By Robert Gibbs, U.S. Correspondent, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 15 March 2019, www.thecommunists.net
“The Senate’s waking up a little bit to our responsibilities,” observed Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee. The Senator was one of the 12 Republican senators who abandoned President Trump to pass legislation, previously adopted by the House, that would block Trump from declaring a national emergency for the purpose of building his border wall. The Senate vote on Thursday was 59-41. Trump has vowed to overturn this act of defiance by Congress with the first veto of his presidency.
The day before, Wednesday, seven Republican senators also joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting legislation that had previously passed in the Democrat-led House ending US military aid to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. That’s a conflict that has cost over 60,000 lives since 2016 and is now a direct threat to the existence of upwards of twenty million Yemenis through starvation. It is presently classed as the world’s leading humanitarian crisis.
The Yemen vote was a rare invocation of the 1973 War Powers Act, passed after the Vietnam War to restrain the president’s use of military force.
That fact recalls the title of David Halberstam’s 1969 opus on the debacle of the US War in Vietnam – The Best and the Brightest. It chronicles the hubris of American imperialism during a period of its stalled ascendancy as the world’s leading superpower. It highlights the arrogant ignorance shared by multiple generations of the American elite serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Today, it can be demonstrably asserted that the American bourgeoisie retains all of that previous hubris, yet faces new challenges to its global hegemony with a leadership many rungs down the ladder of “the best and the brightest”. As Talleyrand famously said about the feckless Bourbons, “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”
The present crisis is not at the southern border. It's in the Oval Office. The Trump Administration is an improbable ball of string that has already begun to unravel. The November elections were the first phase, the defection and conviction of close allies and subordinates (Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, etc.) were the second phase, the shifting winds in Congress are the third phase. The long anticipated Mueller Report will be the next phase.
Trump has done an able job of building something out of absolutely nothing through a public relations effort greased by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. But, at the end of the day, nothing is still nothing. What's the value of an unwound ball of dirty string and yarn scattered about on the streets of America? Not much.
And as quickly as the opportunists of the Republican Party jumped on board - they will jump right off as they increasingly sense the coming end to this dizzying and disappointing ride on the Trump Merry-Go-Round. Their defection into the arms of the equally clueless Democratic Party has already begun.
This whole crisis-at-the-border has been constructed as a publicity stunt playing on the fears of uninformed and manipulated people. How long can Trump fail to address the real motivations of his unenlightened (and benighted) base: the evaporation of good paying manufacturing jobs, the opioid crisis, and the sustained stagnation of living standards - before people size him up as a windbag and a fraud?
We are fast approaching a tipping point. These people (Trump's rump) tend to be extremely loyal... until they aren't. And Trump knows that time is fast approaching. A growing concern? War as a diversion.
What's the magic solution to a seemingly insoluble crisis? An even larger crisis with a significant dimension of executive prerogative - war.
That was Bush's solution in 2001 and 2003 and it may well be win-at-any-cost Trump's solution in 2019. Possible locales? Venezuela, Iran, the Korean peninsula, and the South China Sea are all currently in the running. All of the contradictions of global capitalism that took the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the Twentieth Century continue unabated into the Twenty First.