Can we finally bury the myth that Donald Trump poses a challenge to the neocon consensus? He's a neocon himself. In fact, I can say "Trump is a neocon" with more confidence than I would feel if I said "Trump is a billionaire."
Trump has called Hamas (the elected leaders of the Palestinians in Gaza) the "Palestinian ISIS." Trump promises to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump says that there must be "no daylight" between Israel and the United States. Trump's son-in-law runs the New York Observer, a rag generally considered pro-Likud and pro-neocon.
Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom's U.S. campaign correspondent, wrote reverently of Trump's ostentatious wealth, admiring the gold bathroom fixtures and "huge" chandeliers that adorn Mar-a-Lago.
But from Mar-a-Lago, Bismuth was Trump's dutiful stenographer, transmitting his declaration to the Israeli public: "Your friend is leading in the primaries. I've always been your friend, even at the toughest moments. And that's not going to change. I love you."
(You should read the rest of this article, which offers some startling revelations about this Bismuth fellow.)
Trump's speech to AIPAC, widely derided as "incoherent," nevertheless displayed total obedience to the Word of Bibi. He even announced that Iran is responsible for terror attacks in "25 countries."
Politifact -- which, like most "respectable" American institutions, lacks the courage to challenge His Bibiness -- rated this outrageously false assertion only "half true." It seems that The Donald derived his "25 countries" nonsense directly from Bibi himself, and from a chart helpfully provided by the Israeli embassy.
According to this chart, one of the key examples of Iranian terror is this: "Iran boosts military support in Syria to bolster Assad." In other words, Iran -- at the request of Syria's legitimate government -- sent in troops to help fight ISIS.
That's not terrorism: That's anti-terrorism. If not for Iran, ISIS and Nusra would now be running Syria and Iraq. And yet, according to the Israelis -- and according to Donald Trump -- stopping ISIS should be considered a form of "terrorism."
But diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Yemen released by WikiLeaks in 2010 reveal that, although the ship and crew were indeed Iranian, the story of the arms onboard the ship had been concocted by the government.
Iran brought no violence to Yemen: Saudi Arabia is purely responsible for that despicable war of aggression.
Most of the "terror attacks" listed on that visual aid are not attacks at all, but accusations of covert activity, such as weapons smuggling. (If covert operations count as terror, then America must be named as the world's biggest terrorist.) Many of the accusations on that chart include qualifiers like "suspected" and "alleged." One of them even ends with a question mark: "Is Iran trying to set up a new arms smuggling route to Gaza from Sudan?"
An in-depth examination of every assertion on that chart will no doubt reveal a lot of "mirror imaging" (accusing one's enemies of one's own crimes), along with a lot of press manipulation. Bottom line: This graphic has all the credibility of a dollar bill printed in purple ink.
Yet Donald Trump accepts it as the coin of the realm.
Meet the "experts." Trump has finally revealed his national security team, a truly unholy bunch. The WP calls Trump's foreign policy non-interventionist -- but, as we shall see, this is hardly the case. From the NYT:
...he shared the names of five advisers who signed up to be on his team: Joseph E. Schmitz, Gen. Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Walid Phares.
As Mother Jones reported in 2011, Phares was a major player in the Lebanese Forces, one of the Christian militias that fought in Lebanon's brutal 15-year civil war. According to Toni Nissi, a colleague of Phares' at the time, Phares helped the group's leader, Samir Geagea, steep its fighters in religious ideology.
"[Samir Geagea] wanted to change them from a normal militia to a Christian army," Nissi said. "Walid Phares was responsible for training the lead officers in the ideology of the Lebanese Forces."
The Lebanese Forces are now just one of Lebanon's many political parties, but the group was responsible for one of the war's most notorious incidents, the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982.
The Israelis themselves (back in the days before they completed their turn toward fascism) were honest enough to admit "indirect" responsibility for the mass murders in Sabra and Shatila. This is true, if by "indirect" you mean "totally in charge."
Here's the best way to visualize the situation: Imagine Jabba the Hutt tossing his victims in with the Rancor monster. Now imagine Jabba trotting out the claim that he bears only indirect responsibility for his victims' deaths: "I didn't kill them; the monster did." Israel's Ariel Sharon was Jabba; Phares can be compared to the Rancor.
The Lebanese Forces arose out of the Kataeb party, Lebanon's fascist party of the 1930s. (They even wore brown shirts!) If you are young and do not know the necessary history, you should familiarize yourself with Noam Chomsky's account.
It was almost a replica of the Kishinev massacre in pre-First World War Russia, one of the worst atrocities in Israeli memory, led to a famous nationalist poem by the main Israeli poet, Chaim Nahman Bialik, "City of Killing." The tsar’s army had surrounded this town and allowed the people within it to rampage, killing Jews for three days. They killed 45 people. That was—that’s pretty much what happened in Sabra-Shatila: Israeli army surrounded it, sent in the Phalangist forces, who were obviously bent on murder.
Lebanese Christian terrorist force, allied with Israel. The soldiers watched as they illuminated it. They helped them enter. They watched for several days while they murdered, not 45 people, but somewhere—Israel claims 800, other analyses go up to several thousand. That’s the Sabra-Shatila massacre. The idea that Sharon had indirect—the tsar, incidentally, was bitterly condemned internationally for direct responsibility. That’s, in fact, one of the events that set off the huge flow of refugees from Eastern Europe, including my father, among others. But—so this was a kind of a replica, except far more brutal and vicious.
(I have embedded a video of this interview below.)
Trump's reliance on Phares tells us much.
So does his choice of Schmitz, the most successful son of a notorious far-right political clan. The story of that sick, sick family is one of the more bizarre sagas in American history:
I've been watching the bizarre Schmitz clan since the mid 1970s, when paterfamilias John G. Schmitz -- a man so far to the right he got kicked out of the John Birch Society -- ran for President under the American Independent Party banner. (Slogan: "When you're out of Schmitz, you're out of gear!") We later learned that Schmitz kept a mistress and a second family, including an infant son with a mutilated penis.
You know how Trump is often compared to George Wallace? Wallace was the first American Independent Party presidential candidate; John Schmitz was the second. One could argue that Wallace represented the left of that party.
Schmitz’s daughter, school teacher Mary Kay LeTourneau, made national headlines when it was discovered that the father of her children was a thirteen year old student. Her brother John P. Schmitz was an Iran Contra player and Deputy Counsel for Bush the elder, a man despised by father John G. John P's brother, Joseph -- a member of the Knights of Malta and the Federalist Society -- was Haliburton's greatest enabler when the company was stea...er, misplacing Iraq reconstruction money.
Joseph Schmitz is the other noteworthy sibling (not counting the one with the mutilated penis; I have no idea what happened to him). A member of the Knights of Malta, the Federalist Society, the American Council on Germany and something ominously titled the American Security Network, Joseph Schmitz led the effort to keep the blame for the Abu Ghraib abuses restricted to the lower levels. (Considering his family, I doubt that he considered the photos a very big deal.)
The Bush link is interesting. Big Daddy John Schmitz utterly loathed Poppy Bush, yet Joseph Schmitz attained power by acclimating himself to Bushworld. Joseph become the Inspector General of the DOD under Dubya, and even married the sister of Jeb's wife. Joseph Schmitz was also a bigwig in the Prince Group, the parent company of Blackwater.
Schmitz resigned as Defense Department Inspector General on September 9, 2005 in the wake of new allegations that he intervened to obstruct the FBI investigation of fellow Bush appointee to the Department of Defense John A. Shaw in relation to contracting improprieties in Iraq for which Shaw was fired in December 2004.
The allegations also included interference in the investigation of Mary L. Walker's role in the Torture Memos scandal and Schmitz's redaction of an investigative report on Boeing to remove the names of White House officials before sending it to congress.
I wrote about the Shaw affair roughly twelve years ago, here. It's quite a story -- one that goes way, way beyond that brief squib from Wikipedia. From our current vantage point, it's easier to guess the name of the "foreign intelligence service" which played a key role in the affair.
Other listed authors of this volume include General William Boykin, James Woolsey and the right-wing conspiracy theorist (and radio host) Frank Gaffney, who has given plenty of air time to Phares.
(Gaffney's other book is The Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama Administration, which features a cover shot of Hillary and Huma. Recall that Trump's friend and adviser Roger Stone believes that Huma Abedin is a Muslim Brotherhood agent.)
As one might expect, Schmitz contributes to Breitbart (which supports Trump, and which is no-one's idea of an anti-neocon website). Schmitz also writes a column for Newsmax, America's most trusted news source. His scribblings are pretty ripe.
In this essay, he lambastes Grover Norquist, the ultra-libertarian who infuriated the Islamophobes when he committed the "sin" of marrying a Palestinian woman. Schmitz believes that Norquist has allied himself with "various front organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood," and therefore should be kicked out of the NRA. (Yes. The NRA. None of this makes sense to me. Can you figure it out?)
In this article, Schmitz argues that Congress must declare war on the Muslim Brotherhood (against the wishes of President Obama).
In the face of what might aptly be called civilization “refu-jihad,” leaders in Congress should muster the courage to exercise their constitutional power “To declare War,” one way or another, and should buck political correctness by identifying not only the ISIS jihadis who wreaked havoc in Paris last Friday, but also the Muslim Brotherhood and its various front organization that are engaging in influence operations in the United States and around the world, as among our “enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Jesus, son of David, have pity on us. May he “please let [us] see,” and may the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit please help us better to know both ourselves and our enemies.
I agree with that last part -- the bit about knowing our enemies.
There you have him, folks: Joe Schmitz will be Trump's Kissinger -- the guy making foreign policy if Trump wins. Indeed, we can expect Schmitz to be more powerful than Kissinger was. Nixon was bright, well-read, and capable of independent analysis. Trump, by contrast, is contemptuous of the need for study; he will thus rely on the advice of his goofball "experts." Everything that Trump thinks he knows about the world situation, he gets from guys like Schmitz.
Bottom line: All talk of "Trump the anti-neocon" must end. Forever. Now.
(And before my ever-so-predictable readers send in their ever-so-predictable comments, let me assure you that we will talk about Hillary another time. Fairly warned be ye, says I.)
Added note: Since The Donald saw fit to brag about his penis size during a presidential debate, perhaps Trump can favor us with a follow-up report on Joe Schmitz' brother. You know: The one whose penis was mangled in infancy. I always wondered what became of him.
If I had a hidden, but extremely embarrassing physical deformity, I really wouldn't appreciate somebody publicly mocking that fact in order to somehow get at my brother... no matter who he is. Think sometimes about what you say here. You're better than this.
posted by CBarr : 1:48 PM
Mideast expert Juan Cole prefers bad Trump to worse Clinton, sorry, Joe.
Joseph, You don't need to post this, but I trust your judgement about politics. I am concerned about possible dirty tricks (N. Carolina) and outright fraud and obstruction of voting in Arizona to assure a Clinton victory. I realize these things happen most of the time, but the magnitude of this breach begins to rival the republicans. I'm a life-long Democrat but am truly bothered by this particular primary election's shenanigans. Thanks for your blog. It keeps me as sane as possible.
posted by jacktheokie : 7:44 PM
WTFE I would like to care but I don't. Yes he is bat shit crazy as are all repugs running for potus but then again the demodogs are the lesser of the 2 evils. So nothing changes unless they can make the voters believe in them and their message.
Joseph gobbles and Edward barneys would be proud. Sad day for the true believes as they are taken down by there false dawgs.