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Looking beyond the obvious bases for all the end-of-the-year criticisms of The Donald, there are plenty of reasons to see The Donald as one of the best presidents ever for progressive ideas.

trump end empire

The world came out of WW-II with one industrial power largely intact. After years of devastation, that power - the USA - helped rebuild the world, and spread lessons about democracy and self-rule that inspired people from Europe, across Africa, through Asia, and even in the American south.

As the world rebuilt, with U.S. help and inspiration, the U.S. changed. It became a “superpower”. It gained influence through its example, and its ability to help. It also changed through its enjoyment of the perks of power. Industries that had learned about the profitability of warfare during WW-II, started looking for opportunities for similar, or greater profits through smaller, perhaps more controllable, wars.

And companies looking for profits noticed that the war had left lots of imperial colonies without governance, or the infrastructure to continue exploiting their natural resources, just at a time when major U.S. corporations were blessedly free from competition from corporations in now devastated former powers.

With trouble-making unions, and groups like the NAACP stirring up workers and voters on the home front, U.S. corporations eagerly looked off shore for opportunities to step into colonies and implement their own management / governance. With corporate-friendly ‘strings’ increasingly attached to foreign aid, U.S. practices of union busting and strict segregation set the pattern for U.S. governed colonies, taken over from former European powers.

American corporations became multinationals. American ideas of democracy devolved into Pentagon enforced slaughterhouses for corporate colonialism. Central America became a backwater of banana republics. The South Korean “economic miracle” was built on the graves of student and worker activists who tried to get corporations to share some of their obscene profits. The rule of African colonies was modeled on the racism and brutality of our antebellum plantation culture.

And everywhere, the spectre of “COMMUNISM” was used to ‘justify’ outrages that served only to turn populations against the nation that had so recently inspired them.

General/President Dwight Eisenhower, familiar with power and its abuses, tried to warn us. But with our “successes” at No Gun Ri, Mi Lai, Grenada, and the suppression of indigenous self-rule movements across Latin America and the Middle East, we modeled other imperial powers, slaughtering whom we thought we must, in order to maintain control.

But it was all good, because we were protecting our “rights” to resource extraction and exploitation, and the protection was mostly against ‘lesser’ people. After all, who could complain about our slaughter of Asians, when everyone “knows” that “their culture” doesn’t respect life like our’s does? It is hard to identify the nadir of our international colonialism. Was it when Colin Powell, who grew up experiencing racism, stood up and defended the slaughter of surrendered Iraqi troops at the end of Bush-1’s war? Or perhaps our rape of Fallujah and its civilian population out of Dick Cheney’s frustration as reality imposed itself on his colonial dreams?

Empires fall of their own weight. And the Donald is the weightiest president our empire has had for many years. He has put his considerable weight behind the effort to recognize and confirm the end of the American Imperial Age.

These actions clearly marked the decline of U.S. power, as we showed ourselves increasingly impotent in the face of indigenous resistance. But we were still throwing our weight around. And Barak Obama’s fundamental conservatism, clothed in the rhetoric of reason, logic, science, and respect for others, started to rebuild U.S. power and dominance in a world not in very much need of it at all.

But then came Trump. Empires fall of their own weight. And the Donald is the weightiest president our empire has had for many years. He has put his considerable weight behind the effort to recognize and confirm the end of the American Imperial Age.

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In his first days in office, he ended the U.S. hegemony among North Atlantic nations, officially turning leadership over to Angela Merkel. No amount of hand wringing about how women are habitually abused and dominated by men can obscure the reality that the solf-proclaimingly sexist Donald Trump willing turned leadership of “the western world” over to a woman. And then he bowed to the leadership of a much less powerful woman in Theresa May.

Abandoning U.S. leadership in the North Atlantic was only his first progressive move. Not long after, he acknowledged Chinese President Xi as the most powerful, influential, and relevant leader on the Pacific Rim. Bowing to Chinese hegemony in Asia was another part of his effort to diminish U.S. influence.

Perhaps his most consequential decision was to publicly proclaim that U.S. might has declined from the lofty perch it has held since the end of WW-II to now be the equivalent of Kim Jung Un’s North Korea or Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines. He has identified the American presidency as morally and intellectually equivalent to thoughtless thuggish, lawless dictators. He followed this by lending his support to the bloodbath in Yemen, promoted by the equally lawless Saudi royal government.

Where the U.S. once imposed its will on major industrial powers, The Donald has acknowledged the end of our empire by picking squabbles with a child tyrant who can’t even keep his own people fed, and embracing wide-scale slaughter of civilians as the only means of addressing conflicts.

His embrace of the extrajudicial killings by Duterte, and suggestion that police in America be applauded for extrajudicial killings of unarmed and minority people, affirms the Republican acknowledgement that the U.S. is no longer an international beacon of freedom, due process or democracy.

The Donald proclaims that the nation which sponsored the researches of Walter Reed, Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin, the technology that put men on the moon, and developed the internet no longer believes in science. With this proclamation he gives up any pretense of leadership in technology, climate change, medical advances, etc. Our cell phones come from China and Scandinavia, while the world watches China step up to leadership on greenhouse gas reduction, high-speed rail for moving people, and alternative energy infrastructure.

The Donald has broken the decades-old world dependence on U.S. leadership. By pulling out of the modern world, he makes it possible for other nations, well developed and developing, to realize, to remember, that they too have competencies; that they don’t need to be just the handmaidens to U.S. hegemony. Donald Trump is going to go down in history as the president who oversaw the end of U.S. world domination – for both good and ill. By forcing the rest of the world to deal with problems, from climate change to genocide, The Donald empowers people, and necessarily reduces American influence and power.

A man who appears to have never grown, emotionally, beyond adolescence is shepherding the U.S. through its transition from selfish, angst-ridden, overindulged teenage to an adulthood in which it will, it must, stand on a footing of greater equality with other nations. This transition will be as good for other nations as it may be unsettling, even painful for the U.S.

As the U.S. has so freely used tariffs and sanctions to try to coerce other nations’ internal behavior, we might wonder whether other nations will start to impose tariffs or sanctions try to convince the U.S. to accept global norms on climate change. Goose – Gander?

We are in the first year of what has historically been a long, slow process. But The Donald is, unquestionably working to tear down America, and actively shift responsibility for international leadership away from the U.S. This must be beneficial to other nations, just as it is likely to be uncomfortable in the U.S. Progressives should be cheering the Donald for a year in which he did so much to diminish the U.S. image and power to influence the rest of the world.

Perhaps the best metaphor for the Donald’s first year in ‘power’ was the December news that he will be allowed to put up a wall around one of his golf courses in the tiny nation of Ireland. From his imagined new Maginot Line across the Mexican border (paid for by Mexico) to a wall around a single golf course (paid for by Trump investors) – lo how the mighty are fallen.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall