Trump the Neocons

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“Trump Policy Will Unravel Traditional Neocons,” TRNN, July 23, 2016.

SHARMINI PERIES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

On Friday, just after the Republican National Congress wrapped up with its presidential candidate, Donald Trump, Paul Krugman of the New York Times penned an article titled “Donald Trump: The Siberian Candidate.” He said in it, if elected, would Donald Trump be Vladimir Putin’s man in the White House? Krugman himself is worried as ludicrous and outrageous as the question sounds, the Trump campaign’s recent behavior has quite a few foreign policy experts wondering, he says, just what kind of hold Mr. Putin has over the Republican nominee, and whether that influence will continue if he wins.

Well, let’s unravel that statement with Michael Hudson. He’s joining us from New York. Michael is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri Kansas City. His latest book is Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroyed the Global Economy. Thank you so much for joining us, Michael.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s good to be here, Sharmini. It’s been an exciting week.

PERIES: So let’s take a look at this article by Paul Krugman. Where is he going with this analysis about the Siberian candidate?

HUDSON: Well, Krugman has joined the ranks of the neocons, as well as the neoliberals, and they’re terrified that they’re losing control of the Republican Party. For the last half-century the Republican Party has been pro-Cold War, corporatist. And Trump has actually, is reversing that. Reversing the whole traditional platform. And that really worries the neocons.

Until his speech, the whole Republican Convention, every speaker had avoided dealing with economic policy issues. No one referred to the party platform, which isn’t very good. And it was mostly an attack on Hillary. Chants of “lock her up.” And Trump children, aimed to try to humanize him and make him look like a loving man.

But finally came Trump’s speech, and this was for the first time, policy was there. And he’s making a left run around Hillary. He appealed twice to Bernie Sanders supporters, and the two major policies that he outlined in the speech broke radically from the Republican traditional right-wing stance. That is called destroying the party by the right wing. But Trump said he’s not destroying the party, he’s building it up and appealing to labor, and appealing to the rational interests that otherwise had been backing Bernie Sanders.

So in terms of national security, he wants to roll back NATO spending. And he made it clear, roll back military spending. We can spend the money on infrastructure, we can spend it on employing American labor. In his speech, he said that we don’t need foreign military bases and foreign spending to defend our allies. We can defend them from the United States, because in today’s world the only kind of war we’re going to have is atomic war. Nobody’s going to invade another country. We’re not going to send American troops to invade Russia, if it were to attack. So nobody’s even talking about that. So let’s be realistic.

Well, being realistic has driven other people crazy. Not only did Krugman say that Trump would, quote, “actually follow a pro-Putin foreign policy at the expense of America’s allies,” – and he’s referring to the Ukraine, basically – he’s become a lobbyist for the military-industrial complex. At the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum call him the Manchurian candidate, referring to the 1962 movie, for his boldness in rejecting the neocon craziness.

This has just driven the neocons nutty because they’re worried of losing the Republican Party under Trump.

In economic policy, Trump opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the TTIP trade and corporate power grab with Europe to block public regulation. This was of course a major plank of Bernie Sanders’ campaign against Hillary, which Trump knows. The corporatist wings of both the Republican and the Democratic Parties fear that Trump’s opposition to NAFTA and TPP will lead the Republicans in Congress to follow their nominee and not push the TPP through in the lame duck session after November.

The plan has been that once the election’s over, Obama will then get the Republicans together and pass the (formerly) Republican platform that he’s been pushing for the last eight years. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the TTIP trade agreement with Europe, and the other neoliberal policies.

Now that Trump is trying to rebuild the Republican Party – by re-orienting it – all of that is threatened. So on the Republican side of the New York Times editorial page you had David Brooks writing “The death of the Republican Party.” What Trump calls the rebirth of the Republican Party means the death of the reactionary, conservative, corporatist, anti-labor Republican Party.

When he wrote this, quote, “Trump is decimating … the things Republicans stood for: NATO, entitlement reform,” in other words winding down Social Security and supporting the corporatist Trans-Pacific Partnership.

So it will almost be hilarious to see what happens. Trump also has reversed the traditional Republican fiscal responsibility austerity policy. He didn’t say a word about balanced budgets. And he said he was going to run a policy to employ American labor and put it back to work on infrastructure. Again, he’s made a left run around Hillary. He says he wants to reinstate Glass-Steagall, whereas the Clinton’s were the people that got rid of it.

This may be for show, simply to brand Hillary as Wall Street’s candidate. But it also seems to actually be an attack on Wall Street.

Trump’s genius was to turn around the attacks on him for being a shady businessman. He said, look, nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. Now, what that means, basically, is that as a businessman, he knows the fine print by which they’ve been screwing the people. So only someone like him knows how to fight against Wall Street. After all, he’s been screwing the Wall Street banks for years. And he can now fight for the population fighting against Wall Street, just as he’s been able to stiff the banks.

So I find this hilarious. On the one hand, leading up to him you had Republicans saying throw Hillary in jail. And Hillary saying throw Trump in the booby hatch. So you have the whole election coming up with—.

PERIES: Maybe we should take the lead and lock them all up. Michael, what is becoming very clear is that there’s a great deal of inconsistencies on the part of the Republican Party. Various people are talking different things, like if you hear Mike Pence, the vice presidential candidate, speak, and then you heard Donald Trump, and then you heard Ivanka Trump speak yesterday, they’re all saying different things. It’s like different strokes for different folks. And I guess in marketing and marketeering, which Trump is the master of, that makes perfect sense. Just tap on everybody’s shoulder so they feel like they’re the ones being represented as spoken about, and they’re going to have their issues addressed in some way.

He also in that sense appealed to, as you said, the Bernie Sanders people when he talked about the trade deals. You know, he’s been talking about NAFTA, TTIP, TTP, and these are areas that really is traditionally been the left of the left issues. And now he’s anti-these trade deals, and he’s going to bring jobs home. What does that mean?

HUDSON: Well, you’re right when you say there’s a policy confusion within the Republican Party. I guess if this were marketing, it’s the idea that everybody hears what they want to hear. And if they can hear right-wing gay bashing from the Indiana governor, and they can hear Trump talking about the LGBTQ, everybody will sort of be on the Republican side they choose.

But I listened to what Governor Pence said about defending Trump’s views on NATO. He’s so smooth! So slick, that he translated what Trump said in a way that no Republican conservative could really disagree with it. I think he was a very good strategic pick for vice president, because obviously he’s agreed to follow what Trump’s saying. He’s so smooth, being a lawyer, that he can make it all appear much more reasonable than it would.

I think that the most, the biggest contradiction, was that you can look at how the convention began with Governor Christie. Accusing Hillary of being pro-Russian when she’s actually threatening war, and criticizing her for not helping the Ukrainians when it was she who brought Victoria Nuland in to push the coup d’etat with the neo-nazis, and gave them $5 billion. Trump then reversed the whole thing and said no, no, no. I’m not anti-Russian, I’m not going to defend Ukrainians and escalate the Cold War. Just the opposite.

It’s obvious that the Republicans have fallen into line behind them. No wonder the Democrats want them to lose. You’ve had the Koch brothers say they’re not going to give money to Trump now. They’re backing Hillary. You’ve got the Chamber of Commerce saying because Trump isn’t for the corporate takeover of foreign trade, they’re now supporting the Democrats, not the Republicans.

So this is really a class war. And it’s the class war of Wall Street and the corporate sector on the Democratic side against Trump on the populist side. Who knows whether he really means what he says when he says he’s for the workers and he wants to rebuild the cities, put labor back to work. When he says he’s for the blacks and that they and Hispanics have to get jobs just like white people, maybe he’s telling the truth, because that certainly is the way that the country can be rebuilt in a positive way.

The interesting thing is that all he gets from the Democrats is denunciation. So I can’t wait to see how Bernie Sanders is going to handle all this at the Democratic Convention next week.

PERIES: All right, Michael. A lot to continue discussing there. I thank you so much for joining us today and look forward to a report next week.

HUDSON: Yes, good to be here at this exciting time.