Trump: The Trojan Horse
Of late, I have been reading a bunch of history about American politics, especially about US elites, under the guise of what’s called “counterinsurgency,” adopted and authorized the use of terrorist tactics, of mass killings especially in Central America, in order to impose its will on, to dominate those nations. For example, as one RAND analyst put it: “’US military advisers and intelligence officers’ whom [the analyst] knew who were involved in the war [in El Salvador] understood that the containment of the rebels was ‘not the result of reform but of the consequence of the murder of thousands of people.’” [Empire’s Workshop, p. 105] In fact, this was called “the genocide option” and it was practiced in Guatemala and Nicaragua as well as El Salvador.
“Between 1981 and 198 in Guatemala, the army executed roughly 100,000 Mayan peasants unlucky enough to live in a region identified as a seedbed of leftist insurgency. In some towns, troops murdered children by beating them on the rocks or throwing them into rivers as parents watched.” [p. 90]
“In Nicaragua, the US-backed Contras decapitated, castrated, and otherwise mutilated civilians and foreign aid workers.” [p. 90]
And this behavior was the result of training by US advisers, training that was “designed to purge civilization out of [the troops]….Some [troops] were required to raise puppies, only to be ordered to kill them and drink their blood.” [p. 90] And these things went on with the knowledge and under the auspices to the US government and its elites. The “civilian militarists” in the Republican Party not only knew about these things but defended them. Ted Schackley, who supervised secret paramilitary armies in Laos and Vietnam that were responsible for the execution of tens of thousands, wrote a book defending these policies under the title The Third Option.
Against the backdrop of these actions, which were endorsed and embraced by the governing classes in the US, what is it that Trump has done to warrant labeling him a one of the most dangerous politicians ever to occupy the White House? That is, the policies, the actions of earlier administrations were far more extreme than anything Trump has done. In fact, compared to other administrations – those of LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Jr. – Trump looks like, at best, a minor leaguer and possibly like someone without the skills to play in the big leagues with the big boys.
But insofar as this is accurate, why then do so many treat Trump as a gravely dangerous politician? What purpose could be served by continually exaggerating Trump’s capacity for harm?
Well, to put it directly, Trump is being used as something like a “Trojan horse” in order to disarm, defeat, and delegitimize a real threat to the existing political order, viz., a populism that rejects the status quo, rejects its “realpolitik,” its endless wars, and its oligarchic economic and political arrangements and institutions. Trump as a Trojan horse conceals the attack on the real enemies of our Orwellian oligarchy, while Trump has never been and will never be a genuine threat to that oligarchy. He is too much of a clown, too superficial politically to generate the kind of popularity needed to undermine the established order. But by being treated as such by that order, it can fortify itself against greater, potentially more problematic dangers – like a resurgent populism of the kind that elected Jimmy Carter in 1976.
There is evidence in the appeal of Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Pete B., Beto, and even Elizabeth Warren that the seeds of such a populism are present and could, given the right chain of events, burst forth and replace the current oligarchy. Hence, that oligarchy emphasizes, exaggerates Trump’s importance, by referring to what they call “Trumpism.” But Trumpism only exists because the ruling elites have created it, as Trump has not enunciated any doctrine, any overarching vision except for the vague and hollow mantra “Make America Great Again.” Obviously, this mantra leads nowhere except to some imagined and imaginary past that no one, not even Trump, can pin down. For Trumpism to be real, he would have to, like FDR or LBJ, enunciate, elaborate, point toward a new political order like the New Deal or the Great Society. But as almost everyone realizes, although it is not often said, Trump is not capable of such leadership. Such leadership cannot be built on tweets. And Trump’s tweets are a clear sign that his politics are at bottom impotent. Tweeting, like womanizing, reflects a fear of impotency, and Trump is strangely proud of both his tweeting and his womanizing.
Of course, this would not be the first time that the ruling classes in the US practiced a kind of “Trojan horse” politics. It is plausible to argue that the Cold War was used in this way, when US elites used that “war” against communism as a way to control – for better and worse – the American people and to fortify their power against surging populist forces like black power, feminism, and gay liberation. If you ask “What can I do for my country?” as JFK recommended, you will not be asking what your rights are as blacks, as women, or as gays. And of course you won’t be asserting those rights either, which if successfully asserted would undermine the power of the prevailing elites.
In a nation that aspires to be a republic, the elites are constantly battling the people for control. Currently, Trump is a useful ally helping our current elites maintain their power. He is a “Trojan horse.”