Feb. 3rd, 2017

Politics

Feb. 3rd, 2017 07:30 am
hudebnik: (rant)
For anybody who hasn't already read David Frum's recent Atlantic article, go do that.

My summary: Donald Trump is taking us not towards an ideological dictatorship in the style of Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, or Castro, but rather towards a kleptocracy in the style of Orbán, Chávez, Zuma, Suharto, Marcos, Milošević, Duvalier, Putin, .... There is certainly ideology among his allies -- Bannon, Pence, Ryan -- but as long as Trump himself is at the helm, they will get their ideology enacted only in exchange for their help in furthering Trump's profits and glory. The biggest loser in all this is not oppressed minorities but America's idealistic beliefs in the existence of sincere public service and non-partisan criticism. Once the American people have accepted that "they all do it", that the only reason to vote for one leader or party over another is which one has promised you a patronage job, and that the only reason to believe one news source over another is which one supports your party, it'll be extremely difficult to ever restore the faith that democracy can work.
hudebnik: (rant)
I asked myself the other day "What does ISIS want?" The answer is right in their name: they want to be recognized as the Islamic state, as the legitimate representatives of Islam on Earth. They're not the first to have this ambition: al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein before them had the same desire (although Saddam was hardly a religious ideologue himself, he still saw himself as the representative of Islam to the secular world). They dream of restoring the Caliphate of a thousand years ago. They hunger more than anything for legitimacy, recognition, and glory. As with al-Qaeda and Saddam, their path to this goal is to convince the world's Moslems that the United States (first among other enemies) hates them and wants to destroy them, and the only thing standing in its way is ISIS.

What does Donald Trump want? He dreams of restoring the America of sixty years ago. He hungers more than anything for legitimacy, recognition, and glory. And his path to this goal is to convince the American people that Islam (first among other enemies) hates them and wants to destroy them, and the only thing standing in its way is Donald Trump.

Both ISIS and Trump have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from encouraging the belief that the U.S. and Islam are inevitably at war with one another. Which side "wins" any given battle is almost irrelevant, as long as ISIS and Trump get to be the leaders of their respective sides. As long as one can "make Islam great again" while the other "makes America great again", Trump and ISIS are natural allies in a conspiracy against their respective constituencies.

Interestingly enough, what most distinguishes ISIS from previous Islamic-terrorist groups is its skill at making money, whether through taxes and fees, protection rackets, drug and oil exports, or antiquities smuggling. A fitting bedfellow for our first billionaire President.

ETA: article in The Intercept that reaches a similar conclusion, pointing out the long history of U.S.-Islam relations.

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