“All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs”. So said Enoch Powell in his biography of Joseph Chamberlain.
The statement is amongst the most sentient observations about the life of a politician. However, looking at John Kerry and his recent antics at the UN, one wonders if he intends to spread the seeds of his failure to the rest of the world.
In the on-going diplomatic war between the US and Russia over the US attack on Syrian troops about to liquidate a band of ISIS fighters, the ‘mystery’ attack on a UN aid convoy, and arguments over ‘good terrorist versus bad terrorist’, it is necessary examine the internal political implications to such moves.
No two American Presidential candidates in recent memory have had such clear disagreements on foreign policy as do Clinton and Trump. This combined with an increasing fear of terrorism and the onset of war fatigue, has put foreign affairs into the US political spotlight in a significant way.
Could it be that by ratcheting up anti-Russian sentiments over Syria, and by playing an increasingly active role in trying to dictate the terms of war in Syria, that Obama and Kerry are attempting to validate Hillary Clinton’s pro-war position?
Could it be that by trying to deceive the public into thinking that some terrorists are ‘good guys’ whilst others are ‘bad guys’ one is witnessing a concerted effort to marginalise Donald Trump, who has said that ISIS and their copycats are the problem rather than the President of Syria?
If this is Obama’s and Kerry’s strategy, it will surely play into the hands of Donald Trump. Trump after all has warned that the policies of war upon war, which Hillary Clinton has advocated, which she previously orchestrated as Secretary of State, and which she now campaigns for, will not solve the problem of international terrorism.
It is a big if but one which we would be negligent not to explore.
If Obama thinks he can bomb Hillary Clinton into the White House he is mistaken.
Donald Trump is winning American hearts and minds because he understands the difference between strength and militarism. It is a subtle point but one which Trump is able to articulate masterfully with his trademark lack of subtlety.
Broadly speaking, in presidential elections, American voters tend to support the candidate advocating for a position of strength. This strength can be articulate in a variety of ways – from a tough diplomatic stance, to advocacy for war, economic imperialism or a strong but mostly inert military.
Under George W. Bush American voters responded positively to his call to war in the name of fighting terrorism. For a while ‘you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists’ was a big vote winner. But as Bush’s mission could not be accomplished – or even fully defined – war fatigue set in.
Obama was elected because he claimed the US would be stronger by engaging with the world; yet in power he carried on Bush’s policies, and even took them to new heights (perhaps depths is a better way to describe them).
Hillary Clinton continues to campaign on the war ticket, but because Hillary Clinton’s wars (Libya was her own special curse to humanity) have all failed so spectacularly her hawkishness does not feed into the American desire to feel strong.
Trump has said that he will put US interests first both at home and abroad rather than wage wars for a globalist rather than a domestic driven agenda.
This message appeals strongly to voters, who finding that Trump makes them feel secure and strong. By contrast Hillary Clinton makes them feel uneasy and confused.
To the average American voter ‘Make America Great Again’ means something. ‘Assad Must Go’ means nothing.
Trump points to Putin’s clear strength and says ‘shouldn’t America have a leader who exudes similar strength albeit in a different cultural and political context’? Many in America say ‘yes’. They do not feel that Putin is a threat. They feel he is either irrelevant to them, or is a figure of strength to be respected.
Because of this, if the Obama administration is playing domestic politics in the blood soaked streets of Syria, not only is this negligent but it is destined to fail politically.
‘Make America Great again’ will always triumph over ‘Make Yeltsin Alive Again’, and has all ready triumphed over ‘Assad Must Go’. Trump gets this. The Democrats don’t.