Donald Trump: More Caligula than Augustus

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S. May 5, 2016. © Chris Tilley
With Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the US presidential election in November now almost assured, it is time to disabuse ourselves of the dangerous delusion that his presidency would represents any improvement on the status quo.

Donald Trump is America’s answer to Mussolini, and just like the Italian fascist dictator he is running on a platform of ‘national renewal’. Those two words in the vocabulary of a leader or candidate for leadership harks back to a mythical period in a nation’s history, one shorn of the emasculating symptoms of modernity - whether it be multiculturalism, gender and sexual equality, or racial justice – packaged and sold as a distraction from the onward march of economic and geopolitical decline.

This is what is driving the Trump campaign for the White House. It amounts to blaming America’s economic and geopolitical decline on ‘the other’ – immigrants at home, inscrutable rivals and Muslims abroad.

Take the billionaire’s recent tirade against China, for example, during which he remarked: “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country.” Or how about his response to the question of rising tensions in Eastern Europe vis-à-vis Russian jets engaging US naval vessels in the Baltic Sea, when the potential next president stated that “at a certain point, when that sucker comes by you, you gotta shoot.”

In truth, whoever the next US president is, either Trump or Clinton, they automatically become the CEO of an empire as vast as ancient Rome’s. In developing this point, and in order to cut through all the rhetoric about protecting and spreading democracy and human rights, etc., we are helped by George Kennan, the US State Department mandarin credited with devising and formulating the policy of ‘containment’, which underpinned Washington and its allies’ stance towards the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

In 1948 Kennan wrote: “We have 50 percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period…is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality…we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization.”

Every word of what Kennan said in 1948 holds true in 2016 when it comes to Washington’s role in the world, the Pax Americana it remains committed to maintaining and expanding. NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, US policy in the Middle East, the full spectrum dominance of its military across the globe, the role of the IMF, World Bank, and US Treasury – it all exists with the primary and all-consuming objective of maintaining the huge imbalance enjoyed by the US in economic, military, geopolitical, and cultural power compared to the rest of the world. In this regard, all else is embroidery, designed to distract and deceive in order to manufacture consent for this agenda at home as well as abroad. It is ably assisted in this regard by a compliant media both in the US and across the West, where its allies compete for scraps from the table of US hegemony by outdoing themselves in sucking up to Washington, regardless of who the occupant of the White House happens to be.

Trump has been clever in presenting himself as the outsider, the anti-establishment maverick speaking truth to power on behalf of the people. Indeed, to hear some people describe him you’d think he was a reincarnation of Spartacus. Instead, Trump is a man completely and utterly wedded to the very system responsible for him amassing the huge fortune he commands. It is a system dependent on the dollar as the hegemonic reserve currency and the bloated US military budget required to defend that hegemony.

In a period when countries such as Russia and China are able and willing to assert their economic, security and strategic interests, the stage is set for more tension and crises not less should Trump enter the White House. The only alternative to this heightening of tensions is that Washington accepts a change in the global status quo. Such a change is not only in the interests of Russia and China; it’s in the interests of the entire world given the role of US hegemony and unipolarity in fomenting instability in recent years.

On a purely personal level, Donald Trump is a man who clearly admires Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The warm words he has spoken in recent months when it comes to the Russian leader reflect his respect for the way Russia has recovered from the demise of the Soviet Union and its role in the Middle East. But nobody should be fooled. Putin is no Trump. On the contrary, the Russian President’s judgement and understanding of the complexities of the challenges facing not only Russia, but the entire world, far outstrips that of a presidential candidate who is pledging to erect a wall bigger than the Great Wall of China across the US border with Mexico to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. When it comes to those challenges facing the world, the main one is successfully managing Washington’s economic and geopolitical decline in such a way that it does minimal damage to international peace and stability.

Just as Rome had its Augustus it also had its Caligula. As things stand, Donald Trump evinces the qualities of the latter more than he does the former.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.