Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trump and ISIS are Symptoms of the Same Illness

What defines neoconservatives?  Quite simply: realism in international relations combined with manifest destiny.   They aren't evil, but simply believe that the world always needs a powerful leader lest it devolves into petty squabbles and they feel that there's no better leader than USA.  Now like all politicians and bureaucrats, they aren't the most efficient or competent, leading to the current legendary quagmire in Syria.  Depending on who you talk to and what level of secret clearance you got, ISIS was born out of the desire to get rid of Assad.  Partially because he was a brutal dictator (although on a sliding scale of brutal dictators, he's no worse than the House of Saud), but mostly because he was allied with Iran and Russia, America funded and supported various rebel groups who promised to fight Assad.  Somewhere along the line, these resources found their way to instead support the fledgling ISIS who not only wanted to get rid of Assad, but are so extremist that the WSJ was forced to call al Qaeda moderate in relation to them.  Instead of destroying ISIS, America tried to funnel it like a rabid dog towards Assad, but because it was a rabid dog it decided to buy some guns and bombs, causing quite the ruckus in Paris.  But this is a boring story; in fact it happened 30 years ago with some tall dude named Osama.

What's interesting is that this is the same strategy used by neoconservatives to win elections and just like ISIS, it backfired and created the Donald.  Let me explain: Donald Trump is an outright narcissist, but this story isn't about how an obvious narcissist gains widespread support, but rather the circumstances that was created to make his candidacy viable.

First, how would neoconservatives most ably pass on their message, that American exceptionalism is real and that America should lead the world?  They did so by preying on the fear of a white America that hasn't seen their living standards rise in 30 years.  Whether it is demanding China stop devaluing their currency, demonizing Russia as warmongers, or painting the Middle East as a chaotic warzone, neoconseratives send a powerful yet implied message: America is an oasis in a world of bedlam and unscrupulous characters.  It pushed a simple narrative straight out of a Rocky movie: America is the good guys, foreigners are the bad guys.  We need to be strong to destroy the bad guys.  If you want it simpler, just imagine the Bush presidency as a Hulk Hogan vs the Iron Sheik.

So what happens when some people are too dumb to not take this literally?  You get Trump supporters.  Just like these moderate Syrian rebels were only supposed to be anti-Assad, neoconservatives only wanted the electorate to vote for sane candidates who supported big money for national defense and active foreign policy.  Rather, all of this extreme rhetoric, and lack of prudence and foresight brought about a ridiculous social climate where a nutjob finds widespread support to stop all Muslims from entering the country.   Meanwhile, this same indiscriminate and fanatical backing of anti-Assad rebels led to nutjobs in black pajamas promising genocide for all.

What makes me afraid is that neoconservatives aren't scam artists trying to pick your pocket.  They truly believe what they are doing is right, that America's destiny is to be always #1--it is part of their identity.  This is a fundamental difference and they will fight to their graves to realize their dream, even if it's a nightmare for the rest of us.