Election 2016

Neocons Are Freaking out Over Trump and It's Hilarious

The guys who got us into three unwinnable wars are back and poutier than ever.

One of the reasons Donald Trump has been able to rise so fast and so far is due to his ability to shift positions quickly and with hardly anyone noticing. He’s a slippery politician, as even Fox News highlighted last night in a Daily Show-like montage displaying how often he's changed positions on everything from Syrian refugees to the Iraq war. This unpredictability and shiftiness, combined with statements unpopular with the establishment on Israel, Russia and Syria, make Trump the neoconservatives' worst nightmare. Not only does he not toe the line, if he ever did he could switch positions at a moment’s notice.

Neoconservatives, led by Eliot Cohen, a former counselor of the Department of State under Bush, and Bryan McGrath, managing director at defense contractor FerryBridge Group, penned an open letter along with 100 signatories committing themselves not to support any GOP ticket that includes Trump, writing that the Donald, "would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world."

Robert Kagan, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century (a think-tank that helped make the case and draw plans for the invasion of Iraq) came out in support of Hillary Clinton for president, writing in the Washington Post, “The only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton,” Kagan wrote. “The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.” Kagan’s wife, Victoria Nuland, works in the Obama administration as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and was instrumental in the U.S.-assisted 2014 regime change in Ukraine.

Politico followed up with a thorough rundown of how panicked the “hawks” are that the GOP candidate may not be as friendly as Bush, Romney and McCain:

In interviews with Politico, leading GOP foreign-policy hands — many of whom promoted the Iraq War, detest Putin and consider Israel's security non-negotiable — said Trump would be a disaster for U.S. foreign policy and vowed never to support him. So deep is their revulsion that several even say they could vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump in November. “Hillary is the lesser evil, by a large margin,” said Eliot Cohen, a former top State Department official under George W. Bush and a strategic theorist who argues for a muscular U.S. role abroad. Trump's election would be “an unmitigated disaster for American foreign policy," Cohen said, adding that "he has already damaged it considerably.”

Much of this comes down to Russia and Israel. Neoconservatives are closely linked with the more militaristic brand of Zionism and U.S. imperialism that sees Trump as being as bad or worse than Obama, who has shown some daylight between Israel and the United States, namely on the issue of a nuclear deal with Iran. Trump, for his part, insists the Iran deal, finalized in January, is a “bad deal” that he would "rip up," but this doesn’t appear to be enough to reassure the professional GOP warmaker set that views all of Israel's enemies as hairtrigger maniacs. This includes Iran, whose chief ally in the region, Vladimir Putin, Trump has spoken of highly, saying in a debate that he and Putin would “get along very well.” The open letter warned sternly that this stance is “unacceptable for the leader of the world’s greatest democracy.” 

The irony is that virtually all of the people who signed the letter, huffing and puffing over Trump’s lack of “seriousness,” were 100% wrong about the threat of Iraq and the existence of weapons of mass destruction. The war they cheered on 14 years ago ended up costing over $2 trillion and the lives of 4,425 Americans and over a million Iraqis. Which is what makes their pouting so amusing to watch: it’s based on a foreign policy authority that’s entirely unearned.

This isn’t to say Trump knows what he’s doing (he almost certainly doesn’t), but the last time this crowd was in charge they reduced the Middle East to a hellscape, unleashing al-Qaeda and ISIL to regions that, while perhaps not Club Med, were not the jihadist havens they are today.

This is the appeal of the Trump candidacy; his campaign is based on one long troll. Sure, his supporters reason, he may not be qualified, but the last time the “qualified” people were in charge they destroyed half the Middle East, plundered trillions of dollars on futile wars and wrecked the economy. How could he do any worse?

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.

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