I can't dance
I can't talk
Only thing about me
Is the way I walk
I can't dance
I can't sing
I'm just standing here
Selling everything …
-- Genesis, "I Can't Dance"
Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Kid Rock dined with Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday night. No, really. Nugent and Trump likely revisited their shared birther/terrorist obsession with Obama, while Palin and Rock explored the higher sociological meanings to be derived from the song "American Bad Ass." Palin later tweeted a photograph of the four of them in the Oval Office, stooped over the Resolute Desk like a murder of crows. The desk, a true piece of history itself, is said to have wept through the night and far into the following morning.
Nugent may be an oaf, Palin a fool and Rock a beer commercial footnote, but all three combined did not hold a candle to their host, the president of the United States, who somehow managed to lose a whole aircraft carrier. The USS Carl Vinson -- more than three football fields long, launch platform for dozens of military aircraft, floating home to more than 6,000 sailors and service members, a weapon so large and lethal that it is known as "God's Machine" to those who serve aboard it -- was part of an "armada" Trump was sending to the hostile waters off North Korea. The Vinson, in fact, was some 3,500 miles to the south, steaming sedately for Australia and some joint naval exercises … but no one quite knew what the orders really were and where the aircraft carrier was supposed to be. The Vinson eventually turned around and began steaming north, its captain announcing the crew would now be operating "in the Western Pacific." This is the nautical version of saying they would be somewhere on Planet Earth.
It's been almost 100 days, and these people still can't find the car keys. They've managed to enflame a fairly routine dust-up with North Korea to the point that even China's military is going on high alert, all so Trump can look tough and distract everyone from the numerous, burgeoning scandals tied to his presidency and his business relationships. Mike Pence is running around yelling about swords at a country that can't feed itself. North Korea is a struggling country with a stout paint job; its government pulls these attention-grabbing stunts every so often to raise its visibility in the world, and to broker a back-room deal to get food on the sly so the population doesn't starve to death. It's been like this for decades, but leave it to Trump to turn it into the potential strikepad for World War Whatever while losing track of the largest flotation device in maritime history. These guys could screw up the recipe for tap water.
From a foreign policy perspective, this is all certainly nerve-wracking and undeniably perilous. No one enjoys contemplating the seeming fact that the chain of command for the most dangerous fighting force in history has collapsed and gone completely sideways.
However, the way in which this administration's foibles -- and its potentially catastrophic decisions -- have been portrayed in much of the media is worrisome, to say the least. The pundits all agree what a shame it is that this White House lacks focus and discipline, not to mention experience. "We" all want this president to "succeed," we are told, because if he "succeeds," the country succeeds. These people control the entire federal government; if they could only get organized, they could really get some stuff done.
Nope, sorry. The only thing we've had going for us since this whole nightmare began is the fact that these people have been falling down open elevator shafts almost every time they try to accomplish one of their sordid goals. "Ban all Muslims! (falls down shaft)" followed by "Repeal Obamacare! (falls down shaft)" followed by "Ban all Muslims again! (falls down shaft)." They got a Supreme Court Justice they were going to get anyway. Bully for them; McConnell still had to break the Senate to get it done.
Thank you, no, I don't want this administration to succeed, because "success" on their terms would transmogrify this nation -- and, potentially, the rest of the world -- into a dystopian wasteland that makes The Grapes of Wrath seem like a spring break movie by comparison.
The ultimate nightmare scenario is still in the offing, however, but could come to pass any day. The ragged remnants of the neo-conservative cabal that came together under George W. Bush is still out there, plotting and scheming, concocting novel new ways to light the world on fire for power and profit. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), think-tank mothership for every bad neocon idea that led us into Iraq and a wider conflict in the Middle East, never died; it just got new offices down the block. Unlike their counterparts in the current administration, the neocons know how the gears of government work, where the levers are, and how to actually get things done. Combine the wild fervor of Trump's band of wreckers with the ice-eyed competence of the neocon assassins, and the result could be horrific beyond any known measure.
It is already in the works, if you listen with the right kind of ears. Neocon dean Robert Kagan, thrilled by Trump's decision to bomb a parking lot in Syria, publicly offered a series of murderous suggestions earlier this month that sounded for all the world like a job interview. As co-founder of PNAC and a long-time advocate for the violent overthrow of virtually every Middle Eastern government, Kagan would make a dynamic -- and terrifying -- addition to the Trump administration. Elliot Abrams, another PNAC alum with two convictions under his belt from the Iran-Contra scandal, came within an eyelash of becoming the No. 2 man at the State Department last February. The fact that either of these men is being taken seriously by anyone in power today, after we have spent so many years digging out from under their catastrophic policy imperatives, is unsettling in the extreme.
So we're clear on what it is we're talking about when we talk about a neocon investment into the Trump administration, here is a bite of some reporting I did on PNAC from February of 2003:
The Project for the New American Century seeks to establish what they call "Pax Americana" across the globe. Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms. A report released by PNAC in September of 2000 entitled 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' codifies this plan, which requires a massive increase in defense spending and the fighting of several major theater wars in order to establish American dominance.
The first step towards the establishment of this Pax Americana is, and has always been, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of an American protectorate in Iraq. The purpose of this is threefold: 1) To acquire control of the oilheads so as to fund the entire enterprise; 2) To fire a warning shot across the bows of every leader in the Middle East; 3) To establish in Iraq a military staging area for the eventual invasion and overthrow of several Middle Eastern regimes, including some that are allies of the United States.
Kagan and Abrams are not the only neocons scratching at Trump's backdoor. Bill Kristol, former PNAC director and editor of the Weekly Standard, has been making positive noises in the direction of the new administration. None other than former Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has also taken to the op-ed pages to gently chide Trump & Co. toward the neocon dark side regarding the Middle East.
Mark my words: One of these days, Reince Priebus or someone of equal status will finally get fed up with looking like The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, pick up the phone, and say, "Get me Donald Rumsfeld, now." The temptation in the end, will simply be too great.
Donald Trump wants victories so he can look good on television. These neocons want victories so they can establish permanent US hegemony over the world via military might, and get nice and rich in the process. A combining of forces gives both sides everything they ever wanted.
Someone in Trump's crew is going to make that phone call, I think. After that, it's hats over the windmill, and God have mercy on us all.
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