U.S. Senators Are Even More Neoconservative than Are Trump’s Appointees

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

The confirmation hearings for the members of incoming President Donald Trump’s national-security team showed that neoconservatism dominates the U.S. government today: neoconservatism didn’t end after George W. Bush’s alleged certainty that “Saddam’s WMD” existed in 2002, turned out to have been merely an excuse — not an authentic reason — to invade Iraq, and so to spread death and mass-misery (as every invasion does). These confirmation hearings, in fact, made clear that virtually all of Congress is neoconservative — at least as much as was the case back in 2002, when Congress authorized the President to invade Iraq before weapons inspectors finished their work (and so Bush was able to order them out, and to invade Iraq).

These hearings displayed 100% neoconservative U.S. Senators — no Senator who isn’t a neoconservative. These Senators, of both Parties, in their questioning and comments, were all far to the right of the incoming President, Donald Trump. (Democrats might be to the ‘left’ of Republicans on some domestic matters, but both Parties are neoconservative, which is a far-right foreign-affairs ideology.)

This fact was shown clearly, as the Senators probed each appointee with questions that challenged him (since all of these nominees are males) as being insufficiently hostile toward Russia, and also (though to a lesser extent) insufficiently hostile toward Iran, and toward other countries (especially Syria and China) that have friendly relations with Russia. This obsessive hatred of Russia is the standard neoconservative position — neoconservatism’s defining reality, regardless of whether neoconservatives admit to being haters at all, of anything.

Each one of these nominees, in turn, provided responses which indicated that he, too, is far to the right of Trump. The Senators were apparently satisfied with each one of the nominees, on that basis — a neoconservative basis. 

Also, each one of the Senators probed the nominee, in order to make certain that the interviewee favors steep increases in ‘defense’ spending (another essential mark of neoconservatism — unlimited military spending), even if other federal spending is required to stay the same or else be reduced. Even the Democratic Senators want ‘defense’ spending increased even if domestic spending gets reduced. Democratic Senators on the panel showed themselves as being just as emphatically in favor of abolishing existing limits on ‘defense’ spending as the Republican ones are.

If what U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 had referred to as “the military-industrial complex” owns all of Congress today, then the results of these interviews with nominees still couldn’t have been any more neoconservative than they, in fact, were.

Great pressure was thus being placed, by the interviewers, upon each nominee, to increase greatly U.S. ‘defense’ spending, and to exhibit hostility toward Russia and the other countries that are the standard ‘enemies’ in the view of neoconservatives. Regardless of whether Trump wants unlimited ‘defense’ spending (and is merely pretending to want to cut programs like the scandalous F-35), Congress certainly does.

Neoconservatism can, very practically, be defined by the nations that it places unquestioningly as being America’s ‘friends’ (Israel, Europe — especially the parts that were formerly communist — Japan, and all of the fundamentalist-Sunni Gulf Cooperation Council [Arab monarchy] nations); and as being America’s ‘enemies’ (Russia, Iran, China, and any nation that’s allied with one or more of those three). Nothing that either a ‘friend’ or an ‘enemy’ nation does is actually pertinent to a neoconservative’s national favors or hatreds: each of these nations is permanently what it is; and, for example, Russia being no longer communist and no longer the Soviet Union, doesn’t really affect a neoconservative’s hatred of Russia. Neoconservatism is — in that sense — ethnic, tribal: rigidly loyal to labeled ‘friends’, and also rigidly hostile to labeled ‘enemies’. It’s permanent war for perpetual ‘peace’, because to stop trying to conquer the ‘enemies’ is viewed as ‘immoral’, actually shameful and maybe even ‘cowardly’ — no matter how few the aristocracy actually are who benefit from all this mass bloodshed, crippling, refugees, and destruction. It’s an upside-down ‘morality’. That’s what neoconservatism is.

America’s Congress is at least 90% neoconservative, not only in the Senate, but also in the House. To judge by these hearings, the Senators were virtually united, that Russia is America’s #1 enemy (a key mark of neoconservatism is the demonization of Russia); and, while most seemed to consider Iran to be enemy #2, some Senators and House members placed China in that category (#2). North Korea was also mentioned by many.

Eliminating, or even reducing, jihadism, is definitely well below the second national-security priority (if it’s an authentic concern at all), for members of the U.S. Congress, with Russia certainly being the #1 enemy in their eyes. Furthermore, no member of Congress considers the Saudi government — the government that is owned by the Saud family — to be an “enemy” at all, nor do they consider, to be an enemy, any other of the fundamentalist-Islamic Arab royal families (such as the ones who own Qatar, or who own UAE, or who own Kuwait), even though the Saud family are the main funders of jihadist groups around the world, and those other royal Arabs provide most of the rest of the financing that makes jihadist terrorism possible. So, practically speaking, the U.S. Congress considers the chief financial backers of jihadist groups to be U.S. ‘allies’, not to be “enemies” of the U.S., at all.

For example: as one strong friend of the royal Arabs, Hillary Clinton has said in private:

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Saudi Arabia is owned by the Saud family; so, she knew that they are the main funders of Al Qaeda etcetera (or, like Osama bin Laden’s former bagman said of Al Qaeda’s financing, “Without the money of the — of the Saudi, you will have nothing”). That family control the government, and all the rest of their aristocracy do whatever the Saud family tell them to do. Hillary wasn’t naive.

And, elsewhere (also in private), she referred to “the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

And she also devoted a lengthy cable to U.S. Embassies, to the desirability of dealing with this problem (their aristocracies’ funding of jihadist groups around the world) also in Kuwait, and UAE — two more U.S. ‘allies’. But there’s no evidence she followed up on that.

And so, former U.S. Senator Clinton was simply a normal member of the U.S. Senate which is under display even now, as being even more neoconservative than President-elect Trump’s national-security appointees are.

For example, during the hearing on January 12th, in which Trump’s choice to head the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department, James Mattis, was grilled by each member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the retired Marine General Mattis was pressed on whether he supported eliminating the ‘defense’ spending-cap that Congress in late 2012 imposed to begin on 1 January 2013, as the 2013 Budget Control Act, or “sequestration.” General Mattis replied by calling the 2013 Budget Control Act a “self-inflicted wound.” (He had already told this very same Senate Committee, on 27 January 2015, “The Senate Armed Services Committee should lead the effort to repeal the sequestration that is costing military readiness and long term capability while sapping troop morale.” So, they already knew that he’s a hard-liner about lifting the spending-cap on the military — just not on the rest of the budget, because he had also said on 27 January 2015, “If we refuse to reduce our debt or pay down our deficit — … No nation in history has maintained its military power while failing to keep its fiscal house in order.” So, these Senators are clear about removing the limit only on ‘defense’ spending.)

Mattis said in this January 12th confirmation-hearing, that Russia “has chosen to be both a strategic competitor and an adversary” and “we still engage with the soviet union.” (It’s common for high U.S. military, and even diplomatic, officials, to slip back into calling Russia “the Soviet Union,” still 25+ years after the Soviet Union ended, and its Warsaw Pact of military allies ended, and their communism ended. This insanity is normal for America’s leaders.)

He was asked about Donald Trump’s having questioned whether NATO (the anti-Russia military alliance) needs to be continued, and Mattis said “If we did not have NATO today, we would have to create it. NATO is vital to our national interest.”

He was questioned regarding whether he agrees with Trump’s having challenged President Obama’s campaign aimed to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and Mattis said that the real issue is only about the speed with which Assad must be removed. He said that what is needed is “a more accelerated campaign than the President-elect has called for” — in other words, he said that not only was President Obama too slow in this matter, but that Mattis will be advising Trump to reverse position on this and to out-do Obama on it. (A Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, had asked those questions, and he seemed to be pleased with Mattis’s super-hawkish responses. Washington’s neoconservatism is bipartisan.)  

Responding to another Senator, Mattis said that there’s “an increasing number of areas in which we’ll have to confront Russia.” We’re not doing it enough, he thinks.

He was asked whether he shared President-elect Trump’s distrust of the U.S. intelligence-services, and he replied, “I have a very very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community.” The CIA and other people who were united in saying that Saddam Hussein had WMD in 2002 and that they needed to be immediately eliminated, are trusted by Mattis as much as they were trusted by Bush.

He was asked about Israel and said that it is eternally an ‘ally’ of America, and that Israel is “the only democratic nation in the Middle East.” No Senator asked him whether apartheid South Africa was also a ‘democratic’ nation. On 13 January 2017, Brandon Turbeville headlined about the only secular nation in the Middle East, “Grand Mufti Of Syria Discusses Secularism In Syria – Human Beings Live In States, No Countries Based On Religion”; and, previously, I had pointed out that even Western polling in Syria consistently showed that the vast majority of Syrians want Assad to continue as the country’s leader, and that it was Barack Obama who was criticized by U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon for refusing to let the Syrian people determine, in a free and internationally monitored democratic election, whom the nation’s leader should be. (Obama knows that they would elect Assad; so, he doesn’t want democracy, there.)

Perhaps a lot of false ‘facts’ are in Mattis’s head, but he maintains them with consistency — and any falsehoods that he believes are of the type that made his nomination to become the U.S. Secretary of ‘Defense’ all the more attractive to the members of the U.S. Congress.

In my previous article, “Trump Team Targets Iran”, I documented that:

All four of the persons selected by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump for the top U.S. national-security posts are committed to replacing the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama’s #1 military target, Russia, by a different #1 military target, Iran. Iran has long been the #1 military target in the view of Michael Flynn, the chosen Trump National Security Advisor; and of James Mattis, the chosen Trump Secretary of Defense; and of Dan Coats, the chosen Trump Director of National Intelligence; and of Mike Pompeo, the chosen CIA Director.

So, although Trump’s appointees might be less neoconservative than the Senators, and less neoconservative than was Trump’s predecessor, Obama — and Trump is far less neoconservative than is Hillary Clinton — Trump still could turn out to be a neoconservative President. This isn’t because the American public are neoconservative (they definitely aren’t), but because the American aristocracy is. The U.S. government represents them — not the American public.

Now we’ll see whether Donald Trump will be the boss, or whether the neoconservatives whom he appointed to the top U.S. national-security posts will be.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • JAndy

    “…fundamentalist-Islamic Arab royal families (such as the ones who own Qatar, or who own UAE, or who own Kuwait)…”

    There is nothing fundamentally Islamic about the behavior of Gulf governments/royal families. Their support for terrorism against Syria, Yemen, Libya, etc; and (alleged) material excesses, take them away from the fundamentals of Sunni Islam.

    Moderation itself is a fundamental aspect of Islam, something that is clearly lacking in their support for extremism.

    A little digging will show that Wahhabi/Salafi ideology is based on innovations departing from Sunni theology, suggesting that it is far better described as radical, rather than fundamentalist Sunni.

    • Eric Zuesse

      It is fundamentalist just like fundamentalist Christians are fundamentalist, and just like fundamentalist Jews are fundamentalist. It is very much NOT a liberal reading of its alleged Scripture (Quran, Bible, Torah). Fundamentalists take their respective Scripture very seriously, and for you to allege otherwise makes no sense.

      • JAndy

        “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
        An evil soul producing holy witness
        Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
        A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
        O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”
        –William Shakespeare

        The problem lies with “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” not the Quran. Islam has been infiltrated by its enemies.

        I do, however, strongly agree with you that neocons have taken over both parties in this country.

  • kimyo

    yet somehow your gnarly cerebral folds developed this genius-level strategy: let’s vote these democratic neocon morons back into office.

    The Kochs Want Hillary Clinton to Become President

    Thus, the intelligent voter who wants to reverse America’s slide into aristocracy (…) — any voter who wants to see a return to democracy in America — will vote for Trump on the Presidential line of the ballot, and vote for Democrats on every other line of the ballot.

    voting for democrats in order to ‘reverse america’s slide’ into oligarchy, an astonishingly brilliant move. (well, that is, if you meant ‘accelerate’ when you wrote ‘reverse’.)

  • David S

    The sheer fact that 90+% of incumbents EVERYWHERE get re-elected, and the fact that they are all the same idiots who voted in support of every horrible domestic and foreign policy we now suffer from, means that one guy, no matter how much “divinity” you wish to attribute to him, can only get so far in trying to straighten things out. I wish him well, but even he wants a massive increase in military spending, and nobody just wants these guys/gals/its, etc. just sitting around not killing people and destroying countries for the profits of big business.

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