Trump is trying to postpone the war abroad (against Iran) in favor of fighting the war at home.
He backed down at the last minute as far as a military attack on Iran. (He’s been attacking Iran economically since August of 2018, when he reimposed sanctions against that country.) A month ago, Oaklandsocialist wrote: “Although far from certain, it is increasingly difficult to see how a Trump war against Iran can be avoided. Trump might not want it, because he knows such a war is likely to split his base…” Both aspects of this comment turned out to be correct:
- Trump’s original order to send a bombing attack against some Iranian military installations shows how close we are to a shooting war.
- His last-minute retraction of that order shows that he, himself, doesn’t want such a war.
We also wrote that Trump knows much of his base would not support a shooting war against Iran, especially as gas prices escalate wildly, and that’s why he’s so reluctant to take military action. This was confirmed by the NY Times, which reported that Trump had been consulting with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson (as usual). As the Times reports: “While national security advisers were urging a military strike against Iran,
Mr. Carlson in recent days had told Mr. Trump that responding to Tehran’s provocations with force was crazy. The hawks did not have the president’s best interests at heart, he said. And if Mr. Trump got into a war with Iran, he could kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.”
The Wall St. Journal editors are critical. They write that Iran has called Trump’s bluff. “[Trump] has adopted a policy goal favored by hawkish Sen. Lindsey Graham but wants to use only the means of isolationist Sen. Rand Paul to achieve it,” they write. “He warned that ‘if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,’ but he lets Iran shoot down a drone and interfere with international shipping. If Mr. Trump’s real policy is Mr. Paul’s, then he should be honest with Americans and return to the Obama nuclear deal. In the meantime, Iran appears to be calling Mr. Trump’s bluff.”
Trump has shown his reluctance to go to war with Iran, but what will he do when Iran breaches the limits set by the (now dead) nuclear deal, when they exceed the amount of nuclear fuel that deal allows? And if Trump does nothing but whoop and holler, there is always Netanyahu and bin Salman waiting in the wings.
War on immigrant workers
Meanwhile, Trump is stepping up his war at home.
The immigrant workers he’s detained are facing horrific conditions. Already six migrant children are known to have died in US detention facilities. The latest was a sixteen year-old who apparently died of the flu. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a report from Warren Binford, law professor at Wilamette University in Oregon:
“Basically, what we saw are dirty children who are malnourished, who are being severely neglected. They are being kept in inhumane conditions. They are essentially being warehoused, as many as 300 children in a cell, with almost no adult supervision…
“We have children caring for other young children. For example, we saw a little boy in diapers — or he had no diapers on. He should have had a diaper on. He was 2 years old. And when I was asked why he didn’t have diapers on, I was told he didn’t need it.
“He immediately urinated. And he was in the care of another child. Children cannot take care of children, and yet that’s how they are trying to run this facility. The children are hardly being fed anything nutritious, and they are being medically neglected.
“We’re seeing a flu outbreak, and we’re also seeing a lice infestation. It is — we have children sleeping on the floor. It’s the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections.
The New York Times also reported that over recent years, thousands of immigrant children have reported having been sexually abused in these facilities. The reports include “allegations that adult staff members had harassed and assaulted children, including fondling and kissing minors, watching them as they showered, and raping them.” In other words, many of the sickest members of US society are being hired, and their sickness and sadism is unchecked.
In another act of war against humanity, Trump threw some red meat to his blood-thirsty base when he tweeted that he was going to deport a million or more immigrants in the coming week. This tweet came less than 24 hours before his first reelection campaign rally, which was held in Florida.Within days, he reversed course and said he was delaying these raids, but the overall attack continues. Within days, he reversed course and said he was delaying these raids, but the overall attack continues.
War on the environment
Trump is also stepping up his war on the environment.
Last year, greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3.4% over the previous year. This will get much worse under Trump’s new rules. Andrew Wheeler, head of the Environmental “Protection” Agency – also known as the Environmental Pollution Agency – recently announced new rules under the Clean Air Act regarding coal fired power plants. Under his new rules, the individual states will have the power to regulate coal-fired power plants. And they have three years to submit a plan to reduce CO2 emissions. Three years is just about an eternity when we are facing climate emergency.
Trump has continually conflated greenhouse gas emissions with clean air. But even air pollution has also gotten worse. According to the Associated Press “There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980.”
The practical conclusion from all this is that even if the electoral defeat of Trump were assured (and it’s not by any means), we cannot afford to wait for that to happen. That’s especially true because the general mood is one for “stability”, which is why according to a recent poll the mainstream candidates Biden, Harris and Buttegieg have 52% combined support right now vs. 22% for Sanders and Warren and why nearly ¾ of the population want a president who “will provide steady, reliable leadership” vs. 25% who want a “bold new agenda”.
True to its nature, the AFL-CIO is determinedly ignoring the extreme threat to immigrants. And it entirely ignores the issue of the looming environmental disaster altogether, although maybe that is just as well since it has supported the Keystone XL Pipeline and other environmentally destructive projects.
This is why we have to go beyond waiting for Sanders to save us. DSA, with its 50,000+ members could actually start to build a movement of mass civil disobedience to stop these mass deportations and stop the accelerating threat for environmental disaster. Such a movement could also turn in the future towards stopping a possible war against Iran as the tensions mount on that front.