, their land. This began with the Indian Wars, runs through the Spanish War and its long ongoing battles for control (including 1965-67 Indonesia slaughter of up to a million peasants and workers labelled ‘communists’, a U.S. inspired slaughter), through the World Wars (ending with the unnecessary slaughter of millions of Japanese civilians from fire bombing and nuclear bombing), and continues on today through the many covert and overt actions of the militarized state (the Pentagon, the CIA, and the many mercenary companies making their living from these operations) as it fights to retain its military and financial hegemony of the world.
There is no part of the world where U.S. actions have not had a negative impact on the people living there, and have not had a “substantial impact”. This extends throughout the Americas with the Monroe Doctrine which is essentially a doctrine in violation of all current norms of international “rule of law”. It covers all of Asia, most spectacularly in Vietnam and also with the overflow effects in Laos and Cambodia and the brutal Pol Pot regime, the latter partly supported by the U.S. More recently it is obvious in South Asia, where the U.S. forever war still runs in Afghanistan, started when the U.S. supported the mujahideen freedom fighters of the Taliban against the Soviets, creating in the long run al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The impact is most strong in the Middle East with U.S. support of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the U.S. support of the dictatorial Saudi Monarchy (where there is not even the pretence of democracy), both combining into other wars of aggression in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and for the U.S., Iran next. These wars are a combination of Christian fundamentalism, oil, the US$, and the military, a symbiotic unitary expression of the greed and racism of the struggling U.S. empire.
There are no real solutions offered, just a vague warning of more of the same “substantial price” being paid. The race issue will not be solved even though it is currently a large highlight of domestic politics. The overall problem with the U.S. is that of a fully racialized state of violence attempting to rule the world – that is not a problem that will be settled whether Trump is re-elected or not.
By Jim Miles