20 Jun 2018

More things change, more they stay the same. Donald Trump didn’t radically change US policy

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Donald Trump didn't radically change US policy

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It is a shocking story. Immigrant children, taken away from their parents, locked in cages. People have every right to be enraged. Even if their parents broke the law, illegaly crossing the US border, there is no reason to put their children into cages, causing them trauma.

Yet, there is an important aspect of this story, that mostly stays buried, while the media and activist assault US president Donald Trump. The legislature, that allowed such actions, was adopted long ago. Under president Obama, immigrant children were also separated from their parents and put into detention centers. Yet, I do not remember a storm like thise one then. Could it be, that all the media exposure is just a consequence of a wrong person sitting in the White House? Could it be, that if Hillary Clinton were president, this story would stay buried?

No, the fact, that under his predecessor the same thing happened, doesn’t absolve Donald Trump from his responsibility. He could have pushed for change, if he wanted to remedy this situation, but he didn’t. On the other hand, this story tells us a lot, how the United States functions. 

Under Trump, there have been no radical changes. He just continued, where those before him stoped. Barack Obama expelled more illegal immigrants, than any other administration. 2,5 million. Trump will most likely try to surpass him. Maybe, under pressure, he will make the system a bit more humane, when children are involved, but there is no doubt, that trying to prevent illegal immigrants from arriving, or pushing them put, can not be without pain.

If one looks at US foreign policy, one can not but notice, that US troops are still in Afganistan, that under Trump there were operations in Iraq, that there is US footprint in Syria and Yemen, that there are still drone attacks, even inside Pakistan. US empire of bases stays intact and Americans still act as worlds policemen. Yes, Trump is rude and puts America first, alienating US allies, but he is just a more extreme version of other presidents before him. In reality, there is only one party in the United States, when foreign policy is concerned, the imperial party, and different presidents bring different approaches, but they all serve the same goal. Trump thinks that trade is the most important aspect of US greatness, and so he tries to bully the Chinese, who indeed are the biggest competitors. His behaviour shows, he doesn’t put Russia very high on the list of opponents, and that is understandable, as he comes from the business world. If his origins would be in the military, he might have put the spotlight on Russia, which is militarily, because of its nuclear arsenal, still the strongest possible US adversary, and not cared that much for China, no matter the Chinese spectacular economic growth. But, in the end, all that matters is how to maintain US dominance.

That’s the reason, why people, who believe they can bring to power a president, that would radically alter US policies, are naive. Even if they would succeed in such an endeavor, the surrounding political system would soon bring the outsider under control. Again, remember the time, when Trump thought about withdrawing drom Afghanistan? He was soon persuaded, that that would not be the best of moves. And so he stayed.

Before Trump, Obama was the man of change. You remember him, ‘Yes we can’, first black president, bringing change. He withdrew from Iraq, but stayed in Afghanistan, he expanded the drone war, while not repeating larger military adventures like Bush jr. before him. He made an attempt with Obamacare and bailed out the financial system. Under him, the American ship continued to sail roughly in the same direction, as before, and not that much came from all that promise of change. After him, a man very much different from him also rode into power as a man of change, as a nationalistic populist, that would ‘drain the swamp’. Well, how is that one going?

There is a lot of talk about deep state in United States, and at first that seems like a conspiracy theory. But, every state has a deep state, which is nothing more than a collection of elites, be it political, economic or military, working from behind the curtains, trying to serve their interests. They are backed by their agents in the media and even academia, doing everything in their power, to first influence people to vote for politicians, they support, and latter to put pressure on politicians in office, so they make the moves beneficial to them. It is like that in France or Argentina, and it is that way in the United States.

Such forces in any society are the real reason, the status quo is maintained, even if people have the vote and that is also the reason, why US politics stay very similar, no matter the person at its top.