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Andrea Mazzarino, Upending America?

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In her latest piece, TomDispatch regular Andrea Mazzarino peers into an ominously all(un?)-American future in which Donald Trump could emerge from his deep state of confusion to once again become president of the United States. And this time he could do so in a way that would make the previous four-year excursion seem like a holiday trip to… well… Mars. We’re talking, of course, about the former president for whom the term “pardon me” gained a new and far less polite meaning. As Beth Reinhard, Manuel Roig-Franzia, and Clara Ence Morse pointed out recently in the Washington Post, “Never before had a president used his constitutional clemency powers to free or forgive so many people who could be useful to his future political efforts.” And useful many of them are now proving to be.

Let me add just one thing to Mazzarino’s analysis of an American future that could all too literally take us to hell and back: were Donald Trump to become president for four more years in a country where oil and natural gas production has already gone through the roof, he could help ensure that everyone on this planet will be living in a true hell on earth. Keep in mind that we’re talking about the fellow who describes the devastation of climate change this way: “When I see these people talking about global warming, where the ocean will rise by 1/100th of an inch over the next 350 years…”

Of course, if he had no chance of taking back the White House, that would be a joke and a half, especially since global sea levels are already rising by 1/8th of an inch annually and, if the heating of this planet is limited to (god save us!) 2 degrees Celsius, the sea level near Mar-a-Lago could rise nearly three feet in the next quarter century or so!

Meanwhile, the right-wing think tanks that, as Mazzarino points out, are already hard at work on a Trump second term have produced a plan that climate scientist Michael Mann suggests “would block efforts underway to scale up renewable energy and create a clean energy grid. It would defund climate programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and clean energy efforts at the Department of Energy. It would also bar other states from adopting California’s clean energy policies and put the fossil fuel industry fox in the environmental henhouse by turning over regulation of polluters to Republican state legislatures.”

So, keep in mind as you read today’s piece that Donald Trump, who’s been courting the oil and gas industry barons in this election season by promising “to open up more federal lands to drilling, support pipeline projects such as Keystone XL, and reinstate oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” almost literally breathes nothing but CO2. Now, let Mazzarino take you into a second-time-around version of a Trumpian hell on earth. Tom

Trump, the Second Time Around?

Replacing the “Deep State” from Depths All His Own

Recently, on a commuter train, I ran into an acquaintance who works for a government agency here in Washington, D.C. Soon after we started chatting, he indicated a desire to switch jobs in case Donald Trump was reelected president in 2024. “I’d like to be somewhere that Trump wouldn’t be able to politicize,” my buddy said. I listened as he mused about which government institutions would remain well-funded despite Trump’s desire to destroy "the deep state.”

“Maybe I’ll work for the Department of Defense,” my companion finally suggested all too logically.

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Andrew Bacevich, When Wars Converge

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As I was following the nightmare in Gaza and preparing today’s piece by TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of On Shedding an Obsolete Past: Bidding Farewell to the American Century, I couldn’t help wishing that another author I edited and published for years, Chalmers Johnson, was still with us. His classic book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire appeared before the 9/11 attacks and put the word “blowback” into our everyday language. Of it, he wrote, “Officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented [blowback] for their own internal use… [It] refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.” Of course, on September 11, 2001, he got a helping hand from Mr. Blowback himself, Osama bin Laden, someone he had warned about in that very book and whose attack on this country turned it into an instant bestseller.

Anyway, as I was reading Bacevich’s piece, I had the sudden urge to show it to Chal (as his friends knew him). In the nightmarish context Bacevich so strikingly sets up, I wanted to ask him what kind of blowback he thought this country’s present actions in the Middle East, including its almost blind support for Israel, might produce. After all, as Bacevich makes clear today, the way seems painfully open to extending Washington’s never-ending war on terror (itself launched in the wake of 9/11) into the Middle East in a new and potentially calamitous fashion, one that might even lend a hand to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Of course, I’m no miracle worker and so have no way of bringing Chal back for his thoughts on Washington’s present nightmarish Middle Eastern policy-making, but I suspect that he would have found Bacevich’s on the subject of genuine interest. And yes, in this present blowback moment of ours, how apt that, at 100, Henry Kissinger, Mr. Blowback himself and a man responsible for so desperately many deaths, has finally left our world in anything but peace. Tom

America’s War for the Greater Middle East (Continued)

Here We Go Again?

One way of understanding the ongoing bloodbath pitting Israel against Hamas is to see it as just the latest chapter in an existential struggle dating back to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. While the appalling scope, destructiveness, and duration of the fighting in Gaza may outstrip previous episodes, this latest go-around serves chiefly to reaffirm the remarkable intractability of the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Although the shape of that war has changed over time, certain constants remain. Neither side, for instance, seems capable of achieving its ultimate political goals through violence. And each side adamantly refuses to concede to the core demands of its adversary. In truth, while the actual fighting may ebb and flow, pause and resume, the Holy Land has become the site of what is effectively permanent conflict.

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Clarence Lusane, Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned

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It should be hard to imagine, but sadly it isn’t. In the next year, almost anything — all too literally — could happen. Donald Trump, that other old man in the room, could indeed go down, thanks to all those McDonald’s and Wendy’s burgers he’s consumed. Or he could be convicted of one or more felonies and lose Republicans unwilling to vote for someone officially labeled a “criminal” (or so some polls tell us might be possible anyway). Unlikely as it might seem right now, he could even lose the Republican nomination to Nikki Haley (though I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one). And of course, he could be beaten next November by Joe Biden or, in turn, Biden could go down in some unexpected (or do I mean expectable?) way, leaving the aging Trump to face a vigorous younger Democrat in 2024. (And in case you’ve noticed all the parentheses in this paragraph, they only emphasize how dauntingly unknown that future of ours remains.)

But regrettably, The Donald could also do just what too many polls of this moment are suggesting and win the presidency for the second time. While ensconced once again in the Oval Office, he would, of course, still find himself embroiled in court cases and wouldn’t be able to pardon himself when it comes to the state charges. If he were convicted, watch out! We already know that, behind (but not so very far behind) the scenes, right-wing think tanks are working at top capacity to create a next-time-around Trumpian government that would be ever more divorced from the democracy we’ve known and ever more autocratic. Its power would, of course, be centered on — yes, Donald Trump! And if so, revenge would be the theme of the day, week, and year.

With that in mind, let TomDispatch regular Clarence Lusane lay out for you just what it would mean for the Trumpublican Party’s slogan to change from Make America Great Again (MAGA!) to Make America Fascist Again (MAFA!) and just how certain aspects of the history of this country would help make such a transformation all too possible. Tom

Make America Fascist Again (MAFA!)

The Future If Donald Trump Returns to the Oval Office

On February 19, 1942, two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. It initiated a Department of Defense program that resulted in the rounding up and incarceration of about 122,000 individuals of Japanese descent. They were to be placed in federal “relocation centers” that would popularly become known as “internment camps.” As it happened, they were neither. They were prisons set up to house and so violate the civil and human rights of a despised and racially different group defined as "the enemy."

Although that executive order did not, in fact, mention a specific ethnic or racial group, it was clearly understood that the prisons were not being established for citizens or residents of German or Italian descent, the other two nations then at war with the United States. While not a single person of Japanese ancestry was found to have spied on this country or to have committed acts of sabotage against it, pro-Mussolini and pro-Hitler demonstrations, rallies, and propaganda had been commonplace. Before the war, fascist groups had been allowed to organize and spread propaganda from coast to coast. Some even had influence over and alliances with members of Congress, mainstream journalists, and well-known scholars.

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