Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Rise of "Revisionist" America

One of the numerous things that drives me to distraction is the ignorance of much of the American population when it comes to know accurate and true history, both of America's own past but perhaps even more so of the world at large. Hand in hand with this phenomenon is the inability of a startling number of Americans to identify countries in the world if given a blank map.  This ignorance sets the stage for revisionist ranging from Neo-Confederates who continue the lie that slavery was not the cause of the American Civil War to the Christofascists who push the myth that America was founded as a "Christian nation." If one is utterly ignorant of history - which too often gets short shrift in American public education -  the stage is set for a population easily duped by demagogues and liars  - a description that applies not only to Neo-Confederates, Christofacsist, and much of the Republican Party, but also to the liar-in-chief in the White House.  A piece in The Atlantic  looks at revisionist history being pushed by Trump and his enablers.  Here are highlights:
H. R. McMaster, Donald Trump’s former national-security adviser, used to warn of the dangers of “revisionist powers.” He had in mind countries like China and Russia that are newly ascendant and determined to amend to their advantage the global status quo: a decades-old, U.S.-led international system of free trade, military and diplomatic alliances, and liberal rules and institutions that govern how countries conduct themselves. But [Trump's] the U.S. president’s recent Europe trip, which whisked him from a confrontational breakfast with the secretary general of NATO to a conciliatory lunch with the president of Russia, made one thing clearer than it’s ever been before: The call is also coming from inside the house. Trump is a revisionist, even if many of his advisers may still conceive of the United States as the world’s leading status-quo power.
Trump’s revisionist streak was on display in Belgium when the president reportedly threatened to reconsider America’s involvement in NATO if the military alliance’s members don’t spend far more on their own defense. When Fox News’s Tucker Carlson questioned this week why the United States should be obligated to defend another NATO member if it came under attack—the commitment at the very heart of the alliance—[Trump] the president shook his head in disbelief and responded, “I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question … That’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago.” The implication was that he needed more time to shake things up.
The streak was on display in the United Kingdom, when Trump actively encouraged defection from the European Union by offering Britain a trade deal with the United States only on the condition that it make a clean break with the EU.
“We are cracking down right now on the European Union,” he told The Sun, in reference to the raft of tariffs he has imposed or threatened to impose on the bloc. He argued, as he has since the 1980s, that in certain ways traditional U.S. allies pose a greater threat to the country than longtime adversaries because they are essentially friendly pickpockets: exploiting America’s military protection and preferential treatment on trade to get rich at the expense of the United States. 
And it was on display in Finland, . . . At a joint press conference, [Trump] the American president refused to take Russia to task for interfering in democratic elections, or even to call out any specific instance of Russian bad behavior—be it committing and abetting atrocities in Syria or allegedly ordering the poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in Britain. . . . Instead, Trump blamed rotten relations with Russia on “many years of U.S. foolishness. 
But whatever you call it—a reset, strategic renovation, or America First revisionism—Trump’s agenda of upending the international status quo is reorienting the United States as an actor in the world, even if [Trump's] the U.S. president’s ambitious plans have often been frustrated by resistance from his own advisers, Congress, and the inertia of a global system that the United States has invested in for decades. 
And if three of the world’s top powers—the United States, China, and Russia—are all acting like revisionists, that suggests the world is poised to change a whole lot, even as U.S. allies such as the European Union, Canada, and Japan strive to uphold the status quo. . . . At the moment, Europe “is not strong enough to uphold this system by itself,” Belin continued. It “still needs big allies like the U.S.”

Be very afraid.  America and the world is rapidly moving towards the same unstable international framework that set the stage for WWI and WWI - not that Trump and his Fox News viewing base have a clue of how dangerous this path will be.  They merely enjoy being the petulant bully that "shakes things up" with no long view of what they are potentially doing to themselves of the nation.  Ignorance is not always bliss. 

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