One thing Trump got right

February 14, 2017

Steve Leigh uncovers something that most Republicans and Democrats can agree about: Donald Trump shouldn't say "non-alternative" facts about U.S. imperialism.

POLITICIANS AND commentators across the political spectrum are livid. Donald Trump finally made a factual statement. He let the cat out of the bag.

In an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly before the Super Bowl, O'Reilly questioned Trump about his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Putin's a killer," O'Reilly said.

"There are a lot of killers," Trump responded. "Got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country's so innocent? Take a look at what we've done, too. We've made a lot of mistakes," he added, referencing the Iraq War.

Virtually every politician who commented was outraged that Trump would compare the U.S. to Russia.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN's State of the Union: "Putin's a former KGB agent. He's a thug. He was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election. The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine and messed around in our elections. And no, I don't think there's any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does."

Bill O'Reilly listens aghast as Donald Trump lets an honest statement slip from his lips
Bill O'Reilly listens aghast as Donald Trump lets an honest statement slip from his lips

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska declared: "There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin's defense of his cronyism."

The Democrats were happy to chime in as well. Attacking Trump's remarks about Putin went along with their strategy of proving themselves the "better patriots" by fomenting a new Cold War with Russia over supposed election hacking.

None of this means that Trump has become an anti-imperialist. He is quite willing to continue sanctions and military attacks around the world if that will promote "America First."

The U.S. drone strikes that kill civilians in the Middle East and beyond didn't stop on January 20 when Trump took office. In fact, Trump promises to continue the "war on terror" and "wipe out" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which will mean the continued slaughter of civilians, just as took place under Barack Obama.

Trump is allied with Russia in the war on ISIS. The only difference is that Trump strayed from U.S. ruling class "political correctness" by letting it slip that the U.S. is not so innocent.

THE HYPOCRISY of the politicians knows no bounds. Their justification for U.S. intervention around the world is American Exceptionalism--the image of the "freedom-loving nation" that Sen. Sasse claims. To win support of Americans for various imperial interventions around the globe, both political parties need to maintain the fiction that the U.S. has good motives and is different from other empires.

But Rev. Martin Luther King had a much more accurate analysis when he said in 1967 that the U.S. is " the greatest purveyor of violence" in the world.

Russia's record as an imperialist power is horrific. It carried out a murderous war on Chechnya, destroying its capital of Grozny and killing tens of thousands. For nearly 50 years after the Second World War, the ex-USSR occupied much of Eastern Europe. Under Putin, Russia grabbed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and is fomenting a continuing war there. And, of course, Russia is backing the butchery of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, creating one of the worst refugee crises in world history.

But Sasse is wrong. There is a "moral equivalency" between the U.S. and Russia. In fact, Russia is small potatoes compared to the atrocities committed by U.S. imperialism.

Just to scratch the surface: The U.S. was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths during the Korean War in the early 1950s; more than 3 million dead in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and '70s; and well over 1 million in Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s as a result of war and sanctions.

The U.S. helped overthrow governments in Iran, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras and many other countries. It interfered in countless elections, including in European countries considered allies, like France and Italy.

The U.S. is the only country ever to use nuclear weapons against people. It has bases, fleets and armies spread across the world. It has backed countless dictatorships and oppressive regime, including apartheid South Africa and Israel's colonial dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people.

Plus, of course, the U.S. empire was founded on the expulsion and genocide of the Native population of North America.

The response of politicians and commentators to the idea that America "isn't innocent" reminds us that the whole ruling class--Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike--have backed and carried out this horrific record of U.S. power around the world. This power is exercised not for freedom or democracy, but to secure and expand the wealth and power of U.S. corporations and the government that backs them.

The left needs to expose the hypocrisy of the politicians and commentators who refuse to look honestly at the U.S. record--and pretend that the "greatest purveyor of violence" in the world is well-intentioned and benign.

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