US war machine ramping up despite absence of threat

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS -- Western Europe wasn't the only time zone that jumped ahead over the past weekend. Apparently the Doomsday Clock is also participating in daylight saving time this year, leaping ahead following the replacement of non-interventionists with warmongers in critical U.S. national-security positions.

Is there any voice of reason left in this White House that would not encourage shooting first and asking questions later? As commander in chief, President Donald Trump was entrusted with that role by the American people, and the composition of his entourage -- a delicate balance of hawkish ideologues and pragmatic realists -- initially suggested that building bridges through long-term cooperation with non-traditional allies might actually be possible.

The idea of finding common ground with historical foes is such a bizarre concept for Washington to wrap its head around that Trump has been accused by both establishment leftists and neoconservatives of colluding with the enemy for wanting to avoid more war. Does a president have to bomb a country to prove non-collusion and get some peace and quiet in the Oval Office? That might, in fact, be the case.

Now that Trump has replaced nearly everyone who could possibly get in the way of U.S. troops being sent to fight a war in the Middle East that would have zero benefit to America's national security, both neoconservatives and leftists have dialed down their criticism -- for now. They'll soon find something else for which to criticize Trump. It's a losing game, and Trump is making a major mistake by veering off his initial course of non-interventionist cooperation.

Taken together, the pieces of the puzzle don't convey a reassuring picture. Anti-Iran reactionary and militant Israel First advocate John Bolton has been appointed national security adviser. Avid bombing-by-drone fan Mike Pompeo, the former CIA director, is now supposed to pretend to be interested in working things out peacefully as the new secretary of state. Meanwhile, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley can't seem to issue any statements that don't fall into line with rhetoric churned out by foreign-funded Washington think tanks that use American researchers as cover for their influence on U.S. foreign policy.

Last week, amid the shuffling of key personnel within his administration, Trump hosted a White House visit with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. The prince can barely seem to contain his enthusiasm for the idea of Iran being wiped out so that Saudi Arabia can take over the Middle East. Never mind that Saudi Arabia is known for producing and exporting the sort of radical terrorism that has been responsible for killing Westerners.

Saudi Arabia recently opened its airspace to an Israel-bound flight for the first time, leading Israel's transport minister to comment on a thaw in relations. Nothing would do more to improve Saudi-Israeli relations than the prospect of ganging up against mutual foe Iran. On that front, the Trump White House is not only beating the war drums, but actively promoting people who would have enthusiasm for such a conflict.

But there's a superpower standing in the way of that goal: Russia.

Earlier this week, Trump closed the Russian consulate in Seattle and expelled 60 Russian officials from Russian diplomatic missions in the U.S. in response to a chemical attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England. There has been no determination that the Chemical Weapons Convention was violated the incident, but Canada, Australia, Ukraine and a host of EU countries all piled on with their own expulsions of Russian diplomats.

Instead of preaching patience and calling for a full inquiry conducted in accordance with international law, these countries chose to blindly prioritize alliances over the public interest in obtaining facts and avoiding war. Russia will no doubt respond in kind, though it will surely be careful not to do anything that might provoke an actual act of warfare.

East-West relations have disintegrated to the point where they are now worse than during the Cold War. It's hard not to get the feeling that a hot war is inevitable. There's far too much psychodrama going on in a seemingly desperate attempt to convince the public that war is necessary.

Trump wasn't elected to be led around by the Washington establishment and its war-profit machine. He vowed to oppose the establishment. Instead, he has now surrounded himself with members of it, leaving himself as a lone voice of reason standing between peace and a war that would be waged for no reason other than profit.