27 noviembre, 2018


President Trump's easy forgiveness of the Saudi plutocrats who almost certainly murdered and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi is consistent with this president’s comfortable bonhomie with military and authoritarian tyrants in Russia, China and North Korea. His solace for dictators contrasts starkly with his uneasy bickering with our traditional democratic allies in Europe, Canada and Australia. But President Trump is no historical anomaly. He is rather the radical acceleration of a devolution towards plutocracy that has been diminishing America’s democracy and ideals for the last half century.
These trends have transformed our nation into a warfare state with vast gaps between rich and poor. America has spent $6 trillion on war since 9/11. It can credibly be argued that America is now, officially, a plutocracy.
My grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, warned that America could not be both an imperial nation abroad and a constitutional democracy at home. That unstable configuration, he argued, would diminish the middle class, yield large chasms between rich and poor and erode our constitutional and civil rights.
Jefferson and Adams similarly argued that imperialism abroad is incompatible with democracy at home and cautioned against “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” In 1960, days before JFK took his oath, outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower warned America about losing the American struggle to preserve democracy against the growing power of “the Military Industrial Complex.”

Seven great traumas have since pushed us down the path toward plutocracy, and decisively ended America’s claim to be an exemplary experiment with democracy. Those traumas have helped transform our country into an imperium abroad and a national security state at home.
Those traumas include the assassinations of JFK and RFK who were both arcing the country toward peace, and Martin Luther King Jr. who, at the time of his murder in Memphis, was forcefully linking the Vietnam war with the poverty, racism, violence and injustice back home.

The Vietnam War, which became an American War in 1965, was the fourth trauma that took us away from our aspiration to be the world’s exemplary democracy.

The bizarre election of George W. Bush by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote and his handling of the 9/11 attack further pushed us down the path of plutocracy. Imagine for a moment that the Florida vote was counted and Albert Gore became president. We would not have invaded Iraq—a policy choice that eventually led to the war in Syria and the refugee crisis that is already breaking up the EU and will threaten democracy and stability in Europe for at least a generation.
Gore would have handled 9/11 by attacking its root cause—our deadly addiction to oil. Instead of squandering $6 trillion on wars, he would have spent that money transitioning America to a clean energy economy. There would have been $5 trillion left to build America the world’s greatest schools, hospitals, health care for all Americans, roads and infrastructure, internet and more.

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