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Honeymoon of the Generals in the Age of Trump

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Reprinted from downwithtyranny.blogspot.com

"What I do is I authorize my military. We have given them total authorization..."

--Donald Trump, April 2017

The war strain is strong in both parties.

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--Yours truly

Short and impossibly bitter. In all the talk of the multiple domestic disasters that the Age of Trump will usher in -- health care destruction, assaults on immigrants, a new surge in death-by-lying-cop, a breaking broken climate, and all the rest -- Americans have conveniently forgotten one of the worst, the loosing of our generals and their weapons of war upon the poor and brown of the world.

In short, Donald Trump, with what looks to me like bipartisan consent, has unleashed the dogs of war. That's my first point in this brief piece. My second point is this: There will be a price, and no one in this country will want to pay it.

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The Dogs of War

Tom Englehardt considers my first point in a much longer piece, "The Honeymoon of the Generals." Near the middle he writes (my emphasis):

Institutionalizing War and Its Generals

Above all, President Trump did one thing decisively. He empowered a set of generals or retired generals--James "Mad Dog" Mattis as secretary of defense, H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security--men already deeply implicated in America's failing wars across the Greater Middle East. Not being a details guy himself, he's then left them to do their damnedest. "What I do is I authorize my military," he told reporters recently. "We have given them total authorization and that's what they're doing and, frankly, that's why they've been so successful lately."

As the 100-day mark of his presidency approaches, there's been no serious reassessment of America's endless wars or how to fight them (no less end them). Instead, there's been a recommitment to doing more of the familiar, more of what hasn't worked over the last decade and a half. No one should be surprised by this, given the cast of characters--men who held command posts in those unsuccessful wars and are clearly incapable of thinking about them in other terms than the ones that have been indelibly engrained in the brains of the U.S. military high command since soon after 9/11.

That new ruling reality of our American world should, in turn, offer a hint about the nature of Donald Trump's presidency. It should be a reminder that as strange" okay, bizarre" as his statements, tweets, and acts may have been, as chaotic as his all-in-the-family administration is proving to be, as little as he may resemble anyone we've ever seen in the White House before, he's anything but an anomaly of history. Quite the opposite. Like those generals, he's a logical endpoint to a grim process, whether you're talking about the growth of inequality in America and the rise of plutocracy--without which a billionaire president and his billionaire cabinet would have been inconceivable--or the form that American war-making is taking under him.

And lest anyone be confused, the dogs of war have bipartisan masters:

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When it comes to war and the U.S. military, none of what's happened would have been conceivable without the two previous presidencies. None of it would have been possible without Congress's willingness to pump endless piles of money into the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex in the post-9/11 years; without the building up of the national security state and its 17 (yes, 17!) major intelligence outfits into an unofficial fourth branch of government; without the institutionalization of war as a permanent (yet strangely distant) feature of American life and of wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa that evidently can't be won or lost but only carried on into eternity. None of this would have been possible without the growing militarization of this country, including of police forces increasingly equipped with weaponry off America's distant battlefields and filled with veterans of those same wars; without a media rife with retired generals and other former commanders narrating and commenting on the acts of their successors and prote'ge's; and without a political class of Washington pundits and politicians taught to revere that military.

In other words, however original Donald Trump may look, he's the curious culmination of old news and a changing country. Given his bravado and braggadocio, it's easy to forget the kinds of militarized extremity that preceded him.

The piece is good; I strongly recommend clicking through to read the rest. Get ready for more war; lots and lots of it. Why? Read on.

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A writer who contributes to a number of publications, including digby's Hullabaloo, Down With Tyranny, Naked Capitalism, Truthout and Alternet.

On Twitter — @Gaius_Publius

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