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Obama's Last Throw of the Dice: Aijaz Ahmad

Interview with Aijaz Ahmad |
Interviewed by Prabir Purkayastha
Sacking US Diplomats Shows USA’s Desperation

Professor Aijaz Ahmad believes that the US tried to defeat Russia in Ukraine, Syria and contain China in Asia. Both these attempts have failed miserably. Instead, it has brought Russia and China together. The US is now trying to hold the line with its European allies, and sees the emerging Russia-China axis as a threat to its hegemony. Only this explains the US last desperate throw of the dice with the Obama sanctions before he demits office.


Rough Transcript

Prabir Purkayastha: Hello and welcome to Newsclick. Today we have with us, Prof.Aijaz Ahmad. And we’re going to discuss what’s happening in the United States and the larger issue of US, Russia, Trump and Obama’s latest sanctions. Aijaz, good to have you back with us.

Aijaz Ahmad: Very good to be back.

Prabir Purkayastha: What explains Obama’s sudden decision to expel 35 diplomats and brink the relations between Russia and US to a head. Do you think it’s basically to pre-empt the foreign policy of Trump

Aijaz Ahmad: Well, I think, yes. There is certainly a consideration. Although knowing how Trump acts, if he and his people decide not to do that, he can repudiate this very policy in no time whatsoever. You know this notion that trump is one of those people, that there will be a kind of continuity between Obama and Trump as it was between Bush and Obama. You know once you set some policies in place, the next president carries them forward and takes time extricating them, if from them, even if he wants to. It’s not going to apply in the case of Trump. Trump will make an independent decision, whether to be trapped in this or not. My sense is, Prabir that many things have come to a head. On the one hand I think, the US is trapped. It overplayed its hands in Europe in terms of encirclement of Russia and at the same time it overplayed its hands in terms of the encirclement of china, which infact brought the two of them together, in a strategic partnership of a kind that the US does not what to do about. Secondly, I think, again, they tried to press Russia in Ukraine. Not only that Russia in fact check-mated them, but they thought they would trap Russia. Same thing happened in Syria even on a bigger scale, that there was a total defeat of the Americans in Syria. So, this animosity with Russia is multifaceted and this is a desperate sort of attempt. I think it is as much an addressed to Europe, as it is to trump. That look this is what we Americans are going to do and you better come along. Because a normalisation of relations between Russia and Europe is the nightmare in Washington. And that nightmare is in no way, because the economic block that Russia and china now represent and the attractiveness of that block for Europe to recover from its own extreme crisis is much to attract it for Europe and sooner or later, unless the Americans keep on pressing and pressing. Their NATO allies are not going to - they might start moving towards Russia

I think it is both and what you have is a national security establishment. Majority of them is split in that establishment in my view. They were the hawks, the great majority of that establishment, which is very hawkish, were just preparing for Clinton to come in, and infact escalate the war all over the Middle East against Russia, and possibly Ukraine and so on. Remember those letters from the top U.S diplomats, in the state department of 55 or 60 of them or whatever, we have to do this, we have to do that.

All of them have been checkmated. Clinton has been beaten. Democratic Party is in very bad shape. Their internal crisis is very great. Sanders could have actually beaten Clinton, if all that hanky-panky was not done. And then he would have come out as a credible candidate. So, Democratic Party is very much split over this. The base on one side and the party elite on top. So part of what is happening is, that Obama, and he’s part of that centrally it in the part, is trying to deflect the attention from the actual blocks of the elections that they were beaten.

Prabir Purkayastha: You know it’s a very interesting stage, when you have the entire intelligence establishment publicly saying that Trump has won because of Russia. And this is how you start the new regime so to say. That discredit it as a Russian ploy in us politics, this is something very strange.

Aijaz Ahmad: And you can’t prove it. None of them can prove it. And you are taking him on and this is a wild card. He is saying, that he going to abolish this whole business of national security adviser and so on. And he’s going to fire the CIA, he is not going to sit for briefings by the CIA because CIA lies. Look they are lying about my image.

Prabir Purkayastha:  This is the other part of it. Trump represents unpredictability. You don’t know whether he’ll be more hawkish, for instance, Israel, his argument that he’s going to shift the embassy to Jerusalem. There is that hawkishness that we see with respect to Israel, which can again go out of hand in West Asia.

Aijaz Ahmad: In relation to Iran, and he is now calming down about china. But he was being very, very hawkish about China and so on, yes. But we actually do not know what he will do on which and whether or not we will even have a consistent policy before he settles down to understanding thatrunning a state is quite different from running a business.

You know, you can’t just hoodwink people and so on. So, we don’t really know. However, the most important thing is, to my mind, that Trump represents neither a Democratic, not a Republican Party establishment. He owes nothing to either of those 2 establishments. And he owes nothing to the deep state, which he is going after. So, you have a president of the United State, who is remarkably independent of the institutes, political institutions of U.S state. How this will play out in the future, we don’t know. At the same time, the appointments he has made, the steps that he is taken are so extreme. His cabinet is the most right wing cabinet you could imagine.

Prabir Purkayastha: When you say it’s the most right wing cabinet that we have seen for a long time. Does it mean that we really have an American right coming into power, which Trump represents, which is a kind of isolationist right, which used to be one of the wings of the republican of the U.S political scene. That they didn’t want to engage internationally in wars, expansive policies, but sort of performed a kind of an isolationist policy.

Aijaz Ahmad: The isolationists in America historically were not the far right. This is far right. This is not just right wing, this is far right. The whole combination of it. Infact all those people are actually, in that crowd, Trump is the only person who does not have a consistent ideology.

Prabir Purkayastha: In terms of internal policy, there seems to be a big coalition building up on the question of Trump and the kind of internal policies he will do. Do you think that is going to see a change in the American politics?

Aijaz Ahmad: The change is occurring already. That is what I think certainly the Obamas and the Clintons and so forth, they are actually smart enough tounderstand what is happening. They arejust so committed to their own corporate world and their everything that they represent that they thought that they could prevent it. But what is happening already, is that there is a kind of mobilisation starting against Trump in the United States, which is also,they have not seen that since the 60’s. You know there is no part of the American political spectrum, outside the established democratic party leadership and the republican party and so on, which is not getting mobilised. The women’s movement, the churches, the unions, all the enormous number of young people, who gained the experience of having being betrayed by Obama, when they worked to get him elected, and now again betrayed by those people, by depriving them of the presidential candidate that they had supported and in the meanwhile, they have become much more experienced. So, you have a very different kind of a situation which you are witnessing the possible emergence of a left wing movement in the United States, of a magnitude, that certainly is not seen since the 60’s. You know, could be, we could have that. And that is in particular about the domestic policies

Prabir Purkayastha: The potential existence of such a left wing growth of movements now and coming together of different strands.

Aijaz Ahmad: The kind of resistance that is protest movement and to actively resist, you know, nonviolentresistance of that kind, is getting started very fast. I am not aware of any such thing. You know and let’s say, when the last great dramatic thing happened when Reagan was elected in this country, or when Bush ( the younger one) was blamed for having taken away the elections from Gore and so on. There was no such resistance of this kind. Never. This is ofa completely different order.

Prabir Purkayastha: Aijaz, thank you very much in the part 2 of this discussion. We will come back with the issue of the emergence of the new left that you talking about, the movements that are coming up, as compared to the emergence of the new right, which has already taken place, Trump being their representative, but there are various other formations that are coming up in different parts of the world. So, we will come back to you on this, and our 2nd part of the discussion will continue with talking about the new right and the possibilities of the new left. Thank you very much. This is all the time we have for this part of our discussion with Prof Aijaz Ahmad. We will come back to you with part 2 of this discussion. Keep watching Newsclick.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for Newsclick are typed from a recording of the program. Newsclick cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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