Noam Chomsky: Trump is consolidating far-right power globally

C. J. Polychroniou Χ.Ι. Πολυχρονίου 24/07/2019
Noam Chomsky calls Trump’s foreign policy a deadly farce that is consolidating the global alliance of right-wing leaders.

It is no easy task to make sense of U.S. foreign policy in the current era. Trump is wildly unpredictable and lacks any semblance of a coherent view of world affairs, appearing to believe that all it takes is “the art of the deal” to turn “enemies” into friends. Meanwhile, since Trump’s rise to power, the end of U.S. hegemony has come into sight.
In the exclusive Truthout interview below, renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky — one of the world’s most astute critics of U.S. foreign policy in the postwar era — sheds considerable light on the current state of U.S. foreign policy, including Trump’s relations with the leaders of North Korea, Russia and China, as well as his so-called “Middle East Peace Plan.”
C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, in 2016 Trump called U.S foreign policy “a complete and total disaster,” claiming that previous administrations in the post-Cold War era were guided by unrealistic expectations that damaged America’s national interests. Since taking office, he has withdrawn the country from a series of international agreements, demanding that countries pay for U.S. protection, and seeking to advance U.S economic interests through tariffs and protectionism. These moves have led many analysts to speak of a new era in U.S. relations with the world. What’s your own take on Trump’s foreign policy?
Noam Chomsky: One of the most appropriate comments I’ve seen on Trump’s foreign policy appeared in an article in The New Republic written by David Roth, the editor of a sports blog: “The spectacle of expert analysts and thought leaders parsing the actions of a man with no expertise or capacity for analysis is the purest acid satire — but less because of how badly that expert analysis has failed than because of how sincerely misplaced it is … there is nothing here to parse, no hidden meanings or tactical elisions or slow-rolled strategic campaign.”
That seems generally accurate. This is a man, after all, who dismisses the information and analyses of his massive intelligence system in favor of what was said this morning on “Fox and Friends,” where everyone tells him how much they love him. With all due skepticism about the quality of intelligence, this is sheer madness considering the stakes.
And it continues, in ways that are almost surreal. At the recent G20 conference, Trump was asked about Putin’s statement that Western liberalism is obsolete. Trump assumed he must be talking about California: Western liberalism. Putin “may feel that way,” Trump responded: “He sees what’s going on. And I guess, if you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look; and what’s happening in San Francisco and a couple of other cities which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people.”
He was asked why the U.S. alone is refusing to join the G20 in a commitment to address global warming and responded by praising the quality of U.S. air and water, apparently not understanding the distinction.
It’s hard to find a comment on foreign policy that departs from this impressive norm. Efforts to detect some coherent global strategy indeed seem to be a kind of acid satire.
Trump’s tariffs are yet another one of his policies to harm American workers and the poor.
Not that there is no coherent policy. There is one policy that emerges from the chaos — the kind we would expect from an egotistical con man who has one principle: Me! It follows that any treaty or agreement reached by predecessors (particularly the despised Obama) is the worst deal in history, which will be replaced by the Greatest Deal in History negotiated by the most accomplished deal-maker of all time and greatest American president. Similarly, any other action carried out in the past was misguided and harmed America, but will be corrected by the “stable genius” now in charge of defending America from those who are cheating and assaulting it on all sides.
It makes no difference what the consequences are — terrible, decent, indifferent — as long as the imagery is preserved.
It may be recalled that a president who obtains his picture of the world from “Fox and Friends” is not an entirely new phenomenon. Forty years ago, a revered predecessor (Ronald Reagan) was learning about the world from movies, and was so mesmerized that he even came to believe that he had taken part in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps (while not leaving California).
All of this tells us something about modern politics. But Trump can’t be compared to Reagan, any more than farce can be compared to tragedy, to paraphrase Marx.