Friday, May 12, 2017

James Comey and the limits of liberalism

By A.M.

If you’ve been following the news the past few days, you’re no doubt aware that President Trump recently removed James Comey from his post as FBI Director. Predictably, left-liberal commentators have been falling over themselves and each other in their condemnation of Comey’s dismissal.

Chauncey Devega writes in Salon that Trump “has no respect for the standing norms of American democracy. He and his supporters evidently believe that the rule of law does not apply to him.” This is undoubtedly true - Trump is a wannabe strongman with exactly zero regard for other human beings. To Devega’s credit (and this can not be said of every liberal commentator), he is willing to call Trump what he is, and has been for a long time. Unfortunately, Devega’s article speaks to some very uncomfortable liberal assumptions about American society generally, and its government specifically.

To start with, James Comey is no angel. His past includes time spent at the $122 billion financial firm Bridgewater Associates, as well as several years at the world’s largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin. That is to say, decisions made by James Comey in the pursuit of profit have had very real, dangerous, long-term consequences for Americans, and for civilians around the world. Lockheed Martin, for instance, received nearly ten percent of the total funds paid out by the Pentagon in 2013. The company supplies everything from ballistic missiles and combat aircraft (directly responsible for civilian deaths in countless Middle Eastern countries), to radar technology and satellites (which would, among other things, help the US government deliver a nuclear payload).

And so this is how far the Left has fallen, that we are reduced to crying for the ‘unfair dismissal’ of a man who is personally responsible for very serious crimes against humanity. A man with a new worth of nearly $15 million. This is where the limits of liberalism become clear. Without a structural analysis of James Comey’s role in the American empire – not to mention some basic knowledge about his life – we are reduced to complaints about the breach of ‘due process’ or some such.

Devega writes that “Trump is removing a threat posed by the person who is leading the investigation of his administration’s (and his campaign’s) possibly treasonous connections with Russia. Trump will now be able to appoint a political loyalist as Comey’s successor.”

Again, this is true, as far as it goes. Like most liberal analysis, unfortunately, it doesn’t go terribly far!

Devega believes that Trump is going to call in some sort of favour by appointing a ‘political loyalist’ as the new FBI Director. Disturbing, to be sure, but precisely as disturbing as former President Obama now making hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech - on the low end, as he’s rumoured to have made $2.5 million at a recent summit in Milan. These speeches are typically given to Chambers of Commerce, or to gatherings of financiers. In short, the direct beneficiaries of Obama’s bailouts and corporate giveaways.

If this looks like cultivating, and then rewarding political favour, that’s because it is. We might also turn to the $65 million dollars he and wife Michelle scored from Random House to pen their memoirs. No ascetics, these! Politics is a revolving door of wealthy elites helping other wealthy elites plunder the general public. Trump is perhaps more crass in this regard (Obama was never as partisan in his appointments), but is frankly of a comparable character to the former Commander-In-Chief.

Not to pick on Devega, but since his article is quite revealing of the basic moral character of modern liberalism, let us turn to it once more. One of the major concerns running through his piece is that of ‘national sovereignty.’ Liberals are concerned, not entirely without reason, that the government of the United States in under undue influence from the Russians.

Devega quotes from his interview with Timothy Snyder, who states that:

Trump’s first foreign policy speech was written by someone on the payroll of a Russian fossil fuels company. Carter Page was also working for the Russians. And that’s not even considering what has come to light about Michael Flynn. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner failed to mention his own Russian contacts to get security clearance. [Jeff] Sessions also lied by omission, perjuring himself to become attorney general, about his Russian contacts.

Allow me to be the first to agree that Russian President Putin almost certainly gave a very large helping hand to the Trump campaign. Liberal outrage here, perhaps more than anywhere else, is so utterly misplaced as to take on the appearance of a practical joke. Assuming these allegations have legs (they do), I have to ask – how is this, in any way, different from the global influence Washington has been exerting for well over a century?

I certainly don’t want to witness a ‘Red Dawn’ style takeover of the US government (though there are certain Left types who do). However, I am truly at a loss to imagine how it would be fundamentally different than, say, Milton Friedman and his ‘Chicago Boys’ (with direct material assistance from the CIA) aiding Pinochet in his overthrow of the Allende government in 1973? Or the CIA coup in Iran that installed the Shah? Or the Korean War? The Cuban embargo?

Washington’s war crimes are frankly too numerous and widely known to bother listing here, ad nauseum, but it’s helpful to remember that this government of ‘checks and balances’ that liberals love so much is, to the millions of victims of US imperialism, not much more than a cruel joke. For the many bodies left in wake of men like James Comey, these concerns are a frivolous insult. Ask the victims of the Lockheed’s ballistic missiles how high Russian-American political games rate on their list of priorities.

The answer, at least to the modern Western liberal, is incomprehensible.

A.M. is a writer in Toronto

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See also: Trump -- Reflections on the state and the revolution

See also: The wages of liberalism is Trump

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