By John Bachtell
Trump’s State of the Union address aimed to unite a
right-wing base and drive a wedge between Democratic moderates and progressives
and the entire anti-extreme right-wing alliance, just as the 2020 presidential
campaign gets underway.
Trump spoke before a dramatically changed political
landscape marked by. a new Democratic House majority and after a humiliating
government shutdown. A majority of voters reject his right-wing policies and
appeals to hate and fear, including his call to build the border wall. His
popularity is at its lowest level, and his administration is hounded by
corruption and questions of its very legitimacy.
A record number of women, people of color, labor and
grassroots activists who emerged from the opposition to the extreme-right
agenda were elected to Congress and state legislatures, helping transform these
Trump’s conjured up a country under siege from
domestic and foreign threats. The southern border is overwhelmed by criminals,
rapists, and drug cartels. They pose a dire threat to national security and
safety and will take jobs from American workers, drive down wages, and force
communities to bear extra costs to education, health care, and other services.
The border wall is a matter of security, morality,
and patriotism, according to this argument. His demagogic and fear mongering
remarks were laced with anti-communism and anti-socialism. This served two
purposes. First, to paint all Democrats as dangerous radicals and socialists,
who pose a domestic threat to American values and then to drive that wedge in
the anti-extreme right electoral alliance.
Sen. Richard Durbin (Ill) was clear on the intended
purpose. “Every authoritarian regime of the last century has prefaced their
grab for power by saying you’ve got to stop the left. Sometimes they call it
socialist, sometimes they call it communist,” he said.
Trump linked Democrats and socialism with Venezuela,
characterizing the anti-monopoly, pro-people social programs as a system unable
to provide food and medicine to its people. When he declared, “We will never
allow socialism here,” the hall erupted with applause including from several
announced Democratic candidates.
It’s indisputable that Venezuela is in crisis and
that the Maduro government has made serious mistakes. However, the roots of
this crisis lie in U.S. sanctions, sabotage by Venezuelan capitalists and an
economy that relies primarily on oil revenues, a legacy of colonialism.
Plunging global oil prices precipitated this crisis.
Trump’s platitudes about democracy cover up an
alliance of his administration with the extreme right and fascist pro-business elements
in Venezuela, Columbia, and Brazil to carry out a coup in Venezuela. War
criminals John Bolton and Elliot Abrams, along with Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence,
and Marco Rubio are driving Trump’s Venezuela policy.
Unfortunately, some sections of the Democratic Party
leadership, elected officials and their foreign policy advisors seem to have
developed a case of amnesia when it comes to foreign interference in the 2016
elections. They support the coup policy and are objectively aligned with Trump,
the extreme right, and fascists on this issue. They include Durbin, Speaker
Nancy Pelosi, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Support for a coup by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez
(N.J.) and various Democratic representatives in Florida is based on the
presence in their states of large, vocal right-wing and anti-communist
communities of Cuban, Venezuelan, and other pro-fascist exiles from Central and
Florida is a crucial swing state in presidential
elections. A section of the Democratic Party fears alienating this voting bloc.
This fear blinds them to possibly long-term catastrophic consequences of
interference in Venezuela.
They should heed the warning of the Rev. Martin
Luther King, Jr.: “Our irrational, obsessive anti-communism has led us into too
many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking.”
The old Cold War foreign policy that was based on
the idea that anti-communism was more important than the national sovereignty
of other countries continues to influence Democrat elected officials who take
progressive positions on many domestic issues. This foreign policy gave the
U.S. the right to intervene in any country anytime. It has cost the American
people hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions in military spending,
including the Korean and Viet Nam wars. It has produced suffering and stood in
the way of national independence across the globe from South Africa to Chile,
from Central America to Indonesia.
This foreign policy approach is an Achilles heel of
the Democratic Party. It poses a threat to the unity of the broad alliance that
has been built to counter the extreme-right. This alliance is composed of
multiple class and democratic forces and a wide range of political currents.
The Venezuelan coup is unfolding in a broader
geopolitical context. The aim of the neo-cons, capitalist-dominated foreign
policy establishment, and corporate media is to reassert the complete dominance
of U.S. corporate might in the hemisphere. The aim is to eliminate any gains by
progressive forces in the region that would interfere with profits. The aim is
to undermine economic competition by perceived rivals including capitalist
Russia and socialist-oriented China.
They seek to completely wipe out any challenge to
U.S. finance capital in the hemisphere by eliminating all alternative paths of
development, including socialist oriented-models by Cuba and Venezuela, and any
alternative financial institutions not under their domination.
The same corporate and extreme-right forces that the
American people are up against at home are pushing for military intervention to
carry out regime change in Venezuela, followed by Cuba and Nicaragua. The
neocons are for achieving this with unrestrained military force if necessary.
If a coup succeeds, it could precipitate a civil
war, an invasion by Colombia, Brazil or the U.S., vast destruction and death
and a humanitarian crisis.
Trump’s pro-corporate, extreme-right, warmongering
foreign policy is also unfolding on other fronts, including regime change in
Iran in alliance with the feudal monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the extreme-right
government in Israel. If not stopped, the world could face two significant
These issues pose fundamental challenges for the
broad anti-extreme right and democratic alliance where the broadest unity is
needed to defeat Trump and the extreme right GOP in 2020.
An overarching people’s agenda is emerging which
includes the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, broad reforms to voting rights
and electoral laws, criminal justice reform, taxing the rich and wealth
redistribution, and immigration reform.
What’s needed is a people’s foreign policy, one that
recognizes rapidly changing global dynamics, including the growth of
socialist-oriented economies and alternative paths of development. The American
people need a foreign policy rejecting the old Cold War and anti-communist
policies while promoting diplomacy and peaceful relations. (IPA Service)
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