Plus ça change: US militarism and class conflict under the Trump administration

Hughes, David (2017) Plus ça change: US militarism and class conflict under the Trump administration. In: BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group Annual Conference, 21-22 September 2017, University of Edinburgh.

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Current mainstream opinion holds that the Trump Presidency represents an ‘aberration’ in US politics and foreign policy (especially when compared to a perversely romanticized Obama administration). In contrast, this paper will argue that the Trump Presidency is most significant for the ways in which it extends and deepens existing trends in US foreign policy. Early indications include the grotesque hike in the war budget, the increased rate of drone assassinations, and unwavering support for Israel. Domestically, Trump’s cabinet of billionaires and generals exacerbates a class war that necessitates further measures to militarize the domestic environment. Apparent discontinuities between the Obama and Trump Presidencies, such as the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, only mask deeper continuities: now that China has surpassed the United States in its share of world trade, the US is exerting even greater pressure on China through economic nationalism. Whilst much has been made of Trump’s ‘friendly’ relations with Putin, the missile attack against Syria reveals that the President is little more than a figurehead whose personal views count for little in US foreign policy making. The more aggressive tone towards Iran may appear to roll back Obama’s more diplomatic stance, yet it revives the hawkishness of the neocons in the George W. Bush administration and is more likely to lead to war now that Iran has started pricing oil in Euros. Trump's attitudes towards nuclear weapons chime perfectly with the United States’ relentless quest for nuclear primacy, however, his confrontational attitude towards North Korea is reckless in the extreme. US torture infamously did not disappear under Obama, and Trump’s first-week defence of the practice makes clear that the United States intends to terrorize its opponents and will stop at nothing to achieve its objectives. The implications of all of this for international security are dire. We are, in effect, returning to the 1930s, when the crisis of global capitalism led to rising protectionism, militarization, and war between the great powers. Trump is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the present crisis, which only a coordinated international movement of the working class can resolve.

Keywords:Trump, US Foreign Policy, World War, Class Conflict
Subjects:L Social studies > L250 International Relations
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
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ID Code:29877
Deposited On:05 Dec 2017 20:44

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