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Since almost all US presidents from Truman to Obama – with the exceptions of Ford, Carter and Clinton – had blood on their hands, one possibly can’t single out Donald Trump for not being the exception. One may possibly disagree with me for including Kennedy and Obama in my list of US Presidents as war criminals. I wish I could spare them too! There’s no reason to question that US presidents since 1945 were directly or indirectly responsible for the killing of 10 to 20 million people across the world, from Hiroshima to Indo-China, Indonesia to Bangladesh, Chile to Nicaragua, and Iraq, to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria. US presidents not only had blood on their hands, but were also war criminals. Unfortunately, Trump’s hands are also tainted by blood.

Although I had no illusions about Trump being peace loving, just a harmless idiot, and an apolitical demagogue having no political agendas – as Obama misread him – I write this to point out that not Kim Jong-un but Donald Trump is posing the biggest security threat to the world, and to his own country. He was instrumental in the killing of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.  He can’t be exonerated from the latest killing of 32-year-old Haether Heyer by a White supremacist / KKK terrorist at Charlottesville (Virginia) on last Saturday, August 12th. Instead of condemning the neo-Nazi White supremacist terror attack at Charlottesville, Trump drew an equivalency between terrorists and their opponents, in the most obnoxious language.

Defending my classification of all but three US presidents since 1945 as war criminals isn’t that difficult. Truman’s killing of around 200,000 Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were most unjustified and brutal, hence amounted to war crime. CIA’s staging a violent coup in Syria to overthrow its elected President Shukri al- Quwatly in 1949 was another criminal act by Truman. Eisenhower, despite holding the US Military-Industrial Complex responsible for all illegal wars that his country fought after 1945, in his farewell speech in January 1961, nevertheless committed at least one serious war crime. In 1953, he staged a violent military coup in Iran to topple Dr. Mosaddeq, the elected Prime Minister of the country, only because his government nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to the detriment of Western interests in the Middle East.

Kennedy’s failed and illegal invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 – to topple Fidel Castro – was definitely a war crime. Who doesn’t know about the war crimes Johnson committed in Indo-China, Indonesia, and the Arab World? Nixon was instrumental in the killing of millions in Vietnam and Bangladesh. The flamboyant “cowboy” Reagan committed multiple war crimes abroad, including the illegal invasion of Grenada, and bombing of President Qaddafi’s palace in Libya, which killed his adopted daughter. Reagan also gave stamps of legitimacy to corrupt ruthless dictators like Hosni Mubarak, Marcos, Suharto, and Zia ul-Haq.

We know Johnson and Nixon killed millions of innocent civilians in Southeast Asia; the latter also supported the Pakistani military junta’s killing of innocent Bengalis in 1971. Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. were the worst war criminal-presidents of America. They killed millions of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and virtually destroyed the countries. Obama was not lagging behind in this regard. He was directly responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya. People in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, and Yemen hate him most for indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent civilians in drone attacks, purportedly against Islamist terrorists and insurgents.

So far so good! By now, Obama and the pundits, who thought Trump had no political agendas, and was just a fool and demagogue, have been proven wrong. He is very much a politician. It’s simply beyond me that being an elected officeholder, he claims he’s different, isn’t a politician! And he has been persistently promoting ultra-right, White-supremacist agendas having long-term implications for the US and beyond. He may be a compulsive liar, uncouth, unrefined, vulgar and weird to the extreme, but not an apolitical businessman. No wonder, former KKK stalwart David Duke sponsored his candidature for the highest office in America, and has publicly congratulated him for “speaking the truth” after White-supremacist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazis had killed an anti-Nazi demonstrator, 32-year-old Heather Heyer at Charlottesville. Trump drew a shocking equivalency between the White-supremacists and their opponents. To him, there were violent and “some very fine people” on both sides, including those who chanted neo-Nazi slogans, “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us”.

However, thanks to the wide media coverage of the White-supremacist rally at Charlottesville within and beyond America, Trump and his die-hard supporters seem to be in trouble. Five Republican Senators, one Republican Governor, and scores of Republican leaders have denounced Trump as one who has not only failed to contain White-supremacists, but has also provided fillip to ultra-right extremism by comparing neo-Nazis with anti-Nazi protesters, and drawing a equivalency between George Washington and secessionist Confederacy General Robert E. Lee, whose statue anti-Nazi protesters wanted to remove at Charlottesville.

Republican Governor John Kasich (of Ohio) and two Republican Senators have been most vocal in their criticism of Trump’s blatantly pro-KKK stand on the Charlottesville incident. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said Trump “has not demonstrated he understands the character of this nation”; and there must be “radical changes” within the White House, he emphasised. He also added: “The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful”. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said, Trump’s response to Charlottesville “complicates his moral authority” to lead the nation. He also said: “It’s going to be very difficult for this president to lead if, in fact, that moral authority remains compromised”.

Soon afterwards, Trump had to discharge his ultra-rightist, anti-Semitic Senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon to appease his critics within and outside the Republican Party. Only time will tell if this “change” is too little, too late! Meanwhile, American and global media outlets – Trump regularly ridicules them as manufacturers of “fake news” – have exposed what Trump really wants for America: unadulterated neo-Nazi White-supremacist rule for the benefit of the superrich classes. The Economist, Time, and New Yorker in their following week came up with very scathing criticism of Trump’s post-Charlottesville assertions that there was blame “on both sides”. “He left no doubt which of those sides lies closer to his heart”, The Economist has pointed out most unequivocally. Several columnists in the Time magazine have pointed out White-supremacists ignite “a battle for the nation’s soul”; and Trump “forgoes unity to fan the flames of tribal grievances”.

Reasons for this growing disorder in US society, economy, and politics aren’t far to seek. This is the cumulative effect of Americans’ collective arrogance, extravagance, delusion of grandeur (which Alexis Tocqueville wrote about in 1835 that Americans believed theirs was the best country in the world), and love for violence at home, and abroad. Their ruling elites have a penchant for invading countries in the Third World – at least once every ten years since the end of World War II. Consequently, America is dependent on the Military-Industrial Complex and the proverbial richest “one percent” of the population – the main beneficiaries of US invasions of Third World countries – who control 38 percent of national wealth, and are richer than the bottom 90 percent. America seems to have become a hostage to its own Military-Industrial Complex, and the various powerful lobbies. They have been virtually running America, which is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And we know, at the end of the day, corruption doesn’t pay.

In sum, America is in the advanced stage of what Marxists love to call, the “crisis of capitalism”. One may add the “crisis of neo-imperialism” as another contributing factor to the prevalent disorder. The rise of Trump, White-supremacy, and neo-Nazism in America has some similarities with the rise of militant nationalism in Germany, Italy, and Japan in the 1930s. However, as Gallup polls indicate, Trump’s job approval rating in America is very low, around 34 percent. It means, he just can’t get things done his way. His administration is in trouble. However, he’s trying hard to divert people’s attention from real socio-economic issues to red herrings of Islamist terrorism, and the rise of so-called Leftist troublemakers in the country. In the process, he has stained his hands with blood of the innocent, at home and abroad. Then again, he and his ultra-rightist cohorts of administrators are also bleeding. Even if Trump survives the Charlottesville crisis, America is least likely to emerge as numero uno, despite his hyperbole, “Make America Great Again”! Meanwhile, America is sharply divided on the North-South fault line (drawn during the Civil War), and ominously, between ultra-right neo-Nazis and far-left Antifa (anti-fascist) groups.

Dr. Hashmi teaches security studies at Austin Peay State University in the U.S. He is the author of several books, including his latest, Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year War Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan (Sage, 2014). Email: tajhashmi@gmail.com

3 Comments

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    While other presidents have been ‘ war criminals ‘ to a large extent during past century or so, trump is an ‘ aggressive’ fascist and racist blatantly advocating war with impunity. He is more dangerous than most other presidents specially since the world wars

  2. Carter started the Central American genocides in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras in the late 1970s.

    Clinton was responsible for bombing Serbia ‘back to the Stone Age’ in the late 1990s.

    No blood on their hands?

    • Farooque Chowdhury says:

      Thanks, Mr. Andrews for correctly pointing out the fact. You are totally correct. I was smiling as I was reading the “information” the scholar wrote in his article: “with the exceptions of Ford, Carter and Clinton”. This goes on with a part of scholarship. My questions are: Is it fair? Is it responsible? Where shall such scholarship lead? Is such scholarship needed in discussion on a part of a world-economy? From this level of scholarship readers like me are trying to learn.