Alexis: You have recently argued that Francis Fukuyama, who likened the Neoconservative movement to Leninism and Bolshevism, was wrong in his book The End of History and the Last Man. You moved on to praise the Brexit campaign and then added:
“This time, it is the populace of the empire that have resisted, and decided that the imposition of the will of some faceless bureaucrats in Brussels serving the interests of Washington and its misguided rulers was too getting too heavy and burdensome… They saw that despite the rhetoric, the empire does not really serve them, that it serves the notorious 1% instead.”
You have also attacked the Neoconservatives who never cease to beat “the drums of war” and demonize “foreign countries.” Neocon Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary has promiscuously speculated that “one of the consequences of President Obama’s failure to intervene in Syria to stop the civil war would be Britain’s exit from the EU…”
We obviously can ignore Tobin here, since he seems to be living on a different planet. The joker could never see that Britain’s exit from the EU, as noted economist Michael Hudson has recently pointed out, is largely the result of perpetual wars in the Middle East.
You said: “This emergence of the global elite spreading its rule from Washington to Brussels is the most significant phenomenon of the recent history.” I have argued in the past that the Neoconservatives have refused to submit their appetite to practical reason. In the process, they have inevitably become irrational and therefore immoral. Isn’t that the case? Can you expand on this a bit?
Golstein: Neocon foreign policy is based on irrational goals and irrational principles. They seem to have two intertwined goals: 1) US military and economic dominance and hegemony and 2) Israel’s security in the Middle East (hereafter ME).
Both of these goals are next to impossible to reach in general, and it is surely impossible to achieve them through the military might and bombing. Ever since the Neocons began to dominate foreign policy establishment, the ME became one festering wound, without any chances of healing. The people in the ME have to negotiate peace by themselves, without serving as pawns in proxy wars.
And in terms of world dominance, this goal might have looked realizable a quarter of a century ago, but it became a dangerous delusion today. With a much more assertive Russia, willing to stand and fight for its interest as it demonstrated clearly in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, and with China, which is ready to claim the status of Super Power, the idea of US dominance really looks like Dr. Strangelove mad dream.
For obvious reasons, the ruling globalized elite became seriously detached from the concerns of their own populations. The function of speaking truth to power has been disconnected both in political institutions and the media. When those who dare to say the truth are accused of treason, while those who tell the elites what they want to hear are promoted – the result is obvious.
This marginalizing of one’s own population is both immoral and irrational. Immoral, because if people want to be taken seriously, they should take others seriously – this principle of reciprocity runs through all moral systems of the world. And irrational, because, it is not the way rational people function in a complex environment. Rather than listening and learning and modifying their actions, the ruling elites stick to “more of the same.” This process clearly emblematized by the endless procession of Bushes and Clintons replacing each other in the positions of power.
Furthermore, these dismissals of other peoples’ concerns and their reality have become so habitual that they spread to foreign policy and foreign countries. If Russia or China insists on certain red lines, this insistence should be taken seriously too. The country that refuses to wake up and smell the roses might end up being awaken by the smell of napalm. The leaders that push their own country toward military confrontations by dismissing countries with nuclear capabilities as “gas station masquerading as a country” Senator McCain) or as a country that “does not make anything” (President Obama) is up to a very rude awakening.
Alexis: You also make the case that the “global elite” despises the common man by “squeezing the workers, natural resources or countries, in the most efficient and ruthless way.” What are some of those “efficient and ruthless” ways?
Golstein: The “global elite” persists in marginalizing common men, their interests and concerns. They imagine people who live in the constant fear of losing their jobs, their home, and their security as unsophisticated outsiders who fail to see the benefits of recent economic policies, as backward prejudiced hicks. Consequently, being driven by the calculation that makes corporate profits of paramount importance, and the plight of displaced, unprotected, uprooted people, who live hand to mouth as insignificant, they refuse to address the concerns of their own population.
The shock therapy that had been imposed on many developing countries through the collusion between the big capital and local elites, might have improved the financial standing of some countries or the quality of life for the educated and connected, but it has clearly the other side: the destruction of human recourses and environment; ethnic strife and violence (as desperate people look for scapegoats, and find them among their neighbors). Naomi Klein’s excellent book, Shock Doctrine, fully demonstrates the process.
The local elites, having benefited from the shock doctrine policies, have subjected their own population to a very cruel treatment, frequently reducing them to slaves endlessly working in bad conditions, and yet afraid to say anything in fear of losing even that meager source of income.
Great emblem of this process is the so-called “fracking,” the strange and technologically complicated process of getting natural gas at the expense of total destruction of local environment. Consequently, some people benefit from the profits, but once the gas is all pumped out, the place is left in shambles. That’s the emblem of what happens to the countries subjected to the shock doctrine.
And unfortunately, these methods are then being re-exported back home, subjecting both people and environment to the same ruthless and cruel treatment.
Alexis: You title your recent article “Brexit Signals the End of the Neocon’s ‘End of History.’” How do you think this will come about?
Golstein: As one great American observed, “It ain’t over, until it is over.” So clearly, the calls for the end of history were premature. The system that is based on those who share the profits, and those who are excluded from benefits, cannot last, so it is clear that the new period of struggle and contestation will begin. Only when there are no more masters and slaves, no more those who are in, and those who are out, only when everyone can develop in a healthy and productive way the history might end.
So I suspect that the most interesting aspect of Brexit is its relevance for US’s dubious role in globalized economy, and in more concrete terms, for November Elections. So far, American media haven’t disappointed its corporate masters. Their comments on Brexit are restricted to blaming Putin, or trying to suggest that nothing has really changed, and that US and England are still two indispensable partners.
Of course, those who refuse to hear the wake up calls about Hillary’s disastrous record of war-mongering and Wall Street appeasement would persist in their slumbers, but the great amount of voters–as the support for Trump underscores –have already been woken up a long time ago… by the sound of their foreclosed homes and lost jobs.
It is those outsiders, those unlucky ones who did not fit the new global economy, and who find that they are rapidly losing ground amidst all the wealth and power generated all around them, it is them who have rebelled in England, and will rebel in the US. They will rebel for a simple reason that the ruling elites proved incapable of understanding reality, correctly describing and consequently improving it.
The engine that drives the Trump campaign and will drive him all the way to the White House is the anger and hopes of the people who’ve been marginalized and dismissed, made redundant and replaceable. And those poor souls who’ve been brainwashed or paid by the elites to “fight the bigot” and protest at his rallies will surely join Trump’s campaign, once they understand what his phenomenon is all about.
And if Trump fails to find a way that would provide American workers with jobs and minimum security, the people would find another leader who would. I can’t imagine this model of business as usual, the one that results in a drastic economic polarization at home and balancing on the brink of war abroad, lasting for much longer.
“Waterboarding? I’m all for it! Sarah Palin got it right: that’s how we baptize terrorists.”
Alexis: Trump has obviously made the right decision to soften the tension between Russia and the United States. But he is still propounding really stupid and dangerous things such as waterboarding. Right after the Istanbul attack, he declared that he will bring “much worse” techniques than waterboarding. He added: “We have to fight so viciously and violently because we’re dealing with violent people.”
George Washington and others would have been stunned to hear some of Trump’s declarations because Washington had the moral and intellectual insight to realize that things like torturing prisoners to death is immoral and leads to detrimental consequences. In fact, it has been argued that waterboarding does the opposite of what its apologists say it does. It is for this reason that proponents of waterboarding have already been abandoning the sinking ship.
I wish someone would help Trump start thinking about the big issues. Does he really think that people just want to “knock out cities” without any reason whatsoever? Isn’t he propounding the same thing that Bush was saying, that “they hate us because of our freedom”? Scholars have been writing about the big issues for decades, and it is really sad that Trump has chosen to ignore them all and has been propounding almost the same thing that the Bush administration was perpetuating.
John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s scholarly study, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, was a bestseller. The book was even translated into Chinese. Trump really cannot tell us that he is not familiar with that book. If he is ignorant of the scholarly studies on these vitally important issues, then Trump is not really ready to lead at all. If he is aware of the studies and continues to propound one incoherent statement after another, then Trump is running for president to please people like Sheldon Adelson.
The next issue that Trump needs to wrestle with is this: who is going to decide who should be waterboarded? If an Australian Mosque gets firebombed with hundreds of people (including children) inside, should we waterboard the culprits as well? Why are we only going after so-called Muslim terrorists? Shouldn’t the Western world set up tribunals for people like Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, among others?
If Bush ended up training terrorist groups such as the MEK in Nevada, shouldn’t Trump ask for his head on a silver platter? If former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani cheers for MEK, doesn’t he deserve to be behind padded cells for the rest of his natural life? Using Trump’s own logic, these so-called Republicans need to be arrested en mass.
Trump again said:
“Our enemies are brutal and ruthless and will do anything to murder those who do not bend to their will. We must take steps now to protect America from terrorists, and do everything in our power to improve our security to keep America safe.”
If Trump wants to keep America safe, he needs to start firing the Neoconservatives and their lackeys from the White House and putting them on trial for making Americans look really bad. As one scholarly study after another has shown us, one of America’s biggest threats is US foreign policy in the Middle East. And this foreign policy has been forced upon us all by the Neoconservatives themselves. In the early 1990s, people like Gary Dorrien deluded themselves into thinking that the Neoconservative movement is a genuine intellectual enterprise. No sane thinker believes this anymore. Just to give one particular example:
“As [the Neocons] were mocking Clinton in the late 1990s as cowardly for his caution in the face of Saddam’s brutality, central Africa was engulfed in war and chaos. Around 5,400,000 people, mostly in Congo, perished in the convulsions and the starvation and disease they caused from 1998 to 2003.
“Yet the Weekly Standard, a reliable guide to neoconservative priorities, published just two stories on Congo during these years. In the same time span it published 279 articles on Iraq. Neoconservatives were bent on projecting power in the Middle East, not on engaging in humanitarian do-goodism.”
So, do the Neocons really care about the Middle East and America? The answer is a resounding no. If Trump continues to ignore these incontrovertible facts, then he is missing the target.
Again, one must give him some credit for kicking Bill Kristol’s butt in public. As we have argued earlier, ISIS is a monster that people like Kristol had created. But Trump is not really moving the debate forward by saying things like he will support Israel “100%,” another stupid move which can never be reconciled with practical reason.
No sane American can say that all Americans have to support US foreign policy one hundred percent. No sane American can support the US government one hundred percent. If this principle will not work in the United States, what makes Donald Trump think that he can support Israel one hundred percent? Isn’t that the zenith of craziness? If Israel supports terrorism, as they have done in the past, will Donald Trump support that as well? Is that why Trump continues to support the Settlement?
If Israel ends up killing Iranian scientists, as they have done in the past, will Trump give Benjamin Netanyahu two thumps up? If the IAEA itself declares that “Iran’s uranium stockpile stays within limit set by nuclear deal,” will Trump line up with Netanyahu instead, who perpetuates ad absurdum that Iran is developing nuclear bombs? If Netanyahu perversely declares that Iran is “preparing another Holocaust,” will Trump tell the mad man in Tel Aviv to shut up? If “Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent,” will Trump challenge Israeli officials on this? If Netanyahu says Israel “will never accept Arab peace initiative as a basis for talks with Palestinians,” will Trump continue to stay silent? If France, Germany and the UK declare that Israel violates international law by seizing lands in the West Bank, will Trump still stand up for Israel? If Jewish scholar Sara Roy of Harvard argues that Israel has been mercilessly liquidated the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, will Trump praise her or denounce her a self-hating Jew?
We all know that Trump is not a thinker, but this is no brainer; one needn’t be an intellectual to realize that this Israel-right-or-wrong ideology cannot work in any universe, not even in Israel. If Trump cannot address these issues in a logical fashion, then he is indirectly making the point of a 68-year-old Virginia woman: death is better than choosing either Hillary or Trump.
 Francis Fukuyama, “After Neoconservatism,” NY Times, February 19, 2006.
 Jonathan S. Tobin, “Brexit: Isolationism or Atlanticism?,” Commentary, June 27, 2016.
 For studies on this, see for example John J. Mearsheimer, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); John M. Schuessler, Deceit on the Road to War: Presidents, Politics, and American Democracy (New York: Cornell University Press, 2015).
 David M. Jackson, “Trump advocates waterboarding and ‘much worse’ to battle terrorists,” USA Today, July 1, 2016.
 Shane O’Mara, Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015).
 Asawin Suebsaeng and Shane Harris, “U.S. Spies Slam Donald Trump’s Torture Push,” Daily Beast, March 24, 2016.
 “Australian Mosque Firebombed as Hundreds Prayed Inside,” Sputnik News, June 30, 2016.
 Seymour M. Hersh, “Our Men in Iran?,” New Yorker, April 5, 2012.
 “Giuliani claims ‘terrorist’ MEK only chance for regime change in Iran,” Russia Today, March 29, 2012.
 Jackson, “Trump advocates waterboarding and ‘much worse’ to battle terrorists,” USA Today, July 1, 2016.
 Because of perpetual wars and conflicts, countries like Morocco, Botswana, Zambia and Uganda are allegedly “more peaceful” than the United States of America. Ashley May, “102 nations are ‘more peaceful’ than America, study says,” USA Today, June 9, 2016.
 See Murray Friedman, The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Stephen M. Feldman, Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court: Law, Power, and Democracy (New York and London: New York University Press, 2013); Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014); Jesús Velasco, Neoconservatives in U.S. Foreign Policy under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush: Voices behind the Throne (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010); Michael MacDonald, Overreach: Delusions of Regime Change in Iraq (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014).
 Gary Dorrien, The Neoconservative Mind: Politics, Culture, and the War of Ideology (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993).
 Michael MacDonald, Overreach: Delusions of Regime Change in Iraq (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), 100.
 “Trump tells anti-Israel backer he’ll protect Israel ‘100%,’” Times of Israel, July 1, 2016.
 Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger, Jewish Terrorism in Israel (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).
 Jacob Kornbluh, “Trump Support for Israeli Settlements in West Bank Draws Praise From ZOA,” Haaretz, May 5, 2016; Sam Kestenbaum, “ZOA Applauds Donald Trump’s Backing for Expanding Israeli Settlements,” Jewish Daily Forward, May 5, 2016.
 See Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars (New York: Levant Books, 2012 and 2014); Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal, Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service (New York: HarperCollins, 2012);
 “IAEA: Iran’s uranium stockpile stays within limit set by nuclear deal,” Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2016.
 Ian Black, “Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent,” Guardian, December 21, 2009.
 Barak Ravid, “Netanyahu: Israel Will Never Accept Arab Peace Initiative as Basis for Talks With Palestinians,” Haaretz, June 13, 2016.
 The sad part of all this is that Neocon hawks like Ben Shapiro and David Bernstein have ignored all of Trump’s attacks on Muslims and have moved beyond rationality saying that Trump is responsible for anti-Semitism during his campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth. David Bernstein, “Ben Shapiro discovers right-wing anti-Semitism,” Washington Post, May 19, 2016.
 “Germany, France, U.K. Condemn Israel’s West Bank Land Seizure,” Haaretz, March 16, 2016.
 Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011); Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2007).
 Gary Rosenblatt, “Israel-Firsters Seen Edging Toward Trump,” The Jewish Week, June 29, 2016.
 “Faced With Choosing Between Clinton and Trump, Virginia Woman Chooses Death,” Sputnik News, May 18, 2016.