When Trump first won the election, thanks to the peculiarities of the U.S. electoral system, although formally it was a triumph of the Republican Party, in fact those who rose to power were the ultra-right extreme nationalists of the country, represented in first place by the white supremacist oligarchy, owner of industries and businesses in the U.S. and the principal promoters of the ideas based in “American Exceptionalism” – of the people of the U.S. as the new chosen people of God, as first demonstrated in manifest destiny. In second place we find all those citizens who, without belonging to the privileged classes, are fully convinced of the natural superiority of “pure Americans”, which is to say white male Protestants; these are the followers of the white supremacists, fascists, and ultra-right nationalists who represent the electoral base of Trump.
Some long for the post-war U.S. and hate the globalists whom, from their point of view, have ruined the nation; the slogan Make America Great Again comes from that lineage – America First and América Crece; a U.S. program promoting private investment in energy and other infrastructure projects across Latin America and the Caribbean. The government of the Trump administration, which has been labeled incompetent, irrational, and even idiotic, has, in reality, has served these interests and priorities, which explains many of his decisions and policies, both internal and international. It also involves the recognition of a new world order different from the two-power aspect of the Cold War and also from the brief unipolar status just after the fall of the Soviet Union, basically characterized by a globalized economy and the irresistible military power of the U.S., with a direct presence in the whole world as a global policeman, using the war on terror as an excuse, covering its global interventionism with a thin veil of legitimacy with the complicity of multi-lateral bodies and the unrestricted support of its allies and vassal-states.
No, what the Trump administration wants, in my opinion, is to return to the status of the United States immediately after the Second World War, which is to say the most powerful country in the world with the largest economy, and industrial and technological capacity, not to mention an absolute military superiority with the ability to deploy conventional forces on a world-wide scale as well as being the only country with the capability and the will to use atomic weapons of mass destruction, as they intentionally demonstrated against Japan.
Add to this a heavy handed direct neocolonial control of the whole American continent as its exclusive zone of influence while at the same time maintaining alliances with partners in other continents to contain and limit the power and influence of the other world power block, at least until they decided to strike the definitive blow against the USSR, a possible scenario that vanished when the Soviets achieved nuclear status. In this sense we can see how candidate and president Trump decided to establish a direct confrontation with China, faced with the unstoppable growth of the giant of Asia as well as the inevitable shift of the pendulum of geo-political power from the North Atlantic to Asia. To pursue this, in addition to irresponsibly blaming China for the global pandemic of COVID-19, he unleashed a commercial war against China and resorted to unilateral sanctions to attempt to force the return of industrial production to the U.S. along with employment and technology which he claims were stolen, with the ultimate intention of uncoupling the U.S. economy from that of China.
Certainly this is easier to say than to do and things have not worked out as he and his followers imagined, but this deserves analysis in a separate article. Thus, the power of China is recognized and it is declared to be the main enemy and strategic rival, so that, together with the shameless and absurd intention of weakening and isolating the Chinese economy, he adds a policy of military confrontation by means of a series of alliances that attempts to involve traditional partners and new protagonists in a more active role of military power and presence in addition to support for the armed presence of the U.S. itself.
This is intended to reduce military spending over the long range, as costs of containment are shared by countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, and other South-East Asian nations with territorial disputes with China. Returning, then, to the post-war situation, which changed only when the USSR developed nuclear potential and achieved strategic military equilibrium with the capacity for reprisal and assured mutual destruction that established the Cold War, the Trump administration has been systematically breaking nuclear regulation treaties, withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the Open Skies Treaty, as well as blocking the renewal of START III, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The intent, as Russia has pointed out, is simply to free the hands of the U.S. to develop and achieve an overwhelming quantitative nuclear advantage over everyone else in the world, so that they can hold the world at gunpoint; we cannot discard the possibility that the desire exists to demonstrate this destructive power, as was done against Japan.
Obviously things have not worked out as the occupant of the White House wanted in this case either. On the one hand, Russia has achieved a surprising asymmetrical qualitative advantage in nuclear material with the development of hypersonic technology that has the ability to overcome the anti-missile systems that theoretically have the capability to stop the rest of the vast Russian arsenal, eliminating, temporarily, the U.S. illusion of being able to emerge unscathed from a nuclear war.
On the other hand, China is increasing and modernizing all aspects of its conventional warfare power, especially naval aspects, at an unprecedented rate, which lets the U.S. know that soon it will be unable to isolate Chinese power in the Pacific. Taking both variables into consideration, it is not surprising that the possibility that a real, complete military alliance might be forged between Russia and China is the worst nightmare of the United States. In this New World Order, the U.S. no longer needs the legitimacy of multi-lateral organizations, or at least this is how the Trump administration understands it, so they withdraw from, ignore, or even sanction some of these organizations, treaties and agreements, choosing a unilateral line of action outside their own laws and contrary to international law.
They also no longer need to pretend to have a relationship of respect and partnership with their allies, who now have to accept their situation as vassal-states or incur the reprisals of the master. In truth, in this new order, the choice of the traditional allies is what Chomsky called the formation of the Reactionary International, which is nothing other than the development of client states that represent imperial power in different areas of the world, each with its own capacities and resources, so that the direct presence of troops of the empire is not necessary but they can always be mobilized and deployed if the situation warrants it. This allows the U.S. to concentrate its forces within the national boundaries, bring the boys home, and reduce the economic and political costs of the loss of U.S. lives in foreign countries.
This strategy of vassal-states includes strengthening the English-speaking alliance (United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand); includes the United Kingdom out of the European Union, as the representative of the U.S. in the Arctic regions; Poland/Ukraine/ and the Baltic States to contain (harass) Russia on the European Front, with Israel (re-enforced by the actions of Trump and his son-in-law) playing the same role in the Middle East; Japan and South Korea doing the same in Asia, with India recruited to contain China; and finally Brazil and Colombia carrying out the same actions in the context of Latin America.
All these countries have received ,and will continue to receive, preferential treatment in building up their military might, because in order to diminish the direct presence of the Empire, it is necessary for its local satellites to have a military advantage over their neighbors, and a certain ability to dissuade strategic rivals of the imperial power.
To recapitulate, America First implies the re-industrialization of the United States by means of disengagement from the Chinese economy and the return of production to U.S. soil, with resulting employment and generation of local wealth – in other words an industrial economy that produces for its own needs and for a captive world market (literally speaking.) It also includes the concentration of military forces within national territory, reserving the capacity to expand on the world-wide scale if necessary, and the large scale development of “super-duper” nuclear arms so as to guarantee an absolute advantage over geo-political rivals, shelving the policy of strategic equilibrium in favor of a policy of strategic confrontation between powers.
Now, Crecer en America (Growth in the Americas) is nothing more than what I call Monroe Doctrine neocolonialism for the 21st Century. It tries to re-establish the Monroe Doctrine and subject the entire continental mass from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego to the direct and exclusive colonial domination of the United States. This strategy involves eliminating and abominating all influence of Russia, China, or any other world, regional or local power on the soil of the Américas, and using pressure, blackmail, manipulation, dirty war, unequal competition, and extraterritorial sanctions.
In the same manner, it means recovering political power, by any means, in all this vast territory, by supporting powers aligned with the Empire, even against their own people. It means promoting the rise to power of groups of the extreme reactionary right-wing, like those of Bolsonaro, Duque and Piñera, and even buying traitors like Moreno in Ecuador.
Even beyond consolidating their presence in countries already under their power, the neocolonial strategy includes stopping the political process in those nations that have developed policies different from, distant from, or even completely independent of the Imperial will, just as they did with the coup in Bolivia and now with the legal persecution of progressive leaders to prevent them from participating freely in the political process and possibly returning to power in Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia – with judicial persecution directed against Lula, Correa, and Morales, respectively.
Finally, we see the express desire to intervene militarily in a direct or indirect form to change by force the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela, which are increasingly menaced in this moment of profound multi-faceted crisis, in the framework of the U.S. presidential elections and the parliamentary elections in Venezuela. America Crece has, as an ultimate goal, to recover and consolidate all the territory of the American continents as an exclusive United States zone of influence, securing under U.S. control all the natural resources, with a captive market for their products, and a cheap source of exploitable labor for the re-locating of some of the factories that they wish to remove from China in particular and Asia in general. At the same time, in geopolitical terms they would be re-enforcing their defensive capabilities in their underbelly and keeping any possible direct conventional military threat as far as possible from their own coasts, air space, and land.
In my opinion, this is the New World Order according to Trump and the extreme right ultra-nationalists of his country, and of the Reactionary International which is strengthening itself in the world, but the actions carried out to achieve these aspirations are taking the world to a dangerous level of internal conflicts (civil wars, even within the heart of the seat of empire) and local, regional and continental conflicts, or even worse, to a world-wide confrontation with a potentially apocalyptic destructive extent. However, they are not the only players on the world chessboard; there are other powers making their moves and proposing a multi-polar and pleuricentric new order.
On the other side there is also a mass of humanity that increasingly feels the effects of enormous social, economic, and political inequality; there is a world population, especially in the Global South, for whom the crisis provoked by the pandemic is bringing forth thoughts of the need for a change in the world view in which the destiny of the world and of the human species is no longer tied to the desires of an empire of the rich and powerful, nor to those of a small privileged minority, and, least of all, to those of one man.
America Latina en Movimiento
Translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America Bureau